As the Royal Henley Regatta becomes increasingly international, finals full of overseas crews were not an unusual sight for the spectators lining the banks of the Thames. But at lunchtime on Sunday all eyes were glued to the men?s pair race for the Silver Goblets Cup featuring Britain?s rowing royalty, James Cracknell and Matthew Pinsent who took to the water to defend their title. In the opposing lane the United States duo of Jason Read and Bryan Volpenhein had beaten Croatia?s World Cup winning pair to take on the Brits. But in front of their own crowd and despite floating champagne bottles, Cracknell and Pinsent held off the high rating Americans in a mighty sprint finish to retain their title.
Later in the day it was the Canadian women?s eight that shone in the Remenham Challenge Cup. They faced off against Australia?s top eight in the final and not only won but also set a new course record. ?It?s very satisfying because last year the Aussies were second in the world and we were sixth,? said Canadian Coach Al Morrow.
Further Canadian victories were secured in the men?s four when two maple leafed crews ? the country?s heavyweights raced their lightweights. The heavies came out on top by 2/3 of a length. The Canadian World Champion men?s eight also won in the two boat Grand Challenge Cup against the US.
The Americans revealed the strength of their collegiate rowing programs by making it a straight US final in the Ladies? Challenge Plate eights race when the University of Washington finished ahead of Rutgers University. In the Temple Challenge the Princeton University rowing alumni rejoiced in a Princeton exclusive final ? the A team beating the B?s.
The Australian women?s national squad used Henley as an opener to their European season and made the final in the eight, quad and single but had higher expectations. ?The results of the women?s crew were reasonable, considering the effects of the long flights, adjusting from the Australian winter to the European summer and rowing in borrowed boats,? said Australia?s media officer, Michael Wilson.
In the absence of the British National Team these results mean many of the coveted Henley trophies will leave British shores for the first time.