Sudbury Rowing Club entered this year’s Henley Royal Regatta in the qualifying round of the Wyfold Challenge Cup, an event for club level coxless fours raced over the 1 mile 550 yard/2112m course. The crew of Antony Moule (steering), Trevor Chambers, Kevin Last and Samuel Hogsbjerg had decided to enter as they succeeded in moving the boat quite quickly and were still improving at the time when the entries needed to be in. There were 54 crews entered for this event of which 21 were pre-selected, leaving 33 crews to compete in the qualifiers racing for the last 11 places.
They knew that they needed to row at the very best of their ability to qualify, and after a good start they strode out into a strong rhythm. It went a bit soft after about 1500m, but Antony called for the crew to pick up the pace again, shouting encouragement 2 seconds faster was all they needed to be. They pushed for home as they entered the stewards’ enclosure and finished well in a time of 7 minutes 22.4 seconds. The full results are here.
Unfortunately this was not quite fast enough to qualify, putting them 0.8 seconds behind the fastest non-qualifier. It was very frustrating for the crew to realise they had finished so close to the qualifying time. They felt that this was the best race piece they had achieved, after several good practice pieces especially in the preceding week.
Although they failed to qualify they felt they had done well and showed that they were of the right standard in a very tight event – 10 seconds separating the first 17 non-qualifying crews – and hope that as a club Sudbury can build on this for the future, knowing what kind of pace is required in to qualify, both in racing and training back on home water.
One length faster on the day would probably have been enough to qualify, and 2-3 lengths faster would probably have been enough to win a first round heat. So the Sudbury crew were of the class for this event.
Sudbury’s men’s squad should be looking to qualify a coxless 4 in this event every year rather than as discrete 1-offs. We know the piece-times that need to be matched or exceeded in training, and the level of early-season races which should be entered to get the right experience; and we have absolutely the right equipment so there is no reason why we cannot use this experience and build on it in the future…