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Orange Coast crew reaches main draw at Henley Royal Regatta

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Orange Coast College men’s varsity eight prepares in Newport Beach to compete at the esteemed Henley Royal Regatta in England.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

The eight-man crew from Orange Coast College raced to one of its fastest times of the season on Friday, qualifying for the main draw at the Henley Royal Regatta.

As the only community college in the U.S. to maintain a high-level rowing program, Orange Coast traveled to the storied event in England as an underdog.

But the Pirates advanced by posting one of the 12 fastest times out of 35 boats in the Temple Challenge Cup qualifying event on the River Thames.

With their next race scheduled for Wednesday, they planned a warmup at the nearby Reading Town Regatta on Saturday.

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Orange Coast has won 11 national championships in the 65 years since the Costa Mesa school established its program with an old racing shell left over from the 1932 Summer Olympics.

Competing against the likes of Michigan, Virginia and Notre Dame, the varsity eight recently finished sixth in the American Collegiate Rowing Assn. championships.

david.wharton@latimes.com

Follow @LAtimesWharton on Twitter

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