GB Triallists 2014/2015 Season- Top Ten JM Scullers

With the November early ID assessment a mere four days away, I thought that I could cast my eye over the potential top athletes for the 2014/15 season. Great Britain trials are always such an honour to be a part of regardless of how far you progress and every athlete who takes to the water on Saturday should be proud to represent their club. It is also a good opportunity to see how some of the top athletes are moving at this early stage; last year threw up a few big shocks and I expect the same this year! In this article, I’m going to provide a profile on the scullers that I think will be the top ten lads through the year. It is also worth pointing out that this is NOT my preview of who I think will finish in the top ten on Saturday; Boulton has asked anyone who competed internationally last summer, sweep or sculling, to race a single on Saturday. This is my prediction for the best sculling athletes through the year. I’d like to apologise for only covering the men this time round; I have no access to the JW ergo data hence why I cannot provide a preview. The names below are in no particular order, apart from perhaps the top two. Onto the preview…


Chris Lawrie [Sir William Borlase]

Previous GB Representation- Junior World Championships, JM4x, 10th place, 2013; Junior World Championships, JM4x, 2nd place, 2014; Youth Olympic Games, JM1x, 4th place, 2014


Chris is an inclusion that goes without saying. His extraordinary rise to the top of junior rowing can be tracked right back to a prodigious scull in the final of J151x at the National Schools Regatta in 2012. The irony of that race is that two of his silver medal winning team-mates from this summer, in Sam Meijer and Rowan Law, competed in the same race. Chris is certainly a strong favourite to take the win on Saturday although he’ll be sure to avoid complacency; he was beaten into second place last year by Steven Parsonage at the same stage. Nonetheless, Chris will have his eyes set firmly on Rio and the possibility of a gold medal at the JWRC; having won nearly everything at junior level, GB representation will surely be towards the top of his priorities.


Sam Meijer [Westminster School]

Previous GB Representation- Coupe De La Jeunesse, JM4x, 1st place, 2013; Junior World Championships, JM4x, 2nd place, 2014


Sam has started the season in much the same way he left off last year, taking the win at the Head of the Charles and the Armada Cup in Switzerland in the single along with an impressive headship at the Pairs Head of the River. Under the guidance of Bill Mason, Sam has risen up the ranks to establish himself as one of our best hopes for a medal at this year’s JWRC. His composite crew at the Fours Head finished an impressive third behind two squad Leander crews although I suspect Sam was hoping for an improvement on last year’s podium finish. Nonetheless, the idea of a Meijer/Lawrie certainly sends the mind to glorious places and I’ll be interested to see how Boulton utilises Sam’s skill.


Fraser Russell [Sir William Borlase]

Previous GB Representation- Junior World Championships, JM2x, 13th place, 2014


Fraser is a very accomplished athlete and I’m a big fan of his style of sculling; developed under Marlow RC and cultivated by Robin Dowell at SWB, he looked impressive in the stroke seat of the Borlase quad at the recent HOR4. His double with James White at the JWRC was strong on paper and perhaps could have risen up the rankings a little more but it was not a bad result and Fraser will be looking to break into the top sculling boat this year, presuming it is a four man crew. Like Chris, he’s won the Fawley Cup already and, having been joined by former team-mate Alex Haynes at SWB, their grip on the trophy looks even stronger this year.


Rufus Biggs [Sir William Borlase]

Previous GB Representation- Coupe De La Jeunesse, JM4x, 10th place, 2014


I had a read through an interesting, albeit out-dated, interview with Rufus that was done around a year ago; he said he wanted to pull a 6:05 2k this year and become one of Team GB’s top junior scullers. I think this year could well be the one where those aims are achieved. If Rufus can pull 6:05, he’ll be one of the favourites for a spot in the top junior boat come August and Rio. Surrounded by quality crew-mates and a top class coach, everything is in place for Rufus to succeed at the top level and put the disappointment of his quads performance at the Coupe behind him.


