Henley Royal Regatta

Downside has had a number of excellent rowers over the years, but OG Cyril Burnand was surely the best. Here we look at his links with Henley Regatta, which starts today.

After the Boat Race, Henley Royal Regatta must be the most easily recognised rowing event outside of the Olympic Games. After leaving Downside, Cyril F. Burnand would go on to race in both of these events for First Trinity Boat Club, Cambridge. After a disappointing finish to the 1911 University Boat Race, Cyril would have another chance at victory at Henley, as one of the premier events in any rower’s calendar.

We are lucky enough to have an insight into the training and competition at Henley from 1910-13 through his meticulously collected scrapbooks kept here in the archives. It is clear that not much has changed in 100 years, with Cyril’s images of the crowds lining the riverbank just as today. Cyril took meticulous notes so we can see the races he was most interested in through his annotated programmes for each day. These seem to be mainly Cambridge crews, which is perhaps unsurprising knowing his allegiances!

Cyril seems to have enjoyed mixed success at Henley. In 1910, Cyril competed for the Ladies Challenge Plate against New College, Oxford where he unfortunately sustained a loss. However, the motivation of this loss was channeled into the next years attempt, where he managed a win over Pembroke College, Oxford. He also coached the Trinity 2nd boat, which eventually won the Thames Challenge Cup that year.

This seems to mark the start of a successful coaching career at Cambridge, as due to illness he did not compete in another Boat Race or Henley Royal Regatta whilst at university. In 1912 he was back at Henley to coach the 2nd Boat again, which would also mark his final time at Henley as he graduated at the end of that summer. He continued to pursue rowing in Nottingham alongside a career as an engineer on the East Midlands Railway. The outbreak of the Great War would halt his rowing completely, where he lost his life in 1915.

To read about Cyril Burnand’s exploits in the University Boat race click here.

The images below show Cyril’s boat winning against Pembroke at Henley in 1912; images from Cyril’s scrapbook; a close up of two of the programmes from 1912; Trinity 2nd boat crew which Cyril coached to victory in the Thames Challenge Cup.