Brit Champs- Preview

So, with Henley over for another year and with a lot of clubs winding down into the summer break, the last national competition of this year is almost upon us. With the sweltering temperatures forecast to partially subside, being replaced by an unusual tailwind at the National Water Sports Center, we can look forward to an action packed weekend of racing, featuring some of the top crews from around the country. Here, I preview a few stand-out events:

Junior Quads

This is a heavily weakened field due to the GB camps taking place. A lot of the top boats, who have lost up to 75% of their crews, have chosen not to enter or enter in small boats but this should open the door for some of the younger quads to take the initiative and push for that Home Counties vest. The stand out favorite to win, in a field of 15, is the Maidenhead boat with the same crew that made the Saturday of Henley. These boys are well drilled and have recorded a series of impressive results throughout the year, including a NSR final and 2nd places at both Wallingford and Marlow. With Marlow entering a crew made up of their B and C quads from Henley, I can’t see anyone getting too close to Maidenhead.

The battle for silver and bronze should be much more competitive, with a number of boats in the running. The battle of the J17’s dominates this event and I can pick out three quads that should aim to make the A final. Northwich have come out of the blue this year and are an extremely strong unit, with Finnian Lawton at stroke. They beat Weybridge on the Wednesday of Henley by 2 lengths before being defeated by the losing finalists, Sir William Borlase. Star have entered 2 boats but, if the Henley racing program is anything to go off, they appear to have entered the ‘top’ crew as the B boat. These guys beat Claire’s Court on the Wednesday by just over 2 lengths and lost to Maidenhead on the Thursday by 3.5 lengths. Expect these two to be pushing for medals. Also in the running are Newark, another Thursday crew at Henley, Lea, who appear to be tripling up in some cases and lost to Newark at Henley, an unknown Trentham/Runcorn combination containing Joe Anderson, medalist in CH1X at NSR and Calpe, from Gibraltar, who semi-finaled at NSR.

My prediction, taking into account those doubling up:

Gold: Maidenhead

Silver: Northwich

Bronze: Star

Junior Double Sculls

Once again, a lack of top quality crews entered but still some class acts. Maidenhead will be eyeing the possibility of two golds and their double of Corio and Kempson will certainly be up there, having finaled at NSR. Expect the Trentham/Runcorn composite to be strong although Anderson appears to be tripling up, a feat which is not attempted by many. Additionally, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the Walton double, comprising two of the guys from the Fawley quad, ending up in the A final.

There are a few others who will look to be pushing into the final. Nottingham have a superb small boats programme and Rowan Law has been causing waves on the junior circuit with his impressive sculling. I was under the impression that he had taken the Coupe spot in the single and so, I will be interested to see if these guys still race. Gamble, who previously raced with Dominic Parnell until he moved to Shiplake, is an able oarsmen and that double should be strong. The WBS double is unknown as it contains Hugh White, the bowman of the WBS top quad and twin of James White who won J171X at NSR, with Josh Barnes whom I must admit, I am not familiar with. Keep an eye out for their unknown speed.

My prediction:

Gold: Trentham/Runcorn

Silver: Maidenhead

Bronze: Walton/Nottingham

Women’s Junior Quads

Some top class crews here, with plenty of representation from HRR crews. The Junior Women’s Quadruple Sculls champions, Latymer, are absent but Gloucester Hartpury, winners of CHG4X at NSR, are present along with an interesting composite between Marlow and Eton Excelsior. This boat contains two of the girls from the Eton top quad along with two girls from the WJ18 squad from Marlow. These guys came 4th in the semi’s of CHG2X at NSR and this boat should prove to be fast. In addition, look out for Kingston Grammar School, who went out to Headington on the Friday of Henley.

My predictions:

Gold: Gloucester Hartpury

Silver: Eton Excelsior/Marlow

Bronze: Kingston Grammar School

Junior 16 Quadruple Sculls

This is an unusually small field, with only 9 boats entered. There are two stand out crews here, with the first being the Tideway Scullers School, who have entered a full strength quad, fresh from their selection as the GB Vs France J164x. They did go on to lose that race but, crucially, in the trials they beat Claire’s Court, who have also entered. Both of these guys had a crack at HRR this year, with both performing extremely well to qualify in a highly competitive field. They both got hard draws and subsequently went out on the Wednesday, with TSS losing to Evesham and Claire’s Court falling to Star. These two are the stand outs in a weakened field, missing the top three from NSR. Expect Windsor to be there or there abouts as they amalgamate their crews. Star have a much changed line up from NSR, with three of the guys from their ‘A’ boat moving up to race J18. This much changed crew is practically the ‘B’ crew from NSR, who were the only ‘B’ crew to qualify with the A crew and I expect them to be pushing for a final spot. The Globe/Lea/Thames composite is made up of guys from the Globe and Lea J16 quads from NSR and their speed should be interesting.

My predictions:

Gold- Tideway Scullers

Silver- Claire’s Court

Bronze- Windsor Boys

The picture is of the winning Marlow J164x in 2012.