June 30, 2010
HENLEY-ON-THAMES, England - The University of Washington freshman men's crew opened the Henley Royal Regatta in impressive fashion, defeating the University of Warwick by three lengths in the opening round.
Washington was the first U.S. winner of the day in the Temple Cup bracket, taking the lead early in the race and moving away to a comfortable victory in a time of 6:41 on the 2,112-meter course on the River Thames. On Thursday, the Huskies will face Nihon University of Japan, who defeated Oxford Brookes University (UK) by 4 ½ lengths. The race gets underway at 5:30 a.m. PST, 3:30 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time.
For a Grunties team which hasn't raced since winning a National Championship at the IRAs on June 5, this was an excellent test for them to shake out some nerves. Their excitement was evident as the crew blew off the line at an incredible pace before settling into a base rate at the midway point. With such a comfortable lead in the bank, the Huskies were able to cruise home well ahead of Warwick, a school based in west-central England.
"It was good for them to get used to the starting sequence and to have an opportunity to go down the course and get rid of some nerves before the big races," said freshman coach Luke McGee.
In England, the Huskies are racing their own Empacher, the 101, which was donated anonymously from a Washington alumnus. McGee said his team has immediately taken to the boat and are impressed by how well it has moved through the water on the River Thames. The 101 is stored at the Henley Rowing Club is available only to UW crews who are competing at the prestigious regatta.
Outside of racing, the crew has been soaking up the sights of England. They've managed to squeeze in a full English breakfast, as well as a traditional pub dinner. The group has also managed to squeeze in plenty of soccer watching with the World Cup in full swing.
Washington is one of 32 teams in the Temple Cup, which feature student eights (those without significant rowing experience) from around the world. The only other U.S. clubs competing are Harvard and Southern Cal, which faced each other in the first round, with the Crimson taking the victory. The UW last raced in the Henley Royal Regatta in 2003.
Each race is rowed in dual, knockout format, with the winner advancing to the next round.