Rowing: Women's return

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The Independent Online
HENLEY Royal Regatta will admit women to race in the regatta from next year. Henley has been chosen by Fisa, the sport's governing body, to be one of the six regattas to stage the World Cup for sculling, in which the best men and women scullers race through the summer season gathering points (though not against each other). They start in San Diego, California, in April, and finish at Lucerne Regatta in Switzerland, which is normally run in July, one week after Henley.

The men's Fisa race, which began three years ago, will be stitched on to the Diamond Sculls, which started in 1844, although the entry will be expanded from 16 to 24. The women's race will be an entirely new event. Some invitational races were held for women within the regatta in 1981 and 1982 but were abandoned in part because the gulf between the world-class athletes and the club competitors was too great to provide interesting races. Because the Fisa World Cup incorporates the best dozen or so women and will be organised with a thorough seeding system, the races should be close.

The Fisa women's race will not damage Henley for women, which will be run a fortnight before and which has its own sculling event, because the six Fisa regattas are the most that any single sculler can undertake in a season.

The best men's scullers were asked whether they would avoid Henley, which, for the finalists, will involve five races spread through the week before the culmination of the World Cup season at Lucerne, and all of them said that they were prepared to take the extra strain for the pleasure of racing at Henley.

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