Schools Head of the River 2014- Review

A fantastic day of racing which I, as a competitor, thoroughly enjoyed! The weather turned sour around halfway through racing which dampened spirits slightly but there was some very interesting results! Instead of my usual event dissection, I’m going to run through some clubs and pick out their results. My review of the Schools Head of the River 2014…

Bedford Girls School RC

A great result for these girls in the WJ164+. I believe I received a request from a young lady from this boat to preview their event and I didn’t manage to get round to it in the end. She certainly deserves some credit now after BGS won their event by 6 seconds. BGS A in WJun4+ did not race today, which was odd and slightly disappointing. I can only guess at injury or illness?

Bedford Modern School

6th place in 1st VIII’s was a pretty strong result for these boys although they’ll be hoping to close the gap of 20 seconds between themselves and Canford. They beat their great rivals, Bedford School, by 4 seconds which deserves a mention. The real stars of the show for BMS was their J16 1st VIII. They won their category after some strong performances at various heads beforehand. They’ll be looking to step on through the Easter training period to ensure they finish among the medals for the second year running at their age group. 


A superb performance to win 1st VIII’s. This is a huge improvement from last year, where they finished 11th. Those talented scullers can obviously move the larger boats and I’m looking to forward to seeing what Canford can do in the summer. Their battle with Pangbourne and Shiplake should prove to be the real talking point in this event for the summer.

Emanuel School

A strong performance from these boys in Jun 4x. Fifth place is a huge improvement from the Scullery, albeit in a weaker field, and their A boat has obviously picked up some good speed. Emanuel are relatively new to the junior quad scene but are certainly setting the cat amongst the pigeons with some string results. Will they look to combine their two quads to form an VIII in the summer or will they develop their current style?

Eton College

Alex Henshilwood said on Twitter that he was happy with the result from his first VIII today [4th place in CH8+]. Eton were a little further behind St Pauls than I expected them to be but, with plenty of the year left, I expect them to get faster. Their 2nd 8+ raced well to finish 2nd, a second behind the winners Latymer and only 23 seconds behind their own 1st VIII. It will be interesting to see whether Henshilwood looks to change up the crews. Their J16’s had a pretty average day, finishing 10th in J16 CH8+ and 3rd in J16 2nd8+.

Evesham Rowing Club

An excellent performance from these boys who have opted to race a four through the winter season as opposed to the expected quad. A win will only boost their confidence as they look to build into NSR.

Gloucester Hartpury

I have to admit, I expected more from their Jun4x. Whether or not they had a weaker crew, 8th does not reflect the immense ability in that crew. With three notable scullers in the ranks, I think they should be looking for top 5. Their girls raced superbly, picking up a comfortable win in WJun4x by 28 seconds. This arguably puts Gloucester right up there with crews like Marlow, widening the field even further and setting things up for a fantastic summer.

Hampton School

7th in CH8+ and, as expected, they are not the force they were last year. Their 2nd and 3rd crews raced well however, picking up a 3rd place and a good win respectively. It’ll be an interesting few years for Hampton. Neil Double was responsible for producing that wonderful generation of oarsmen [Wickstead, Lloyd, Benstead, Douglass, Swarbrick] and now he must look to build a new squad capable of challenging at the highest level. Can he do it this year, in such a short space of time? Unlikely.

Headington School

An accomplished, but not unexpected, win for these girls, making them firm favourites again for the WCH8+ title in May.

Henley Rowing Club

A magnificent day for these girls, winning the three events that they entered. Their WJun4+ continues to dominate at national level, adding this title to the one they won at the HOR4 in November. Their superb J16 crew won despite racing up a year and this is a fantastic achievement, striking resemblances to Marlow last year. It has been a good month for these girls, having won here as well as the Scullery and JIRR Trials. It looks like Henley will be having a pretty strong year next year as their WJ158+ won their event by a massive 31 seconds. A dominant performance and these girls are beginning to build something of an empire over junior women’s rowing.

Kings College School Wimbledon

A mixed bag for these guys. They’ve slipped off the pace a little in CH8+, placing 9th today but 12 seconds behind Radley, whom they were 7 seconds behind at Hammersmith Head. Their J16 1st VIII raced well but just lost out to BMS. A building year for these guys, I would think.

Lady Eleanor Holles Boat Club

A good result in WCH8+ to finish 2nd and the effect of Jonathan Cheeseman has been felt immediately. However, they were still a long way behind a fantastic Headington crew and this is a disparity that they will be looking to close up. Good results through their younger squads, which is promising for development. I think they will be faster in the summer.

Latymer Upper School

A brilliant win in 2nd VIII’s, as I predicted, but they were slower than I thought they’d be in CH8+. Having been a mere second behind St Edwards at Hammersmith, I think Hugo Gulliver will be disappointed to have seen his crew lose out to both St Edwards and Radley by over 15 seconds. Their WJun4x came second and fended off the challenge of Tideway Scullers, who used their experience of the Thames to close the gap on Latymer. Their J4+ finished second behind a very talented crew from Evesham, with the latter containing GB internationals. On the assumption that this VI is their third ranked boat, it is a good result. 

Marlow Rowing Club

Having a crack at sweep oar, the girls finished 4th in WCH8+ but I think they will revert to sculling boats for the summer.

