Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup- Hampton

2013 Titles- 1st Place- Schools Head of the River, Championship Coxless Fours- National Schools Regatta

Coach: Colin Greenaway and Neil Double

Munich Representatives- Alistair Douglass, Matt Benstead

Hampton are, I find, one of the most frustrating boats to watch and observe. They have a star studded line up, with four current or past international medalists onboard in the form of, arguably, the two fastest pairs in the country. Yet, cometh the hour and, with Hampton it seems, not cometh the man. Hampton have failed to properly produce in the right, aside from their win at SHORR, and Abingdon have capitalized on this. They produced a poor performance at Wallingford to finish last in the final of IM1 eights, albeit with a weakened crew and their bronze medal at NSR in CH8 will not satisfy the current crop nor the expectant rowing world.

This year was touted as ‘Hampton Years’ and their head season form suggested that the talk could well be proved correct. Their style is a little less radical than Abingdon’s but suits their lighter average weight. They pick up the boat fast out front and their unique catch gives them a firm foundation  for the leg drive. Their stroke is longer than Abingdon’s and constructed to suit the athletes they carry.

Maybe I’m being presumptuous here and not giving Hampton a fair chance but I really cannot see them getting past the might of Abingdon. Hampton have suffered some crushing defeats in the past few years, losing out to St Edwards in the CH8 final this year as well as being rowed through by their arch-rivals, Radley, in the semi’s at Henley last year. This will have taken its toll on the minds of the athletes and this legacy of not performing to expectations on the big occasion could prove critical. Indisputably, the four is searingly quick but the question remains as to what exactly the issue is with the eight. Is the disparity in ability within the eight too stark to produce a winning crew? This question remains waiting to be answered.

Come Henley, maybe I’ll be proved wrong. I think they will be angry, frustrated after losing not only the gold but also the silver and I think Teddies will prove to be their fiercest rivals. My prediction is semi-finals.

The photo is from the Friday of Henley 2012, where Hampton School [pictured] beat Belmont Hill School, U.S.A. by 2 and a 1/4 lengths.Image