3.Jul.2013 by John Graves

Hello all, reporting live from Henley-on-Thames, UK. I have been training here on the river Thames for the last week since racing a few miles away at World Cup 2 in Eton. Today racing began at the Henley Royal Regatta which is probably the oldest and most famous rowing race in the world. It began in 1839 and predates Olympic Rowing. Needless to say, the Stewards of the Regatta hold themselves and their regatta in a very high regard! And they should, its a wonderful timeless place where little has changed for those who competed 100 years ago or in the present day. It is tennis ladder head to head knockout style racing. It makes it quite unique and changes many of the racing dynamics that exist on the international level. A higher onus is put on just getting ahead and breaking the other crew. Additionally, the Regatta is very unique because it mixes all levels and ages of rowing. There are high school events and elite events. Over the course of a few minutes you might see an Olympic champion and a schoolboy eight race down the course.
Today racing began in the larger events, those with 32 crews. Mostly 8’s and 4’s. Tomorrow racing will begin for my event, The Diamond Challenge Sculls, which contests the Men’s single sculls. This year the competition is ridiculous. There are too many international medals to count amongst the competitors. I was lucky enough to be one of the seeded crews in the event, which just means that you are spread out away from the other top guys in the event in the hopes of meeting in the later rounds. Being seeded, while nice, is a very superficial sense of security since ever sculler, seeded or not, is of the highest caliber of sculling. I would estimate of the 14 scullers, 10 of them would be in the top 12 in the world. Current Olympic champion in the single, Mahe Drysdale must be the favorite.
I race a GB lightweight rower, Chris Boddy. tomorrow in the first round. He should be a tough test, but I really am just excited to race. There is a lot of excitement around the town and people are pouring in to watching the racing. I am anxious to be part of the action. Soon enough it will be started though, and once it gets going, its a gauntlet of tough racing. There is one race each day from Wed to Sun, Sunday being the finals day. I will try to report as much as I can. Thats all from Henley and go Craftsbury!