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Henley Royal Regatta's 185th Anniversary: A Tradition Tested by Time and Weather

Henley Royal Regatta's 185th Anniversary: A Tradition Tested by Time and Weather

Posted on 10 Jul 2024

The Henley Royal Regatta, a cornerstone of the British social and sporting calendars and a testament to rowing's enduring appeal, marks its 185th year. This prestigious event is known for its elegant fine dining, fashion and fierce competition.

The regatta that is held on the River Thames at Henley in England, 37 miles west of London, has a rich history dating back to 1839. The six-day regatta features head-to-head knockout races over a course of 1 mile 550 yards, attracting international crews to compete for the coveted Grand Challenge Cup and other honors. With its unique rules and organization, the Henley Royal Regatta remains a hallmark of rowing tradition and excellence.

Over the years it has also weathered a vast array of climatic conditions, from the scorching sun to unexpected downpours, the Regatta's history is intertwined with the vagaries of the British weather. 

The river can transform from a placid mirror to a turbulent torrent depending on the weather conditions:


Rain, a frequent visitor to Henley, can make the rowing treacherous. Rowers must adapt their technique to maintain control and avoid capsizing. The 2001 regatta, notorious for its torrential downpours, tested the rowers' resilience and forced the cancellation of some races due to unsafe conditions.


The temperature also plays a crucial role in the rowers' performance. High temperatures can lead to dehydration and heatstroke, while low temperatures can cause hypothermia. The 1992 regatta, characterized by scorching heat, saw several rowers collapse due to heat exhaustion. Conversely, the 1988 regatta, held in unusually cold conditions, witnessed rowers battling freezing temperatures and icy waters, despite being held in early July.


Fog, though less common, can also create challenges at the Henley Royal Regatta. In 2012, a thick fog descended upon the course, causing delays and disruptions. The reduced visibility made it difficult for rowers to navigate and for officials to judge the races.


The wind, however, is perhaps the most influential weather element at Henley. It can change direction and intensity rapidly, creating unpredictable conditions for the rowers. A crosswind can push boats off course, while a sudden gust can capsize them. In 2015, a strong crosswind caused several boats to collide during the races, leading to dramatic scenes of chaos and confusion. Conversely, a gentle tailwind can provide perfect conditions for setting record breaking times.

How the new OpenWeather Dashboard can help

The OpenWeather dashboard offers hyper-localized forecasts, maps and reports that can be tailored to the Regatta's specific location on the River Thames, providing specific weather data crucial for rowing performance and safety. Organizers can make informed decisions about race scheduling and spectator comfort, ensuring the Regatta's legacy remains untarnished, regardless of what the skies may bring.

The dashboard's features go beyond basic forecasting:

  • Customized Location: Focus on the exact stretch of the Thames where the races occur.

  • Detailed Reports: Get in-depth analysis from experienced meteorologists, specific to rowing conditions.

  • Expert Consultation: Direct access to meteorologists for personalized advice and updates.

  • Weather Alerts: Receive timely warnings for severe weather events, ensuring safety for all.

  • Interactive Maps: Visualize weather patterns in real time, helping the organisers make decisions easier.

With OpenWeather's dashboard, the Henley Royal Regatta and other rowing events can navigate the unpredictable waters of weather with confidence, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable experience for athletes and spectators alike. 

By harnessing the power of accurate and timely weather data, the tradition of this quintessentially English rowing and social event can continue to thrive, one stroke at a time.

About OpenWeather:

OpenWeather provides weather data for any location on the globe using a proprietary hyperlocal forecasting model with a resolution from 500 m to 2 km, globally. More than 6,000,000 customers from logistics, agriculture, insurance, energy, retail, and many other sectors, are working with the company's weather products. 

OpenWeather cooperates with global meteorological agencies such as MetOffice and NOAA, and enhances its model with data from radars, weather stations and satellites. The company provides great availability of service at 99.9% for enterprise-level products. 

The products can be easily integrated into complex IT systems and are ideal for ML analytic systems. OpenWeather is a member of Royal Meteorological Society and an Achilles-certified supplier. OpenWeather ethical initiatives include support of educators and students, not-for-profit subscriptions for the general public to increase weather awareness, and recent Ukrainian donation programme.

For more information on how to gain access to our OpenWeather products, please email us.

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