Henley Royal Regatta 2019 Review – Shiplake College

09 Jul 2019

This year’s Henley Royal Regatta excitement started when we learned that the 1st VIII had pre-qualified for The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup. Despite having a last minute crew replacement due to injury, M Brown is to be congratulated for his contribution he has given to the crew all season. The crew comprising of T Boret, R Adams, T Fox, B Brockway, S Hjortland-Marks, D Brown, R Ash, S Burnand and (cox) J Kirby secured their place due to a very successful rowing season.

The 2nd VIII were also looking to qualify, but for the Temple Challenge Cup. An open event usually consisting of university crews, it was a step up for the boys. The crew comprising of M Waller, B Howard-Jones, A Hunt, R Humphris, A Wood, L Batty, F Focosi, J Rayner and (cox) C Gass, narrowly missed out on qualifying, by just 3 seconds. This in itself was a fantastic achievement in a very competitive field.

The annual Henley Royal Regatta draw took place in the Town Hall on 29 June and saw Shiplake College’s 1st VIII being selected in the top tier alongside Radley College and St Paul’s. Both Director Rowing, Dave Currie and 1st VIII coach, Hugh Mackworth-Praed, were very happy with the favourable draw and were confident of the crew’s chances in the coming week.

On the opening day, Shiplake walked out of their boating tent with the traditional Shiplake roar coming from the banks, where they faced The King’s School, Chester. The boys raced fantastically, taking control of the race from the very start and winning by 2 lengths, proving that they were a crew to watch throughout the week.

On a slightly cooler Thursday, Shiplake beat local rivals, Reading Blue Coat by a length and 3/4. The crew were able to take their rating down to cruise over the finish line and save their energy for the next day.

Mentioned as one of the highlights of the day, Shiplake took on St Joseph’s Preparatory School, USA on Friday. As family and friends gathered in the stands of the Stewards’ Enclosure, nerves were heightened as Shiplake were down by a canvas at the end of the island. No doubt the boys must have heard the shouts of encouragement from the stands as they took back the lead, securing them a place in the semi-finals!

For the semi-final, Shiplake were drawn against Eton College. In a nail-biting race, despite Shiplake holding their own for the first half, Eton pushed ahead to take the lead. The final result was Eton College winning by a length. Eton went on to become the eventual winners of the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup.

Everyone from the Shiplake community is extremely proud of the nine boys, especially Headmaster, Gregg Davies who said: “Of course we’re disappointed, but every year we inch closer and closer to our goal. We will win this within the next five years.

“Our training programme is now great at all levels, our boys are wonderful and we have a fantastic team of coaching staff – it’s all about the people and we’ve invested in that.

“We’ve also lost to a school of 1,300 boys, whereas we’ve only got just over 400 boys (and 55 girls) and while we aren’t making excuses – they clearly have a larger pool to choose from. I can’t wait for what is to come for seven of these nine boys who are here next year, and the future of Shiplake Rowing.”

S Hahn, Deputy Head of College this year, was also racing at Henley Royal Regatta under Henley Rowing Club in the Diamond Jubilee Cup. Hahn and her crew unfortunately lost to the winners of the event in the semi-finals.

This year’s Henley Royal Regatta also saw a phenomenal number of Old Vikings race, with 15 ex-pupils racing and 3 boys winning their event. O Newton (18E) for Newcastle University, A Turnill (16B) for Tyne B Rowing Club, G Emeny (17B) for University of the West of England, H Hogan (14S) for Doncaster Rowing Club, H Vardigans (14S) for Upper Thames Rowing Club, J Peck (17W), F Peck (18W) and J Hanson (08S) for Maidenhead Rowing Club, A Burnand (17E) and W Carey (16S) for University of London, W Satch (07O) for Leander and O Morgan (12O), H Blois-Brooke (17S), S Newman (17O) and M Glover (13E) for Oxford Brookes University in various events. H Blois-Brooke and S Newman reached the final of the Temple Challenge Cup where they took on Northeastern University, USA and won their first Henley event. M Glover reached the final of the Ladies’ Plate and made his triple win for Oxford Brookes University.

There was a real buzz throughout the week at the Shiplake marquee, starting with over 80 senior rowers, parents and governors joining the Headmaster for his annual lunch on Wednesday. During the lunch, Director of Rowing, Dave Currie presented Gregg Davies with a prestigious Shiplake rowing blazer for all his hard work and support for the boat club during his time as Headmaster.

The marquee was also busy during the week for pre-race drinks for every day Shiplake raced. On Saturday afternoon, the Old Viking Society also held their annual regatta drinks, which was very well attended. In addition, on the Thursday of HRR, the majority of the crew who raced at HRR in 1979 gathered for a 40 years on reunion lunch, including their coach Mark Woodcock. Ironically, this crew was also beaten by Eton College in the semi-final, in the year that Headmaster John Eggar stepped down.