Henley Royal Regatta build-up like Olympic final - Steve Redgrave

By Richard WintonBBC Sport
The Henley Royal Regatta launch
Sir Steve Redgrave takes part in the Henley Royal Regatta launch
Henley Royal Regatta
Venue: River Thames, Henley. Dates: 1-5 July
Coverage: Finals day live on the Red Button and BBC Sport website on Sunday 5 July from 11:15-13:15 BST and 14:15-16:15 BST

Sir Steve Redgrave says the build-up to this year's Henley Royal Regatta has "felt like the morning of an Olympic final".

The 53-year-old, who won five gold medals in five consecutive Olympics from 1984 to 2000, this year became the 11th chairman in the event's 176-year history.

"The butterflies and excitement began to build when the entries closed and peak when I made the draw," Redgrave said on the opening day on Wednesday.

"I'm not used to standing in a town hall drawing names out of a trophy."

The final day of the five-day event on Sunday will be broadcast live on the BBC for the first time since 1967.

Great Britain, the reigning world champions, could face Olympic gold medallists Germany in the men's eight.

A total of 526 crews from 18 countries, ranging from multiple world and Olympic champions to the best school, university, club and junior rowers, will compete in more than 250 head-to-head knockout races.

Redgrave's first regatta as chairman will also be streamed live on the internet for the first time.

"We're going to have 10 cameras, which is just enough to dip our toes in the water," he said.

"But we are hopeful of introducing more people to what is a fantastic and special event, one that is a little bit quaint and different."

Henley rules meant Redgrave had to give the gentlemen members permission before they could remove their jackets in the Steward's Enclosure on a sweltering opening day on Wednesday.

It was only the fourth time in the past 39 years that those regulations had been relaxed.

The heat also affected the crews' equipment - the glue holding the oar shaft to the 'spoon' melted for some teams.