Henley Women’s Regatta 2014- Junior Eights

14 entries, with the top two crews from National Schools seeded straight through to the second row on opposite sides of the draw. I’ll take a look at each first round race and decide my winner. From there, I’ll take a look at potential match-ups in the later rounds followed by a winner.

Green Lake, USA vs St Edwards School

This race contains our of the two US entrants to the event this year. Green Lake are a Seattle based club who have been pretty well represented by their Junior men’s eight, which has won a number of notable events so watch out for them in the Thames Cup [As a club, they aren’t eligible for the Princess Elizabeth]. Their girls crew, from what I can surmise,finished fourth in Girls Junior 8+ at the Windermere Cup in early May while they had a number of crews race at the US Rowing North West Junior District Championships on the 17th of May. Their Varsity Eight, with mainly J17/18’s onboard along with 15 year old Lauren Compeau in the bows, finished fourth in a very tight final- they did a 7:01 which is comparable to Headington’s 6:56 in favourable conditions a week later. Green Lake have a Women’s Youth Lightweight 8+ racing at the US Rowing Youth National Championships this weekend but I’m not sure if this is the same crew racing at HWR.

St Edward’s raced at the National Schools Regatta a few weeks ago and qualified for the semi finals, where they went on to finish third. They are often overshadowed by their more high profile junior men’s crew, who were unfortunate not to medal at NSR, but they’re slowly making a good name for themselves. They also finished 11th at the Schools Head of the River in March.

I think the crew from the USA will be to strong for the British crew. Green Lake to go through.

 

RGS Worcester vs St Pauls School USA

RGS Worcester haven’t appeared too much on my radar in terms of women’s junior eights but they had a Girls 4+ at National Schools which qualified out of the time trial but finished last in its resulting semi-final. From what I can gauge, I would think that this qualification was quite an achievement and their decision to boat an eight at HWR is an interesting one- they had a J16G4+ which also raced but finished last in their event.

St Pauls School, USA have looked pretty strong in the USA so far this year. They raced a couple of private matches against various other schools, notably Phillips Exeter Academy and Hanover High School; they took the overall prize against the latter but lost the Varsity 8+ against both. The girls raced in Girls 1st 8+ at the New England Interscholastic Rowing Association Regatta and came a very impressive third in front of several other talented crews. A women’s varsity eight from St Pauls also won the National Schools Championship Regatta on Saturday although some may have been above school age.

St Pauls are kicking towards the top of their age group and they are my stand-out favourites to progress through this round. Watch out for this crew as, if it is the same one that has been so impressive back in the US, then they could run the top UK crews pretty close.

Pangbourne College vs Yarm School

Pangbourne College Girls haven’t featured much on the junior women’s eights scene; their J16G8+ finished fourth in a straight final while they had a CHG2- which finished 5th in their semi final. I’ll be interested to see what their speed is like as they had a pretty handy four earlier in the year, which won WJ4+ at Wallingford Head of the River.

Yarm School raced in CHG8+ at National Schools, finishing fifth in their semi-final behind St Edwards. Their semi performance probably wasn’t a fair reflection of their ability as they’d looked pretty good in the time trial. If they’ve gained good speed over the last few weeks, they could be a challenge to St Georges, particularly over the shorter distances.

I think Yarm are probably favourites for this but don’t discount Pangbourne, who have a pretty strong four in their midst. Whatever the result, I think St Georges will dispatch the winning crew relatively easily.

Branksome Hall, Canada vs Cheltenham College

Branksome Hall are an independent girls school based in Toronto. Their women’s eight looks pretty decent; at the 2014 Canadian Secondary Schools Championships, they came third in Senior Women’s Eights while a very young crew [15-16 age range] came third in Junior Women’s Eights. Their strength in depth is pretty good and I’d watch out for these girls as another potential dark horse. In the SNRC High School Invitational, they placed third again in Senior Women’s Eights. With the standard of foreign crews at a pretty high level this year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of these girls challenge the top UK crews. 

Cheltenham finished in second last position in the CHG8+ time trial at National Schools and were quite a way behind the next competitor. Their ability to cope with the Canadian visitors depends on the amount of speed they have gained since National Schools- I don’t think they’ll be strong enough though.

I think Branksome Hall will be too good for Cheltenham.

Cantabrigian vs Kings School Chester

Cantabrigian entered an eight into CHG8+ and made it through the time trial in a qualifying slot; they found the going too tough in the semi finals and were 32 seconds slower than their opposition on Saturday. They are a club who haven’t really entered the junior scene very much, meaning they can only get faster from here on in.

Kings School Chester are one of the stand-out crews for this event following their strong performance at National Schools. They came fourth in the CHG8+ final and won WJ18 8+ at Wallingford Regatta a few weeks before. They have a very strong J16 squad and it will be interesting to see whether they’ve attempted to amalgamate their J16 silver medallist eight with their senior crew. Obviously this will depend upon whether Paul Townshend believes that this move will gain KCH a lot of speed. They slipped off the pace of the front runners a little at National Schools and will be looking to regain a level footing.

Only one winner here- I expect Kings School Chester to walk away with the win in this round.

Millfield/Taunton vs Sir William Perkins

This is an interesting composite as Taunton are a relatively unknown quantity. They had a solitary sculler competing at National Schools in CHG1x but she unfortunately finished last by quite a distance. The Millfield crew finished in the non-qualifying spots in CHG8+ and finished last in their semi-final although, relative to other nearby crews, their time wasn’t too bad.

Sir William Perkins are a real force in junior women’s rowing and often permeate J14/J15 entries with a variety of entries. Their senior eight made the final of CHG8+ at National Schools but couldn’t convert this into anything more than a sixth place. They raced well in their semi-final and I’d like to see them step on at HWR. Unfortunately they’ll be up against Headington in the next round.

I think Sir William Perkins will take this but Headington will beat either winner.

Headington are the favourites for this event, particularly in light of their simply incredible performance at National Schools. Speaking to Ryan Demaine, the girls are looking forward to HRR as their main focus and thus are focusing on ‘roughly 75% sculling, 25% sweep’. This will probably give their competitors some hope but I still feel that Headington are still the favourites for this event.

The reason for their entry into the eight was a lack of finality in the line-up of their quad. They’ve had a few illness issues among other things and thus they’ve entered the eight to give Ryan and his team of coaches a proper chance to review the quads performance.

Good luck to all competitors and I’m looking forward to some cracking racing!

 

This photo was taken from http://www.britishrowing.org/news/2010/may/4/henley-womens-regatta-update

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