June 27, 2012
HENLEY-ON-THAMES, United Kingdom - The University of Washington freshmen opened the Henley Royal Regatta with a resounding win over Manchester University by a shade over three lengths on Wednesday morning.
Just two weeks after the Grunties won an IRA gold medal in New Jersey, the team jetted off to England to compete for the Temple Challenge Cup at one of rowing's most prestigious summer events, a competition featuring oarsmen who are new to the sport at the collegiate level. The Class of 2015 Huskies finished with a time of 7 minutes and 20 seconds on the 2,112-meter course in suburban London. With the win, the Huskies advanced to face Reading University (U.K.) in the second round.
The Henley format is similar to the NCAA Tournament in basketball: two teams race down the course, loser goes home.
In the opening race, the Huskies were never challenged by their British opponents. Washington took control right from the start, using a stiff current to take an early lead.
"The guys executed today. They picked up right where we left off not showing much rust," said men's coach Michael Callahan. "We wanted to have a strong start and get into a solid rhythm. They did that."
Washington is one of 32 teams in the Temple Cup. The other U.S. collegiate programs competing are two Harvard boats, Drexel, Brown and the University of Michigan. The UW freshmen last raced at Henley in 2010, sweeping all four races to capture the Temple Cup.
Part of the appeal of the Henley Regatta is the pomp and circumstance that defines the event. Callahan said there was a vocal contingent of UW support along the banks of the River Thames that provided additional support.
"The atmosphere is amazing here. The freshmen are really soaking up this experience," Callahan said. "Getting quality strokes and racing on this stage is invaluable for their development in varsity oarsmen."
In other Husky news, a boat comprised of four UW oarsmen qualified a 4+ boat for the Under-23 World Rowing Championships in Trakai, Lithuania, today. In order to secure their entry slot, the boat had to win a trial held on Lake Mercer in New Jersey. The boat - which featured Seamus Labrum, Max Mannisto, Patrick Marre, Garrett Rinden, along with a rower from Navy - held a sizable lead with just 500 meters to go, but had to hold off a late charge to win by a seat.