June 14, 2010
SEATTLE - The Washington men's crew freshmen will race at the esteemed Henley Royal Regatta later this month, marking a historic return for the Huskies to England.
This is the first trip for Washington to the London-based regatta since a UW varsity eight won the Ladies' Plate in 2003. The Grunties will compete for the Temple Cup on June 30 - July 4, a challenge offered to "student eights."
Washington has only raced for the Temple Cup once before, when a second varsity eight boat that won the IRA National Championship made the quarterfinals in 1997. The Temple Cup, under the tiered Henley system of competition, is typically raced by boats consisting of oarsmen with limited experience.
As per the Washington crew ethos, the Grunties will be racing to win at Henley. In 2010, the freshmen boat swept through to an undefeated season, capped by an exciting finish over Cal in the Grand Finals at the IRAs earlier this month. Freshmen coach Luke McGee continues to build a dominant youth program on Montlake, evidenced by his second straight unblemished year for the Huskies.
"The guys are fired up to go there," McGee said.
"I think they're all incredibly excited. It's a big accomplishment for us." The Henley Royal Regatta is raced on the 2,112-meter course on the River Thames in Henley-on-Thames, England. Races are held in head-to-head, knockout style, a unique atmosphere unlike anything in collegiate rowing. Two crews row side-by-side down the course, with the winner advancing until a final two boats challenge in the Grand Final.
McGee has raced at Henley three times, and said the atmosphere and close racing quarters make it one of the best experiences available to collegiate rowers.
"We try to do things like this that make a student-athletes experience over four years enjoyable," McGee said, noting other international trips by the Huskies to such locales as Russia and New Zealand.
While in England, the Huskies will row in their own boat, "The 101," which was the gift of an anonymous benefactor prior to the 1997 Henley Regatta. The eight is stored at Cambridge and used exclusively for the UW when they are racing and training in England.