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To the Editors of the Crimson:
The dinner at Washington on December 15 is a private dinner and no intimation has been given to me that the question of an "American Henley" or any other question of public interest in connection with athletics will be brought forward for discussion. Nor do I believe that any such discussion will take place.
With regard to what is called an American Henley, I note that various opinions and declarations have been attributed to me, all more or less incorrectly. One of this morning's Boston papers quotes me as having made certain remarks on this point. I never made them. Indeed I have not been interviewed with reference to this subject since I landed, early in November.
Those who speak of an American Henley do not appear to me to understand quite what our English Henley is.
The regatta in England is not held in connection with any collegiate association or any special body of affiliated clubs. Subject to the amateur definition, the big events for eights, fours, pairs and singles are open to the whole world. The colleges (but not the university boat clubs) of Oxford and Cambridge compete at Henley. So does the Leander Club which is formed almost entirely of Oxford and Cambridge men. Amongst other competitors may be mentioned the London Rowing Club, the Thames Rowing Club, the Kingston Rowing club, the Moulsey Boat Club, the Royal Chester Rowing Club, and the school boy clubs of Eton and Radley. The course is one mile and 550 yards in length and the water is non-tidal. The level of the water is, therefore, during the regatta unvarying and the direction of the stream is always the same.
The race between Oxford and Cambridge over the tidal course from Putney to Mortlake (4 1-4 miles) is held just before Easter. The college races at Oxford are held towards the end of May; at Cambridge in the beginning of June. Henley Regatta usually begins about July 9 There is, therefore, plenty of time for colleges which have been successful in their local races to re-form their crews and send them to Henley. Those university men who may not be rowing in a college crew entered at Henley can be and often are drafted into the crews of the Leander, London, Thames or Kingston Clubs.
Though it would undoubtedly be possible to establish in this country a series of college races which should result in bringing together the two best college crews of the year over a four mile course, these contests would not in any way resemble the Henley Regatta. The nearest analogy to our Henley would be brought about if, for instance, the rowing colleges of America were to enter crews at the annual regatta of the National Association of Amateur Oarsmen of America.
I do not express, nor have I expressed, any opinion as to the desirability of establishing an American Henley or a general inter-collegiate regatta. There are obvious difficulties in the way and not the least of these is the lack of any general desire amongst American University men for the establishment of such a regatta.
R. C. LEHMANN.December 8, 1897.
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