As It Happened | The Henley Royal Regatta


The 2015 edition of the Henley Royal Regatta, first established in 1839, took place a couple weeks back, with nearly 200 races over the five-day event on the River Thames. A highlight of the English social season as well as a world-class sporting event, it combines competition and camaraderie in the best British tradition. In the top result of this year’s proceedings, Great Britain’s men’s eight beat Olympic champions Germany in the final of the Grand Challenge Cup. Rowing as Leander and Molesey Boat Club, the world champions won by two-and-three-quarter lengths.

Though many U.S. crew teams entered competition, the only one to make a strong showing was the University of Washington, which having earlier knocked out the Harvard University ‘A’ in the Semi-Finals beat Yale to bring home the Prince Albert Challenge Cup. In some ways not much has changed at Henley in the past 50 years; on the other hand, they now have a YouTube channel. Always one of the most colorful events on the calendar, thanks to the nattiness of the spectators and the crews’ and club members’ rowing blazers, it’s also known for having the strictest dress code of the summer season.


Apparently not even Royal Ascot has standards quite as unyielding. “High hemlines, trousers and shorts for women and jeans on everyone are just some of the banned garments,” noted the London Daily Mail, “while anyone who attempts to circumvent the dress code with a thigh-high split in their skirt will find themselves being handed safety pins by stewards. Men, meanwhile, are required to wear lounge suits or blazers and flannels and must finish their look with a tie or cravat.” And why should they not?

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Comments on “As It Happened | The Henley Royal Regatta

    mark jensen on July 16, 2015 2:55 PM:

    Boys in the Boat!

    Mr Brown on July 16, 2015 3:08 PM:

    Visually great but an event intended to go beyond clearly drawing the line between ‘the have’ and ‘have nots’.
    The desired aim is more ‘have or fuck off’.

    Thomas on July 17, 2015 5:03 AM:

    Not really….anything traditional in England is wrapped up in class. Don’t be naive and think that class or snobbery is one way. It cuts both ways and if anything, inverted snobbery is stronger than snobbery.

    Jojoandthecats on July 17, 2015 11:42 AM:

    How so? Who, but the most abjectly impoverished, cannot afford those items of clothing? The Dress code does not specify provenance. One could get that outfit at a chairty shop for under 50 quid, should one be inclined to traipse to Henley…

    JPS on July 17, 2015 10:04 PM:

    Good point Jojo. Surely anyone can get hold of a jacket and tie, and there is no charge at all to watch the goings on from the riverbank where I doubt the dress code is enforced anyway. Enclosure tickets start at £20.

    Johnny Boy on July 17, 2015 11:01 PM:

    Upper class toffs wearing pink chinos and dodgy striped blazers. Kind of sums it for me. Hardly the sporting highlight for most Brits. Certainly a low point in sartorial choices in my opinion.

    Mr Brown on July 18, 2015 3:10 AM:

    Have is not defined by clothing, owning kit or not.
    People should know their place. And many like that.
    Henley is a celebration of that as much of anything.

    Skenflin McGinty on July 20, 2015 11:18 AM:

    50 quid!? Shit, that’s like almost 100 of them American dollars.

    J. Burgess on July 20, 2015 1:12 PM:

    Regardless of kit, there are few notions more repulsive than “People should know their place”.

    JPS on July 20, 2015 1:58 PM:

    The pink trousers and ties – actually “cerise” though no one calls it that – are in the official color of the Leander Club, founded in 1818 and one of the oldest and most accomplished rowing clubs in the world. There’s a rather stern reminder on their website that “the Club Pink livery and Club buttons are the strict preserve of Full (rowing qualified) Members and may not be worn by others.” Presumably a different shade of pink is permissible for plebes.

    Steve on July 20, 2015 7:21 PM:
    Johnny Boy on July 20, 2015 10:01 PM:

    Sacha Baron Cohen did an excellent summary of what most Brits think about this celebration of “sport”:

    It’s tradition, and will no doubt be there for years to come. So is Morris Dancing and I think those chaps look more dashing than the talented gents in the pink trousers and would wipe the floor against Team Gryfinnddor in dance off…

    Mr Brown on July 21, 2015 6:49 AM:

    Burgess J. hits the nail on the head at 13:12, 20,/Jul/2015.

    Adam on July 21, 2015 8:44 AM:

    Tory whoppers day out.

    Bebe on August 5, 2015 12:50 AM:

    You could have stayed on this side of the Pond for the Head of the Charles. Still I can’t imagine why a few rowing club jackets are all that eccentric.

Comments are closed.