The Pairs Head of the River 2014 Preview- J18 Pairs

This seems to be the category with the biggest names and the toughest competition, with wins and titles from last season that show huge experience.

Honourable mentions for this event would be the majority of the Saint Paul’s crews that made up the majority of last year’s NSR silver winning J16 CH8+. Some of these boys produced some very good results at the Wallingford LDS; taking first, second and third in the J17 1x (Davidson, Ambler, Woodward-Fisher); third in the J18 1x (Jaquemot); and first in the Elite 4x- (Benzecry), but, while they may post some fast times on Saturday, I don’t consider any of them to take the win.

Strong contenders for a good time would be the slightly more experienced Westminster crews of Stocker/Arzt-Jones and Plaut/Plaut. These boys were members of the extremely strong J16 CH8+ that seemed to win wherever they entered last season, most notably at SHORR and NSR, and of the J16 GB France coxed four and spare athlete. They have proved they can moved bigger boats, but the only evidence I can see of proficiency in a pair is an Arzt-Jones/Edwards combination that came fifth at NSR in the J16 2- category.

Ahead of these two pairs I would expect to find the Pangbourne crew of Felix Lammers and Luke Towers, the very capable stern pair of last season’s exceptional 1st 8+ and 4-, both of which took gold at NSR and fought off stiff competition at HRR to stay in until the Friday, before being defeated by the eventual winners in the form of Eton College. Towers was also, of course, a member of the GB 8+ that placed fourth in the A final at Junior Worlds.

Another strong contender is the double racing on their home waters of the Tideway, from the Sculling School, of Ollie Jonas and Ben Brophy. Brophy was a component of last season’s Coupe de la Jeunesse squad, taking bronze in the coxless four, while Jonas competed at Junior Worlds in the coxless pair.

The last crew to mention would be the Saint Paul’s crew of Doyle and Ambler. Doyle, having competed with Jonas at worlds in the coxless pair, and after having won this event last year, will bring a lot of experience to this boat. However, he is paired with one of the members of last years J16 crew, and for this reason, as well as the quality of the competition, I don’t think he will retain his title.

For me, this is between the Pangbourne and TSS crews. Luke Towers, with Will England, won the small boats regatta at springs last year, showing just how good he is in a pair. While Ollie Jonas holds that extra level of experience he will have gained at worlds in this class of boat. I’m going to predict a Pangbourne win, with the Scullers’ School a close second, and the St Paul’s crew in third.

The Rowing Jesus