LivingTravelWhat you need to know to attend the Royal...

What you need to know to attend the Royal Henley Regatta

The Henley Royal Regatta is one of the largest rowing events in the world. Every July the world’s best rowers head to Henley-on-Thames, west of London, for the Royal Henley Regatta. International college teams, rowing clubs and Olympic rowers from around the world pit their skills in head-to-head engagements on a stretch of the Thames along the Buckinghamshire – Oxfordshire border. Meanwhile, viewers eat strawberries and cream, drink Pimms, and admire their outfits.

And to think that this anchor of the English sports social calendar began as a publicity stunt to attract tourists.

A historic event for rowers and rowing teams

In 1839, the mayor and people of Henley-on-Thames hosted a rowing race in July as part of a fair to attract fun seekers to the city. You have to give it to the local reinforcements. They started one of the best rowing events in the world for rowing teams and individual rowers, clubs, schools and universities.

With the exception of the two world wars years, Henley’s regatta has taken place ever since, growing from a one-day local event to a five-day rowing gathering that attracts top international teams and champion athletes as well. like thousands of viewers.

The rules

This event accessory is unique to crew rowing events. Because it started long before the national and international rowing federations were formed, it has its own set of rules. And, although it is not subject to the jurisdiction of the Amateur Rowing Association in England or the Federation International de Rowing (FISA), both officially recognize it.

Rowing at Henley is head to head. The races are organized in draws with only two boats competing on the one-mile, 550-yard course in each series. That generates a lot of runs, with up to 100 runs, each of which lasts about 7 minutes per day.

Who competes

There are a variety of classes and combinations for men and women: eight and four men, pairs with and without cox, pairs without cox, double and quadruple sculls, and single sculls for men and women. Athletes include Olympic hopefuls, club rowing teams, school rowing teams, and college rowing teams. They come from everywhere. In recent years, international rowing crews have arrived from Australia, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, France, Poland, the Netherlands, the United States, Germany, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, South Africa and Great Britain.

Every year, more than 100 teams are foreign.

Rowing crews or individual rowers competing against each other in the heats are determined after a series of qualifying races approximately one week before the regatta begins. Qualifying teams are entered into a public drawing at Henley-on-Thames City Hall.

How to watch

There are two “Enclosures” or observation areas to view the race. Since the regatta owns most of the riverside and parking area on the Oxfordshire side and part of it on the opposite side of Buckinghamshire, you really need to buy a ticket to watch the race.

The Commissioners’ Precinct

The regatta is managed by a self-elected body known as the Stewards. There are 55 of them and most are well known rowers and scullers. The Stewards compound is the area of the riverbank closest to the end and is for the use of the Stewards and their guests. In practice, a certain amount of corporate hospitality and charitable donations make tickets to this venue occasionally available.

Parking for this compound is separate from the general parking lot and closer to the grounds.

The dress code that applies within the Stewards compound requires suits or blazer and flannel pants for men. We wondered if the dress code for women had been relaxed a bit in 2018, but it wasn’t an opportunity. They are dresses below the knee, without pants, culottes or split skirts. While hats are not required, most women wear them. This is one of the great events in England.

The regatta venue

The regatta venue is open to non-members. The participating athletes, along with their supporters, often watch from here. Anyone can buy a ticket to the race venue.

Tickets are technically sold in advance until the last week of June, but in practice, they usually sell out in late winter. After that, they are available on a first-come, first-served basis, at the gate. If you arrive early, you can usually get a ticket to the race venue, although you may not be able to participate in some of the major challenge races on the Saturday of the race.

There is no dress code for the race venue, but people generally dress here as well. The enclosure has catering facilities, bars, unreserved seating and restrooms.

Use of mobile telephony

While you can use your cell phone to take pictures of the Stewards Precinct, you are not allowed to make or receive phone calls within its limits. If you are caught talking on a cell phone, a security guard will ask you to hang up and your ID number will be taken to make sure the responsible member is notified (or embarrassed). If you are caught using a cell phone a second time, you will be escorted out of the compound.

How to get there

  • By car: the traffic during the regatta is abominable and the traffic pattern in the city center makes it even worse. It can take up to four hours to make the one-hour, 35-mile drive from London. Don’t drive if you can help it. But if you must, here are the instructions from London:
    • From the M4 motorway, exit at Junction 8/9 onto the A404 and follow the signs for Henley.
    • Take the 3rd exit off the A404 onto the A4130 toward Henley.
    • If you can reserve your tickets in advance, reserve your parking for the Race Venue at the same time. Otherwise, parking, like closed tickets, is available on a first-come, first-served basis. There are varying degrees of parking passes and those closest to the main venues cost the most, sometimes more than the venue tickets themselves.
  • By Train: The train is definitely the smart way to get to Henley. Also, the train will be packed with others heading to Henley and it’s fun to look over the clothes and hats that everyone wears. The journey takes a little over an hour and the train station is about five minutes south of the city center. Once you arrive, just follow the crowds and signs to the river. Trains to Henley-on-Thames run regularly from London Paddington Station, with connecting service via Twyford or Reading.

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