We’ve just returned from the Henley Royal Regatta. Wow, what a spectacle! Henley is arguably the most important rowing event of the year anywhere in the world – it is certainly the most glamorous. The HRR has been held every year since 1839 with the finals the first weekend in July in Henley-on-Thames – about 35 miles west of London. (Note – easily reachable by train from London.)
The races are all “head to head” over a 2112 meter course on the River Thames. This year there were 660 entries with about 160 crews representing 17 nations. All told about 1900 athletes.
However, this is much more than a race. Its a little bit of Kentucky Derby meets Royal Ascot meets Tour de France. Several thousand spectators mostly congregated near the Leander Club – the sponsor of the race. Gentlemen are required to wear coat and tie – with color combinations all over the palette. Ladies must wear skirts or dresses (absolutely no slacks, shorts or culottes) – that extend below the knee! I’m told that if the weather gets unbearably hot, gentlemen are permitted to remove their jackets – but only following a formal announcement.
The other wonderful aspect of the Regatta is the food and drink. The offering puts the typical American tailgate to shame. Champagne, salmon mousse, cucumber sandwiches, Victoria sponge cake, and much, much more. Oh, and more champagne. There is also a break in the races for teatime. Very civilized.
If you want to attend a fabulous event, we highly recommend the HRR. Be sure to order tickets well in advance – they sell out every year.