Henley Royal Regatta
Henley Royal Regatta is one of those British summer traditions that looks very appealing from close up or half a world away. You have a beautiful stretch of the River Thames, an island temple marking the start, slim boats rowed by young men, and a dress code that adds charm to those loafing on the riverbanks. The crews have come from all over the globe, and though rain sometimes dampens Henley's heats, the races are bathed in light. Or so the Stewards hope.
Eighteenth century watermen providing ferry and taxi service on the River Thames launched the first modern rowing races and soon had huge crowds watching and betting. The oldest surviving race, Doggett's Coat and Badge, was first contested in 1715.
In 1839, the townspeople of Henley decided in a public meeting to take advantage of the great influx of visitors coming to watch the races on the Henley reach of the Thames. Thus was the Regatta born, mingling in a very British way profit and sport, judicious organization and spontaneous public support.
This post was first published last year. Not much has changed.