With the wind blowing straight down the course, University of Wales College (Cardiff) took a slight lead at the Barrier. With both crews showing wayward bladework in the gusting gale, it was no surprise when Eton were stopped by a huge crab and dropped two lengths behind. The Welsh lead was reduced at the end - but only when it was too late.
Eton's interest in the regatta ended when the second eight was overrun by Oundle in the Princess Elizabeth Cup. Oundle made the fastest time, but may find St Edward's a handful later in the event.
Sweden's Maria Brandin, the world champion who weighs almost 14 stone, had a huge advantage in the head wind against the British lightweight, Nicky Dale, in the women's single sculls.
Brandin said that she both likes and hates Henley. She has done little racing this year, while doing humidity and high altitude training, and finds the extra distance over the usual international distance of 2,000m a benefit. "You have to do the last 200 metres even if you don't want to," she said, "but I don't like it, because if you come second you lose and you have to go home."
The ladies' plate opened with some sharp performances from both British and United States lightweight crews. The Goldie crew, with five Cambridge blues and three reserve caps, looked very strong and rhythmic in beating Massachusetts Institute of Technology. However, in the Diamond Sculls, most of the home interest has already evaporated.
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