Team USA has arrived!
Although our body clocks are still a bit out-of-whack, we’re healthy, happy, and in possession of all our luggage (in itself a miracle!)
This week, Team USA is racing the Henley Royal Regatta, the historic and illustrious rowing race held every year on the River Thames in the town of Henley-on-Thames, England. This race is one of the oldest in the world (first staged in 1839!), and I feel extremely lucky to witness the pomp and tradition from the perspective of a racer!
As the Regatta began well before any national or international rowing organizations were established, this race operates by its own rules, and doesn’t have to subscribe to the guidelines of the International Rowing Federation (FISA). On that note, instead of the standard 6-lane races we are used to, we will be using dual-boat, single-elimination knockout races over the course of three days. Instead of little plastic lane buoys, the course is lined with huge wooden “booms” (you definitely wouldn’t want to run into these!). And instead of the official 2,000-meter race distance, the Henley course is “about one mile and 550 yards”, which equates to about 2,112 meters.
Seven other women’s eights are vying for the “Remenham Challenge Cup”, including the British eight that finished fourth at the 2010 World Championships (they’re racing as “Leander Club and Thames Rowing Club”) . The racing draw is set up as single-elimination dual races, set over three days. The British eight is on the other side of the bracket; hopefully we’ll have the good fortune to meet up with them in the championship race!
Our first race is on Friday against the reigning NCAA champions and our fellow New Jerseyans, Princeton University. How ironic is it that we travel halfway around the world, only to face a crew we see every morning at the Princeton Boathouse?
Update: For your entertainment, check out Esther Lofgren’s “Henley: Day One!” video!