Wallingford Regatta 2014 Preview- J18 Events

As the last crews crossed the finishing line on the 26th of March, you could already sense coaches making preparations for the summer racing. The weather was tempestuous, the pink splendour of Westminster Club dominant on their own playing fields and the dark clouds spoke of an ongoing winter that had threatened to ruin all the best laid plans of coaches and athletes alike.

However, Easter is now over. The intensive training period has finished and we stand, braced for a summer of racing like never before. Wallingford Regatta awaits those brave enough to enter the fray first; indeed, the entry number suggests that many are flexing their muscles in anticipation of a showdown between the heavyweights of junior rowing.

The entry quality is absolutely superb and the re-formatting of events promises a fantastic day of racing. The J18 events…

J18A8+

Three heats, one to the final and the next three fastest across heats to the final. This will ensure good racing the whole time. My prediction from each heat as follows-

Heat A

I fancy Abingdon to win this. The Oxford based school, who have struggled this year due to the loss of many of their top athletes, are notoriously strong in the regatta season and I quite fancy them to win their heat. I think they’ll be pleased to have avoided both St Pauls and Radley and a win in the heat would do their confidence the world of good. Shrewsbury are coached by the talented South African Athol Hundermark and this promises to be a bit of a grudge match; Shrewsbury finished behind Abingdon at SHORR but I feel they under-performed relative to their ability. This heat is certainly the most competitive and Latymer, who travelled to sunny Banyoles for their Easter camp, will also be in with a shout. It will be interesting to see whether Hugo Gulliver has mixed up the two eights that raced at SHORR- the 2nd VIII won their event and finished 10 seconds behind the first VIII. Hampton are always dangerous and their lack of water time through the winter will mean they will have gained speed. Abingdon to win this for me. Additionally, the competitive nature of the heat means we could have two other qualifiers from this heat. I think Shrewsbury may sneak in.

Heat 2

My favourite here is undoubtedly Radley. They finished a strong third at SHORR and closed the gap on St Pauls to 5 seconds. This will be the first match-up in regatta season between these two and I hope they both enter Bedford Regatta the week after for round two! Radley have the talents of Charles Elwes and Robbie Wendin to call upon and they’ll be crucial to the success of this eight. The other crew of note here is Kings School Chester. Another crew I was slightly disappointed in at SHORR as they slipped back on Eton, whom they had beaten at the Head of the Trent 3 weeks earlier. I fancy them to collect one of the three ‘time’ spots- Radley will win this I feel. Monmouth, who finished fourth in 1st VIII’s at SHORR, will pose a moderate threat.

Heat 3

St Pauls vs Eton, a real match-up. From what I could tell, Eton had a pretty savage camp in Portugal [One of the sessions was a 60 minute free rate race in pairs- Try that on for size!] but I can be sure St Pauls will not have rested on any laurels. I still feel St Pauls will have too much class at this stage and I fancy them to take the win. The combinations in their crew are very strong and they have a lot of multi-lane J18 experience onboard. Eton were 11 seconds behind at SHORR and this boat, racing as Eton College A, is not yet their confirmed first VIII- trials are apparently ongoing. I think Eton will take the spot of a time qualifier but won’t be far behind St Pauls, who rowed their home course at SHORR. I feel this duel will become one of the central battles as the regatta season progresses- Thatcher vs Henshilwood.

My predicted line up for the final- St Pauls, Abingdon, Shrewsbury, Radley, Kings School Chester and Eton College A.

Whatever the case, it’ll be a solid final. The only notable absence is St Edwards, who appear to be racing in Challenge Eight’s along with St Pauls, Eton, Radley and Bedford Modern School.

My call for the overall win goes to St Pauls- I still think they’ll be too good at this stage.

WJ18A8+

Heat A

It is still a case of first fastest to final here. A fascinating race in store between Sir William Perkins and St Georges College. These crews finished joint 5th at SHORR in WCH8+ and it’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top this time around- I fancy Sir William Perkins to take this. Additionally, watch out for Molesey who usually have a very strong junior squad and have been pretty quiet this year so far. Kings School Chester are a hard one; I expected more from them after their excellent racing at the Head of the Trent. Their WJ16 8+ won its event and I wonder if they will look to amalgamate; school don’t usually do that before NSR but in the pursuit of WJ18 glory? We shall see. Sir William Perkins to win with St Georges College taking the second spot, Molesey the third and Kings School Chester the fourth.

