Marlow Regatta- Preview

How time flies? Seems like just yesterday that we were preparing for Marlow Regatta 2012 and Henley 2012 was but a mere week and a half away. Well, here we are again, poised for one of my favorite events of the year. 2012 was somewhat ruined by that horrendous crosswind and there is unfortunate promise of more bad weather this year, with Saturday being described as bright and ‘breezy’. There is a rather limited spectrum of top end junior events at Marlow, with Jun 4x and J168 taking precedent. However, many of the top eights have entered elite, senior and IM events, with the top quads following suit. My predictions…

Elite Eights

This will prove a scintillating encounter between Abingdon’s current crop and Griffen BC, Abingdon alumni. The Griffen boat includes Felix Newman and Vassilis Ragoussis, both of whom were in the 2011 PE winning boat, with the former also bow for the 2012 campaign. Abingdon will be using this as a marker for their speed against other PE opponents whereas Griffen will be using Marlow to presumably pre-qualify for the Thames, presuming that’s their plan. Nonetheless it should prove to be a fascinating encounter, with Eton also present in that heat.

IM1 Eights

Hampton, Radley, Eton, St Edwards and St Pauls are all present in this race, with the number of entrants forcing the organizers to split the crews into two divisions. The really interesting match-up will be between St Edwards and Hampton in Division 2 who took silver and bronze respectively at NSR. Watch out for these two crews as Teddies look to build on their silver at NSR. It will also be good to see the progress made by St Paul’s and Radley, both of whom finaled at CH8, coming 4th and 6th respectively in the fastest ever final. Will Radley, who are missing some of the bigger units they had last year such as Wynne Griffith, have their famous ‘Henley Spurt’ and show the usual dramatic increase in speed? My bet is that it will be far less pronounced this year as they were too far off the pace at NSR. Also, look out for Pangbourne who had a very quick silver medalist four at NSR. They have moved these guys into the stern four of an eight and could be a surprise entry.

Junior Quads

Once again, the volume of entries has caused a double division split which is slightly disappointing as it prevents the match-up of some of the fastest Junior quads in the country. Division 1 sees Leander, fresh from their win at Met Regatta with Seb Devereux and Sam Mottram on board, up against two NSR finalists in the form of Maidenhead and Walton. Walton have added Callum Gathercole to the bow seat of their boat and this should prove to be a quality race. Watch out for Star and Northwich who have raced each other twice. Star have the J16 GB trialist, Will White in the 2 seat and Northwich have the A final trials sculler Finnian Lawton in the stroke seat. Star pipped Northwich at Wallingford to take the final spot in the final but Northwich beat Star by just over a second in the NSR Time Trial, where the two finished 7th and 8th. Keep an eye on these two! Division 2 gives Marlow and Westminster a chance to blood their younger crop with Marlow’s silver medalist J16 quad racing in heat 2 and Westminster’s J17 quad, who finished sixth in the Met final, racing in heat 3. Additionally the big boys are also present in this side of the draw with Windsor and Borlase both fielding their ‘top’ crews although those two may not race due to being entered into Elite and Senior Quads. There is also the chance to see the first of the foreign Fawley entrants in the form of Argentinian club, Tigre BC. Their speed may give us a clue as to the standard of foreign entrants this year. My Prediction for Division 1 is Leander to take the win followed by Walton then Maidenhead with Windsor [if they race] to win Div 2 followed by Borlase then Tigre.

Senior Quads

This provides us with a proper match-up between the top four at NSR. Marlow are my Fawley favorites and have been ever since Sholto moved at the beginning of the year. They won NSR Champ Quads in impressive style, rowing through the field to claim gold over Westminster. However Westminster, under the guidance of Bill Mason, will not be slow and, following the disappointment of last years early exit in the Fawley at the hands of Marlow, they will be desperate to get one over. Westminster are notoriously fast starters and Marlow handled them well last time, letting their superior power show through in the second half of the NSR final but this battle should be brilliant. Surrounded by the strength of boats like Imperial, Molesey and Leander, it will be interesting to see how the juniors respond as they begin the assault on the Fawley Cup. I call Marlow to beat Westminster who, in turn, will beat Windsor.

J16 Eights

This will be between Eton and Hampton, both of whom have pleasingly entered full strength. crews bar a slight rejig of positions in the Eton boat. Eton have been in fine form this year, giving the returning Alex Henshilwood something to think about! They won J16 Champ Eights at NSR by three seconds over Hampton and also won at Wallingford, making them favorites for Marlow. Can’t imagine Hampton will be too far behind, should make for a cracking race but I’m giving Eton the benefit of the doubt! 

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