Tulsa Rowing Club was represented at Henley Royal Regatta, July 3rd, 2013.
This day marked the first day that a crew from Oklahoma had been represented in Henley Royal Regatta. What follows is a few thoughts, photos and live action videos that hopefully represents some of the energy and magic of what was a wonderful opportunity for our club and a life changing experience for our hardworking student athletes, coaches and boosters.
It warrants mentioning that our crew did not have to participate in the qualifying races that are held the weekend before the main event starts. HRR is often oversubscribed in terms of entries in certain boat categories and so the event organizers have to run time trial races in order to reduce the number of entries to 32 before the five day main competition. We feel lucky and would like to express our gratitude to the HRR regatta committee that they selected our crew and therefore exempted us from this process. We undertook organizing and planning this trip knowing that it was very likely that we would have to participate in these qualifying races and that this could potentially mean that a place in the main competition was not certain by any means. There were many excellent crews who had worked as hard as we had done who did not get the opportunity to race during the 5-day event.
During the weekend before, we drew Nonesuch B.C. in the first round of the competition. This club is an offshoot of the Bristol University Rowing Club. These guys represent the alumni of this club and as such were probably in the 23-27 years of age with at least 3 years of college rowing under their belts.
When the crew took to the water, they were incredibly focused and had already learned a great deal about what rowing at Henley Royal Regatta is all about. The crew took the boat out of the launch tent and where greeted by masses of spectators who they had to ask to move out the way in order to put their boat in.
Coach Micah Hartwell, Grant Buchman and myself had acquired launch tickets and waited at the dock for our scheduled launch departure. It was a very strange experience to know that we were travelling to the start with the knowledge that our crew was going to compete at this prestigious event. I include two videos below. The first video shows the Steward’s enclosure that is a member’s only enclosure that runs the last 400m of the course. The second video shows some of the river traffic and a coxless fours race coming down the course and captures some of the energy of the racing and riverbank from the launch.
Hopefully, at this stage you know that our crew competed in the Thames Challenge Cup and lost to Nonesuch B.C. by a a margin of 3 lengths in a time of 7:16. What does not come across on paper and should be said is that our young men and lady battled bravely all the way down the race course and represented us exceptionally well. TRCJ is very proud of their level of commitment and the fact that they achieved a great deal to represent us and race at this event. These student athletes represented our club, our city, our state and our country exceptionally well. Everyone went home a winner from this trip.
What follows is a video of the entire race from start to finish from the umpire’s launch. It also bears mentioning that one of the passengers of the launch was alternate Grant Buchman who was also an integral part of the crew and only started rowing a year ago. Grant was and is an absolute gentleman and took final selection of the crew in stride, a true team player in every respect. This young man has a great career ahead of him.
After the race in the boat tent, the crew was greeted by the Nonesuch B.C rowers and handshakes ensued. It was safe to say that the better crew won as these men were clearly older, stronger and more experienced rowers. It was great to see that all athletes were class acts in victory and defeat. Following this, the team from Kingston Grammar school who were present and supported us came to greet our crew. Kingston Grammar School was the school that I attended (a few years ago ;-)) and had loaned us equipment for the trip. In addition, our crew scrimmaged their crew on the first weekend that we were in the UK. The coaches of KGS later remarked to me that our scrimmage helped their crew get out of a rut. Our crew had a great time meeting and getting to know them during the time of our visit so it was wonderful that we managed to have a team picture with both sets of rowers present.
The following Saturday I was fortunate enough to attend the Kingston Grammar School Booster Club luncheon. Without their support our trip would have been much more expensive and far less productive than it was. During this event I presented their club a plaque as a small token of our appreciation for all of their support. I thanked the coaching staff and all of the athletes and boosters who were present for all of their help and assistance. The time I spent at KGS and the time I spent on the team is very precious to me. It’s one of the reasons that TRCJ is so important and valuable to our community as it provides structure and direction for our young Tulsans. It’s a privilege to be able to serve the community participating in an activity that I am passionate about.
As an additional bonus, the club had named a pair/double Neil Bergenroth in recognition of contributions made to the program when I was fortunate enough to be rowing at the school. It was a privilege to be allowed the opportunity to christen the shell with a bottle of champagne. This was a very humbling experience for me, as it is certain that there were many other worthy people who should have a boat named after them.
In conclusion, this was an amazing trip for all involved. It was challenging to organize and implement and our athletes worked hard to make the most out of the experience. Organizing and fundraising for a trip such as this is a huge undertaking. The bottom line is that we got to race at Henley Royal Regatta and be part of the most amazing rowing event in the world. There is nothing that is quite like this in terms of rowing. I remember the first time we attended USRowing Youth Nationals six years ago and compare this to our two most recent and very positive efforts at this event. We learned a great deal and continue to progress as a club. Now we have our foot in the door at this event, the club will grow and continue to mature and we can progress and return to Henley at some stage in the future.
Finally, we wish to thank our sponsors for making this trip a reality for us. Without their support none of this would have been possible. THANK YOU!
The Price Family
Tulsa Rowing Club Juniors
Tony and Shawna Gehres
Rick Luttrell L.L.C
The Flint Family
Kingston Grammar School
Henley Rowing Club
Sir William Borlase School