This weekend marks the 30th anniversary of Women’s Henley Regatta and it's certainly changed since the first regatta was held in June 1988! Today, more than 40% of the country’s active registered rowers are female. A stark contrast to the early 1960’s where the total number of oarswomen in England was less than 1000.
Thankfully, young female novices are now inspired and encouraged to go for gold in a sport which has seen female rowers excel on the international stage at World Championships, World Cups and the Olympics.
A first milestone was achieved in 1968 when the ARA committed financial support for women’s rowing and their international efforts. And, over time the number of female rowers continued to increase as did the standard of rowing.
Notably in 1987, Women’s National Coach, Rosie Mayglothing – who had won the Invitation double sculls at Henley 1982 with her partner Astrid Ayling – suggested women should organise their own Henley Regatta.
Through sheer persistence Mayglothing and Christine Aistrop convinced the Stewards of HRR to give permission for the first women’s regatta to be held on the course in June 1988, albeit with certain provisos!
For example, the regatta was to be held two weeks before HRR and, should bad weather delay the timetable, the course would not be available. Use of the HRR enclosures was also not permitted.
So to make Remenham Farm (Temple Island Meadows) the focal point of the regatta, the HWR committee agreed to reverse the direction of the course (so the opposite direction to the men's race). The inaugural regatta was to be rowed over a 2,000m course from the Regatta finish, down to the upstream end of Temple Island. Once this decision was made, the Stewards allowed HWR the use of certain facilities at the Regatta finish, including the Floating Stand, for aligning and starting purposes, and a raft for the boating area.
Over the years, many aspects of the event have changed as the sport of women’s rowing has matured: the direction of the course, the number and size of the races, the participation of international crews, qualification rules, etc. The Regatta continues to grow, as does the level of competition.
Here at Crewroom we salute all the women who’ve worked tirelessly over the last 30 years to make this such a successful and enjoyable event. Go ladies!
Crewroom will be based in the Remenham Farm Retail Village for the duration of HWR.