Heat B

Headington to win this heat along with the entire event. They are just so dominant at junior women’s level and I can’t see that stopping next weekend. Ryan Demaine has those girls trained superbly and their training camp in France looked like it’ll only have increased their speed. Lady Eleanor Holles will definitely put up a challenge upon the leadership of Jonathan Cheeseman and they were the closest crew to Headington at SHORR. Can they close this gap? Do you know what? I think they will. I don’t think they’ll catch Headington but the effect of Cheeseman has already been felt in LEH’s ascension up the rankings at SHORR. LEH to take the time spot along with possibly Great Marlow School.

My predicted line up for the final- Headington, Lady Eleanor Holles, Sir William Perkins, St Georges College, Molesey, Kings School Chester

My call for the overall win goes to Headington- a quality act and I expect them to enforce this on Sunday.

J18A 4+

For me, Pangbourne are the obvious pick here. On the presumption that this is the same crew that raced as a quad earlier in the season, I think they’ll be too strong especially off the back of their second place at SHORR. Oddly they’ve chosen not to boat an VIII and have entered a four into ELI 4- and J18A 4+. Norwich will be strong and had some good crews at the SHORR. However, they are also racing an VIII which will make their attempt at beating Pangbourne that bit harder. Pangbourne for the win.

J18A 4X

Another extremely competitive event although several of the top crews are weakened as a result of the Munich World Cup. Nautilus A & B, racing in Eli 4X, are essentially the two GB quads for Munich, meaning that crews like Sir William Borlase, Westminster and Gloucester Hartpury may be weakened…

Heat A

This really depends on whether SWB are heavily weakened. They could have up to three athletes out of the boat and, although they will still be quick, they won’t be able to compete with the top junior quads. If this is still a full strength line up, they’ll win this heat. If not, Gloucester Hartpury will look to step up to the plate. They had some notable athletes involved in the trial process, such as Jack Williams and Joe Barnes, who finished 4th in the double in February. If they are also heavily weakened, they may actually choose to scratch their entry altogether, unlikely as it is. Emanuel will be fast, having placed 6th at SHORR. This heat really depends on the quality of crew from Borlase and Gloucester Hartpury.

Heat B

Westminster are the obvious favourites here. However, I am told that Meijer is racing in Nautilus A and is also racing the single, making him ineligible for the quad too. Cam Kerr is also doubling up to race the single in the morning along with Rufus Dobson so don’t expect Westminster to be firing on all cylinders. There is the possibility that Westminster may actually choose to boat their J17 quad, who finished 1st in their category at SHORR. This would be good to see as these boys would need to step up to compete. Star and Arrow, positioned in lane 6, will also be quick and, if this is the same crew that finished fourth at the OJSH, then I think they will challenge Westminster. They are also racing two J182x so this may have an effect. Additionally, look out for Hinksey who performed well earlier in the season although they appear to have slipped off the boil slightly. I expect to see Westminster and Star & Arrow in the final.

Heat C

Arguably the weakest heat [if that exists] but the favourite for me would have to be Tideway Scullers School A. These boys raced a CH8+ at SHORR, finishing up twelfth which wasn’t a very good result. However, they were very good in the quad last year and they have obviously reverted back to their speciality; Ollie Jonas is a very talented sculler and will be key to pushing these boys on. I expect them to win this heat. Additionally watch out for Weybridge, who finished joint second in J174x at SHORR and also raced at HRR last year, as I expect them to be pretty quick. Molesey- who knows? They haven’t been too strong so far this year although their flooded stretch of river will have had something to do with that. I’d also quickly mention Star B- they broke a blade at SHORR and therefore we haven’t seen much of them in the junior arena. However, looking at their record in smaller boats, they have some strong scullers in the ranks so don’t be surprised to see them up there.