Josh Armstrong

Previous GB Representation- GB vs France Match, JM1x, 1st place, 2014


The remarkable thing about Josh is something that many people might not know. Everyone has heard about his incredible success at J16 level, his gold in the GB France match, his domination in the J16 trials last year but the really extraordinary thing about the Glaswegian sculler is that he’s been in the sport for less than two years. He’s being hotly tipped to take a top ten place this weekend and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that was the case. If his hot form in the single scull continues, he’ll be in contention for a spot in the GB team this summer. Watch this space!


Scott Ozsanlav-Harris [Grange School]

Previous GB Representation-  Coupe De La Jeunesse, JM4x, 10th place, 2014


Scott is a character that Josh Armstrong can relate to. In early 2013, a younger Scott took the February J16 trials by storm, winning by nearly 45 seconds over his nearest competitor. Scott raced in the quad at the Coupe this year after a pretty successful season with the Grange School. Although they exited HRR unceremoniously to the Windsor Boys crew, they were finalists at the National Schools Regatta. Scott actually won the February GB Trials in a double with Alex Haynes and will have his eyes on Rio in the summer; his speciality is undoubtedly long distance trials so I expect to see him featuring highly on Saturday.


Will New [Leander Club]

Previous GB Representation- NA


Following his move from Hinksey to Leander Club, Will has been sculling well at the pink palace. His second place finish at the Henley Long Distance Sculls was impressive and he was also in the quad that finished second at the Fours Head of the River a few weekends ago, pushing Sir William Borlase pretty hard. With an impressive R24 ergo score of 6:26:9, I’ll be interested to see what Will can do over the 5k distance at Boston. Leander have a long history of providing Great Britain with international standard athletes and I’ll be interested to see what they produce this year.


James Mawby [Nottingham Rowing Club]

Previous GB Representation- GB vs France Match, JM2x, 1st place, 2014 


An odd choice, some may say but I’d like to examine the evidence. James pulled a monstrous 6:27:7 for his R24 2k ergo and has was one of the stand-out athletes last year, winning at the GB France match with his doubles partner Fizz Shah. He’s a product of the superb small-boat system at Nottingham Rowing Club and I think he could be a dark horse to watch out for.


Oscar Bird [Thames Rowing Club]

Previous GB Representation- Home Countries International Regatta, JM2x, 2nd place, 2014


Oscar had a spectacular end to last season, winning the OJ2x at the British Championships with Ashley Cowley of Quintin Boat Club. This resulted in selection for the Home Countries Team, where they finished second. He raced at the Henley Royal Regatta but lost out on the Wednesday and he’s a pretty capable sculler. I can’t guarantee that he’ll be one of the top guys through the year but I’m looking forward to seeing what he can produce this year; a good performance on Saturday could result in an invite to Nantes.


Leon Langmead [Northwich Rowing Club]

Previous GB Representation- Home Countries International Regatta, JM4x, 1st place, 2014


Leon raced in the Northwich quad for the summer of last year, winning a bronze medal at the National Schools Regatta before winning the British Championships in OJ4x. He’s a very powerful athlete with a great athletic background so he will be a strong competitor this year. His height and strength will be important while his ergo [6:29:6 at R24] is a factor that will count in his favour. Jed Barlow has coached athletes to GB representation before [Ed Grisedale, Lucy Burgess] so he’ll be key if Leon has a chance this year.


That’s all for my sculling preview. Some of these are a punt but that’s speculative journalism; I think it’ll be incredibly tight throughout the field and I expect some fantastic duels through the year. Other names to watch out for are Jono Cameron [Claire’s Court BC] who finished third at the Fours Head a few weekends ago, Sam Champion [Cambridge 99 BC] who performed well at the Star Head of the River and has an impressive ergo score, Matt Martinez [Globe BC], who raced well at J16 level last year, George Lawton [Northwich RC], who is the brother of Finnian Lawton, Josh Davies [St Neots RC], who won J182x at the Pairs Head of the River, Tom Mortimer [Leander Club], who finished joint second with Will New at the Henley LDS and Harvey Kay [Nottingham RC], who raced in the J4x from Nottingham at HRR last year.


Good luck to all competitors on Saturday and moving forward through the season!


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.