henley regatta rowing and cruise boats

Henley Regatta: The Most Iconic Rowers to Take on the Henley Reach

Henley Royal Regatta has seen many famous rowers pass through the famous course.  Olympic and World Champions alike have competed at the famous waters of the Henley Reach – these include some of the most successful and well-known rowers.

Here’s a quick run-down of some of the best-known faces to row their way down the river at Henley-on-Thames.

James Cracknell, OBE

James Cracknell

One of the most loved rowers in the country, Cracknell has been hugely successful wherever he’s competed.  Not just a rower but an all-rounder, the talented and hard-working athlete and personality.

In rowing, he nabbed two Olympic gold medals and six golds at the World Championships – all between 1997 and 2004.  Aside from rowing, Cracknell has participated in many other demanding endurance sports – including triathlons and a race to the South Pole.

Having proved himself in the sporting realm, he is now undertaking duties as a sports reporter and presenter on television, as well as working on charitable campaigns.

Sir Steve Redgrave, CBE

Steve redgrave

Steve Redgrave is one of the most decorated rowers in history, and probably the most famous to have competed at Henley Royal Regatta.  He’s the most successful male rower at the Olympics, and in terms of the most decorated British Olympians falls only behind cyclists Sir Bradley Wiggins, Jason Kenny, and Chris Hoy.

He is the winner of golds in five consecutive Olympic games from 1984 until 2000, and in Seoul 1988 came home with a bronze medal too.  He is also a nine-time World Champion, across three different events: coxed pair, coxless pair, and coxless four.  Redgrave also has three Commonwealth golds – all from 1986, where he won the single sculls, coxless pair and coxed four events.

Redgrave competed at Henley Royal Regatta for more than two decades – winning the coxless pairs (the Silver Goblets & Nickalls’ Challenge Cup) seven times, four of these with Matthew Pinsent.  Overall, Redgrave won startling 23 titles at Henley Regatta over the years, starting out as a sculler, and then moving onto sweep rowing for the majority of his career.

Mahé Drysdale, MNZM

Having won the 2012 Olympic title in London in single sculls and retaining it in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Drysdale is firmly one of the best rowers on the planet.  At Henley Regatta, Drysdale has won the Diamond Single Sculls six of the past twelve years and came second twice in that time span, too.   His performances on the world stage have lead to him being one of the most popular rowers in to have won at Henley Regatta.

Right at this moment in time, many pundits and rowing fans consider Drysdale to be among the best rowers in the world. He frequently is winning big races by several boat lengths, even against high-level competition. Below is a video of Mahé putting on a showcase against Norwegian Kjetil Borch in the Diamond Sculls at Henley Regatta 2018.

mahe drysdale rowing

Other rowers of note

Many other hugely famous rowers have entered Henley Royal Regatta, and competed with the best in the world on the River Thames.  These include:

Elisabeta Lipă – The most successful rower ever at the Olympic Games.  She has competed extensively at Henley Regatta, including in 1993 when she made a shock exit in the first ever women’s sculls competition to Belgian Annelies Bredael.

Matthew Pinsent – winner of 10 World Championships and three consecutive Olympic gold medals, Pinsent now is a commentator and pundit for Henley Regatta.  He had the fastest coxless pair time recorded at Henley, (6 minutes and 15 seconds) which he held with Steve Redgrave.

Alan Campbell – The Brit has an Olympic bronze to his name, as well as three medals from the Worlds and three Diamond Sculls wins at Henley Regatta (2003, 2007, and 2011).

alan campbell rowing

Olaf Tufte – Norwegian Tufte has competed in every competition in the world – including reaching the finals of Henley Regatta, and taking home medals from many competitions.

Steve Williams – A contemporary of Pinsent and Cracknell, Williams has competed many times at Henley Regatta.  One of his highlights at the event includes winning The Stewards Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta in 2004.


Eventmasters is one of the UK’s longest serving and most trusted providers of VIP corporate hospitality and premium event experiences.  We pride ourselves on ensuring the best experiences possible at the most competitive prices.  One of our favourite events each year is Henley Royal Regatta at Henley-on-Thames. We will be hosting guests in these luxury hospitality facilities in 2019: the Boaters Enclosure; Fawley Meadows; the Riverside Enclosure; and the Temple Island Enclosure.

We ensure you and your guests are treated to the finest day at Henley Regatta.  To book hospitality, helicopter transfers, or river cruises at Henley Regatta 2019, speak to our Hospitality Team today – 020 7989 6500