The Fawley Challenge Cup- Qualifiers

So, here it is. Henley is virtually upon us and, as crews pour in from all over the globe to showcase their skills on the most famous stretch of racing water in the world, the Junior world turns its attention to the two events on offer to junior rowers at HRR- the Fawley Challenge Cup and the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup. Entries for the two stand at 57 and 33 respectively, with 24 and 32 spaces available. Therefore I will not be doing a preview of the PE as only one crews loses out. The Fawley, on the other hand, is far more competitive and is probably my favorite event at the entire regatta.

Here, I will preview the 13 boats I think will qualify, in alphabetical order:

Claire’s Court– This crew is the same boat that cane 4th in J164x at NSR. They are an extremely tidy unit for a J16 crew, helped by their wing-rigged Empacher, and they were unfortunate to not qualify for the Marlow Regatta final at J184x. They came 3rd in their semi, beaten out by two strong crews from Maidenhead and Star, to qualify for the rep but snapped a blade at the start of the rep. This was unlucky as I had them down as favorites to win the repecharge. I think they’ll qualify.

Henley Rowing Club– A J17 crew that has been together for a long time. They haven’t really been pushing for top spots this season, not qualifying for the final at Wallingford and coming 5th in an extremely tight rep at Marlow. They also came 12th in the NSR time trials before having to withdraw. Their knowledge of this stretch of water may push them into a qualifying spot.

Lea Rowing Club ‘A‘- Another crew in the band of about 8 crews at a similar speed. A couple of these guys were in the Fawley entry that was knocked out on the Wednesday by Maidenhead last year. These guys were drawn into a tough heat at Marlow and placed 2nd behind Star and Arrow in the rep of Div A by 0.2 seconds. They qualified 10th fastest at NSR and finished 5th in their semi. I can definitely see them taking one of the spots.

Marlow Rowing Club ‘B‘- I’m going under the assumption that these guys are the Marlow J16’s who finished 2nd in J164x behind an exceptional Sir William Borlase crew. They may have been strengthened by an available older member or may be the J16 crew but, either way, they will undoubtedly be fast. They won the J184x Div B at Marlow albeit in a weakened field without top crews from SWB or Windsor but this is still a remarkable feat, beating Tigre and Westminster B to boot. I would be amazed if these guys don’t qualify.

Molesey Boat Club ‘A’- This boat fits into the ‘there or there about’ category. They came 5th in the final of J184x B but were 25 seconds behind the winners. They qualified for NSR and came last in their semi but I think they’ll be string enough to just nick a place.

Newark Rowing Club- The crew has, for whatever reason, lost the versatile talents of Luke Wren and their replacement, William Bowmar, seems to have stepped into his shoes fairly well. This crew, with Wren instead of Goodwin at bow, won J174x at the Scullery and came 3rd in their semi at NSR. They finished 6th at Marlow, having come 2nd in their heat and therefore gaining automatic qualification. I’m surprised that they didn’t warrant pre-qualification as, throughout this year, I’ve put them on a par with Northwich in terms of speed. I would be confident that they’ll take a spot and I would relish a Newark-Northwich or Newark-Star [The third boat to make up the trio of top J17 quads] match up on the Wednesday.

Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe– I’m not 100% familiar with this boat as a quad but do have previous knowledge of the double within it, Commins and Eyres. These guys have always been towards the top end of junior double sculling, particularly at J16 standard and so I presume their quad will be of a reasonable standard. They came 4th in the rep of Div A at Marlow but were 2 seconds off 1st place. I think they will qualify.

Star and Arrow Club– Leander’s second boat, these guys won the rep of Div A at Marlow, granting them a spot in the elusive final but they could not convert this into anything more than 7th place. However I think these guys are strong enough to make the cut and I think they’ll only get better with time, as many of them have only recently taken up rowing. They are part of Leander’s junior development program but all eyes will be on the top boat and their assault on the Fawley.

Star Club ‘A‘- Another crew that I am surprised hasn’t pre-qualified and another J17 crew. They finaled at both Wallingford and Marlow, coming 6th and 5th in the finals respectively. They qualified 8th fastest at NSR but had a terrible row in the semi, catching a crab and finishing 5th behind long term rivals, Newark. The rivalry between these guys, Newark and Northwich is a great undercurrent to the regatta this year with each of the three crews beating and losing to the other two at some stage. I think they’ll qualify.

The King’s School, Worcester– This crew are once again banded into the similar speed category with Lea, Molesey etc. They came 9th in the NSR time trial but came 3rd in their semi, only 7 seconds behind Maidenhead. This was an impressive result and they came 3rd in the Marlow Div A rep, having been drawn into a tricky heat. I’d be surprised if they didn’t take one of the 13 spots.

York City Rowing Club ‘A’- Never really one to produce a top end quad, they only just qualified at NSR and came 6th in their semi. They chose not to race at Marlow and I therefore have to hark back to their result at Head of the Trent in March, a 2nd place behind Nottingham and ahead of Star. Their J16’s aren’t particularly strong either so I doubt they will have strengthened their boat in any substantial fashion since NSR but I think they will sneak one of the places.

Westminster School ‘B’– This boat, like Marlow B, lives in the shadow of Westminster A, the schools flagship crew. However these guys are predominantly J17 and so will be the big dogs next year. They are already showing good speed for a crew that has mainly been in the four this year [They won First Coxed Fours at NSR] and finaled at both Met and Marlow, converting this into 6th and 3rd places. I am fairly sure these guys will qualify and I estimate them to be at the top end of qualifiers, around the speed of /Newark/Marlow B/Star.

This last spot is a contentious one.There are a few crews that I feel could be in prime position to take it. London Oratory are probably my favorites, the guys who came 4th at SHORR in J4x and just missed out on a spot in the Wallingford final. They had a fairly indistinguishable run at NSR, qualifying 15th fastest and converting this into a 4th place in the semi’s. However Tideway Scullers, with their J16’s, could also be in contention for that spot. The question is whether or not TSS have amalgamated age groups to attempt to make a fast A boat or left them segregated. If its the latter, their J18’s haven’t exactly set the world on fire this year so I can’t see them making it. Over to their J16’s…. Also in the picture are Monmouth, who I may have unfairly left out. I’d love them to prove me wrong.

So, over to you guys. Good luck and we’ll see if my success rate is anywhere near Fatscullers. Check out his blog on ALL the HRR qualifying races at http://danielwspring.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/henley-royal-regatta-qualifiers/

The photo below is of the J16 Star Club boat in the Fawley last year. It was taken from http://www.haraldjoergens.com/2012-06-28-henley-royal-regatta/?page=25

Cheers guys!

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