Hammersmith Head 2014- J18 Preview

Before I begin, a quick word on the Head of the Trent. Sounded like a good day of racing for everyone and it is always good to get some form of competition in before the Schools Head! My performance of the day is tied between two clubs. Kings School Chester had an outstanding day, beating the Eton first VIII to the J18 8+ prize. In the afternoon, they put out a searingly quick IM1 4- which finished third overall in the division! An impressive set of results from the boys, while their girls took the WJ18 and WJ16 8+ titles! My other crew of the day was the Nottingham Senior 4x, which was the fastest quad of the day. These guys, who I’m told were pre-dominantly juniors, won their division by 34 seconds and looked impressive on their home river. It’d be good to see them stick a quad out for Schools Head, as their crew at HOR4 was a little disappointing. Onto Hammersmith…

The Putney-Chiswick section of the Thames has improved enough so that this race can be staged. Following the cancellation of Reading University Head, this will be a good chance to see the development of some crews. The absence of St Pauls at the weekend was keenly felt as it would have been good to see their speed at this stage. They are entered into Elite VIII’s while the J18 category has a good standard of competition. Onto the preview…

J18 8+

There is a smattering of junior eights through the senior categories. Abingdon have chosen to race IM1, Bedford Modern are entered into IM2 while Latymer, St Edwards, Shiplake and Abingdon have all entered crews into IM3. I’m not sure as to which are the top crews so I’m going to presume that the boats entered into J18 are the top crews for the respective school, with the exception of St Pauls.

Radley have out a crew out and they will be buoyed after their victory at the Head of the Trent. They have some excellent athletes in their ranks but the winter is not traditionally their strongest time. Radley tend to increase in speed through the season, placing great emphasis on Henley. Starting directly behind them are Kings College School. These guys performed well at Wallingford Head and the Fours Head and I think they’ll be strong again this year. Their top pair finished 12th at GB Trials a few weeks ago and it will be interesting to see whether they make the step up to CH 8+ again at NSR.

St Edwards School have boated a crew but, having lost Callum Jones and Titus Morley, I’m not sure they’ll be the force they were last year. St Pauls have entered an VIII and they had a good batch of J15’s and J16’s last year so their second VIII should be pretty quick too. Latymer, under the guidance of Hugo Gulliver, have been fairly low key so far this season and had some mixed results at GB Trials with their top pair coming home 14th.

I’m going to call Radley to take the win but I don’t think KCS will be too far behind.

WJ18 8+

Just three to chose from here and, for me, it is a fairly easy choice. Tideway Scullers School have a very competent girls squad and had some promising results at various events through the winter. I think their crew will be too strong for the likes of St Edwards and St Pauls Girls, neither of whom have particularly stood out so far this year.

J18 4X

7 entries and a fairly matched bunch. I think this is between Tiffin and Reading. Although neither are really front runners in the race for the J4x prize at SHORR, Tiffin have put in some solid results through the winter, including wins in various events at Kingston SBH and Walton SBH. Tiffin had a very good junior quad two years ago and are obviously building for the future with a young squad. Reading have Sam Geller in their ranks, who came 8th and 14th at Pairs and Scullers Head respectively and so I expect them to be fast. Reading to take it.

WJ18 4X

A good standard of entry here. Henley appear to have opted for the J164x while sticking with their HOR4 winning four. Surbiton High School, who came second in WJ16 4x, have entered three crews and I expect these girls to build upon their results last year. However, my favourite for this event is Latymer. After some good results through the winter, including top 5 at Henley LDS and HOR4 and a win at the Scullers Head, I’m anticipating these girls to take this event. They have had to re-build their HRR winning quad from last year as they had no returners but have done a good job so far. Don’t be surprised to see the Henley WJ164x beat their time though. Tideway Scullers and Reading have also entered crews and it will be interesting to see if TSS have stacked their eight or their quad.

J18 4+

Not too sure about this one. Going to go with Kingston Grammar School but I really am not sure. If anyone could enlighten me as to the prowess/speed of these crews, it would be much appreciated.

WJ18 4+

I can only see one winner here. Henley won WJ18 4+ at HOR4 and I think they’ll extend this streak into this event. The Henley junior women’s squad is very strong this year and I wonder as to whether they will look to combine their four and quad to make a super boat for HRR.

That’s all from me. The J16 preview should be live at some point this week. Good luck to all competitors!

This photo was taken from- http://sonsrowing.com/newshammersmithhead