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Cal Men's Varsity Eight Finishes as Runnerup at Henley Regatta

Golden Bears rowers reached the finals of the Ladies Plate Challenge Cup before losing to a British club

Cal men’s national champion varsity crew reached the finals of the historic Henley Royal Regatta in London on Sunday, but the Golden Bears lost to the Leander Club in the finals of the Ladies' Plate Challenge Cup.

Despite the misleading name, the Ladies Plate Challenge Cup is one of the top competitions for men’s eight crews at the Henley Regatta.

"The guys raced hard, and they left their hearts out on the course but came up short today," head coach Scott Frandsen said, according to the Cal athletics website. "I'm proud of how they raced and proud of their efforts. The focus of our season was our duels and the Pac-12 and IRA's, and we won all of those in a pretty strong fashion, so I'm very pleased with how the season went. To be able to race at Henley was a great experience." 

The Golden Bears had defeated Dartmouth in the semifinal on Saturday, but was beaten by the Leander club by one boat length on Sunday. The winning boat was timed in six minutes and four seconds, which was the second fastest time of all but one of the 25 finals contested on Sunday.

It may be noteworthy that Leander had defeated Yale by two lengths in Saturday's semifinals. Yale had finished second to Cal at the IRA national championships in early June.

The combination crew of Oxford Brookes University and Leander Club won the Grand Challenge Cup, the featured event of the regatta, by nearly three lengths in a time of 5:56.

An American college crew has not won the Ladies Plate Challenge Cup since 2015, when Yale won it.  Cal's only first-place finish in the Ladies Plate came in 2014, and this year is the first time Cal finished as the runnerup in the event.

The Leander Club crew consisted of British national team athletes. The Leander Club was founded in 1818 and is one of the oldest rowing clubs in the world, and the oldest non-academic club. It is based in Rememham in Berkshite, England, and is right beside Henley-on-Thames.

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Cal’s men’s four crew also reached the finals on Sunday, but it lost in the final round of the Prince Albert Challenge Cup to Oxford Brookes University, which finished one boat length ahead of the Golden Bears in a time of 6:53.

Cal alumnus Jack Cleary competed at the six-day regatta on the Australian crew. Cleary claimed victory in the Double Sculls Challenge Cup with partner Antill on Sunday afternoon.

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Cover photo is by Zach Franzen, KLC fotos

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