Wallingford Head 2014- J16 8+ Preview

As the first eights race of the season for most, there are a good selection of well established and mixed crews.

My favorite to win is Winchester College. This was the only crew last year who could challenge Eton College’s formidable J15 8+ in regatta season, taking a spectacular victory at Wallingford Regatta but unfortunately being beaten to gold by Eton at National Schools’ Regatta. This crew also features the monstrous Hugo Duward, who in his J15 year was rumored to have a sub-6.40 2K test score and attended GB trials in J18 a few weeks ago. Despite St. Paul’s School, who came out ahead of them by 1 second at Schools’ Head back in March on the Tideway, being present, they had the advantage of home water on what was a particularly unpleasant day on the Thames. On even ground, Winchester should be able to take the gold.

Hampton also appear to be putting out their top crew, despite this squad having put out mixed crews for the majority of last season. HAM-Hickmott will definitely be challenging for a top three placing, after achieving a bronze medal at NSR, and a 4th in J15CH8+ at Schools’ Head last season. Both members of their 1st and 2nd 8+ competed in J16 2- at Hampton SBH last week as well, with most pairs being exceedingly well matched. With this confidence, I wouldn’t discount HAM-Worthington from taking a high placing, especially considering their victory against Eton’s similarly formidable 2nd 8+ at NSR to take the gold medal in J15 2nd 8+.

Shrewsbury School appear to have put in at least one J15 crew into this category. However, the humorously titled crews Tweedledee and Tweedledum are the ones I believe to be their J16s which unfortunately makes it unclear whether they are racing a top boat or not. If they are, they should provide some good competition for the three previously mentioned crews. While not faring so well in pairs this season at Bedford Small Boats Head, they did come a close fifth in J15CH8+ at NSR- less than a second behind St Paul’s. They came third at Schools’ Head, as well, so may well fare better in the head season.

Other crews who could challenge for the top 7 are Sir William Borlase, who came 6th in J15CH8+ at NSR, and 5th at SHORR; and King’s College School who were prominent in J15 1st 8+ scene last season, coming third place in a close field at Schools’ Head.

Winchester College for the win.