Following their success at Durham Regatta the Senior Men stepped up their preparations for Henley Royal Regatta by entering a Tier 2 coxless four and a Tier 2 coxless quad at Marlow Regatta on the 8-lane course at Dorney Lake on June 17th in what is traditionally the last opportunity for crews looking to pre-qualify for Henley.
An entry of 397 meant time trials for both crews, the four consisting of Oliver Negus, Jeff Gugelmann, Luke Gilderdale and John Roxborough finishing 38th in a time of 6.34.5 to qualify for the E final of the Championship & Tier 2 4-, while the quad consisting of Thomas Woods, David Beeby, William Standing and Elliot Kay were 19th in their time trial in 6.50.6 to qualify for the C final of the Championship & Tier 2 4x-.
The four placed 4th in the E final and 21st of the Tier 2 fours, and the quad placed 4th in the C final and 10th of the Tier 2 quad entries.
Qualifying races for Henley Royal Regatta were scheduled for the following Friday, and with the two crews entered for the Wyfold Challenge Cup (for Club coxless fours) and the Prince of Wales Challenge Cup (for Club coxless quads) not being fortunate enough to pre-qualify they were invited to the time trials that would determine those to go into Saturday’s draw.
There are few days in the British sporting calendar with as much at stake for so many as the Qualifying Races for Henley Royal Regatta. There were 2,323 athletes in 440 crews competing on the famous stretch of water at Henley-on Thames on Friday, with only 772 in 130 crews going through to join those pre-qualified, meaning that for more than two-thirds the journey would end.
Sadly the DARC quad had to withdraw before the qualifier but the four was one of 36 to line up at 2.30pm with 8 qualifying places at stake. The Senior Men put on a performance to be proud of, with Oliver Negus, William Sepanski, Josiah George and John Roxborough seeing them through to a qualification for the world famous Regatta and a last-32 battle due to take place on Tuesday.
John Roxborough who was also in the last DARC crew to qualify over a decade ago summed up the performance, “The lads in the boat pulled out an incredible row. Attacked the race. Committed to the end and fought for every second. I’m hugely proud of them all”.
“There may be 4 grinning faces in this photo but that doesn’t even begin to tell the tale of this boat and squad. From those who didn’t make the boat yet raced and trained in it, allowing us to race at Marlow. The boys who helped with seat racing and huge thanks that Dan and Elliot deserve for sorting out logistics/beer”.
“This might be a crew of 4 but there’s 16 other lads not in the photo. 3 coxes who gave up their time all season. Tim, who helped coach us and the junior lads who subbed in whenever we needed them. We’ll try and do you all proud”.
As coach Tim Morris put it, “Absolute joy and pride for the guys qualifying in the Wyfolds. What a journey…you couldn’t make this stuff up”.
Saturday’s draw, conducted in Henley Town Hall by Regatta Chairman Sir Steve Redgrave, set up a first round encounter between Durham ARC and Star Club at 10.05am on Tuesday.
A strong performance wasn’t quite enough and the verdict over the 2112 metres went to Star by 1 1/3 lengths.