Wallingford Regatta 2014 Review

First of all, I’d like to say a huge thank you to the organising committee at Wallingford who put together a fantastic day of racing! The sun was shining, the races were on time and the event was efficient, enjoyable and, most importantly, on time.

The junior racing, as ever, threw up some surprises and I really enjoyed watching the racing from the bank.

Challenge Eights

St Edwards continue to out-perform my expectations of them as they defeated both Eton College and St Pauls School to finish in a blinding third position yesterday. Does this make Teddies favourites for National Schools? I’m hesitant on that note- this season really does seem to be as open as I’ve seen it and I wouldn’t want to call it just yet. Nonetheless, St Pauls looked distinctly off the pace yesterday and they’ll be concerned at the fact that both Eton and Teddies beat them, and relatively comfortably. Eton have benefited from their tough training camp in Portugal and, under Henshilwood, look like the dark horses coming into the summer. If anyone knows how to win at HRR, it is Alex Henshilwood. The race for the title at NSR however is truly on. But if anyone was fooled into thinking that this was a three horse race, you’d be wrong….

J18A 8+

My predictions for the final turned out to be fairly accurate and probably would have been perfect had St Pauls not scratched. As it were, Eton performed brilliantly in the final having already raced to take the win, less than a second ahead of Abingdon. Are Abingdon back on the map again? I think that the boys from Oxfordshire might well be- they’re a fearsome unit in the summer, well renowned for their strength and I think they’ll be up there. Dave Currie has remnants of the PE winning VIII from last year and the experience of these boys will be crucial. You boys certainly have the backing of Fatsculler who believes a 4th straight PE might well be on the cards- a little work is required to fulfil that but Dan definitely has a point! For an indicator, watch out for Abingdon at Bedford Regatta next weekend racing in Eli 8+ and Jun 8+- they’ll be racing some of the best club eights in the country for that £1000 prize! The ex Abingdon coach Athol Hundermark has put Shrewsbury firmly back on the map after a mixed season last year and he’ll be delighted with a third place yesterday. Kings School Chester raced well and are building on their solid performance at SHORR- expect to see these boys in the mix. Radley fell off a little yesterday and this was a shame as I fancied them to be stretching their winter advantage over crews such as Eton, who had the benefit of Dorney Lake all winter. I still fancy Radley to be fast for NSR as their heat times show they were really pushed by Monmouth- this will have drained them for the final. Monmouth were the crew to take that sixth spot vacated by the absence of St Pauls and they certainly took a few by surprise, racing well to push Radley all the way. Do I think these boys have what it takes to win the Child Beale? Their times were around four seconds quicker than Shiplake, who beat them at SHORR so they have obviously gained good speed. I’m not sure they’ll win it as we haven’t seen anything from Pangbourne [who had their four quickest guys in a 4- yesterday which came third in the repecharge of challenge fours] or Canford. Watch this space though.

J18B 8+

A really strong win for the Eton College B Crew. The strength in depth of Henshilwood’s program at the moment is frightening- he has a wide range of excellent athletes to chose from. The Eton crew which raced J18B VIII’s had sections of the A crew and apparently trials are still taking place to finalise the crews. Emanuel apparently combined their two quads which have performed well this season to form an VIII, which did pretty well considering their lack of practice. Latymer look to have slipped off the pace a little, having won 2nd VIII’s at SHORR. Hugo Gulliver will certainly be looking to change things up for the summer. Abingdon have gained a lot of speed in their A and B VIII’s and were obviously badly affected by the flooding earlier in the year. They raced to a fourth place yesterday but closed the gap on Hampton to 1 second. Hampton’s second crew looks pretty strong and I think Neil Double should possibly look to reinforce his A crew with members of this boat.

WJ18A 8+

My understanding is that Headington chose to race W ELI 8+ yesterday and won that so congratulations to them. They also raced a quad in W ELI 4X which came third behind a GB junior composite. Ryan Demaine is certainly in a strong position for the summer. However, the plaudits must go to Kings School Chester, who really excelled in the absence of Headington’s first VIII. I thought these girls would do well at SHORR but they fell short of my expectations at that stage, finishing over a minute behind the winners. However they cleared the field yesterday, which included a talented unit from LEH, and really looked strong. They’ve made up almost a minute on LEH albeit from a different race and I hope they push on from there. LEH rowed well and pushed KCH hard but ultimately fell short- I think Jonathan Cheeseman will look to address this over the next few weeks. Looking at their race, they were leading at the 1000m mark and so the emphasis must be on their second half.


A typically composed performance from Sir William Borlase ensured they took the win by some 7 seconds over Northwich, who had Leon Langmead in the three seat yesterday. Sir William Borlase are certainly my favourites to win at NSR and they just look so strong, particularly as two of them had raced earlier in the day. Northwich raced superbly to beat Star and Arrow to second place and the crew change really worked out well for the former. The question remains as to whether or not this was due to an injury or a deliberate move. It was great to see Claire’s Court in the final as they are a J17 crew that has really moved on this season. The second half of their race is absolutely devastating and showed a mature, confident crew that’ll be knocking of the door this season. They beat their big rivals Tideway Scullers in the repecharge to win their place in the final and they did well to beat Weybridge, who perhaps would not have been there had TSS A not been late to Heat 3.


Gloucester Hartpury, as predicted, raced to their potential to take this one by a comfortable margin. There appear to have been a few changes to the Latymer line-up so keep an eye on that.


The White twins took this ahead of a Sir William Borlase combination that included national silver medallist Cam Murray. The White’s will no doubt return to their quad in preparation for NSR but will be eyeing CH2x with excitement I’m sure. The Walton double was the Matt Georgiou/Lee Mount combination I believe and these boys will probably be a little disappointed to lose out to Windsor and Sir William Borlase. This all makes for some exciting racing on the Saturday of NSR where I expect the field to be a little stronger.


A convincing display by TSS to consolidate their rapid form in small boats. They had a blistering second 1000m to take four seconds out of the field and they looked very mature in doing so. Can they boat a quad to challenge the likes of Marlow and Gloucester Hartpury? There lies the great question. I know that Saskia Budgett has been chosen to race the coxless four at Munich so I’m not sure if she was in the crew yesterday. Add her to the mix and it could be interesting… We saw the return of Robin Armstrong and Lottie Bruce yesterday, who marked it by finishing a decent 2nd. I was kindly informed by someone today that the Wallingford quad which I mentioned in my last blog disbanded at the end of that season and that Alice Walker is the only one remaining. She raced yesterday to finish third with a new partner.


Meijer won but my God did he leave it late! At 500m to go, Cam Kerr led Sam by around half a length when Sam put in a staggeringly good burst to leave his crew-mate trailing and take the win- he took almost 10 seconds in 500m! Meijer is becoming well known for his finishing speed as he did a similar thing at GB Trials last weekend. The rest of the final was as I expected, with Rufus Dobson racing well into third place. James Mackins, the talented sculler from Evesham, pushed Cam Kerr hard in the heat but this drained him a little as he was off the pace slightly in the final. A mention must go to Guy Playdon who, as I predicted, surprised a few by making the final.


Corinne Larkworthy took the prize here and looked very convincing in doing so. I obviously under-estimated Fionnuala Gannon as she looked strong and came second. She’ll be an important asset for St George’s girls crews. Susannah Lowe from Molesey built upon previous sculling form to come third and it’ll be interesting to see where these girls place in WCH1x at NSR.

Our J16 specialist will be looking to review the J16 events soon. My next preview will be Bedford Regatta, which should be live within the next 48 hours.

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


Congratulations to all the winners!