Everyone is an optimist at Henley until today, when 80 races will eliminate 40 crews from six of the 19 events that climax on Sunday. A balmy, light breeze under the last practice day's cloudy sky perfectly complemented the T-shirts of Notts County and Durham University's women's quadruple scullers - "Only Fools and Oarsmen".
The Grand Challenge Cup has the Dutch and German national crews drawn against each other, the winner going into the final against either the British eight, who have shown a good turn of speed recently, or the Marine Technical University of St Petersburg, some of whom are long in the tooth and all may harbour delusions of grandeur.
Britain's coxless four have a straight final in the Stewards' against the Netherlands who pushed the Brits hard at the World Cup regatta in Munich in May. The women's quad, World Cup leaders, are a cut above the other entries in the Princess Grace. Matt Wells and Steve Rowbotham are selected in the Double Sculls, but in the other half of the draw await the Slovenians Luka Spik and Iztok Cop, the Olympic silver medallists and world champions.
The withdrawal of the South African holders of the Goblets leaves a likely final in the pairs between the Oxford internationals Barney Williams and Paul Daniels and the first and last Henley entry from Serbia and Montenegro, Goran Jagar and Nikola Stojic of Partizan Belgrade. The selected crews in the Remenham for women's eights are University College Dublin, winners at Women's Henley, and the British, Dutch and American national squads.
In events which start today, the winners of the Schools head and the National Schools, Shrewsbury, meet one of their traditional rivals, Radley or Eton, in the second round of the Princess Elizabeth for school eights if they beat Bedford Modern.
London's "A" crew in the Thames aim to put on a good show to celebrate the club's 150th year. Their first opponents are the local club, Upper Thames.Reuse content