This situation arises every year. A crew which is patently below the standard required for an event, pre-qualifies, only to be humiliated (read decimated) when they actually get to race..

There are several circumstances in which this can occur:

  1. The club, though majorly low performance, has an important anniversary that year or is in a dodgy financial position. Being kind souls, The stewards allow the crew in, so it can be seen racing for "celebratory reasons", or in the hope of attracting more members or sponsors, because they are "competing (?)" at Henley.
  2. The club has some half decent oarsmen who got into the top 150 at the head of the River race, but then enters its third VIII into the Thames Cup. The boat then pre-qualifies, as the stewards assume it is the first VIII (who are now all in smaller boats.)
  3. The club has tactically entered for an event which turns out, as expected, to be under-subscribed and thus they pre-qualify (this can backfire horribly if lots of clubs enter the same event for this reason- see last year’s Brit. Cup entry)
  4. Medium performance clubs will occasionally enter two mediocre crews in an event, hoping that the stewards will only require one of them to qualify.
  5. Foreign crews are sometimes allowed in without having to qualify, but don't count on it.. If coming from abroad make sure you're up to standard, as being knocked out at qualifiers can turn out to be a very expensive error of judgement if you've come from the other side of the world.

Sometimes the club will have the decency to withdraw between the draw and their scheduled race, leaving their opponents to row over gnashing their teeth in frustration at the missed opportunity to have the word "easily" in the verdict column.

To their credit, as mentioned in the section on losing, the stewards tend to put the crews in danger of being beaten in this fashion, on at times when they will be seen by the smallest number of spectators possible, thus reducing the damage.

Rabbit wholeheartedly believes that the stewards could make sense of the situation by simply making all crews qualify for any event where there are more entries than available slots in the draw. This would ensure that the best 32 or 16 crews were in the event and reduce the number of processional races, but then again, Rabbit is a total rowing nut and as such, thinks that the racing should all be competitive.