The Fuller’s Fours Head of the River 2014 – J18 4+ Crew Preview – Radley College, Latymer Upper, Tideway Scullers School, King’s College School

My preview for Fours Head Junior 4+ will focus on four crews – Radley (II), Latymer (II), Tideway (VII) and KCS (II). For individual previews of St Paul’s, Shrewsbury and Abingdon, refer to my colleague @therowingjesus ‘s previews. I will offer a brief review of the four as a whole, as well as a general prediction as to how well I expect each crew to perform.

Radley College ‘II’

Radley will start second at this year’s Fours Head, having last year finished strongly behind the St Paul’s four. Radley has fielded their second four into the Junior event, with their top four entering IM2 4+. For this reason, I don’t believe they’ll have the strength to challenge for first place, but nevertheless this is a strong crew with substantial potential.

The crew is comprised of two members of Radley’s successful 1st eight from last year – Bevan and A Brassard. The eight performed well last year, finishing strongly at School’s Head, going on to produce solid results throughout the Summer at Marlow, the Metropolitan Regatta and National School’s, as well as reaching the Friday at Henley. Bevan will probably be looking to lead this particular four, the sole returner from the second placed four last year, while A Brassard comes straight from the ‘first’ Radley four that placed 3rd at the Head of the Charles in Boston last week – he will have a clear idea of how to maximize the speed of this current combination. Bevan, on the other hand, raced in the ‘second’ four at the Charles, placing a respectable 36th along with Newton and Way, who join A Brassard and Bevan in the Fours Head four. Newton and Way both rowed in the second eight throughout last season, which didn’t see much success; however, last year, Way rowed with both Bevan and A Brassard at the Head of the Charles, finishing 38th out of 84. This prior experience rowing together in the same boat class will surely stand them in good stead. The coxed four is a notoriously difficult boat to row well; experience is king in this boat class, particularly in such a testing race as the Fours Head.

Undoubtedly it will be difficult for Radley to replicate the same result as last year; however, for a second four, I think this is a strong boat with a talented crew that should be looking for a top five finish.

 

Latymer Upper School ‘II’

Latymer’s second four is comprised of three of last year’s second eight members: Casson, Murray and Phelps, and one first eight member: Holmes. It is difficult to judge how well this four will perform, as they don’t seem to be a combination that has rowed competitively together yet. Both Latymer’s first and second eight performed strongly last year, with the second eight winning School’s Head and coming third at National School’s, and the first eight coming 10th in Championship Eights at School’s Head and fourth in First Eights at National School’s. Given that Latymer has a much smaller pool of athletes than some of the larger rowing schools, the results that the squad produced last year showed good strength in depth, and this strength and experience should be carried through once again to the Fours Head.

However, the last results these athletes recorded were 13th (Phelps and Mayhew) and 15th (Casson and Murray) at the Pairs Head. On the basis of these results, I don’t feel that Latymer will be able to challenge the top boats at Fours Head – not only because of these Pairs Head results, but because these boys probably won’t have enough experience in the boat to challenge for the win. However, they should aim for at least a top ten finish; it’s certainly a highly attainable result.

 

The Tideway Sculler’s School ‘VII’

I’ll be audacious in my prediction for this entry – if there’s one crew that could challenge St Paul’s for the win, it’s this Tideway combination. I assert this for a number of reasons: firstly, Jonas and Brophy are a very talented combination, that has been rowing together for a long time, and despite a slightly mediocre Pairs Head performance earlier this month (9th place), they are undoubtedly a standout combination in this event. Indeed, Jonas rowed in the pair at the Junior World Championships this Summer, finishing eleventh. This makes him one of the standout athletes of the category. Added to this, Brophy rowed at the Coupe de la Jeunesse, giving the boat technical and powerful foundations at stroke and bow, holding the four together. The other two members, Sirmon and Rodd, have been racing together as a pair throughout the Summer, with highlights being a win in the open Junior 2- at the British Championships, as well as representing England at the Home Countries International Regatta, winning the event. Clearly, these boys are accomplished in their own right.

The four is at a disadvantage, however, as they are predominantly scullers, despite their experience in sweep boats. Indeed, three of the current four raced in the Championship Quads at National Schools in the Summer, just missing out on the final having finished a strong 6th place at in the time trial; added to this, while all the members of the boat are adept individual athletes, whether the whole combination can work as a whole remains to be seen. However, on Tideway’s home water, these boys should really be pushing for the top spot, and it will be interesting to see how the combination fares against the ‘rowing school’ likes of Shrewsbury, Radley, Latymer and indeed St Paul’s. I expect a top five, if not top three, finish for the Tideway Sculler’s crew.

 

King’s College School ‘II’

This is another four whose result is difficult to predict, as it appears that not only have these boys not rowed competitively together or mostly together in this boat class before, but that also they come from a variety of different positions. Jewsbury comes from last year’s first four, Oldroyd and Olsen come from last year’s J16 1st eight, and Robinson represents last year’s Championship Eight. Both eights performed well last year, with the J16’s winning bronze at National School’s, and the Championship Eight causing upset by placing fifth at the CH8+ final. However, on the Sunday, both Robinson in the CH4-, and Oldroyd and Olsen in the J16 4- failed to qualify for the semi-finals. For me, this boat just doesn’t seem to have the same quality as some of these other fours. They will certainly benefit from being on their own stretch of water – with races on the Tideway, a sound knowledge of the stream position can be absolutely pivotal, and coxes should be fully aware of this – but while these boys are certainly not a bad combination on paper, unfortunately I just can’t see them challenging for the top spots at this year’s Fours Head. For them, I think a top 15 finish should be the aim, although with a good row, I think they should be able to surpass these expectations.

 

That concludes my preview for these Fours Head crews. Needless to say, the race promises to be very exciting, and I feel that there are several crews that could all vie for a top five finish, but for me, the crews to watch out of the entire category are St Paul’s, Tideway, Radley, Shrewsbury and Abingdon.

Good luck to all crews!

Five Man 

Five Man