The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Rowing competes in Henley Royal Regatta

While many students relaxed on America's beaches during the Independence Day weekend, the women's and men's rowing teams were on the Thames in England, competing in the 151st Henley Royal Regatta, the sport's most prestigious competition.

And while many students prepared for their summer midterm exams, the teams were taking their final tests of the rowing season against the world's best boats in a setting the participants described as unrivaled in tradition and energy.

There were 200,000 spectators lining the course from start to finish for the Virginia women's varsity eight's first-round race against the University of Washington. Though the Cavs lost the race by two boat lengths, they left England satisfied by a preliminary round victory, two minor regatta victories and an experience they'll take with them forever.

"We just got behind early," women's coach Kevin Sauer said. "I just wanted a do-over at the end. It was a neat experience. I learned a lot as a coach and they learned a lot as rowers."

Related Links
  • Official athletic site for Virginia women's rowing
  • Cavalier Daily's coverage of Virginia women's rowing

    Unlike most regattas, which race six boats at once, the Henley pits boats in one-on-one races in tournament competition, making it a grueling test of endurance and concentration. It is also a bastion of tradition, even halting competition everyday at 4 p.m. for a one-hour tea interval.

    But this year, the regatta broke from tradition and allowed women to race on the event's signature weekend. In pursuing the Henley Prize, women's crews from the United States, Great Britain and Canada weren't only racing for a trophy, but also towards history.

    "It was unbelievable to be a part of history," Sauer said. "We expected some animosity, but people were cheering like crazy."

    Though Sauer's team didn't come home with the Henley Prize, the varsity eight and varsity four crews both won races in the Readington Regatta and the Wallingford Regatta. And the varsity eight has the satisfaction of knowing they won a preliminary match at the Henley before losing to the eventual champion Washington by five seconds.

    "We had a really tough draw," Sauer said. "We had the second-best time in the field but just had the luck to meet the best team in the first round."

    For the men's rowing team, the trip to Henley-on-Thames was a sweet reward for a squad that does not receive Athletic Department funding and raced as the Virginia Rowing Association of Charlottesville. After winning the unofficial national championship among club teams in June, the men used money they had raised over the past two years to fund the trip.

    "Usually crews travel over there when you're good enough to compete," men's coach Brian Carlisle said. "It was a reward for having such a great season. Hopefully, it will bring the program to the next level."

    The men's varsity eight took its first-round contest over Colby College of Maine in the 48-boat Temple Challenge Cup before losing to Nottingham University in the second round. Yale finished as champions of the college-boats-only competition.

    The men ended their official season in June at the Intercollegiate Men's Regatta, where they finished 14th, while competing against varsity teams from across the nation. The women finished third at the NCAA Championships in late May.


    Latest Podcast

    From her love of Taylor Swift to a late-night Yik Yak post, Olivia Beam describes how Swifties at U.Va. was born. In this week's episode, Olivia details the thin line Swifties at U.Va. successfully walk to share their love of Taylor Swift while also fostering an inclusive and welcoming community.