IN a record-breaking year at Henley Royal Regatta, Oxford Brookes stood out by retaining the Ladies Challenge Plate, writes JOHN WIGGINS.

The loyalty to this club is making them stronger and stronger.

Having won the student event – the Temple Challenge Cup – in 2016, five of the crew went on to clinch the higher status Ladies Plate in 2017.

And four of these – Henry Swarbrick, Matthew Aldridge, Rory Gibbs and Morgan Bolding ­– returned this year to retain the title with the ever-present cox, Harry Brightmore.

They were joined this year by Sam Nunn and Matt Hnatiw from the 2017 Temple winning crew as well as Ed Grisedale (from the triumphant 2014 crew) and Quentin Antognelli.

Astonishingly in the final, they faced a second Brookes crew, who had overcome Leander in the semis.

In the final, the second boat pushed on the favourites to best-ever intermediate times, but could not stay in contact as the victors went on to win by four-and-a-half lengths in a record-equalling time of 5mins 58secs.

The course record was broken in the Temple Challenge Cup, but so were Brookes’s victory hopes as, despite breaking the old time themselves, they lost to the University of Washington by one length.

This year’s Grand Challenge Cup went to the Australian national crew with the GB eight including Brookes’ Matt Tarrant going out to them in the semi-final.

Also in the eight with Tarrant were Radleians, Tom George and Ollie Wynne-Griffiths.

A composite Great Britain under 23 crew, including Charlie Elwes (Radley) and Tom Digby (Abingdon) with Oxford Blue Felix Drinkall lost out to a more established GB four in the Stewards’ Challenge Cup.

Losing semi finalists included single sculler, Charles Cousins (Abingdon) in the Diamond Sculls and, in the pairs event (the Silver Goblets), George Rossiter (Abingdon) and Sholto Carnegie (Cherwell School and City of Oxford RC).

In the women’s eights, the GB squad eight containing Oxford Blue, Anastasia Chitty and Headingtonian Fiona Gammond, also lost out to the Australians but another Blue, Zoe Lee was at stroke of the winning GB quad scull in the Princess Grace Challenge Cup.

Headington School pupils past and present featured in the double sculls, the Stonor Trophy.

Danielle Semple in the Exeter University lightweight combination lost out in the final to a crew that had earlier defeated Headingtonians, Mattea Wuethrich and Katie Greves in the semi-final.