The Fuller’s Fours Head of the River 2014 – Junior Men’s Quads

It’s finally time for the first big race of the year! This is where benchmarks will be set and clubs will be fighting to assert themselves for the season to come. This is perhaps one of the most interesting races of the year, as many of the top scullers and rowers who have now outgrown their title as a junior will move away to leave space for new partnerships and crews to emerge. While many of the top clubs have lost either their entire top boat or just key members who have raced at either Junior Worlds or Coupe, this is the first opportunity for us to see if the younger athletes can fill the shoes left for them.

 

Westminster

After the huge success the Westminster quad had last season with winning Schools Head of the River and National Schools CH4x, you would hope they could continue and take this event by storm. But the pivotal member of the quad Sam Meijer, who last season was part of the World Championship quad which came home with silver, is racing a Westminster/Imperial College elite 4x-. Meijer has already started this season in fine form, taking the headship at the Pairs Head in an ELI.2x; an extraordinary feat I’m sure you’ll agree. With this in mind Westminster are fielding their J16 crew who reached the final in a J15 4x at National Schools last season. With last year’s success to equal, I hope the pressure doesn’t become too big. Being a young crew I would like to see a good race from these lads but I can’t see them reaching the top spots.

 

Marlow

Again, here is another club who raced Henley Royal Regatta last season but are now putting out an entirely different crew to start the season. Similar to Westminster, they are also racing a J16 crew with three of the scullers from the J15 4x that won a bronze at the British Championships. Christopher Daniell also received a National Schools medal in the J15 2x but as a crew I believe they may be top of the J16 scene but may struggle against the established units others are putting out.

Leander

I think it’s needless to say that Leander will put in a good performance. I also like seeing that this is ‘Leander XII’ a sight only really seen from these huge clubs. A strong crew seems to be racing next weekend; Coupe single sculler and National School’s finalist Harrison Uglow takes one of the seats. New addition William New joined James Lambton-heys in the under 19 2x at the Senior British Championships placing second in typical Holme Pierrepont conditions; both will be in the quad for this race. Lambton-heys was also part of the silver placed quad at the Junior British Championships in July alongside Montague Norman. This is definitely a contender!

Windsor Boys

What a season they had last year. I think they took everyone by surprise at Henley last year after a spectacular run which saw them reach the final via the qualification regatta! Henry Smith and Harry Oliver were both part of this impressive crew which made it to the final of Henley last year. Filling the other two seats are Jordan Linnell and Steven House. This partnership resulted in a bronze medal at National Schools in a J16 2x, but also had an exceptional race in the time trial in which they finished first. This crew can hopefully continue to develop and surprise us in the forthcoming season.

Claire’s Court

This is one of the only crews which remains unchanged from Henley Royal Regatta, where they were knocked out on Wednesday to Marlow. The crew also reached the final at the British Championships in the OJ 4x. Daniel Gordon, Toby Jones, Jo Sanders and Alex Richardson have independent successes, including Richardson’s third place finish at National Schools in a J16 4x. Gordon and Jones made it to the semi at CH2x at National Schools. This crew should put in a good performance and I expect a top 10 finish.

Wallingford

Tom Brock and Daniel Wilkinson put in a good performance in the final of the OJ2- at the British Championships this year, but missed out on the medal positions. They are joined by Alex Lyons who was part of the J16 4x which came 2nd at National Schools. Brock, Wilkinson and Arnould were all part of the Henley A crew which made it to Thursday. This should have some pace to it.

Molesey

The Molesey quad has been significantly weakened from losing Alexander Browning and Andrew Aitchison from their Henley quad, both of whom finalled in CH2x at National Schools. However Johnston and Hughes are joined by two fellow clubmates Phelps and Gowland. I cannot see this crew doing amazingly this weekend, but will still put in a good performance.

Sir William Borlase

Where do I even start… Fours Head – 1st. Oarsport Junior Sculling Head – 1st. Wallingford Regatta – 1st. Elite quads at Marlow – 1st. But I definitely know where to finish- that sensational win at Henley. What a year they have had! Chris Lawrie, silver at World Juniors and Youth Olympics sculler remains in the boat with team mates Rufus Biggs and Fraser Russell, both of whom are supreme scullers in their own right. This time they have Ben Wright in the boat instead of Angus Warren. Wright has had some success in sweep boats at National Schools last season, with the best being a bronze in the J16ch 8+. Needless to say that this crew will win!

All in all, a fairly strong field this year. But the stand out favorites are Sir William Borlase. The Windsor Boys should also rise to the occasion and will try to follow their Henley success to finish 2nd in my prediction. Other crews to watch out for will be City of Oxford, Norwich School, Tideway Scullers and St Pauls.

Dora.

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