From the Lab to the River: Dan Shares His Experience at the Henley Regatta

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dan Lee.

One of our engineers here at Partner Electronics, Dan has been involved in rowing since his university days and was pleased to have the opportunity to row at the Henley Regatta this year. We’re so pleased to be sharing his story.

A Competitive Edge

This was my third time doing the qualifying regatta for Henley and my first time with the Northampton Rowing Club (NRC). My first two attempts at qualification were with Imperial College Boat Club, a highly competitive university rowing club. Unfortunately, both times I attempted to qualify with Imperial, I narrowly missed out on the cut-off for qualification.

When I started work at Partner Electronics, I joined the local rowing club in Northampton and, over the past couple of years, have competed with NRC as we have progressively targeted more national competitions. This year, we aimed to compete at the large regattas held at Eton Dorney and Nottingham Holme Pierpoint, to get Northampton Rowing Club’s name out there. As a crew, we are keen to build our reputation as a club that can achieve great results for both junior and adult rowers.

Northampton Rowing Club is a relatively young rowing club having only been established in 1976, we’re always looking to bring in new members – of any age or ability. There are a number of learn to row sessions throughout the year to train up complete beginners, so if you are interested we’d love to hear from you.

Getting Qualified

Henley Royal Regatta was first held in 1839 as a local fair and public attraction but quickly became focused on competitive amateur rowing. With events taking place across a week, the number of teams in each category is reduced each day as they get knocked out until the best teams race in the finals at the weekend.

Each event at Henley has a limited number of entries. My crew’s category was the Wyfold Challenge Cup; there were 32 racing places available, of which 24 were allocated to teams pre-qualified based on club prestige and yearly performance. As a small club, Northampton didn’t pre-qualify, leaving us among 35 crews fighting for the remaining 8 places at the qualifying regatta on Friday.

On the morning of the qualification race, we had a pre-paddle on the river to get a feel for it. The flow had picked up on the racecourse with a strong headwind to fight coming down the course. Feeling pretty confident after our paddle, we adjusted the boat’s rigging to improve our efficiency in the strong headwind and spent the rest of the morning resting in the shade and chatting.

When it came time for our qualifying race, we boated and met our competition at the start line for the time trial. Every crew had lined up in race order so we could be set off, one at a time, to attempt our fastest time down the ~1900m qualification course. Our crew put a solid effort into the race and were relatively happy with our performance. We had to battle bouncy water and a strong headwind down the course but managed to make it to the end in one piece – other crews weren’t so lucky, hitting the sides of the race lane on the way down the course and ruining their run at qualification. I was particularly pleased that my steering managed to keep us in lane all the way down.

After the race, we packed the boat back in the tent, waiting to hear the eight qualifying crew names be announced. Sadly, we were not on that list of names. Out of the 35 crews, we placed 16th and were roughly 9 seconds off qualification. Although this was disappointing, we’ve had a great season as a crew. We will continue to build our skill and fitness into the next regatta season next year. The highlight of the day for me was catching up with many of my old rowing mates from different clubs I have rowed with over the years. Regattas and other competitions are great places to catch up with people you don’t often get to see.

When employees thrive, so do companies 

We’re sure Dan and the rest of the Northampton Rowing Club crew will have more stories to share next year, and we look forward to hearing them.

Many of our people are involved in sports clubs or societies, and we’re pleased to be able to support them in these interests – whether that’s giving them time to participate or helping with fundraising. Companies only thrive when their people do, and it’s our aim to encourage our people to thrive.