The British Championships 2014- Preview

As the season slowly winds down, this will probably be my last piece for the 2013/2014 season. I’d just like to thank everyone who has read my blog over the past few months and supported the growth of my material; the reader count and coverage has sky-rocketed this year and that’s all down to the fantastic support I receive from everyone who reads my stuff.

I’ve got some exciting new projects in the pipeline and I’ll keep you updated on those as they progress. At the end of the day, it is all about the rowing for me as that is what connects us all- my previews will continue next year and hopefully for many more too as I bring new writers and enthusiasts from the rowing world onboard. I’m currently helped by a few fantastic writers and researchers and I’d like to say thanks to them, particularly my J16 specialist.

Onto the British Championships. This will be a short preview as I’m pushed for time today. My predictions…

OJ1x

A huge field with some very strong scullers. You’d have to make Harry Leask, of Leander, the favourite for this. He won a silver medal in CH1x at National Schools and is a one year junior hence his exclusion from the GB trialling process. He helped the Leander crew to a Friday race against Westminster in the Fawley Cup, where they lost out by a 1/4 of a length. Another name that catches my eye is James Bird from Gloucester Hartpury. He was heavily involved with the GB trialling process but apparently did not gain a place on the team. He raced in the Gloucester Hartpury quad all year, making the Friday of HRR and the final of CH4x. A talented sculler who stands a good chance of medalling. James Mackins of Evesham is also racing. Evesham chose to boat a four all year as opposed to the expected quad and, unless James has been selected for GB duties, I’ll be expecting a strong performance from him. Another name to highlight is Alex Bain from Northwich. He’s stroked their quad all year although their HRR campaign was brutally cut short by an in-form Windsor Boys crew. He made the final of CH1x at National Schools and won J181x at the Metropolitan Regatta; this competition represents a big opportunity for Northwich to gain the Home Countries spot in the quad so the single will be the second priority for Alex. Hugh White and Henry Smith from Windsor are also potential finalist candidates; these guys were both in the HRR finalist quad that sent shock-waves through the regatta. They are two guys in form and they could cause the scullers in this field problems. James White has been selected for Great Britain so these two are left to battle it out.

OJ2x

A few decent crews to highlight. The pick of the bunch is probably the Evesham/Gloucester composite with Bird and Mackins. This crew has the potential to blow the field apart and I expect them to be strong. However, these composites sometimes don’t actually race so don’t be surprised if they don’t show. The Claire’s Court crew with Toby Jones [GB Trialist]  will be strong as they’ve performed well all year. I’d also watch out for the Norwich crew as those two guys are very talented scullers. Seb Matthews made the final of J171x at National Schools and both of these guys raced in the Norwich quad that performed well at HRR. Although St Neots fell off the radar a little after National Schools, they usually perform well at the British Championships and are the current holders of J162x. This double has been racing well all season so I expect to see them feature highly.  Although the WBS double can’t race as James White has been selected for GB, someone will slot into the crew and make the boat go quick. If it is one of the guys from the HRR quad then this crew will be a medal contender, particularly with the White affinity to doubles.

OJ4x

This is all about Northwich against Leander. It’s a re-match of various clashes between these two over the past few months and, generally, Northwich have come out on top. However, Leander beat them at the Metropolitan Regatta and Northwich crashed out of Henley on the Thursday. Nonetheless, I think Northwich will come back stronger and they’ll fancy their chances for this one. They won a silver medal in this event last year and will want to go one better and secure the England spot. Both crews have fielded full strength line-ups and I expect this to be one of the best clashes of the regatta. Claire’s Court ‘B’ could be eyeing a bronze medal following strong showings at Wallingford and Marlow; they were unfortunate to draw Marlow on the Wednesday of Henley. Although the TSS crew also looks excellent, I’m informed that at least two of these guys have been selected for GB so they are unlikely to race. Watch out for Warrington; they were leading their race at HRR before one of their crew had an asthma attack.

WJ1x

Another large field with some very decent scullers involved. We have three of the girls from the Eton Excelsior quad along with Alice Bowyer, a HRR winner in the Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup. The Eton Excelsior girls will undoubtedly be strong but the pick of the bunch is probably Katherine Maitland. She won a silver medal in WCH1x at National Schools and is arguably the most talented athlete in her quad.  Emma Moores is also a very good sculler who finished fourth in WJ171x at National Schools- these girls all raced in the Excelsior quad which lost out on the Friday of HRR. We also have a few other talented competitors involved in this competition. Flo Blake Parsons, who has raced a double predominantly this season, is competing and it’ll be interesting to see what sort of form she shows. Her double made the final of Henley Women’s Regatta, losing out to Bedford Girl’s School. Maddie Dobson, who won a silver medal in J17G1x at National Schools, will also be a young lady to watch out for. Holly McMullen is also competing and she is one of the best junior scullers in the country; she won a bronze medal in WCH1x at National Schools and won J1x at Henley Women’s Regatta at an expressed canter. She’ll probably enter this event as slight favourite off the back of recent form but I’m looking forward to a cracking duel between her, Maitland and Bowyer.

