It’s been well known as one of the UK’s most spectacular summer sporting events for nearly 200 years and the Henley Regatta planned for 2016 is no exception, with over 200 races over a mile of the Thames in five days of fierce and fun competition.
The History of the Henley Regatta
Starting in 1839 in the early Victorian era and taking place as a boat race in a single afternoon, the Henley Regatta became instantly popular locally and nationally, growing over time to today’s international regatta. Such is the demand to be part of the competition that it was extended to the modern 5 day event in 1986, yet it retains a genteel Victorian style – from boaters to blazers, flags to flannels, boats to bow ties and club ties to competition cups!
The event has always traditionally taken place at Henley and is well recognised for a friendly garden party atmosphere, with just the right competitive edge to allow for all the fun of sporting competition between historic rowing clubs and international rowing teams, as well as student groups and junior events, which can include Olympic professionals alongside amateurs.
The ultimate aim is to win one of the competition’s famous ‘Pineapple’ cups. There are 20 different prize competitions within the various competition groups, which usually include:
- 6 competitions for Eights (crews of 8)
- 3 competitions for Coxless Fours (teams of 4 without a Coxswain)
- 2 competitions for Coxed Fours (teams of 4 with a Coxswain)
- 5 competitions for Quadruple Sculls (teams of 4)
- 1 Coxless Pair cup competition
- 1 Double Sculls cup competition
- 2 Single Sculls cup competitions
What happens at Henley?
Most spectators come down to watch from the bank on both sides of the Thames at Templeton, Henley-on-Thames. The competition itself is run as a knock-out competition, with a racing schedule which, depending on the number of teams entering, can mean more than 90 races in the course of each of the event days.
Each race runs along a mile and 550 yards from Templeton to Phyllis Court, with teams taking approximately 7 minutes to cover the course. Since 1886, the heats of the competition have been races between two boats at a time. With a growing number of competing teams, races now start at 5 minute intervals in the knock-out stages, the only way to allow so many to take place! On the finals day, only the finals races are held.
The event itself is full of exciting gladiator-style team rowing which can be enjoyed by rowing enthusiasts. However, the event is also a real spectator-sport, offering an exhilarating and fun day out for both race-cheering and people- watching, lessons in team work (from the club dynamics of the racers and those cheering them on) and a water-side view of sheer enthusiasm and entertainment.
A Day at the Races…
The 2016 Henley Regatta begins on Wednesday June 29th, with the race finals taking place on Sunday 3rd July 2016. Key areas of the riverbanks are usually allocated into specific enclosures, such as the Stewards Enclosure (for rowers, their relatives and specific members and their guests only) and the ticketed Regatta Enclosure (with ticket prices starting at £20).
It’s free to view from the long, narrow areas of the riverbank, although it’s necessary to get there early, particularly for that final weekend with the grand-racing semi-finals on Saturday 2nd July and the regatta finals on Sunday 3rd July.
The Dress Code
Attending the races is a real experience and being at Templeton for the starts of races offers a key position for viewing the nerves, jostling and enthusiasm as each race gets underway. The optimum viewing position for race starts is on the riverbank opposite Temple Island, but bear in mind that it is at least a mile down to the riverbanks and although the event lends itself to romantic notions of hats, heels and finery, on the trek to the riverbank heels are likely to hinder, rather than help.
If attending the event in one of the enclosures, it’s also worth knowing that there is a dress code which echoes the regatta’s history and pageantry. In the Steward’s Enclosure, women’s dresses should be of a length which falls below the knee and although hats are not compulsory, they are customary, whilst jackets or blazers, lounge suit or flannels and ties or cravats are required for the men.
In the Regatta Enclosure, the dress code is relaxed, smart casual, although many groups and individuals here (as well as along the free areas of the riverbank) tend to mirror the dress code of the Steward’s Enclosure as part of the spirit of the day, creating a riverbank spectacular of floaty florals and dapper blazers.
The Henley Hospitality
The iconic Henley Regatta is a real high-spot in the corporate hospitality calendar, with plenty of packages offering a waterfront position, a fine dining and cocktails concept, personal service and high-class guest facilities.
Content provided by: Team Tactics