HRR Reaction and Review- The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup

Wow. What a fantastic HRR this year, thanks to the exemplary performances of crews across the spectrum! From the University of Washington’s surprise victory over the Polish National Eight on the Saturday to Abingdon’s second successive retention of the PE title, we were spoiled with a highly exciting and, at times, dramatic week of racing. Here, I will review the PE and Fawley Challenge Cup and give my analysis of some of the more exciting races.

The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup

Before I start, I must offer my most sincere congratulations to both St Edwards and Abingdon on producing one of the most exciting PE finals in recent years. I personally fancied Abingdon from the start but the bravery and ‘We Do Not Fade’ attitude exhibited by St Edwards gave the race an honest and virtuous feel. Additionally, Abingdon broke their own record twice, in the semi’s against Scotch and once again in the final, by 2 seconds which merits acknowledgement.

Abingdon

Dave Currie put together an astonishingly strong unit, with the average ergo rumored to be particularly strong. They relied on power, particularly with people such as Matt Carter and Rory Brampton sat in the middle, but their technique carried strands of the efficient style that Athol Hundermark employed to such success. They won their first three rounds with relative ease, defeating Kingston Grammar, Monmouth and then Eton College. Their first serious challenge came on the Saturday against the much fancied Scotch College from Australia, the current Australian junior champions. They opened up the canisters to great effect though, defeating Scotch by 1 and a 1/2 lengths to progress to what proved to be a cracking final showdown against NSR silver medalists, St Edwards. Many had touted the Saturday potential match between Abingdon and Scotch as the ‘final’ but, once again, Scotch were not up to the impressive standard set by the British. Australian national championships are held in April and Scotch apparently raced a 5:50 [there or there abouts] and so, admittedly, may have peaked then. Nonetheless, Abingdon powered through them and defeated St Edwards by half a length [The closest verdict throughout the triple], making them the first club to win the PE three times consecutively since Bedford School in 1948.

St Edwards

I am a big fan of the way Teddies have come in this season, having been knocked out on the Wednesday of HRR last year by Scotch, and ruffled a fair few feathers. Their silver medal at NSR certainly surprised everyone, considering their fairly innocuous performance at regatta’s previously, and not least Hampton. They were probably quite disappointed with their performance at Marlow but bounced back to record some impressive early results at HRR, defeating Norwich School, the Kings School Chester and the reputed German national junior eight, under the pseudonym of Poelchau Oberschule. This set up a cracking semi with arch rivals, Hampton. I really believed St Edwards would prevail and, right from the off, St Edwards went out to prove a point, leading Hampton to every timing marker on the course and recording a substantial margin of victory in 2.5 lengths. Eventually, they ran out of steam against the mighty Abingdon but I was suitably impressed by their performance!

Scotch College

Australian champions they may be but I was suitably underwhelmed by them this year, especially when in comparison to the British crews. The only thing that I will say is that they didn’t have the easiest of early races, facing the Child Beale winners, St Georges on the Wednesday before racing a much improved Bedford School and then Boston High School. Its always interesting to see the standard of foreign entrants, especially when their competitions fall at different times of the year but the last foreign winner was Shawnigan Lake School, Canada in 2008. Scotch were a strong crew, don’t get me wrong and were probably the 3rd fastest crew in the PE this year but their times were consistently slower than both Abingdon and St Edwards. They seem to be very fast to the barrier, recording an array of low 1:50’s throughout the week but their mid-race pace is ostensibly slower than the powerful British crews. Next year?

Hampton

Where do I start? This was supposed to be their year and they looked good coming into HRR, having regained terms with Teddies at Marlow. However, they suffered the same fate as last year, failing to reach the Sunday once again. Their margin of defeat to Teddies, a crude 2.5 lengths, displayed that Hampton simply didn’t have the required speed this year. They have arguably under performed throughout the regatta season and this will only compound that. That said, I find their lack of real edge totally bewildering. They have some of the fastest oarsmen in the country, including the infamous Alex Lloyd/Rob Wickstead pairing along with Matt Benstead and Ali Douglass who are all seasoned internationals. With, I think, all of these guys moving on next year, it will be interesting to see what Double can produce from the remnants of his old 1st VIII. The 2nd VIII is a pretty tidy unit, having qualified for the Temple before losing out to the Oxford Brookes ‘C’ boat and I have genuine interest in seeing what these guys can produce.

A special mention should also go to Radley who, contrary to my predictions that they wouldn’t have a tangible ‘Henley spurt’, beat St Pauls on the Thursday by a length. This was a result I was particularly interested in but I fancy St Pauls to come back stronger next year.

Next up- Fawley Challenge Cup.

Photo taken from: http://www.abingdon.org.uk/victorious_at_henley/Image

JuniorRowingBlogger
  • paulo

    ‘The infamous Alex Lloyd/Rob Wickstead pairing’. I’m not sure why they are ‘infamous’. I’d say they have become pretty famous in junior rowing over the last three years!

  • Coach

    i can tell you now there is not even a single junior international 8 with anything like a 6:15 average.
    GB eight had an average of 6:27 a couple years ago and got a SILVER medal at the junior world chamos.