National Schools Regatta 2014- 1st Eight’s Preview

Another large entry list with a time trial to knock two crews out before the semi finals. To my preview…

Latymer Upper School

Coach- Hugo Gulliver

Key Athlete- Ben Freeman

Notable Results- 10th in CH8+ at SHORR, 1st in J18 8+ at Quintin Head

Huge Gulliver has obviously taken the decision that his Latymer crew, who recently went to Banyoles for their Easter camp, will not be fast enough to compete in CH8+. Despite some very promising results earlier in the year, they’ve fallen off the pace a little, finishing a disappointing 10th in SHORR before not making the final in J18 8+ at Wallingford. They are giving away a lot of power to their competitors and, although they raced CH8+ last year, they stand a good chance in the Child Beale. Can they win it? I don’t think so as there are several other crews who are extremely quick. They are one of my favourites to medal though as they have good experience and a very capable coach.

Emanuel School

Coach- Peter Hardcastle

Key Athlete- Chetan Chauhan-Sims

Notable Results- 6th place in J4x at SHORR, 2nd place in J18B 8+ at Wallingford Regatta

These boys took me by complete surprise when they produced two well matched quads earlier in the season. Their results at the OJSH were promising and it was obvious they had eight good athletes. I wondered whether they’d stick with the quads and have a crack at producing an eight- it appears they’ve gone with the latter. These boys had an absolutely excellent result at Wallingford where they pushed Eton’s B crew, who are arguably the best second VIII in the country, all the way down the course to finish second in J18B 8+. A superb result and I fancy them to make the final on Saturday.

Bedford Modern School

Coach- Ali Brown

Key Athlete- Henk Kroon

Notable Results- 6th in 1st 8+ at SHORR, 8th in IM2 8+ at Quintin

Another school that have stepped down from CH8+ although they didn’t race an eight last year, prioritising the four which made the final of 1st fours. They’re a solid crew and have a good pairing in Henk Kroon and Adam Dingley within the boat, both of whom have raced at a high level before. Their performance at SHORR was as expected as I don’t think they’ll be competing for the win in the Child Beale. Their performance in comparison to some of their competitors was good at Wallingford and it’ll be interesting to see how they fare. I think they have the ability to make the final.

Norwich School

Coach- Chris Williams

Key Athlete- Adam Crafer

Notable Results- 4th and 5th in J4+ at SHORR, 2nd place in heat of J18B 8+ at Wallingford Regatta

Norwich School won J16 4+ at National Schools two years ago and I believe a number of these athletes are remaining to race their eight this weekend. Adam Crafer, with his monster 6:14 ergo, will be a key man in bringing his experience and power to push Norwich on. They raced a Latymer School VIII, the current holders of 2nd 8+ at SHORR, right to the line at Wallingford and were unfortunate not to qualify for the final against a number of strong 2nd 8+ crews. I think they are a dark horse to look out for as I think they could be strong on Saturday.

Pangbourne College

Coach- Mark Woodcock

Key Athlete- Ben Maxwell

Notable Results- 2nd place in J4x at HOR4, 2nd place in 1st 8+ at SHORR

These boys are very much a case of half and half. They have a devastatingly good four, which really impressed me through the winter season with a string of good results in fours and quads. The talented Ben Maxwell is a returner, along with George Pearce, from the Visitors four which raced at Henley last year and these boys are really pushing this eight on. It is hard to discern the standard of the other four but it is clear that Pangbourne will be competitive on Saturday. They are in with a good chance of taking the prize, having finished second behind Canford at the SHORR. I fancy these boys to have stepped on and I think they’ll medal.

Canford School

Coach- Ian Dryden

Key Athlete- Jonathan Naylor

Notable Results- 1st place in 1st 8+ at SHORR

A very strong crew, who first caught my attention with their impressive results in small boats earlier in the season. Their J172x set the fastest time of the day at Hampton SBH while Aaron Sheikalian and Jonathan Naylor are very talented scullers in the single too. They had a strong quad, which finished 16th at the HOR4. Their result of the season came at SHORR, where they won 1st VIII’s in a time that would have been competitive in CH8+. I’m not sure how far they’ve developed since SHORR and they will have had to up their game as crews such as Monmouth and Shiplake have entered the regatta season looking fast. However, I think Canford will be competing for a medal and possibly the win.

