National Schools Regatta 2014- Championship Pairs Preview

I apologise for the fact that I haven’t previewed every single event as I just have not got the capacity to write all of them. My small team and I are working as hard as we can to bring you in-depth and comprehensive previews and we here at JuniorRowing believe in quality not quantity. There are still a few more previews to be released and I’ll get these out as soon as possible. Onto the CH2-

Another good standard of entry with some great crews to entertain us on Sunday. The current holders, Walton, are looking to retain their title while we have good entries from Eton College, Canford School, Great Marlow and Shrewsbury. To the preview…

Charles Thurston & Alex Barakat [Eton College ‘A’]

In the smaller boats, Eton have obviously opted to place their two best athletes in the pair and I make them favourites to take the prize. Charles Thurston and Alex Barakat, two current GB junior squad members, are a fearsome combination and they finished second at Feb Trials behind an excellent combination from St Pauls. They’ve risen up the ranks this year to flower as Henshilwood’s top athletes and their decision to race the pair at NSR demonstrates that. I think they’ll win as, looking at the field, I mark them out as the strongest combination. It won’t be as simple as turning up though as there are some other good crews racing. They’ll also be wary of repeating the antics of the Eton College pair from last year, which was leading the final until around 500m to go.

Jonathan Naylor and Aaron Sheikalian [Canford School]

Canford have also placed their top two athletes, both of whom are J17, in the pair to complement their VIII on the Saturday. Jonathan Naylor raced for GB at Munich International Regatta and is a very capable oarsman. Aaron Sheikalian has stepped up from the J16 1st VIII which won a bronze medal last year and this combination recorded the fastest time of the day at Hampton SBH in a J17 double. They also raced as a pair at Feb GB Trials, finishing a solid fourth and 17 seconds behind Eton. They’ll be the main challenge to the Thurston/Barakat combination but I just feel the quality of Eton will be too much for Canford to handle at this level. It is great to see clubs putting their top athletes in the CH2- event as it really raises the profile. I think these boys will take the silver medal.

Will Dodson-Wells & Alex Powell [Shrewsbury School]

Two lads from the Shrewsbury CH8+ and I expect them to be fast. The technique that Henshilwood instils in his athletes does appear to favour bigger boats but I would expect these two guys to be able to compete. Neither of them are involved in the GB trialling process. Will Dodson Wells raced in an IM2 4+ at Shrewsbury Regatta which won and I haven’t got much data on their pair. However, the fact that they are both in the first VIII, which is moving very fast at the moment, should be a strong enough indicator that these boys will undoubtedly be quick. They could be in the running for the final. 

Cam Murray and Angus Warren [Sir William Borlase]

These boys are racing a CH2x on the Saturday and so all their efforts will have been focused on sharpening this combination. They’ve been rowing together for a long time and they are racing the time trial sandwiched between the Eton crew and the boys from Shrewsbury. They raced a double at Wallingford Regatta, finishing second in the final of J182x which is a good indicator of their current speed. Any crew from Sir William Borlase is usually fast and I expect no less from these guys. Their speed will depend upon which boat class they have prioritised. 

Lee Mount & Alex Hively [Walton Rowing Club]

A very interesting combination which has caught my attention in the entry list. Lee Mount is obviously no surprise as he is a regular at Walton, having raced in their junior squad for a couple of years now. Alex Hively, however, is quite the enigma. If it is the same Alex Hively as I believe it is, he rowed for Boston College High School USA until this year. He stroked their Prince Albert coxed 4+ at Henley 2013, narrowly missing out on qualification for the main event. I presume he has moved across to the UK to race with Lee, who has American links. He raced in Walton’s first VIII, which competed in IM1 8+ at Kingston Head but did not receive a time or placing. This is an interesting combination and these boys could well be very quick- watch out for them.

My prediction for the final- Eton, Canford, Shrewsbury, Sir William Borlase, Walton, Great Marlow School

My prediction for the win- Eton College A

Notable mentions go to American School in London, who had a pretty quick double made up of the same guys last year, Great Marlow School, who had a quick four last year and are racing 1st VIII’s on Saturday, Maidstone Invicta, who have decided not to boat a quad through internal issues and are prioritising a pair and The Oratory School ‘B’, who are brothers and are racing in the 1st VIII on the Saturday.

Good luck to all competitors!

This photo was taken from-