Schools Head of the River 2014- Second Eight’s Preview

My final preview before the big day…

An interesting request to try and work out the standard of 2nd VIII’s. I’ll go down the starting order. Hampton entered two matched crews at Quintin Head which came out as pretty close to each other so I think they’ll have a pretty decent 2nd VIII. Although their strength in depth has fallen this year, they still had two pairs inside the top 10 at Feb GB Trials. I think they’ll be up there judging by the speed of their matched boats. St Paul’s second crew finished 6th from 7 in J18 8+ but were not too far out of touch with some of the 1st VIII’s, losing out to Dulwich by 2 seconds. However, the fastest 2nd VIII’s are usually on a par with the fastest 1st VIII’s so I’m not sure how well St Paul’s will do. They certainly have good depth, with a lot of returners from last year plus a decent J16 squad so I think top 5 is achievable. Eton College’s second eight won at Kingston at the weekend in an impressive fashion, beating the first boat from Reading Blue Coat [One of the front-runners for 1st VIII’s]. They’ll be challenging, having laid down some good results at Trent too. They had a dominant J16 VIII last year, which won gold at NSR and so I think they may be favourites to win. I expect top three from these guys. Shrewsbury, coached by the legendary South African Athol Hundermark, have been pretty low-key so far this year but are bringing the big boys out to play tommorow. They looked the part in 2012 but failed to really lay claim to any major silverware, with depth being a pretty key issue. Their second VIII raced at the North of England Head at the weekend where they finished second in IM2 8+. THis is a good result leading into the SHORR. [Significantly however, the Shrewsbury 1st VIII beat the Kings School Chester first VIII by a second, giving us a truly mouth-watering prospect for tommorow]. Latymer look very strong in the second VIII department, having finished second in IM3 VIII’s at Quintin and second again in IM3 at Hammersmith. However, this second crew was only 12 seconds behind the St Edwards first crew, which makes them a crew in form. I think it’ll be a fight between them and Eton for the top prize.

Good luck to all competitors!

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