Henley Regatta: a preview

Entrants face less competition with Olympic absences
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The Independent Online

Most Olympians are fighting shy of Henley, so this year’s Royal Regatta is an opportunity for club crews and chancers to reach heights normally awkward to scale. The British team is away in Europe, and there are only a handful of other Beijing-bound competitors.

Among these are the South Africans Shaun Keeling and Ramon Di Clementé who desperately need racing experience since Keeling came in for Donovan Cech who partnered Di Clementé for a decade. They should win the Goblets after a good world cup result a week ago.

Elliot Hovey and Wesley Piermarini are the US double scullers for Beijing and should make their mark in the Henley Double Sculls. They are also competing for California RC in the Queen Mother for quadruple sculls, joined by the two men they beat in the US Olympic trials.

Leander Club has entered three eights and numerous other crews in an attempt to keep much of the silverware local. Their Grand eight is the first since 1953 that is not a composite with other clubs. They meet the Canadian development crew in the first round, while the Danish national eight and the University of Southern California, whose first language is Estonian, are in the other half of the draw.

Leander’s second boat, reputed to be on a par with the Grand crew, is selected in the Ladies’ Plate, along with the German national lightweights and crews from Osnabrueker and Columbia University. The only British selected crew in the Temple for student crews is Durham University against a heavy American presence from Trinity Hartford, Stanford, Harvard and Cornell. The University of Western Ontario, who are in Durham’s half of the draw, are Canadian and champions and last week won the German Universities championships, and may take some beating.

The five-day regatta starts with 80 races on Wednesday across six events, including the eight-oared Thames, Temple and Princess Elizabeth challenge cups and the Wyfold, Britannia and Prince Albert cups for fours.

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