Henley Royal Regatta 2021: Cantabs Women make history & Cantabs men are most successful town club

2021 saw Henley Royal Regatta moved to August due to the pandemic, meaning that this year the regatta took place after Town Bumps. The qualifying races this year took place at Dorney instead of the Henley stretch, with Cantabs M2 narrowly missing out on qualification.

This year saw two Cantabs crews race at Henley Royal, the men in the Thames Challenge Cup and the women in the Wargrave Challenge Cup, a brand new event for women’s club crews and the first time a Cambridge town club women’s crew (let alone a Cantabs women’s crew) has qualified for HRR.

After a good performance at Marlow Regatta, the Thames crew pre-qualified for the regatta, racing only a couple of weeks after successfully bumping Nines M1 to finish as Head of the River in Town Bumps for the 8th time in the last 10 years of racing.

Making the final of the Aspirational 8+ at Henley Women’s Regatta and A-final finishes at Dorney regattas including a win in the Women’s Club 8+ at Met Regatta were enough for the women’s crew to not just pre-qualify for the regatta but they were also chosen by the Stewards as a selected crew – the first time this has happened for a Cantabs crew.

The men took to the water on Wednesday, racing Old Monmothians in the first round of the Thames. The crew raced well and enjoyed a win of around 1.5L.

They went on to race City of Bristol on the Thursday, who had beaten the Cantabs crew at Marlow Regatta a few weeks prior. Undeterred, the Cantabs crew raced well and kept Bristol honest throughout, finishing just over 1L down on their opponents.

Cantabs were the only Cambridge men’s town crew to make it through at least one round at the regatta.

The Cantabs women had a bye through the first round of racing due to being a selected crew, and faced the winners of Tyne vs Henley on the Friday. Cantabs enjoyed a few days in Henley before their race training on the Henley stretch after unfortunately being unable to train in the immediate lead-up after a positive COVID test in the crew resulted in self-isolations. Lining up against an unknown Tyne crew, who had made it into the regatta through qualifying, Cantabs raced hard and produced one of the most exciting races of the regatta, neck-and-neck with Tyne for the majority of the race until the closing stages when Tyne were able to nudge ahead to win.

Whilst it was bitterly disappointing to lose our race after being selected, I’m incredibly proud of the crew for performing so well in spite of the obstacles we faced in the run-up to the regatta. HRR was the last race with Cantabs for a couple of the crew, and I’m so proud we were able to be the first women’s crew to qualify for the regatta. It’s been the fastest most enjoyable eight I’ve ever had the privilege of being part of, and we’re hungry to come back and race again next year!

Ellie Darlington, Club Captain

The crews were:

Thames Challenge Cup – Reggie Mitchell, Finn Grimwood, Ricci Herreros-Symons, Andrew Marsden, James Lindsay, James O’Dell, Hal Barrow, Harry Turner, Sara Russo (cox)

Wargrave Challenge Cup – Ellie Darlington, Rebecca Smith, Katie Brown, Becca Hatton, Molly Shaw, Elena Williams, Gloria Jansen, Chiara Avancini, Callum Mantell (cox)

If you have aims to race at Henley Royal Regatta, please contact our captains for more information on the Senior Squads.

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