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Huskies at the Henley Royal Regatta
Release: 06/23/2000
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All Henley diary entries courtesy of Erin O'Connell, Husky women's assistant coach

Thursday, June 29, 2000

Racing has begun for many, but we continue to fine tune our skills as we wait our first performance Saturday. After going for a swing row with the British National team quad, the Huskies moved the shell back to Henley for good yesterday morning. The rowers had the afternoon off and many chose to catch a last bit of sightseeing at Windsor Castle. Jan Harville, a few of the rowers, and myself took in some racing at the Stewards Enclosure. As expected, the Stewards Enclosure is quite a "scene." Aside from the traditional "boater" hats for gentlemen, and fancy hats for ladies, many women are sporting the latest run-way fashion: feather head pieces. As one gentleman told me, "You know, you really should be wearing feathers this year." It is definitely the premiere spot of the regatta whether you are there to see great racing or just to be seen (I am not so sure that some of the individuals in the Enclosure even knew that racing was going on)!

The Huskies practiced this morning before racing began. As one can imagine, the water was a bit congested. The crew had been anticipating this and was anxious to get back to Henley so they could get comfortable on the crowded course.

"There were a lot of boats around," coxswain Mary Whipple said. "We slid in where we could and the water is starting to get choppy from all the crews being out together. It's good for us to be back here because it helps us focus on ourselves and the race itself. Now we will know how crowded it can be and it won't be a distraction on race day.

"You have to be aggressive during practice and the warm-up," added stroke Sabina Telenska. "There is no room for indecisiveness."

When asked whether they noticed being among a small female population on the course, the husky oarswomen were quick to say yes. "Everyone stares at you like you're some sort of novelty," added seven seat Nicole Borges. "We get a lot of looks."

Coach Harville has been pleased with how smoothly everything has run on the first trip to England.

"The help we've gotten from some of our foreign guests (met through Windermere Cup) has been tremendous," she said. "Our schedule has worked out really well. Being able to train in Marlow with a coaching launch, doing regular workouts, and getting used to the boat and time change really has been advantageous for us. It's important for us to be back here and get familiar with the course because it's so different. The closest we've come to this festival-like atmosphere, in terms of boat traffic, is Opening Day/Windermere Cup. It's important now for the athletes to get comfortable with this atmosphere so they can enjoy it and thrive on it, rather than let it be a distraction."

Again, Henley Prize action begins Saturday morning (July 1) with quarter and semifinal racing. The Henley Prize Grande Final is scheduled for Sunday July 2nd Schedules are printed only the night before, so exact times are not yet available. The heat pairings are as follows (italicized crews did not have to race in the qualifying race):

Molesey vs. Upper Thames & Kingston

Avon County and Worcester vs. University of Victoria

University of London & Tyrian vs. Thames

University of Washington vs. University of Virginia

Tuesday, June 27, 2000

We finally seem to be getting some pleasant weather in Henley, although it is said to disappear after today. Training back in Marlow is definitely providing the Huskies with some quality water and coaching as Jan Harville has a launch to follow along with the practices. Wednesday morning, the eight will get a chance to "paddle along" with Mike Spracklen's British National team quad.

The race site is buzzing with excitement as most crews have arrived and are practicing, making the course and the town quite congested. We have been welcomed with great enthusiasm by the regatta committee and the press office. When I arrived this morning to secure my race day access to the press box, a regional television crew was waiting to interview the Huskies.

We will be cheering for the Cascade Rowing Club crew Wednesday afternoon in their first round of racing for the Thames Challenge Cup. The Cascade roster includes Husky alums: Carl Bolstad '97 (raced here twice as a Husky in '95 &'97), Matt Minas `93, Trevor Vernon '92, coxswain Missy Collins '99 (also raced here as a Husky in '97) and coach Tristine Glick '97.

