July means Henley, and Brookes/Taurus back on form after last year's difficulties. There were entries all over the place, but of stalwart Taurus performances on the river three stand out.
First up in the Sunday finals was the Visitors' - Henry Bailhache, Dan Marett, Tommy Burton and Oxford's Andrew Stubbs, as Oxford Brookes/Oxford - racing four Cambridge Blues. The official Stewards' report reads as follows: "Oxford were the faster crew off the start but Cambridge looked the steadier crew and at Fawley had begun to erode Oxford's advantage. But their steering was poor and, after several warnings, they hit the booms shortly after the 3/4 mile where they might just have taken the lead." Win to Brookes/Oxford by 2.25 lengths in 7:11.
Next came the Stewards' Cup. Until Friday we had expected this to contain two Taurus members - Steve Williams and Alex Partridge - but late in the week it was confirmed that Alex had a double lung puncture and would be out not only of Henley Royal but also from the Olympic team, to recover. Cue many press conferences and articles, Ed Coode slotting into Alex's place, and Partridge getting horribly drunk on Saturday night at the Taurus barbecue (good work, everyone...) This is how the final against the Australians went for Steve and the four: "Leander & IC took immediate control of this race. Their excellent technique and immaculate steering helped; but they were, anyway, the stronger and better crew." Win by 2 lengths in 6:46.
Finally it was the turn of the Ladies' Plate Leander crew, featuring good old boys Joe von Maltzahn and Ben Lewis. Racing Harvard's JVs in the final, they won as follows: "Leander got off to a very fast start, settled well and established a commanding lead by the half mile. Harvard pressed hard passing the Enclosures, but could only close to 3/4 length." Verdict 3/4 length in 6:30, and finally a well-deserved Henley medal for Ben, after too many finals to want to count them....
And of course that isn't counting all the memorable land-based performances in the Fawley Bar, Bridge Bar, and at the Taurus Barbecue (Dom, Danoi, Pete, 'tother Pete, Peiller and all the others who know who they are....)