The Prince Albert Challenge Cup features a very large entry from the United States this year, with the draw consisting of eight home crews and eight from the US. As in the Temple Challenge Cup, the fastest UK crew so far and home favourite is Oxford University Brookes. Their crew features two losing finalists from last year’s Temple Challenge Cup crew in Alfie Heath and Ben Witting, as well as a Junior World Champion in the eight for Great Britain in 2018, Connor Sheridan. They are coxed by Scott Cockle, who was a finalist in the Britannia Challenge Cup in 2018 in an all junior Molesey crew and also represented Great Britain at the Coupe de la Jeunesse in 2017 winning two gold medals in the coxed four. Brookes won the championship coxed fours at Marlow Regatta, finishing almost five seconds up on their closest UK student opposition, Cambridge University.
All five members of the Cambridge crew won the reserve boat race in the Goldie crew this year and two of them, Tom Strudwick and Jonty Page, were losing finalists in this event last year. Strudwick also won a silver medal in the eight at the European U23 Championships for Great Britain in 2017 and cox Charlie Marcus won two gold medals for GB in the eight at the Coupe de la Jeunesse in 2016.
Finishing less than a second behind Cambridge at Marlow Regatta were Durham University. Their crew is stroked by Oscar Lindsay, returning from their Prince Albert crews of 2017 and 2018. Lindsay represented GB in the coxed four at the U23 World Championships in 2018 and also represented GB at the Junior World Championships in 2015 and 2016, winning a silver medal in the coxless four in 2016. Also in the crew is Magnus Burgess-Smith. Both Burgess-Smith and Lindsay won the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup with Eton College in 2016.
Also in the A final of the championship coxed fours at Marlow Regatta were the University of London, finishing five seconds behind Durham. They have one returner from their 2018 Prince Albert semi-finalist crew in Yiana Shakespeare, as well Isaac Workman who won the Fawley Challenge Cup with The Windsor Boys’ School in both 2017 and 2018. They also have junior international representation in Tom Worthington, who won a bronze medal in the GB eight at the 2017 Junior World Championships.
Last year’s winners Imperial College London’s top crew is entered in the Temple Challenge Cup this year, with their Prince Albert crew being the second ranked boat. They finished third in the university and college coxed fours at Marlow Regatta and they are likely to have a close first round race with St. Andrew’s University, who raced in the C final of the championship coxed fours at Marlow Regatta, finishing in a faster time than Imperial.
The strongest of the US crews looks to be Harvard University, with their crew consisting of three oarsmen from the second varsity eight, which won the Eastern Sprints and finished fourth at the IRA National Championships, and one from the IRA bronze medal winning third varsity. They are coxed by Ed Bracey, a finalist in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup in 2018 with Eton College.
The bottom half of the draw looks likely to produce a semi final between Oxford Brookes and either Harvard or Cambridge. Should Harvard show their rumoured speed and make it to this stage, we think this will be a very exciting race which will decide the winner of this event. The top half of the draw features the top crews from both University of London and Durham, with Durham appearing to have the stronger form. We’re predicting a Durham vs Brookes final with Brookes taking the win. In previous years Brookes have not always shown the same level of speed in smaller boats as they do in eights, but this year they have turned this around in spectacular fashion, winning both championship and intermediate coxed fours at BUCS regatta this year, taking both first and second place in championship coxed fours on the Sunday of the Metropolitan Regatta, and winning the championship coxed fours at Marlow Regatta. Their crew contains a great level of Henley experience with three losing finalists from last year’s regatta as well as strong junior international representation and this will make them very difficult to beat.