Hampton Small Boats Head 2014 – WJSch.2- Preview

A rather small entry for women’s J18 pairs at this year’s Hampton Small Boats Head, and another difficult prediction; not only due to the fact that the strokeperson of each boat is not published on the draw, but this event is often undersubscribed, and there is therefore a lack of past results in this boat class. I will however endeavor to produce a comprehensive preview.

 

For me, the LEH boats look like they’ll be occupying the high finishes of the event. At the forefront I believe will be the ‘Kelly’ pair – possibly the pair that raced at the Brit Champs last Summer of Frances Kelly and Alice Harwood. If this is the same boat, then this may be a very strong combination; they won a silver medal in J16 2- at Brit Champs in a mature and powerful performance. National School’s Regatta last year also saw a pair of O Malley and Elliott come fourth in the semi final of CHG2-; a highly competitive event, and a result that should give these girls confidence if they have remained as a pair. The ‘Polglase’ pair could also be looking at a high finish; Polglase raced in the LEH 1st 8+ last year, which finished fifth in the National School’s final. More recently, a few LEH pairs entered Pairs Head; while not performing outstandingly, they laid down some solid results, with the pair of Polglase and O Malley finishing 5th, and Harwood and Kelly coming in 7th. From this, it is clear to see that it is really impossible to tell what combinations will be fielded at Hampton, but one thing remains certain: any of these LEH pairs will be competitive on Saturday.

Kingston Grammar School is being represented by the ‘Dodds’ pair, and this may well be challenging for the top spot. Issy Dodds raced in the J17G1x at National School’s last Summer, placing 5th in the semi final. More recently, she placed a very credible 42nd at the GB Early ID trial. If Dodds is paired with Flo Blake Parsons (interestingly both rowers have exactly the same 2k r24 score of 7:42.2) then this could be a fast combination indeed; Flo represented England in the Junior Women’s Eight at the Home International Regatta in Cork last Summer, winning the gold medal. Both girls raced in the KGS Women’s Junior Quad at Four’s Head, where they placed in the top half of a competitive field; these girls should certainly look to be challenging the LEH boats for the top spot tomorrow.

Apart from these aforementioned crews, I can’t see any other boat on the draw really challenging for the win. Sir William Perkin’s Aitchison will likely be racing with her sister, as they did at National School’s in the SWP Women’s First Eight, and then again in the CHG2- on Sunday. The girls did well to make the semi-final, but I can’t see them really pushing the likes of LEH. However, it is said that siblings have a naturally similar rowing style, and they certainly may well have found a great deal more boat speed in the months between National Schools and this race; again, I can only speculate. Marlow have fielded a pair under the name of Holmes; Holmes recently competed at the early ID’s, but seems to have run into some difficulty in the second half, and her result is likely not at all representative of her ability; indeed, her ergo is strong – a 7:35 puts her at least in the top 45 entrants into the trialing system. However, with a lack of past results, it is again difficult to predict anything of this pair.

My overall ranking is then: 1) KGS  2) LEH (Kelly)  3) LEH (O Malley)

Again, under the circumstances, the race is difficult to predict, and the conditions tomorrow could make the finishing order very unpredictable, so I’m fully expecting any pair to take a chance and surprise me.

Good luck to all crews!

Five Man

 

Five Man