GVSU rowing competes in Henley Royal Regatta

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Moments from the Lubbers Cup Regatta on Saturday morning, April 9, 2016.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Moments from the Lubbers Cup Regatta on Saturday morning, April 9, 2016.

Mason Tronsor

England–the birthplace of Shakespeare and the Beatles–was home to the 2016 Henley Royal Regatta. The Grand Valley State men’s and women’s rowing club competed at the prestigious event from June 15-29.

The Henley Royal Regatta is arguably one of the best-known regattas in the world and attracts thousands of spectators who are thrilled by the 200-plus races of international standards, including Olympians and crews new to the event.

GVSU was in deep waters, as they raced against some of the top teams in the United States as well as top-level international competition. Notable college teams from the States featured Drexel, Harvard, Cornell, Princeton and Massachusetts, among many others.

“The competition was very fast and very competitive,” said GVSU coach Michelle Goodwin. “There were a lot of international teams and college teams as well. Mainly, the teams were outside of England. This was the best year for international teams at a record high.”

Rowing in England compared to the US is vastly different in terms of the competition style. US regattas primarily race multiple teams against each other in the same race. However, in England, most races pit just two teams against each other; one boat against another boat.

“Rowing at the Henley Regatta is now my favorite to-date race in England,” said junior Ellie Peebles. “I really like the intensity of only having two boats in one race compared to a usual six to eight.”

Peebles, a native of Eastbourne, UK, treated the race like a homecoming of sorts. This year she studied abroad in the US and experienced many new adventures, especially with her teammates.

Not only did the Lakers experience the hometown of one teammate; they also ventured out to many tourist areas England had to offer.

“We went to London and saw all the major tourist sights like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Tower Bridge,” Goodwin said. “Some of the team ventured to Oxford, Windsor castle (the queen’s country home).”

The races were intense and very competitive. Lack of success is far from the future implications of the rowing team for the Lakers. Several novice rowers between both the men’s and women’s teams made the trip. This should bode well for the future outlook of the Laker navy.

“I think having the younger athletes make the trip really gives them a taste of the excitement and competition of Henley and the drive to want to come back again in the future,” Goodwin said. “I think it is a fantastic experience to be able to go over and race teams that we would never have the opportunity to race regularly.”

Only the top 10-12 rowers get to go each trip for the Lakers, and will serve as motivation for the rowers who didn’t make the trip, as well as rowers who want to back it back to England.

“I think this trip will help the team in future competitions because it gives everyone something to work for,” said sophomore Emily Koons. “Although we do have tough competitions in the states, the tougher competition is overseas, and to get there, you have to beat out your other teammates that also want to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity.”