Bedford School

Coach- Pete Mulkerrins

Key Athletes- Zac Carter

Notable Results- 7th place in 1st 8+ at SHORR, 1st place in IM3 8+ at Bedford Regatta

Bedford are a crew that are on the verge of entering the ‘elite’ zone- they’ve had a series of good results but haven’t performed as of yet on the big stage. I must say though, they looked absolutely superb at Henley last year and I urge you to watch their race against Durham School on the Wednesday- the technique on show was fantastic. They finished 7th at SHORR and lost to Abingdon in the final of J18 8+ at Bedford Regatta after Radley had to pull out after extensive damage to their boat. I’m informed that their start speed has picked up considerably as they matched Abingdon, who are notorious for their start speed, out of the blocks at Bedford. They will be in the fight for a final spot but it’ll be a tall order.

Reading Blue Coat School

Coach- Rob Edmondson

Key Athlete- Alex Gass [Cox]

Notable Results- 5th place in 1st 8+ at SHORR, 4th in J18 8+ at Hammersmith Head

I tipped Reading Blue Coat School as a crew to watch earlier in the season and they proved my judgement correct by performing well at SHORR. Their cox, Alex Gass, is a truly talented driver and he’s arguably the best junior cox in Great Britain- that must have a great psychological effect on the RBSC athletes. RBCS had a superb J16 1st VIII last year, which won gold at NSR so this integration to the first VIII will take time. Having been off the pace of 1st VIII’s last year, they will be looking for a final on Saturday. They raced well at Wallingford Regatta, finishing 2nd in a heat behind Eton College’s A crew. I think they’ll go well at the weekend and a final is achievable.

Monmouth School

Coach- Robin Fletcher

Key Athlete- William England

Notable Results- 6th place in J18A 8+ at Wallingford Regatta, 4th place in 1st 8+ at SHORR

These boys have consistently competed towards the top end of the Child Beale since I entered the junior rowing circuit many moons ago, winning a silver medal in 2012. They are a traditional powerhouse of junior rowing and have an excellent set-up which produces good crews year in year out. They’ve really stepped on since the SHORR, making the final of J18A 8+ at Wallingford which was a magnificent achievement in a very competitive field. They pushed Radley, a crew that were one of my favourites to take the title of CH8+, all the way in both their heat and final. Their strength, in my opinion, is their start speed which is very quick; they led their heat to 500m and 1000m at Wallingford. I’m going to stick my neck out and make these boys my favourites to take the title on Saturday after a few years trying. Shiplake raced Club 8+ at Wallingford and recorded a time that was 4 seconds slower than Monmouth, with the races a mere 15 minutes apart. This shows that Monmouth have picked up real speed since SHORR and they are my slight favourites.

Shiplake College

Coach- Tom Crisford

Key Athlete- Harry Vardigans

Notable Results- 3rd in 1st 8+ at SHORR, 5th in Club 8+ at Wallingford Regatta

This school always seem to produce top athletes who are capable of racing for Great Britain; last year they had four oarsmen involved in the Coupe De Le Jeunesse. For whatever reason, Max Hearnden isn’t on the entry list for Shiplake’s crew and this surprises me as he is a very capable oarsman. Nonetheless, these boys are still a very talented crew and I think they can compete for medals at the weekend. They chose not to boat their 1st VIII at Bedford Regatta, which implies that the guys were training in preparation for NSR. Can they win? They won’t go into the event as favourites, having lost out to Monmouth on time last week. However, it is important to note that the Shiplake boys split into two fours in the morning division and this will have had an effect on speed. I think they’ll be in the dogfight for medals.

My predictions to make the final- Monmouth, Canford, Pangbourne, Latymer, Shiplake, Emanuel

My prediction for the win- It’s incredibly tight but I’m going to tip Monmouth

Good luck to all competitors!

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