Arguably the world’s most famous rowing meet, the Henley Royal Regatta, returned once more this year, and University of Birmingham Sport (UBSport) men’s coxed fours reached the last 8 of their competition to give Birmingham hope for the future.
Henley, this year held between June 27 and July 1, always brings the world’s finest rowers together in one place, and with the Olympics just around the corner the competition was as fierce as ever.
In order to reach Henley, teams were given the chance to pre-qualify for the event through victory at other national meetings.
And due to their winning performances at three national events, UBSport men's coxed four, made up of James Manfield, Andrea Ferrazzo, Mark Jinks, Alex Meigh and their cox Katherine Eyles managed to pre-qualify for Henley’s Prince Albert race.
Not only did this mean that the team avoided the gruelling qualification races, this was the first time that a team from the University has ever managed to be pre-qualified for Henley Royal Regatta.
The Prince Albert competition format was a straight knock-out, with 16 teams all battling it out to be crowned champions.
Birmingham faced up to Durham University in the first round, and dispatched them comfortably, winning by two lengths to make it into the last 8.
Here, they met Harvard University, but after a strong start, the Americans weight advantage showed in the head-winds, as they were able to punch through the tough conditions and come out on top over the 2112m course.
The team has reason to be optimistic for the future, though, as this is the first year that both Alex and Katherine have been involved in rowing.
A Birmingham team also attempted to qualify for the Regatta’s eights event for Universities, but the inexperienced team, which included 5 beginners, only just missed out on qualifying.
Rowing club head coach Richard Poole said after the race that was encouraged by both team’s performances, as he looks to build a strong club for the future.
"I am very pleased to see the progress of the club being shown in our results. We were up against some of the largest rowing programmes in the world and held our own. Birmingham will be back next year with an even stronger club, stronger crews and more medals."