Cambridge compete in the Visitor’s Challenge CupAll Mark One

Cambridge University Boat Club marked the end of a successful year of rowing at the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta 2023. Cambridge qualified crews in two student categories, the Temple Challenge Cup (the Men’s Coxed Eight) and the Prince Albert Challenge Cup (the Men’s Coxed Four); one intermediate event, the Visitor’s Challenge Cup (the Men’s Coxless Four); and three open categories, the Princess Royal Challenge Cup (Women’s Single) , the Hambledon Pairs Challenge Cup (Women’s Pair) and the Silver Goblets and Nickalls Challenge Cup (Men’s Pair).

Cambridge’s success started on Wednesday when the men’s eight competed in the Temple Challenge Cup against Durham University C. The Cambridge crew, made up of several members of the winning Lightweight Boat Race crew and two members of the winning Goldie crew, achieved a comfortable win against Durham and went into the quarter finals against Princeton University A on Friday. The race became a battle of the lightweights. Both Cambridge and Princeton have some of the most successful lightweight programmes in their respective countries and both crews were composed of mostly lightweight athletes. While Cambridge took an early lead out of the start, Princeton did not let them get away and retook the lead going into the second half of the course. Although the Cambridge crew dug in and put in an impressive surge of power, unfortunately Princeton were able to escape them.

Next up was the Visitor’s Challenge Cup. This saw the Cambridge crew of Ollie Parish, Luca Ferraro, Thomas Lynch and Brett Taylor take on R.C. Allemannia and Germania. An aggressive start from both crews set the marker of a competitive race. Experienced stroke Ollie Parish (in his fourth Henley appearances) set a strong rhythm and, indeed, it was the experience and technical cohesion of Cambridge that seemed to put pressure on the German crew who failed to close the increasing gap. The quarter-finals saw Cambridge once again take on a very high calibre Princeton crew who are all members of the Princeton heavyweight Varsity eight. Despite a strong performance by Cambridge it was Princeton that took the win, ending the hopes of the Cambridge four.

Thursday saw Freya Keto compete in the Princess Royal Challenge Cup against Hazel Wake (an OWLRC alumni). Keto dominated the race and took a comfortable win by clear water, going through into the quarter-finals where Keto gave another impressive performance against Australian athlete Cara Grzeskowiak but unfortunately missed out on a place in Saturday’s semifinals.


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In the quarter finals of the Hambledon Pairs Challenge Cup Isabella Bastian and Caoimhe Dempsey, despite a strong and technical race, were overpowered by Juliette Perry and Amelia Standing, who are contenders for the GB team from Leander Rowing Club.

Finally, in the Silver Goblet and Nickalls Challenge Cup, Noam Mouelle and Seb Benzecry were put against the Canadian U23 pair Jack Walkey and Joel Cullen. A powerful start from both crews saw them neck and neck until, coming off the starting sequence, the Canadian crew began to draw away and had opened a significant gap by time they reached the enclosure. However, the Cambridge pair did not give up and kept the pressure on throughout the course, doing everything they could to try and close the gap. Despite such an impressive fight, the Canadians claimed the eventual victory.

Elsewhere, many CUBC alumni were successful in this year’s regatta. Tom George and Ollie Wynne-Griffiths (who rowed in the men’s Blue Boat in 2022) were victorious in the Silver Goblets and Nickalls Cup, while Freddie Davidson (who was in the Blue Boat every year from 2017 to 2020) won the Steward’s Cup in the GB coxless four. Sarah Portsmouth (part of the women’s Blue Boat in 2020, 2021, and 2022) also won the Wargrave Cup and Tom Strudwick (who was in Goldie from 2017-2019) won the Thames Cup, both representing Thames RC.