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The Penn lightweight Varsity Eight qualified for the Henley Royal Regatta after placing first at EARC Sprints.

Credit: Chase Sutton

After a dominant spring season, Penn lightweight rowing travelled across the pond to face the best of the best. 

Last week, the Penn lightweight rowers flew to Henley-on-Thames, England to compete in the Henley Royal Regatta, one of the most prestigious regattas in the world. 

The Quakers qualified for Henley, which spanned July third through seventh, when they placed first at EARC Sprints for the first time since 1976. This marks the fifth time in program history that the lightweights have qualified for the regatta, and the first time since 1991.

This season, the Varsity Eight also fared well at the IRA National regatta, where it placed third

Penn sent its Varsity Eight and Varsity Four to race. 

Heading the Varsity Eight was coxswain Julianna Langhorn and, from stroke to bow, Dominique Williams, Colley Loum, Aleksandar Izda, Alex Behesht, Ed Barry, Neel Vallurupalli, Justin Meeker, and Alexander Bowlby. Langhorn and Williams had both attended and rowed at Henley in previous years. 

The Varsity Four featured coxswain Larissa Klufas as well as Andrew Kelly in stroke, Nick Hutchins, James Gaffney, and finally Vincent Armetta in bow. 

Henley is different from other regattas in two ways. First of all, races are measured in lengths rather than seconds. Secondly, each race features only two boats. The winner of each race advances to compete against another boat, and so on. 

On Wednesday, July 3, both the Varsity Eight and Four faced their first day of competition. In the running for the Temple Challenge Cup, the Varsity Eight would first race the University of West of England. The Quakers easily beat their opponents by 3.25 lengths, moving onto the next round.

The Four had a different result in their race for the Prince Albert Challenge Cup. The Red and Blue faced a heavyweight boat from Exeter University and finished 2.25 lengths behind. This ended competition for the Varsity Four, but the rowers remained in England to cheer on their teammates and enjoy their stay.

The second round of competition for the Temple Challenge Cup took place on Thursday, July 4. In this race, the Varsity Eight would row a BU heavyweight boat to move onto the next round. The Terriers gained an early lead that the Quakers were never able to overcome. BU finished about two thirds of a length ahead of Penn.

Results aside, Penn lightweight rowing capped off a strong season with very strong performances. Racing heavyweight boats meant that Penn was rowing against much heavier competition, making their results all the more impressive.

The competition at Henley marks the official end of the lightweights’ season.