Heat D

Probably the most competitive heat, with three of four very well matched boats. Northwich are favourites for this heat, having finished third at SHORR. The boys from Cheshire are a crew to watch as they think they have the potential to make the weekend of Henley; watch this space. A seriously impressive line-up with Alex Bain and Finnian Lawton involved. Star are in a strong position following a superb result at the SHORR, finishing third behind Sir William Borlase and Westminster. They beat Claire’s Court and Norwich on the Thames but lost out to local rivals St Neots at the OJSH. St Neots have that formidable combination of Fergus Mitchell and Josh Davies onboard and, although their style isn’t the most efficient, they have a real engine onboard. Norwich will be weaker as I believe Parsonage is racing for Nautilus A- it remains to be seen whether he’ll double up. Claire’s Court have a strong J17 contingent and often get faster through the season. This should be a real humdinger of a race. Northwich to win this heat.

My predicted line up for the final [Presuming crews are weakened]- Sir William Borlase, Westminster, Star & Arrow, Tideway Scullers A, Northwich, Gloucester Hartpury.

My call for the overall win is a difficult one as the potentially heavily weakened crews makes for interesting racing. I actually think Northwich could well take this as they are a crew teetering on the edge of the ‘elite’ band of crews. Westminster, if it is their J18’s, will feature while Star & Arrow will also be strong.

WJ18A 4x

A straight final, which is actually a shame. No sign of Marlow or Eton Excelsior- the latter have been absent since Fours Head and this would suggest either an intensive training regime or an internal issue. The favourites are the formidable force of Gloucester Hartpury, who dominated SHORR to win the WJ4x event by 28 seconds. The real clash would have been Henley, who finished three seconds behind in a separate event at SHORR, pitted against Gloucester. As with the boys, there is the possibility that Gloucester Hartpury will be weakened so bear that in mind. This gives substantial hope to crews such as Latymer, who would still pose a threat even when Gloucester are at full strength. These girls often get quicker as the season progresses so it will be interesting to see whether they have pushed away from Tideway Scullers and Weybridge, who finished 3rd in WJ4x and 3rd in WJ174x respectively. My pick for the win would still be Gloucester Hartpury followed by Latymer.

These are all the events I’m doing at the moment. I appreciate I’ve missed out J182x and J181x and if anyone wants these covered then just leave a comment below. Let’s hope the weather is kind and we’re treated to some spectacular racing!

Good luck to all competitors!

This photo was taken from- http://www.vestarowing.co.uk/two-wins-at-wallingford-regatta-344

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JuniorRowingBlogger
  • Can you do a review of the J18 A 8+ from Wallingford please. The results were very interesting and it would be great to get your opinion of them!

    • Hi Gabriel,

      Thanks for your feedback.

      I’d be happy to do one, I’m going to write an overall preview at some point today.

      JuniorRowing

  • John

    Hey,
    Could you do a j18B8+ preview please. I’m aware that 2nd 8s from the likes of Eton, Hampton, Abingdon, St Paul’s and Radley all competed last weekend at Dorney, and it appears that Abingdon have closed the gap, having beaten Hampton and come close to Eton.
    Cheers.

    • Hi Angus,

      Thanks for your feedback. I’d be delighted to, I’ll have it down for tonight.

      JuniorRowing

      • I❤️rowing

        Oi you gonna publish this or not..

  • Rower

    Regarding the j18 4x, none of the crews you mentioned are weakened crews apart from the westminster quad which is their j17 quad

    • Hi Steven,

      Thanks for your feedback.

      That information is much appreciated, good luck in your quad on Sunday!

      JuniorRowing

  • Ollie

    Are you going to do the J16 events?

    • Hi Ollie,

      Thanks for your feedback.

      I’m hoping to get that done by tomorrow evening, currently finishing a quite detailed JIRR review

      JuniorRowing

  • Please complete the set i.e WJ18 2x WJ18 1x, J18 1x and J18 2x

    • Hi Peter,

      Thanks for your feedback.

      I’ll have it done by tomorrow. If you give me a bit of time, I’ll look to produce something in-depth.

      JuniorRowing

  • Suzie

    Could you do the JW18.1x please?
    Thanks

    • Hi Suzie,

      Thanks for your feedback.

      I’d love to, I’ll have it published tomorrow for you.

      JuniorRowing

  • Lee

    Can you do the J18 2x please? Thanks!

    • Hi Lee,

      Thanks for your feedback.

      With pleasure. I’ll have it live tomorrow.

      JuniorRowing