“Racing at HWR is a unique experience”

Starting tomorrow the riverside in Henley-on-Thames will be packed with rowing boats, rowers, coxes, coaches, supporters and volunteers for what will be the highlight of women’s rowing in the UK, Henley Women’s Regatta (HWR).


Lowenna in the 2 seat and Marieke in the 6 seat of the 8+

With 441 entries, it is another record year reflecting the continued growth and importance of this event both domestically and abroad, making it one of the biggest female-only rowing events in the world.

Three of British Rowing’s employees: Lowenna Coad, Sport Administrator, GB Rowing Team; Marieke Bal, Insight Analyst, Innovation Team; and Jacqui Johnston, Education and Training Area Manager, Education and Training Team are competing at Henley Women’s Regatta and share their thoughts on the weekend.

Lowenna, a six-time competitor at HWR said “Racing at HWR is a unique experience. It’s picturesque: set in a beautiful stretch of the Thames Valley, with relatively placid waters and tree-lined banks. The markers along the course are referred to as landmarks rather than by distance but the defining feature, is the racing format: it’s one-on-one.” For Marieke this is her first HWR and she is looking forward to racing in this knock-out system “Unlike six lane regatta races where there is an opportunity to progress from the heat to the semi-final into the final and improve your performance throughout the day, there are no second chances at HWR”.

To add to the drama a drone will be hovering above each race

On top of that the course is shorter than normal -a 1500m sprint-, so there is little room for error: “Fail to produce your best performance and all the tough ergs, cold early mornings, the times you overcame the urge to switch off your alarm and race to be on time for your crew, will have been for nothing” says Lowenna.

Jacqui, who first competed at WHR in 2011 said: “It is great to see the progression of the event and I am excited to test myself in a very challenging discipline: the single scull, against the best female scullers in the country. Feel free to give me a wave!” Jacqui continued: “Beyond racing, I am really looking forward to chatting with the amazing umpires and volunteers who make the event a success.”

Jacqui Johnston 1x

To add to the drama a drone will be hovering above each race, filming battles live for anyone to follow. Marieke, a Dutch national said: “I am excited for my family and friends to get a good view of me racing and experience some of the excitement, particularly as it is tricky for them to travel to the UK to watch me race. Not only that the drone footage will give my crew and coaches a new perspective and perfect overview of all the races throughout the weekend allowing us to over-analyse our races and every single stroke for years to come!”

We wish the best of luck to all competitors at Women’s Henley and hope those members who have signed up to receive our newsletters enjoy receiving the daily highlights from all the drama from each day of racing.


Lowenna and Marieke are representing Thames Rowing Club and compete to win the GP Jefferies Memorial Trophy for Senior Eights whilst Jacqui is representing Tideway Scullers School in the lightweight single scull for the Fiona Dennis Trophy.

Photo credit: Mark Ruscoe

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