Henley Royal Regatta 2013
Hodge strokes GB eight to victory in the Grand to top a marquee Henley Royal Regatta
Andrew Triggs Hodge stroked Great Britain to a record-busting win in the Grand Challenge Cup for men's eights at Henley Royal Regatta today.
Competing as Leander Club and Molesey B.C., the British combination took three seconds off the record held previously by the German national eight, and set in 2011, to record a time of 5:54 on the world-famous course.
Their victory over the University of Washington by over a length set the seal on a successful 164th Henley Royal Regatta, played out in front of record crowds.
Delayed at the start by some debris on the course, the GB crew, coxed by Phelan Hill, built a lead in the early phases, resisted a mid-race push from the University of Washington and extended their lead with a surge past the enclosures
In the semi-finals the hitherto unbeaten American crew beat the Polish National crew who were silver medallists at the World Cup two weeks ago. So today's result was not a “given”.
Triggs Hodge said: “That was an awesome row. It was our best yet. The rhythm through the middle was bullet-proof. The record time was just a by-product of the rhythm that we built”.
Dan Ritchie added: “It was ecstasy. It's my first Henley win. Their win against the Poles put us under a lot more pressure but we were pretty cool during that race. Big credit to the rest of the guys in the boat”.
Britain's female eight were also victorious on a day when eight records were set with several other crews creating new marks at each timing point.
In the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup for schoolboy eights both the winners, Abingdon, and their opponents St Edward's, surpassed the previous record.
Abingdon's Joel Cooper said: That was a really great race. We talked beforehand about putting together the perfect race, and I think that's as close as we were going to get today. I think we've got to say fair play to ‘Teddies” (St Edward's), they really threw everything at us, they've had an exceptional year”.
Olympic Champion Helen Glover, twice Olympic silver medallist Frances Houghton, Polly Swann and Vicky Meyer Laker, racing as Leander and Bath Minerva, were too strong in the second half of the final of the Princess Grace Challenge Cup for their opposition from California Rowing Club and won in 6:59.
Glover,relatively new to rowing at Henley, said: “I've absolutely loved it! It's been one of the best weekends in the calendar rather than just a race to do before Lucerne. Yesterday's crowd was something I had never seen before”.
The Ladies' Plate for men's eights provided one of the most stirring races of the day which was won by just a canvas by Leander Club and Molesey B.C. against Northeastern University with the crews neck and neck and rating very highly as they came to the finish.
Cox Henry Fieldman said: “The Northeastern guys pushed us harder than we thought possible. But we kept our heads”.
Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic and the Olympic champion, almost as anticipated, won the Princess Royal Challenge Cup for single scullers from Emma Twigg of New Zealand. The winning time was 8:06.
Alan Campbell had hoped to add a fourth Diamond Challenge Cup single sculls title but wasbeaten by his good friend and international rival Aleksandr Aleksandrov of Azerbaijan.
Three-quarters of a mile into the race the Ulsterman looked to be moving into the lead butAleksandrov responded, upped the rate and went on to win by one and a quarter lengths
New Zealand's matchless combination in the Silver Goblets for men's pairs, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond, were led to the Barrier by their South African opposition but their pace was too hot for the Springboks in the second half. Murray and Bond notonly recorded an “easily” verdict but equalled the course record of 6:56.
Fellow Antipodeans Mike Arms and Rob Manson the exciting, new open weight men's double dominated their final of the Doubles Sculls Challenge Cup. Their high-rating, fast-paced style proved too hot for Britain's Matt Langridge and Bill Lucas to handle. They set a course record by two seconds.
Abingdon School's “old boys” won the Thames Challenge Cup for eights rowing as Griffen B.C. and the girls from Latymer Upper School were victorious in the junior women's quadruple scull. Their delight rounded off the regatta as they punched the air in celebration.
There were record crowds and peerless skies for the Regatta's final three days. The 2014 Regatta will be the 175th anniversary of the first staging of the Regatta in 1839 and takes place from 2- 6 July.
“This year's Regatta has been one of the best I can remember – great crowds and fantastic rowing', said Henley Royal Regatta Chairman, Mike Sweeney.