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By pmallory - Posted on 21 June 2012

21 June 2012

Henley is Coming!!

The Henley Royal Regatta is about to begin. How I envy everyone who can be there this year! No need to advise you about the dress code or the Pimm’s and champagne, but I do want to mention and re-mention and mention again a couple of particularly important places that you must visit, and both are just a short walk from the regatta site.

Richard Way Booksellers

The first is Richard Way Booksellers, just a block or so from the Henley Bridge. You will find rare and out-of-print copies of many, many unique rowing books, old and new, including my own, along with a unique selection of books, maps and memorabilia covering a host of other human endeavors. This is as close as you need to get to Dickens’ Old Curiosity Shop. You will be greeted as family by the proprietor, Diana Cook. Tell her you are a friend of mine, and get your teammates to join you!

River & Rowing Museum

The second place you must visit is the River & Rowing Museum. From the regatta site, just cross the Henley Bridge to the town side, turn left, stroll past the turn to Richard Way Booksellers and continue up the Thames embankment a few hundred meters.

The museum’s rowing collection is without peer in this world. The Schwarzenbach International Rowing Gallery is a monumental space filled floor to ceiling with historic rowing craft, from the boat that won the very first Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race to the coxless-four that Steve Redgrave rowed to his fifth Olympic Championship. The walls are covered with an interactive multi-media history of our sport. And that's just one of many galleries!

There is also a delightful museum shop where you will find unique gifts for your friends and family back home, and the terrace café is the perfect place to unwind, with a fantastic selection of delicious home-made dishes.

More info at http://rrm.co.uk.

There are also several temporary exhibits on display right now, and I especially want to mention two of them.

The Perfect Rower

The first is The Perfect Rower – 100 years of racing for glory. “Find out what made the perfect rower in the previous London Olympic Games in 1908 and 1948 and what it takes to become an Olympic champion in 2012.” Explore the changes in nutrition, training and equipment over the last 100 years. Discover the psychology behind winning a Gold Medal then and now, and appreciate the march of time through artifacts from the peerless collection of Thomas E. Weil. It's a fascinating exhibit.

There is a special Opportunity to View this exhibit from 10AM to Noon, prior to the racing on Sunday 1st July, the last day of the regatta. As a bonus, Bob Janousek and Chris Dodd will be on hand to sign copies of Chris’s cracking new book, Pieces of Eight.

The Art of the Prize

If that exhibit were not enough, also on display is The Art of the Prize – rowing prizes from the Thomas E Weil Collection. This exhibition presents a selection of the great variety of prizes awarded to race winners during Britain’s long rowing history. From start to finish, the objects are visually stunning.

The Thomas E. Weil Collection

Note that each of the exhibits I have mentioned has the collection of Thomas E. Weil forming its backbone.

Indeed, Tom's pieces are featured prominently throughout the museum. The DNA of Tom Weil and the River & Rowing Museum are inextricably intertwined at every level. Both have enthusiastically and tirelessly taken up the task of rescuing the heritage of rowing’s storied history from the ever-advancing and enveloping mists of time. The photo below [alas, no photo] makes clear that Tom Weil is rowing's Charles Darwin . . . or is it Leo Tolstoy?

Walk the hallowed halls of the River & Rowing Museum, and experience the wonder of our forebears. Then stroll back to the regatta course and watch the current generation adding its own chapter to the great story of our rowing history.

Incidentally, both of these exhibits will be at the museum all summer and beyond, so those of you who are planning to attend the Olympics at Dorney Lake must also plan on coming to Henley and seeing them both. My wife and I will be there at that time. Look for us!

All my Old Newsletters are Now Online!

I’ve been writing these newsletters for a year and a half now, and a number of people have recently been expressing nostalgia for certain of their personal favorite postings, the Philip stories (16 and 17 February 2012), Tom Weil’s “Why Rowing Isn’t a Game” (5 June 2011), even my story of some old guy who wandered into the boathouse and wanted to row a pair with me (25 February 2011). Until now my old newsletters were impossible to access if you hadn’t saved the emails. Now I have gone back and entered every single one onto the Blog page of my website: www.rowingevolution.com. Unfortunately no photos in this format, but go back and have some fun.

Hope to see some of you at the Olympics or at Craftsbury in August!