Heavyweight Rowing is Henley Bound
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Gene Boyars
NEW YORK The heavyweight rowing program’s first varsity eight will conclude its wildly successful season with a trip to one of the most respected and unique rowing competitions in the world, the Henley Royal Regatta.

“Taking a crew to Henley is the ultimate reward for a successful season,” Head Coach Mike Zimmer said. “I can’t think of a more deserving group of student-athletes. The team has worked extremely hard and has accomplished milestones unseen in Columbia Rowing for a half-century. Henley is the perfect cap to the season.”

The inaugural Henley Regatta was staged in 1839 and has been held annually ever since, except during the two World Wars. Columbia was actually the first American team to win a race at Henley, doing so in 1878.

“I am thrilled that our student-athletes will have the opportunity to compete in such a prestigious event as Henley,” said Columbia’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Physical Education, Dr. M. Dianne Murphy. “(Head Coach) Mike Zimmer exemplified integrity and dedication while leading his team to the most successful season in more than 30 years and revitalizing the heavyweight rowing program. They are truly deserving of this honor.”

Held on the Thames River in England, the Regatta was established before national or international rowing federations.

Unlike multi-lane international regattas, Henley still operates a knock-out draw with only two boats racing in each heat, resulting in up to 100 races in five days. Due to time constraints, races are started at 5-minute intervals.

The length of the course is 2,112 meters (1 mile, 550 yards), which is 112 meters longer than the standard international distance.

It will be the Lions’ fifth appearance at Henley in the past 25 years, but the first for the heavyweight eight. Columbia was represented by a heavyweight four in 1985, by men’s lightweight eights in 1998 and 2000, and by a lightweight four in 2003.