Henley Royal Regatta returns to the water


Henley Royal Regatta returns to the water today for what will be an even greater expression of the sense of occasion and gladiatorial racing that makes it famous.

After being cancelled for the first time in its 182-year history outside of the World Wars, the five-day Regatta will be a particular focus for everyone involved; from the last chance school and university crews desperate to celebrate their final season together, to those on a delayed debut in the three new women’s events, to the Olympians in the making aiming for Paris 2024.

There are also returning Olympic champions, with Ireland’s Paul O’Donovan and Finbarr McCarthy, fresh from winning gold in the lightweight men’s doubles sculls, taking on local heavyweights in the Double Sculls Challenge Cup. Among the Great Britain contingent are the Olympic silver medallists in the quadruple sculls, Harry Leask, Tom Barras and Jack Beaumont, who will join a teammate from Leander in the Queen Mother Challenge Cup.

“On behalf of the Stewards of Henley Royal Regatta, I am delighted that we are back on the water for the 2021 Regatta,” Sir Steve Redgrave, Chairman of the Committee of Management, said.

“Cancelling the 2020 Regatta, though necessary when the world had much more important things to worry about, was one of the saddest decisions we have ever had to make. COVID-19 has had a huge impact on our athletes and we have done everything possible – including delaying the Regatta by six weeks and reorganising the site – to try and make sure they could race here this year. We know precautions are still required.

“In these challenging circumstances, we have needed each other’s support more than ever and the strength of our Members and the whole Regatta community, past, present and future, will course through this event.

“From that community to the wider one, we would also like to thank the NHS staff and key workers for their outstanding response during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the remarkable scientists who have worked tirelessly to develop the vaccines in record time which have been instrumental in easing us out of lockdown and that are helping to keep us safe and well.

“Thank you to them and good luck to all our rowers tomorrow and for the rest of the week.”

Thames Valley Police statement on the Regatta

With public health still the top priority, the Regatta will not look the same and is largely a ticketed event this year. Regatta Superintendent Sarah Grahame, tactical commander for the Royal Regatta for the Thames Valley Police said: “Henley Royal Regatta is one of the biggest annual policing events within the Thames Valley which takes a great deal of planning and organisation. This year however will not see a ‘normal’ Regatta, as there will be fewer public facilities and most areas are only available to ticket holders.

“We still expect to see a large number of visitors to Henley, which will increase traffic and congestion through the town centre. We advise you to book your tickets in advance, and ask that motorists be patient and mindful of the increased traffic and pedestrians.”

The eve of the Regatta is felt particularly keenly by competitors ready for the catch, drive and mutual respect of two boat racing each other up the 2,112-metre course at Henley-on-Thames.

Triple Olympic gold medallist, Lieutenant Commander Pete Reed said it well in his 2019 Prizegiving speech and he and he and fellow Olympic medallist, Jessica Eddie have reprised that especially for the rowers this year: “I salute what it took to get here; your courage in the face of adversity, your sublime technical proficiency and your immaculate team bonds. Your commitment to the project. Your self-discipline to get up and to get up and to get up. Your respect for the others in your team and your respect for the opposition on the other station… We are all bound by these values, beliefs and behaviours, and we rowers are bound by our sport. Your achievement is a badge of honour for life and your names will always be on the pages of continuing Henley Royal Regatta history.

‘And, most importantly, I salute your humility, as you sit on the water, on the shoulders of the giants who sat there before you. You know you didn’t get there alone.’

Henley Royal Regatta, founded in 1839, is the best-known rowing regatta in the world, renowned for its match-racing.  It is one of the highlights of the summer sporting and social calendar in the UK, as well as the rowing calendar internationally. More than 300 races are staged at the Regatta, featuring Olympians and emerging stars from around the world.

For more details go to: www.hrr.co.uk.

For those who are about row, “I salute you” – Pete Reed 
Read the event-by-event guide  
Timetable and the Draw
Follow the livestream and all the results 


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