Members of Harvard's winning boat (Right to left: James O'Connor, Josh Hicks, Charles Risbey, Andrew Holmes) of The Visitor's Challenge Cup celebrate their win (photo courtesy Henley Royal Regatta).
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HENLEY-ON-THAMES, England – The Harvard heavyweight crew capped an impressive season by claiming The Visitors' Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta for the first time ever Sunday. The Crimson beat its Newell Boathouse counterparts, the Harvard lightweight crew, in the first all-Harvard final at Henley since 2002.
Harvard also picked up a second-place showing from its freshman eight, which was downed by DSR Laga (Netherlands) by 2 1/4 lengths in The Temple Challenge Cup.
"It was awesome having a Harvard-Harvard final and having all three of our boats advance to Sunday," said Bill Manning, Associate Head Coach of Heavyweight Crew. "To be the only American crew to win and win at Henley for the fourth straight year is a great accomplishment for the program."
It was the first regatta for Harvard since the passing of legendary coach Harry Parker on June 25. The Leander Club of Henley-on-Thames flew its flag at half-staff to honor Parker, who helped Harvard to three records at Henley, more than any other university, during his 51-year career. Sunday marked the 30th Henley win by a Parker-coached Harvard crew.
Harvard's heavyweights jumped to an early lead and continued to build its advantage throughout. By the midway point of the race, the Crimson had the Visitors' record in sight as the boat was nearly even with the pace Leander Club & Imperial College London set in 2011. Harvard cruised from there and crushed Leander's record by five seconds to cross the finish line three lengths ahead of the lightweights.
Both crews sent four members of their respective varsity eights to The Visitors' Challenge Cup, a coxless fours event. The crews' varsity eights combined to go 15-0 in dual races and win both EARC Sprints titles in 2012-13. The lightweights also claimed the Head of the Charles Regatta and the IRA National Championship.
The Harvard freshmen were outdone by a group of older athletes out of Delft University of Technology that represented DSR Laga, one of top three Dutch rowing programs. DSR Laga pulled ahead early and the Crimson could not muster a comeback.
Incoming freshmen Matthew Carter and James Johnston also left Henley with a title. Carter rowed with Abingdon School and helped it defend The Princess Elizabeth Cup with a 1/2-length win over St. Edward's School. Johnston was in the Leander Club 'A' boat for its Prince of Wales Challenge Cup victory, 4 1/2 lengths ahead of Aalesunds Roklub and Moss Roklubb (Norway).
Vincent Breet '16 advanced through to Sunday's racing in a double representing Tuks Rowing Club (South Africa) in The Silver Goblets and Nickalls' Challenge Cup, but fell in the final.
The Visitors' Challenge Cup
Harvard 'A' (Heavyweights) Boating
Stroke: Andrew Holmes; 3: Charles Risbey; 2: Josh Hicks: Bow: James O'Connor
Harvard 'B' (Lightweights) Boating
Stroke: Alexander Bonorris; 3: Stuart Taylor; 2: Austin Meyer; Bow: Matt O'Leary
The Temple Challenge Cup
Coxswain: Don Kim; Stroke: Rory Glover; 7: James Croxford; 6: Craig Slater; 5: Gregory Edwards; 4: Stefano Belfiore; 3: Adam Janes; 2: Achim Harzheim; Bow: Abraham Polinsky