WJ2x

The stand-out favourite here has to be the Armstrong/Bruce combination from Bedford Girl’s School but I’m not sure if they’ll race or not. Richard Boulton was in Bedford a few weeks ago, watching Robyn so it remains to be seen as to whether or not she made the GB team. If these two do compete then I think they’ll take the win. Bewl Bridge, who raced brilliantly at Henley Women’s Regatta, are one to watch for the future and I expect to see them make the ‘A’ final here; they’ll be pushing for a medal after a string of impressive performances through the year. Tideway Sculler’s have boated the talented duo of Issy Cole and Ava De Ryke, which is a slight change from the usual Cole/Saunders combination. The latter crew won a bronze medal at National Schools in WCH2x and won Wallingford Regatta at J18 level so it’ll be good to see how Issy races with Ava, who is a very capable sculler in her own right. The last crew to highlight here is the Wallingford crew, who are a crew born out of the dissolution of that incredibly successful WJ164x from 2012. Alice Walker has raced well independently and this crew came fourth at National Schools in WCH2x so I expect to see them make the ‘A’ final.

WJ4x

Some extremely classy crews involved here. The stand-out entry comes from Nautilus [GB in jargon] with Saskia Budgett [TSS], Kyra Edwards [Nottingham], Molly Harding [Marlow] and Charlotte Hodgkins-Byrne [Gloucester Hartpury] onboard. I don’t think this is any indication of crews that will be raced at the upcoming Coupe De La Jeunesse and Junior World Championships but, if these girls raced, they have to be stand-out favourites. It is a crew packed full with quality, class and power and I expect to see them storm this event. Bringing up the rear will be Eton Excelsior, one of the great enigma’s of this year. They won at the Head of the River Fours in November before taking an extended ‘sabbatical’ from racing [aside from an appearance at the Thames Valley Trial Head] and then returned for National Schools, finishing fourth. All of these girls are doubling up and, looking at Nautilus, they’ll take the England spot if they finish second as the GB crew will be ineligible. Henley are making the step up to J18 level after a successful campaign at HWR and HRR. They won the J16 event at HWR before qualifying for the Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup and beating Tideway Scullers on the Friday. They were eventually out-powered by winners Gloucester Hartpury but these girls are the crew to watch for the next two years. They also raced the WJ8+ at the GB France match and helped the girl’s team to a full house of wins so a huge congratulations for that! They’ll be the main competition for Eton Excelsior this weekend. Look out for Weybridge too; these girls finaled at National Schools, Wallingford and the Metropolitan Regatta.

WJ8+

A few very exciting crews. The stand-out eight has to be the KGS/LEH composite, which has some superb athletes onboard. I actually met a few of the athletes from LEH a few weeks ago at Henley Regatta and they briefly mentioned this project as a potential crew to look out for. This crew has five athletes from the LEH first VIII along with Flo Blake Parsons and Alice Jeffries from the KGS double so I expect this crew to be setting the standard high. Another crew to highlight is the Tees/Yarm composite. Yarm have had a good season, winning their first race at Henley Women’s Regatta before losing out to Headington by a respectable 2 and a 1/4 lengths. This crew contains a couple of the giels from the Yarm 1st VIII, including Imogen Kench and Danielle Connery. Jessica Findlay, of Tees RC, raced a single at National Schools, finishing fourth in a tightly contested semi-final. The other crew to watch out for is the Henley Rowing Club eight. This crew is basically the J15G CH8+, which won at National Schools and Junior Inter-Regionals in such impressive style. Four of these girls raced at the recent J16 GB vs France Match [racing up a year], winning the eight by two lengths. It’ll be interesting to see how this crew matches up against older and more experienced opposition.

That’s it for my previews. I’ve got some fantastic new ideas in the pipeline and any suggestions for articles/previews are always welcome. I’ll be writing one more little piece before the season closes up but, for now, good luck to all competitors. I’ll be in Nottingham on the Saturday so feel free to come and say hello.

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JuniorRowingBlogger

I am the editor of a rapidly growing blog based around the junior rowing circuit within the UK. From launch in June 2013, the website has experienced vast growth in both its reader count and view count while the article range has expanded. I currently work with a team of 10 people, all of whom voluntarily write articles for the blog. In our first year, I looked to expand from the standard previews and reviews that had gained initial success to building relationships with clubs and conducting interviews. This move proved successful and we are currently exploring new routes to further improve our platform. The blog has led to involvement with Regatta Radio, Rowing & Regatta, Row 360 and British Rowing.