National Schools Preview 2014- Championship Quads Contenders Preview

My little piece on all those quads that don’t always get a mention in mainstream previews. I’m hoping to make this a recurring thing, where I focus on some of the other crews and expand my own knowledge. Here goes a little insight into these boys, working down the draw….

Hinksey Sculling School

A crew that has really stepped on this year, having always had the parts to create a decent junior quad. Hamish Bott has been around for a long time and has been a solid sculler right back to his J15 days. They’ve had some decent results through the winter, including an 11th place at the HOR4 and a win at the Thames Valley Trial Head. I’ve always wondered as to when they were going to put out a quad capable of challenging and their line-up is pretty strong- William New had a 6:23 2k score. I’m actually looking forward to seeing them race, particularly in their Hudson shell. A semi-final is well within their reach.

High Wycombe Grammar School

This boat contains the remnants of that excellent double made up of Tom Commins and Rob Eyres. They won a few national medals and performed well last year, finishing fourth in J2x at the British Championships. Their crew also competed at Henley in the Fawley, losing out to a very talented Dutch crew on the Wednesday. The best part of their race is their lightning speed out of the start; they led both their heat and repecharge to the 250m marker and were still very much in the race at the 1k mark. They’ll need this during the side by side racing and I expect to see them in the semi-finals.

St Neots Rowing Club

A quick crew who have the formidable pairing of Fergus Mitchell and Josh Davies to call upon. These boys have been pretty quick in smaller boats throughout their racing career, winning a bronze medal in J162x at the British Championships in 2012 before winning the whole event with Josh and Fergus the year after. Their style isn’t the most efficient but it is effective and they are pretty quick through the middle kilometre- don’t write off the rest of their race though as they can more than compete out of the blocks. They had some decent results at Wallingford and the OJSH and I think they’ll make the semi-final.


Carrying remnants of the crew that qualified for the Fawley Cup last year, these boys did exceptionally well to make the final in J184x at Wallingford Regatta by winning their heat. Without wanting to sound disrespectful, it is obvious that they had the slowest and, arguably, easiest heat and they were a little off the pace in the final. They lost George Stewart, who rowed for GB at the Coupe De La Jeunesse, this season but have been pretty competitive, finishing joint second in J174x at the SHORR. They have another year to press into the upper echelons of quad rowing but I think they have the ability to make the semi-finals.

Warrington Rowing Club

Another crew that have been around since J16 level. Their distinctive yellow Vespoli shell means they are recognisable from a distance but I must commend their real increase in speed over the past year or so. They were fairly anonymous at the National Schools in J164x, missed CH4x last year but came back with a bang at the British Championships to knock a few decent crews into the B final. They have a particularly fast start and I believe a number of their boys are verging on lightweight. They row very well together and raced at Nottingham City on Saturday, making the final. A semi-final candidate for definite.

Claire’s Court School BC ‘C’

It is important to note that CCS ‘C’ crew is in fact their top crew. These boys looked awesome at Wallingford and absolutely blew the field apart at Wallingford with a blistering second half in their repecharge to win them a spot in the final. Crews around them found it difficult to deal with and they consolidated this by performing well at Nottingham City to finish fourth. They are a well established crew although I think they have made one change to their line-up from last year. Toby Jones represented CCSBC at GB Trials for the first time ever this season and they’ll be looking to build on this as a relatively new entry to the junior rowing scene. A semi final is a must, a final is not out of reach.

Tideway Scullers School ‘A’

If you thought TSS looked good at Wallingford, prepare to see some serious speed at NSR- Ollie Jonas has returned to the line-up. He’s been rowing with the TSS men’s squad for much of the year but his sculling ability will be crucial for TSS. They lagged behind a little at Wallingford out of the blocks but, like CCSBC, raced well in the second half. They’ve been very un-predictable in junior rowing over the past few years and are a pretty enigmatic club all round; nonetheless they are very quick and the current J164x record holders from the British Championships will be looking to press on this weekend.

Marlow Rowing Club

Talking to Bret King was a fascinating experience and gave me a real insight into the Marlow set-up. It is obvious that the squad have built their A quad around the talented Alex Haynes and, thus far, they’ve actually exceeded my expectations. When they travelled down to Bedford back in October and lost out to three Star J18 quads, I feared the worst but the reintroduction of Chris Tebb and Alex has had a great impact, steering Marlow to fourth place at the HOR4. They won J174x at the OJSH before finishing third in J184x at Nottingham City last weekend. They are a crew that could certainly challenge for the final but I feel it may be a step too far at this stage.

Newark Rowing Club

They were one of the leading forces at J16 level but failed to really make the jump from that stage to J18 level. Having won a bronze and silver at NSR and the British Championships in 2012 in J164x, they had a relatively quiet year last year but almost caused a big upset on the Thursday of Henley by pushing Tigre BC to the line in an enthralling race. They finished last in the J184x final at Nottingham City but did well to make a competitive final. They’ll be in the semi-finals but I can’t see them progressing from there.

Star Club ‘A’

There have been a fair few changes to the Star A quad over the past few months with pictures and names showing a different two man every race. They appeared to have found a strong combination at the SHORR before another change. Their performance at Wallingford was low key and they finished last in the rep, which will have required some serious work. They won J184x at Bedford Regatta and Will White came last in the B Final at April Trials; they have a set of good athletes but have failed to find a good combination. A mix of their A and B quads may be in order as their B quad was extremely quick out of the blocks at Wallingford. A semi final for these boys.

Good luck to all competitors!

This photo was taken from-