Trojans Compete in the Henley Royal Regatta 2010: USC Defeats 47 International Crews in the First Round, Falls to Harvard in the Second Round

qualifier

Full photo documentation of the trip can be seen at: http://uscuk.shutterfly.com/

HENLEY ROYAL REGATTA DIARIES: Part I

June 25, 2010

By Head Coach, Danny Johnson

Our boys just qualified to race at the Henley Royal Regatta.   To become “qualified” they had to beat out 47 crews for the coveted 14 remaining spots for the Temple Challenge.   Traditionally, The Temple Challenge cup at Henley sees the top 32 clubs and Universities of the world. This year, eighteen boats received an automatic bid for the race based their historical representation and their relative performances this season.   We were required to race in the Friday evening time trial, but took it as a challenge.

With absolutely beautiful weather and flat water, all 47 boats lined-up this evening in single file, and charged down the course, one at a time, in alphabetical order.   When the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA came blasting down the course, Chelsea and I smiled.   The boat was flying, the spacing was good, and their heads were up.

As we walked up to our boys after they racked their boat, we could tell they had a good piece.   Myles said, “flat out…it was the best we have ever done”, and the team captain was grinning from ear to ear.   After a short boat meeting and roughly 30 minutes of anxiety, the loud speaker clicked on, and a very proper English man announced,   “Hear are the qualifying crews for this year’s Temple Challenge Cup in ALPHABETICAL ORDER….Durham University, Eton College A, Exeter University A, Hertford College, Liverpool University, Nottingham University A, Oxford Brookes University B, Oxford Imperial College London B, Queen Mary, University of London, St. Hild & St. Bede College, University of Bristol A, University of London B, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA U.S.A., University of Warwick A”

Each time he announced a Crew’s name their was a loud cheer from that boat and their supporters.   As soon as our guys heard University of Souther……they went nuts. These pictures will give you some idea of the excitement: http://uscuk.shutterfly.com. The moment was too great for words.

Today’s performance was a significant accomplishment.   To race at Henley is an honor and our Crew now deserves it.   Tomorrow, we will recalibrate, and then begin our final push towards next Wednesday’s first duel of the regatta.   Tomorrow, all the qualified crews will be put into a hat in the town square and be drawn two at a time.

HENLEY ROYAL REGATTA DIARIES: Part II

June 27, 2010

By Head Coach, Danny Johnson

On Saturday, the Stewards of the Regatta all met in the town hall to make “the draw”. All the qualifying Crew names were put into a large silver trophy and drawn at random, two at a time.  Just our luck, we were paired up with the fastest boat in the race…HARVARD. It is really funny that we traveled all this way to race an American crew, but, none-the-less, if you want to win the regatta, you have to beat everyone…including the “H-word”.

In true Trojan spirit, our boys have attacked their training over the last few days, preparing for the Cardinal/ Crimson show down.  It is going to be a brutal dog fight. If our boys race like they have been training, we have a shot of steeling the piece. This Wednesday, at 5:35pm GMT, the two will fight it out for a chance to move on to the next day of racing.

To get a feel for “The Draw”, check out the video posted on our Shutterfly account: http://uscuk.shutterfly.com/

Also, there are photos from the overseas competitors reception and shots of the competitors badges which must be worn at all times at the Regatta.

HENLEY ROYAL REGATTA DIARIES: Part III

Post-Regatta

By 2009-2010 Team Captain Ryan Hasvold

Finally, on June 30, it was time to race. We donned our brand new white unisuits and headed to the course, eager for the opportunity before us. We launched the boat and paddled down to the start line, adjusting to the headwind and unsettled water as we warmed up down the course. When we finally lined up in the starting blocks, the moment seemed to become surreal. There we were, a few feet away from Harvard, set to duel in front of thousands of spectators lining the entire 2,112m course. The boats were aligned, the flag flashed down, and we were off.

We had been told that Harvard started extremely fast, so we were prepared when they edged in front of us after the start. We were confident in our base speed, and we knew we had a long race in front of us. We finally settled into our base cadence and set to work, but we could feel that something was missing. This was not the same race we had put forth for the qualifier. Unfortunately, we were never able to find the rhythm we had achieved in that qualifier, but we battled down the course nonetheless. Harvard was in front of us, but we were not going to make it easy for them. We pulled harder every stroke, fighting to prove our speed. All down the course, we could hear cheers for our performance, but it was not enough to lift us into the lead. We regained our composure in the final stage of the race and executed a strong, clean sprint through the grandstand, ultimately finishing 3 ¼ lengths behind Harvard.

We were disappointed with our result, but that was not the end of our trip. We collected ourselves and returned to the course the next day, dressed in our suits and bowties, and took advantage of the other side of Henley: mingling with world-class rowers, both current and retired. Nearly everyone we met expressed sympathy for our tough first round draw, which was a bittersweet sentiment. We knew we had not performed our best, but we also knew that luck had not been on our side. As the racing progressed, Harvard established themselves as a dominant force, proving they were the second fastest crew in the event when they narrowly lost to Washington, who won the whole event rather easily. Seeing the high quality of American competition in this event was reassuring, and we believe that we our improving that level every year as we continue to improve and get faster.

Looking back on the trip, there is a lot to be taken away. For us, qualifying the way we did was proof of our right to be there. We had done the work all year long, spent countless hours dedicated to improving, and we finally showed the world what our program is all about. Racing was an incredible experience, even though we didn’t perform as well as we had hoped. And the event itself made a huge impression on us all by opening our eyes to the world of international rowing. We now have a very high bar set for next year, and we will work all year long knowing that we now hold ourselves to an international standard.

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