Harvard Wins at Henley

Harry Parker's last crew takes the Visitors’ Challenge Cup at England's Royal Regatta

Winning oarsmen (left to right)  James O’Connor, Josh Hicks, Charles Risbey, and Andrew Holmes celebrate.

Four oarsmen from Harry Parker’s last crew rowed a “straight” (uncoxed) four to victory in the Visitors’ Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta in Henley-on-Thames, England, on Sunday. In an all-Harvard final, the first at Henley since 2002, the heavies beat a Crimson lightweight four by three lengths. In the process they set a new event record, bettering the old mark held by Leander Club of Great Britain by five seconds.

It marked the thirtieth Henley win by a crew coached by the late Harry Parker, whose matchless 51-year career as mentor to Harvard’s heavyweight oarsmen ended with his death on June 25. The Leander Club, whose clubhouse is on the Thames just past the Henley finish line, flew its flag at half-mast in Parker’s honor, and hosted a banquet for Harvard rowers as a salute to the recently deceased coach. (At Newell Boathouse, a Scottish bagpiper played on the dock the morning of Saturday, June 29, as a final homage to Parker.)

This year’s heavyweight varsity had an extraordinarily good spring, even by Parker’s high standards. Undefeated in the regular season, they won the Eastern Sprints and came second to Washington at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA) regatta, which determines the men’s national champion. The Harvard lightweight crew, under head coach Charlie Butt, had an even better season, going undefeated, winning the Eastern Sprints, and repeating as national champions at the IRA regatta.

The heavyweights were the sole American crew to win this year at Henley; their triumph marked four consecutive years of Harvard victories there. The Crimson freshmen eight also raced and reached the final of Henley’s Temple Challenge Cup, where they lost by 2¼ lengths to an older Dutch crew from DSR Laga.

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