A grateful contribution from the Rowing Development Fund coupled with money raised from the Table Quiz helped the Inter four which raced successfully at Cork and Athlone finalise their plans for Henley Royal Regatta which was to be held from Wednesday 2nd to Sunday 6th July.
The crew of Stroke: Dermot O’Sullivan, 3: Siaghal MacColgain, 2: Diarmaid MacColgain, Bow: Padraig Oliver, Cox: Fiona Mulcahy were to race in the Coxed Four event for clubs and colleges – The Britannia Challenge Cup.
Of the five members only the bowman had raced at Henley before being a member of last years Temple Cup Eight which fell to eventual winners Harvard in the 2nd round.
The crew weighed in at a comparatively light 12 stone average but in the first round on the Wednesday had drawn Cambridge Lightweights at 10:20 am. Racing on the Buckshire station, College opened up a quick lead and cruised down the course at 31 to win by a comfortable 2 lengths.
The following day saw the crew get down to business as they had drawn seeds Nottingham and Union in the second round to be raced at 11:20 am. This crew had won the Elite Fours event at Marlow Regatta the previous week and were one of the favourites for the event.
With 2½ stone a man on College, they went into a quick 1 length lead off the start. However Coach John Holland had emphasised the importance of not allowing a crew to get clear water and so College hung on to the stern of their rivals while settling into a quick rhythm. Halfway down the course at Fawley, College made a push which brought them up to ½ length down but the Notts Union crew responded and restored their one length lead. At Remenham College pushed again to within ½ length but were once more repelled back to a 1 length deficit. Going by the Regatta Enclosures, College kept up the pressure and this time their rivals had no reply resulting in a 1 length win for UCD.
Intent on taking each race at a time, the crew now concentrated on their Quarter-Final rivals Mortlake Anglian and Alpha Boat Club who they were to race at 8:45 in the morning. With an average weight of 15 stone 3 pounds they also went into a ¾ length lead coming out of Temple Island after 30 strokes. But rather than resorting to panic the College crew settled into a quick easy rhythm at 36 strokes a minute and slowly began to row down their opposition bit by bit. With the lead cut to ½ length by Fawley, the Mortlake stroke called for a 10 stroke push to get them out of trouble but it made no impact. With their push done, College set off on their own 20 stroke push to pass and lead Mortlake by 1½ length at the finish.
The semi-final line up proved to be interesting reading as all four crews were College crews. UCD were amongst the three biggest rowing Colleges in the UK in Cambridge (Goldie), Oxford (Isis) and University of London. UCD had drawn the Cambridge reserves crew Goldie and were to race at the later time of 5:30 pm. Saturday at Henley is quite a sight to behold with the banks of the Thames packed full of spectators and the river clogged of cruisers, steamboats, punts and the odd racing boat.
College had their best start of the week and were only a canvas down on Goldie coming off the Island. However it seemed that the weeks tough racing had caught up on College and the Cambridge crew quickly opened up a 1 length lead. From Fawley on College made numerous pushes but if soon became evident that Goldie had done their homework by countering every attack. Going by the Grandstand, College made a final push to close the gap to two-thirds length before the finish line came too soon and the Henley experience was over for another year.
Goldie were to beat UL by ¾ length on Finals day. Despite coming to a disappointing end, the crew took solace in having the effect of turning a few heads and gaining some vital racing experience for the National Championships. Also, there was plenty of supporters around to aid them in toasting to a successful run at Henley that night.
Due to the resourceful work of David Broderick, the crew received Good Luck messages from supporters from around the world during the week. The crew would like to take this opportunity to thank all whose notes of support were greatly appreciated during the week. Reading them after the disappointment of Saturday also gave a real lift to the crew and will allow them to focus on the Championships rather than dwelling on what might have been. Thank you once more.