JIRR Review and ‘initial views’ towards NSR

Our first major regatta of the year took place last weekend up at Holme. I hear it was the highest entry ever with many schools. Conditions were pretty good with a Cross-Headwind strongly favoring lanes one and two. Times weren’t particularly fast but we now have a good idea of what to expect for the majority of the J16 events, but there are questions that need to be asked.

J16 8+

1st – Sir William Borlase School

2nd – Shrewsbury School

3rd- Bedford Modern School

Congratulations SWB. A very well drilled crew who had a great balance of power and technique. They were nearly two seconds ahead of Shrewsbury (of whom I considered to be strong favorites) at 500m and continued to extend their lead out. By the time the finish came, SWB were more than a length ahead and it should give them great confidence ahead of National Schools next month. In terms of the Championship Eights, the real question is whether Westminster will aim for the quad or the eight (the events are on the same day and doubling up is prohibited). I’d personally say they are more likely to aim for the eight as it is a bigger event and they already have proven they are very strong, based on results at SHORR.

In terms of first eights contenders, Bedford Modern did as expected. Nobody was ever expecting them to win as the competition was strong this year. Having sat up at the start, I can note that Bedford do have a particularly fast start for a First Eight and weren’t far off Shrewsbury at 500m. Kingston Rowing Club (4th Place), I would guess that they really wanted a medal here, however, you could see that they were inexperienced compared to Bedford. Still, they did well to beat both composites. Bedford Modern do look set to take first at this current point in time, it is however not unusual for crews to suddenly appear over the next month.

WJ16 8+

1st – Henley RC

2nd – LEH

3rd – Durham ARC

Now this has to be the most impressive Henley result of the day. Henley’s WJ15s won the WJ16 8+ after winning the WJ15 4+ and 4x+. The fact they won by 12 seconds, despite being one age group younger and the whole crew having already raced, is an amazing result and they have really set themselves up for NSR. Like many of their other crews, it will be a serious surprise if they do not win medals. LEH also had a great result, i believe this was also a WJ15 eight and an excellent result too. It does however make it slightly concerning that two WJ15 eights have beaten all of the WJ16 eights. The case was the same at Schools Head with 3 of the WJ15 eights beating all the WJ16 eights. It does mean that WJ16 Sweep Oar does really need to improve. Still one month to go!

J16 4x

1st – Henley RC

2nd – Burton Leander RC

3rd – Tiffin School

Henley once again dominated this event, with the same crew winning the J15 4x+ last year. Henley won by nearly 10 seconds, a long distance over 1500m. It isn’t too surprising though, Henley had one member of their quad, Alasdair Roy, who was invited to the J16 GB Sculling camp at Nottingham last month. However this was the same for Burton and Tiffin who had Matthew Haywood (Burton Leander) and Cormac Molloy (Tiffin) invited. However, I do believe that Grange had two rowers on the camp, both of whom in the quad, but yet they came 5th.

In terms of NSR, with the possibility of Westminster not racing, there is the chance of Henley getting into the medals. The issue is though, whether or not they are at the standard to take on Windsor Boys School or Maidenhead RC. At Kingston Head, Tiffin beat Windsor Boys, but I did hear that they crashed and weren’t able to row for close to 15 seconds. If Westminster do not race, Windsor are currently most likely to take it or maybe Maidenhead, it just leaves 3rd place wide open.

WJ16 4x

1st – Henley RC

2nd – Warrington RC

3rd – Tyne United

Henley do it again. They remain unbeaten now for more than a year and a half and remain the favorites for every regatta. An impressive 20 second win meant that they won their final by more than any over A final event. From what I saw, they have a very slick carbon reverse wing Kanghua and are currently the face of Kanghua adverts. Like the SWB J16 Eight, Henley have a very good balance between power and technique, and this was evident compared to other crews. The way they got off the start was incredible, they led the whole race from start to finish. However, I feel the reason they are so fast, is just the chemistry between them. It is evident from results of previous events, the girls (for whatever reason) do not work as well together, outside of the quad. This is something that should really be addressed, especially if they aspire to do events with the GB Rowing Team.

Warrington and Tyne did well to get the medals as they were ahead of a strong Thames crew and Trent RC crew. The issue is, the time gap. Henley are a strong quad but, as we saw last year at NSR, the crews behind them are also very strong. I think that all the quads who made the final but weren’t in first position in this event will struggle to get medals at NSR. We still haven’t seen much of the QEHS quad, who came second at NSR, this year and I reckon that they will have been putting in the training.

J16 4+

1st – Kings School Canterbury

2nd – Kingston Rowing Club

3rd – Norwich School

A very close race here, less than a second between first and second. From what I could see at the start, Kings School Canterbury had a very fast start. They were a length ahead (at least) of Norwich School and a length and a half ahead of Kingston. The issue Kings had though was their middle, something that Kingston were very strong with. There were points in the middle 500m where Kingston were ahead (or so I’m told) and at 500m to go just 0.6 seconds separated them. But, Kings had a very good final sprint, and without it I’d say they’d most likely not have won. Norwich, in terms of relative speed, were quite average, they were never more than a length down until the final sprint. That sprint though, is something 2nd and 3rd should really work on, as well as their start.

At NSR, the question will be whether these crews go coxed or coxless, and how well they will actually do. These are all fairly new, unknown crews as far as I can tell, so how well they will do is impossible to tell. They did all post relatively fast times, especially considering conditions. However, are they fast enough compared to the likes of ASRA, GMS and St. Georges College. Well, they did all beat 4th place Monmouth so it holds hope. The other question in hand is to whether they go coxed or coxless? Kings and Norwich will probably stick with coxed. Kingston will have to go coxless as they have an eight containing the members from this crew. Kingston will then probably come against most of the top fours from the J16 CH8+s. This could be an issue, but I feel that potentially, all three medalist at JIRR stand a fighting chance.