Norwich School

These boys have some excellent small boats, picking up a win in J154+ as well as top five finishes in J164+ and Jun4+. It begs the question as to whether or not they plan to boat an VIII in the summer, following their tradition of racing a crew in the Princess Elizabeth at Henley. 


Their quad has obviously been making that VIII shift as they pulled off a fantastic result in 1st VIII’s by finishing second. If the four boys who row in the quad now chose to stay and make their VIII go faster, I think they could challenge for gold in the summer.


Another really good result for these boys and I think they’ll be delighted to have closed the gap on St Pauls by so much. Having lose out to St Pauls by 12 seconds at Hammersmith, this result makes it a lot more interesting for the summer. With the expected ‘Radley spurt’ due some time in June, it speaks of exciting racing come HRR! 

Reading Blue Coat School

A decent race from these guys, who obviously had a bad run or a weakened crew at Kingston Head. Their 5th place gives plenty of room for improvement but they will be disappointed to have slipped off Radley, whom they were only 10 seconds behind at Hammersmith [Hammersmith is admittedly a shorter course]. Can they push on into the medal spots? I’m not so sure as the strength of the guys around them is impressive.

Shiplake College 

Two excellent performance from Shiplake crews today. Their 1st VIII finished 3rd but only six second behind the winners. Their Jun4x finished a brilliant third, beating a lot of established crews and it will be interesting to see whether they look to amalgamate these boys after such a good performance. Shiplake finished a mere 11 seconds behind Sir William Borlase in Jun4x which is, in any context, a very impressive feat! 

Sir William Borlase

The dominance ends- and in some style! Sir William Borlase finished up second today in Jun4x behind Westminster, who really took advantage of racing on their home water. I expect SWB to bounce back from this and now they have a long Easter period ahead of them to build speed. The crew-formation has changed since the Scullery, with Hugo Coussens moving into the three seat and Rufus Biggs shifting back to two. Has this affected speed? Their J16 CH8+ raced superbly to pick up a solid third place, beating St Pauls and London Oratory. Their girls finished off a solid March with another good performance, coming home third and ahead of Marlow in WCH8+.

St Paul’s School

All hail the fastest junior eight in the country! A mature and powerful row from these boys won them the headship and it is well deserved after their excellent performances throughout the winter season. Bobby Thatcher will be slightly concerned about the proximity of crews such as Radley and St Edwards but this can be addressed through the Easter period. Their J16 CH8+ slipped back a little too and they’ll be looking to find speed by comparing between the J16 2nd 8+, which finished 2nd. Their J15 CH8+ and J15 2nd 8+ added to the victory count with victories in their respective categories, showing that the future really is bright for St Paul’s. 

St Edwards

Their position in CH8+ genuinely took me by surprise; I wasn’t expecting them to show such speed. Jonny Singfield has been working his magic and, with Oli Knight sat imperiously in the stroke seat, they raced brilliantly to finish as close to St Pauls as anyone has got all season. It will be interesting to see where they go from here but this result shows that they have more strength than I realized. 

Star Club

A good result for their Jun4x, bouncing back from a poor result at the Scullery to finish fourth. They have, judging by the pictures, had a crew change which has worked well for them as they finished 20 seconds behind Sir William Borlase. Their B crew provided the jester for the day as they snapped a blade at the start of the race. They were then forced to suffer the ignominy of rowing down the course with three men. Despite this, they still managed to beat four other crews from different categories!

Surbiton High School Boat Club 

A second place in WJ174x but they lost out to the the WJ16 crew of Henley. SUrbiton had three crews entered, showing remarkable strength in depth for a relatively new club. Their A crew will be looking to build into the summer but they still recorded the fourth fastest WJun4x time of the day.

The King’s School, Chester

Eton beat their CH8+ this time but this is still a good result for these boys. Joint 5th with last year’s PE winners is no mean feat and Kings School Chester have a lot left to give. With a strong J16 contingent, their Easter training period has now become essential to ensure they compete at the highest level in the summer.


A brilliant day for the home club, who racked up a magnificent four wins in J16 CH8+, J15 1st8+, Jun4x and J174x. Looking at their squad, they could boat three eight in the summer that would be, arguably, all capable of winning their categories. Their power over junior rowing really showed today and they produced some great performances to stay true to the form book in some places and rip it up in others. They overturned the 8 second deficit at the Scullery to beat Sir William Borlase by 15 seconds in Jun4x, which will please Bill Mason. Their J15’s started this year the way they finished last year and I wonder if they will choose to boat two quads and an VIII at NSR? Oh, the possibilities! The summer looks bright for the men in pink!

A brilliant day of racing and congratulations to all the winners!

This photo was taken from-


  • Joshua

    (did my comment post before?) Although I did not compete in this category, I thought the J16Ch8+ category was very exciting with very little gaps at the top end. Is there a possibility of a more detailed review of this event at some point??

    • Hi Josh,

      Thanks for your feedback. Our apologies for not getting back to you, the site has undergone some moderation and therefore I have been unable to access certain areas. In response to your query, I’d be happy to pass you over to our J16 specialist, who will happily write you a review.


      • Joshua

        Superb! Thank you!

      • Joshua


  • Joshua

    Although I did not compete in this category, I thought the J16Ch8+ category was very exciting with very little gaps at the top end. Is there a possibility of a more detailed review of this event at some point?