THE big guns fired their opening salvos on day four at Henley Royal Regatta, as Tokyo Olympic 8s crew mates Josh Bugajski and Ollie Wynne-Griffith won their respective Silver Goblets quarter-finals with water to spare, reports NICK HARTLAND.

The Welsh duo will go to head-to-head for a place in the final in one of Saturday’s most mouth-watering clashes. And Old Monmothian Iwan Hadfield stroked his California Berkeley IRA champion 8 to a 3 1/2L win over Welsh cox Chris Clarke’s Thames/Army Ladies Plate 8 to make the last four.  


Racing into the stiff headwind, Issy Powell’s Leander four also won a Town Cup epic from the Australian squad, while Llandaff RC’s Hetty Palmer and Welsh crew mate Lydia Cronin helped their Vesta Wargrave Cup women’s 8 to a fabulous comeback win over Australians Sydney RC.

Palmer’s fellow River Taff rower Rhiannon Morgan and her London University Island Cup college 8 were always in control against Dutch outfit Groninger to make the semis as well.

And former Goldie rower Tom Strudwick also made it through in his Thames RC Thames Cup 8. But there were near misses for several Welsh rowers, none more so than Monmouth’s Stephen Griffiths and Louis Paterson, whose Wyfold Cup boats were both pipped in epic semi-finals, and Welsh GB cap Matt Rowe, whose Brookes Visitors four lost a classic battle with Oxford’s Blue Boat quartet.

Welsh Rowing and Cardiff University graduate Bugajski and GB partner Harry Glenister were more than 5L up by the time they reached the Barrier against the game but outclassed Itchen Imperial club duo. And they were down to 21 strokes a minute along the enclosures as they won by 5L in 8mins 31secs.

Wynne-Griffith and Cambridge Blue partner Tom George had it just as easy against their Tideway Scullers opponents, also dropping to 21 before winning easily in 7.53. One thing’s for sure, it won’t be so sedate when the GB duos line up against each other at 5.30pm on day five.

Hadfield, who learnt to row at Cardiff & Vale Schools, stroked his Golden Bears 8 into an early clear water lead over Clarke’s Thames/Army boat and were always in control, cruising in at 26 3 1/2L clear in 6.31 to set up a semi-final battle with fellow Americans Dartmouth. Powell’s four and the Australians had to return to the boat tents for a repair before finally getting things on at the end of Friday’s morning session. The Henley outfit had 3/4L at the Barrier, but the margin was only 1/3L at the half-way Fawley mark and two foot at the Mile.The Aussies fractionally got their bows in front to lead by a foot at the Mile and 1/8th, but Leander somehow surged again to race past in the last 20 strokes and win by 1/2L.

Palmer and Cronin’s Vesta boat trailed by 3/4L at the 1/4-Mile, but kept their composure to reduce the margin to 1/4L at the Fawley mark. The lead was only a canvas at the 3/4-Mile and the Tideway outfit then inched past to lead by the same margin at the Mile. And lifting the rate to 38 they came home 3/4L in front in 7.27 to set up a Saturday semi with Leander.

Strokeman Rowe’s Brookes boat spent the whole race nipping at Oxford Uni’s heels after the Dark Blues took an early lead. But their final charge from a length down fell 1/2L short as their derby rivals won in 6.58 in the penultimate race of the day. In the previous race, Taurus strokeman Paterson’s Wyfold crew trailed Thames RC by 1/3L at the Barrier in their semi and were 1 1/4L down at the Mile Post. They attacked hard along the enclosures but despite gaining an overlap, Thames stood firm to win by 3/4L in 7.11.

It was even closer for fellow Monmouth man Griffiths in the other semi, where his Upper Thames boat steadily chipped away at a 3/4-Mile 1L deficit to trail Norwegians Oslo by 1/2L with 20 strokes to go and all but overhauled them at 39 strokes a minute, missing out by a bare canvas in 7.10. Meanwhile, Rhiannon Morgan’s UL boat controlled their Island Cup quarter-final with Groninger from the off, leading by 1 1/2L at the Barrier and coming home 3L clear rating 28 in 7.40.

Saturday’s reward is a semi-final with Yale, who put out the Welsh rower’s former Llandaff RC junior doubles partner Angharad Broughton and her Washington University crew by 2 3/4L in the fastest quarter-final time of 7.18.

World U23 finalist Katherine George and her GB partner Vwairé Obukohwo battled all the way against Australian squad duo Reardon and Coleman before bowing out of the Stonor Cup doubles by 1 3/4L in 8.08. And after their exertions in the four, Issy Powell’s Remenham Cup Leander 8 also lost out by 4 1/2L to the US squad. Welsh Rowing and Swansea University graduate Aidan Thompson and Queen’s Belfast doubles partner Nathan Hull missed out as well by 4L to GB duo Haywood and Bourne, while Welsh cox Sam Royston bowed out too, his Upper Thames Wargrave Cup 8 losing by 2 3/4L to Leander after a slight second stroke shipwreck.  

Welsh junior Innes Jackson and his Hereford Cathedral Fawley Cup quad fought hard with St Andrews in their last-eight clash, and had reduced an early deficit to just 1/2L at Fawley. But the Scots rallied and surged away along the enclosures to win by 1 1/2L in 7.05. And Carwyn Davies’ Kingston boat went down by 3 1/2L to Windsor Boys in the same event, in a time of 7.02. Welsh trio Luke Dillon, Archie Barker and Giorgio Poletti helped their King’s Chester Princess Elizabeth Cup 8 to a 2L win over Claire’s Court earlier in the week before the Dee outfit rowed down Australian seeds Scots College after Fawley to win by 1L. But defending champions Eton had too much firepower in Friday’s quarter-final, winning by more than 4L and must be favourites to win again.

George Stadden, Will Harris and Lewis Gray and their Shrewsbury School boat also bowed out to Radley College by 3 1/2L after wins over St George’s by 2 1/2L and Westminster School by 3/4L, who they rowed down mid-race.

Photos Oarstruck Photography

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