ROWING: Isle of Ely quartet make club history by reaching final at world-famous Henley Royal Regatta

The Isle of Ely Rowing Club's junior quarter at the Henley Royal Regatta.

The Isle of Ely Rowing Club's junior quarter at the Henley Royal Regatta. - Credit: Archant

Four Isle of Ely rowers were seconds away from winning one of rowing’s most prestigious trophies last weekend.

The club’s junior quartet of Freya Dingwall, Rebecca Welch, Kate Lyster and Helena O’Donnell breezed through qualifying in the Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta, entertaining thousands on the riverside before narrowly losing out in their first ever final to reigning champions, Gloucester.

They began their route to the competition’s showpiece by easing to a two length victory over the Eleanor Holles School, followed by a commanding two-and-a-quarter length success over Godolphin Latymer in the quarter-finals.

The quartet produced another strong performance in the last four against home crew Henley, leading from the start to win by two-and-a-quarter lengths once again.

That victory put them into the final and a meeting with defending champions Gloucester – a re-match of the Henley Women’s Regatta that look place a last month.

But, in a repeat of that race, Gloucester were too strong and, despite, Ely taking an early lead, the champions clinched the title for a fourth consecutive year.

An Isle of Ely spokesman said: “It was the first time than an Isle of Ely crew had reached the finals at Henley.

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“Coached by Peter Lee, the quartet received plaudits about the quality of their sculling.”

Those plaudits included praise from commentators, with one saying: “Gloucester’s win doesn’t take anything away from how incredibly talented this Isle of Ely crew is.

“The racing that we have seen – in order to progress day-to-day – has taken such a high standard.”

In the Women’s Regatta, held over the weekend of June 16, the Isle of Ely squad saw off competition from Veney Rowing Club of Switzerland and Henley to progress into the final of the J4 category, before losing out to Gloucester Hartpury in the final on June 18.

Last weekend’s Regatta saw over 200 races which involved Olympic standard crews and new crews. The Oxfordshire-based competition is regarded as rowing’s most well-known tournament.

Cambridge University, whose boathouse is based in Ely, also made it to a final, but lost to Leander in the Visitors’ Cup.