Sunday, June 25, 2000

The quaint, but splendid, town of Henley has gotten livelier by the day as first round racing looms near. The Friday evening qualifying heat was a "do or die" evening for those crews required to race. For the women's Henley Prize, nine crews competed in a single shot time trial from which five crews were eliminated and sent packing. Crews placing in the top four of the time trial who have advanced to first round racing include: the University of Virginia, Molesey Boat Club, Avon County Rowing Club/Worcester Rowing Club, and the Thames Rowing Club. These crews will join pre-seeded crews: Upper Thames Rowing Club/Kingston Rowing Club, University of Victoria (Canada), and our Washington Huskies in first round racing that begins Saturday July 1, 2000. Racing for many of the other events begins Wednesday June 28th.

On Saturday afternoon at three o'clock, the Huskies were on hand at the Henley town hall to witness the official regatta draw. Many crews were present in matching polos and rugby shirts awaiting their fateful draw. Emotions ran the gamut as crews learned of whom their first opponent would be. Pre-seeded Washington drew the University of Virginia who is the only other American university competing for the Henley Prize. "On one hand, it's unfortunate that the two American crews are meeting in the first round of racing. However, we have raced Virginia twice before during our regular season. They are a known quantity to us. We know they're going to come off the line looking to challenge us and we'll be ready," said coach Jan Harville. Washington beat Virginia early this spring at the San Diego Crew Classic and also at the NCAA Championships over Memorial Day weekend.

The Huskies trained on the Henley course this past weekend to get a feel for the Thames River and the current it presents. The Huskies will be racing in the "Berks" lane against Virginia, but also got a feel for the opposing "Bucks" lane. The regatta rumor mill supplies much speculation as to whether one lane is favored, but as Harville put it to her crew in a pre-practice pep talk, "Hey, people have been winning and losing in both lanes for over a hundred years."

The crew put in some good quality strokes this weekend and had Sunday afternoon off for sightseeing. London was the destination of choice. I think we may have set some sort of world record for how much of London you can see in 5 hours!

As of Monday afternoon, the crew will be training in Marlow again. There's a possibility that the Huskies may get to "brush" with the British women's national team quad. The quad just placed first at the Vienna World Cup this past weekend. This would be a welcomed opportunity and challenge for the Huskies. On a side note, the Huskies were also invited to brush with a master's men's crew while doing a practice start today. Apparently, the men thought the piece was to be of a shorter length than Washington because as Husky coxswain Mary Whipple stated, "all of a sudden, they weren't there anymore." "Brush" is the British terminology for scrimmaging.

Friday, June 23rd, 2000

Greetings from "across the pond!" We're nicely settled into our Henley bed and breakfast homes. There's not much to report thus far. Everything has finally fallen into place nicely (after much deviation from our original plans). But hey, we just roll with the punches! We have been training in Marlowe on the Thames (approx. 20 minutes away) at the Longridge Scout Camp. The river is extremely scenic with beautiful homes and festive pubs along the way. The river winds along gently and we use a castle as our landmark for the proximity of the scout camp on our way back upriver.

Our wonderful new friend, Phil Tinsley (Marlowe boatman), has brought our Empacher (practically brand new and only used by the British National Team women at the '98 Worlds) and pair to Henley for the weekend. We will row on the Henley course this weekend as most crews will be away attending the Reading Regatta. Monday the 26th, we=B9ll be back in Marlowe training for most of the following week.

Much of the excitement begins today (Friday) with the Henley qualifying regatta. As the Henley Royal Regatta can easily be tagged as the most popular rowing event in the world, entries exceed racing capacity and many crews will not make it past the qualifying time trial. Most overseas crews are exempt from this portion of the racing. However, the University of Virginia and the University of British Columbia must qualify for the women's Henley Prize race. There are 13 crews entered in the Henley Prize and 9 of these crews (including UVa and UBC) must race the time trial. The Huskies will surely be on site scoping the competition out. In fact, our friend Phil (the Marlowe boatman) is part of the timing committee and has offered front row seats to the Huskies during the Henley Prize qualifying race. He has also provided us with some inside information on our possible British competitors.

This Saturday, we will watch what locals call the "best piece of British theatre." This is actually the official draw for the first round races of the Henley regatta. Crews and lanes are drawn from the Grand Challenge Cup trophy before a crowd filled with British society patrons, as well as competing crews. We are assured that it is a "nail-biter" of a show!

More to come as excitement heats up! Cheers!

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