Rowing is a sport, unlike others, that places endurance, physical fitness, teamwork and commitment to the crew above all else. There are no personal victories or losses. The crew wins together, and the crew loses together. Responsibility is endured by all, equally, always. The very embodiment of rowing is the challenge if offers to the human spirit – to push and pull in pursuit of a higher level of excellence, to go beyond the limitations of individuality where the rules and pace of the game are set by none other than the crew as a whole.
At the 2016 Henley Royal Regatta, 52 crews represented the USA from 31 different rowing clubs and universities. Fresh from victory at IRA's the University of California was entered in the Visitors', Temple, Ladies' and Diamond Cup. In the Grand Challenge Cup, the New York Athletic Club was entered to compete as were US Rowing training center's women' eight who had won gold at world's in Lucerne just prior to the regatta. While American crews only represent a small portion of the competition at Henley, USA rowers performed well.
This year's Henley Royal Regatta was not short on excitement, crashes, upsets and even controversy. The second year of Sir Steve Redgrave's tenure as Regatta chairman has seen a record entry of 629 crews, including 52 US crews–in itself a record, and up 45% on last year's figure of 114. There is something special about Henley. Or rather, many things. It's unique in the rowing world in terms of both its format as well as bringing together virtually every level of the sport. It's among the world's most historic and historically significant sporting events. And this year was certainly one for the ages.
The last twelve months have seen two key factors that have contributed to the Henley’s popularity. First, the award-winning live coverage on YouTube and on Facebook has been widely lauded. Second, aside from the Olympic Regatta, perhaps no other coverage has ever captured the sport in such idyllic style, with the aerial drone coverage illustrating both the nature of the course and the beauty of this famous stretch of the River Thames. It's a great art, is rowing. It's the finest art there is. It's a symphony of motion. And when you are doing well, why it's nearing perfection. And when you reach perfection, you're touching the divine. It touches the you of you, which is your soul. This is why we row.