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  • Writer's pictureRyan Demaine

Henley Royal Regatta 2023

Between 27th June and 2nd July 2023, rowing crews from across the world ascended upon Henley-On-Thames for one of the biggest events in the rowing calendar.

Headington School were in attendance to race in The Prince Philip Challenge Trophy for the third year running, having won the inaugural race in 2021.

There were 24 crews entered in to this year’s Prince Philip Challenge Trophy, with strong entries from schools in Australia, USA and Britain.

The racing began on day three of Henley 2023 with the Headington crew up against Sir William Perkins’s School. After a launch which looked like the two crews would stay close together throughout the race, Headington pulled away in the mid-section of Henley’s famous stretch of river. The commentators even mentioned that the Headington ‘dropped the rate’ and ‘took it easy’ to bring the bright yellow boat across the line for the victory superbly coxed by Headington’s superstar GB cox, Sophie (U6). Watch the Youtube video of the race.

Day four of the racing brought a challenge from the home team, Henley Rowing Club. There were also challenges presented by the weather, with strong winds to battle as well as the other crew. There was an explosive start from both crews and the competition continued long into the race. Cross winds presented difficulties with steering throughout as Henley were pushed towards the river banks and Headington were pushed over into Henley’s waters. Ten-time world champion and four-time Olympic champion, Sir Matthew Pinsent, CBE, was the umpire for the race and was forced on more than one occasion to raise concerns, his megaphone and warning flags as the crews came so close to one another that the blades of the oars might touch. As this happened more than once, it was a tense ending to the race even with Headington crossing the line 1 ¼ lengths ahead, with the Henley crew hopeful that Headington would be given a penalty following their warnings. Thankfully for Headington, the white flag was raised meaning the race was deemed fair and the girls progressed to the semi-finals. Watch the video of the race.

Semi-finals day saw Headington up against Greenwich Crew, over from the USA. Clean starts for both crews and an eruption of noise from both the fans and both coxes created an electric start. Headington pulled out in front early, putting the pressure on the American crew to keep up. Towards the middle section of river however, the Greenwich crew pulled hard to catch up. By the half way mark, the two crews were neck and neck. Both sets of girls’ fierce competitiveness caused a dramatic final section and their endurance was tested as they proved their places as elite junior athletes. The standard of rowing was exceptional however, sadly for Headington, it was Greenwich who crossed the line first but only by less than ½ a length. The Greenwich crew went on to win the Prince Philip Challenge Trophy. Watch the video of the race.

A huge well done to the Headington crew for being exemplary rowers throughout this season, winning both the National School’s Regatta and the Henley Women’s Head this year. We can’t wait to see what they can do next year!

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