By Beth Barhydt
Greenwich Crew’s Junior Women’s Eight boat has won the Prince Philip Challenge Trophy against international competition and against Deerfield Academy in a thrilling all American finale.
Against the backdrop of the rising popularity of women’s rowing, the Greenwich Crew’s triumph is much more than an isolated sporting achievement. Sir Steve Redgrave, Chairman of the Committee of Management, noted that the event had more than double the number of female rowers compared to 2019. This surge in participation is seen as a testament to the success of the three new women’s events introduced in 2021, including the Prince Philip Challenge (Junior Women’s Eights).
In the semi-final race, one that will reverberate in the memory of sports fans, Greenwich Crew rowed into the history books at the Henley Royal Regatta. Their spirited fight back against Britain’s Headington School marked a thrilling turning point in their journey to the coveted Prince Philip Challenge Trophy, previously held by St. Catherine’s School, Melbourne, Australia.
At the start, the girls were trailing, the speed of the Headington Crew taking the crowd by surprise. The magic happened in the final quarter of the race, with Greenwich snatching the lead from Headington in front of the roaring crowds. The once surprised commentator announced with a note of awe, “Headington’s going to run out of space and I think Greenwich has timed that almost to perfection,” painting a vivid picture of the riveting drama that was unfolding on the River Thames.
In the grand finale, it was a trans-Atlantic affair, a thrilling showdown between Greenwich Crew and Deerfield Academy.
At the helm of the Greenwich boat was cox Francie McKenzie, guiding the ship with composure beyond her years. Stroke Adair Beck set the rhythm, orchestrating a ballet of oars that blended power and elegance. The rest of the crew, Percy Wayne, Phoebe Wise, Catherine Ruf, Julia Doss, Lauren Koester, Brooke Legenzowski, and bow Cassidy McKee rowed with an intensity that was both captivating and commanding.
Their final match-up against Deerfield Academy was as much a showdown of strength as it was a test of spirit. Deerfield surged ahead by half a length early, yet, the Greenwich Crew fought back with a vigor that left spectators and commentators alike spellbound.
By the time the finishing line was in sight, Greenwich Crew had not only caught up with Deerfield but managed to pull ahead, proving their mettle and taking the Prince Philip Challenge Trophy home.
This thrilling victory, a perfect example of grit, determination, and tenacity, etched Greenwich Crew’s name into the annals of the Henley Regatta. They not only put up a stellar performance against their fierce competitors but also, in the words of the commentator, displayed a “mature way to win a race. To come from behind, hold yourself through the middle and believe that you can do that and put in a performance to overhaul, overtake, and move through to claim the Prince Philip Challenge Trophy for Greenwich Crew USA.”
See our in-depth story in this week’s edition of the Greenwich Sentinel coming out on July 7.