Yale Athletics

Setting aside no break for the summer season, 11 current and former  Yale heavyweight rowers headed to the Thames River to compete in the Henley Royal Regatta with four rowers successfully capturing cups. 

Ollie Wynne-Griffith ’17, Sholto Carnegie ’18, Charlie Elwes ’19, Thomas Digby ’20, Lenny Jenkins ’20, Vlad Saigau ’21, Fergus Hamilton ’22, Dan Williamson ’22, Luke Miles ’23, Alex Potter ’23 and Dominic Sullivan ’23 each raced for cups as Carnegie, Elwes, Digby, and Potter all emerged victorious. 

“The Henley Royal Regatta is arguably the premier rowing competition in the world,” supporter Steve Cushner ’75 said. “Its organization and execution, as well as the talent of the rowers, is second to none. The performances of recent alumni Wynne-Griffith, Carnegie and Elwes were superb and it’s no surprise that all three are Olympic hopefuls for Great Britain in 2020. The eight others will be returning to Yale and their talent augurs well for Yale’s continued dominance of collegiate rowing in the U.S.”

Over 660 crews competed in the historic regatta’s one-and-done Wednesday morning heats. The hustle and bustle of the rowers was almost lost in the celebratory aura of the event; the Henley Royal Regatta is as much of an elite athletic competition as it is an integral component of the London social season. With hats as grand as the Kentucky Derby and suits mandatory, the five-day event featured onlookers far more fashionable than the norm for the 40 American crews present. This year marked the 100th anniversary of the 1919 Henley Royal Peace Regatta, a race amongst military crews of Allied nations held in remembrance of World War I, and even included the U.S. Naval Academy assembling a squad for this year’s anniversary edition.

The 11 Elis raced for seven cups in all in England. The historic race, established in 1839, featured Bulldogs both teaming up and competing with one another. Williamson and Hamilton represented Yale and raced in a pair for the Silver Goblets & Nickalls’ Challenge Cup while Elwes and Digby composed half of a fearsome foursome vying for the Visitor’s Challenge Cup. Jenkins and Saigau also raced together, but this time in an eight-man unit for the Ladies Challenge Plate. Elwes, Diby, Jenkins, and Saigau are all training with the British under-23 squad this summer.

Sullivan and Miles, however, competed against one another for the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup. Sullivan rowed for the Shrewsbury School, while Miles rowed for Radley. 

Meanwhile, Potter raced in a coxed four for Sydney Rowing Club in a bid for the Wyfold Challenger Cup. Wynne-Griffith and Carnegie came into the event having already trained with the British Senior crew. At the regatta, Wynne-Griffith manned a spot on a four for the Stewards’ Challenge Cup while Carnegie claimed a slot on an eight to contend for the illustrious Grand Challenge Cup.

Of the 11 Bulldogs, six fell just short of the final races for their respective cups. Sullivan and Miles each won one race before falling to their competitors. The dynamic duo of Williamson and Hamilton just narrowly lost a race, while Jenkins and Saigau survived until the semi-final round. 

Wynne-Griffith reached the finals, but he and the rest of the Leander & Oxford Brookes University contingent fell just a length short to New Zealand’s Waiariki Rowing Club. The other four Elis to reach their final races – Carnegie, Elwes, Digby and Potter – brought home three cups. 

Yale heavyweight crew resumes with the Head of the Housatonic on October 12.

Bentley Long | bentley.long@yale.edu