Aramoho Whanganui Rowing Club's coxless four jumped on the plane to London this afternoon on their way to one of the most prestigious regattas in the world.
Thomas Monaghan, Luke Watts, Hugh Pawson and Hamish Maxwell have entered amongst a record 660 crews and boats for the Henley Royal Regatta, being held on the famous River Thames beside the small English town of Henley-on-Thames.
Being 180-years-old, the regatta has Queen Elizabeth II as patron and famous English nobility act as stewards.
The AWRC crew are entering the Wyfold Challenge Cup for the coxless fours title – which will involve head-to-head racing in a knockout races format between two boats over a course of 1 mile and 550 years (2112m), which is 112m longer than the standard Olympic Games distance.
There were 64 entries announced on Friday morning, NZ time, and the AWRC crew will still be in the air when they find out whether they will be in the first 32 crews who start on the first day, or if they will be among the other 32 crews who have to win a qualifying race.
That decision is totally in the hands of the stewards.
If they have to qualify, AWRC's race will be this coming Friday, June 28, with the regatta proper beginning the followed Wednesday, July 3 and continuing till July 7 win the champion is crowned.
"The crew has been in a very heavy period of training for this regatta since returning from the NZ National Rowing Championships in February earlier this year, and are very much looking forward to racing for Aramoho at such a famous regatta," said Watts.
"This will be the first time that AWRC has entered a boat at the very prestigious Henley Royal Regatta.
"With each day of competition a potential elimination, the AWRC crew will be prepared for five days of extremely competitive racing."
Maxwell was doing his training in his current base of Christchurch, while Watts, Monaghan, and Pawson were putting in 9-11 sessions per week on the Whanganui River, assisted by Levi Carroll as their fourth.
Along with the AWRC coxless four, the club will also be represented on the Thames by all of their affiliated New Zealand Elite rowers in former senior and junior world champions Chris Harris, Kerri Gowler and sister Jackie Gowler.
Officially, Harris and Gowler siblings will be racing in the maroon colours of the Waiariki Rowing Club, however they are all in their current Rowing NZ Elite team crews.
Harris will enter the Double Sculls Challenge Cup with team mate John Storey of Christchurch.
Kerri Gowler is in The Hambleden Pairs Challenge Cup with team mate Grace Prendergast, with whom she won 2017 Women's Coxless Pair world championship, and silver in 2018.
Jackie Gowler is in the Remenham Challenge Cup with her New Zealand Women's Eight crew.
The New Zealand crews were heading to Henley after this weekend's second World Cup Regatta for 2019 in Poznan, Poland.
But unlike the elite crews, the local AWRC crew have largely self-funded their trip to England from their fulltime jobs, while also receiving generous sponsorship and discounts from the likes of The St Johns Club, Buoyline NZ and Andersons Menswear.
"The crew has invested in some very elegant formal wear to make sure they look the part at Henley Royal Regatta, as a tie and blazer are compulsory attire in many of the regatta enclosures along the course," said Watts.