Hampton Head 2015- J18 Quads Preview

As an observer, there is always something to entertain the spectator on the junior rowing circuit. Be it a titanic clash between the fastest schoolboy eights in the country or a four way tussle to the line of an enthralling scull race, a close duel is never far away in the land of the oarsman. However, there is one category that retains a certain fondness in my heart and consistently produces high-end, dramatic, powerful, engaging racing. The Junior 18 quad category.

For whatever reason, this event always walks the walk. A combination of small margins, technical skill and explosive energy make this my favourite event and the main reason why I’d choose the Fawley over the Princess Elizabeth. The Hampton Head, plagued by the ghost of floods gone by, looks set to go ahead on Saturday and the J184x category is stacked with the aristocracy of junior sculling. We have both finalists from last year’s Fawley Cup, one from the Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup and a number of medallists from the National Schools’ Regatta. Good racing? You bet…

J184x

Leading out the division are Marlow. These boys have had to row in the shadow of the Marlow class of 2013, who won every prize on offer to schoolboy scullers. They are slowly re-building from the bottom and their J15 squad was a real bright light on the horizon last season. Their result at the Fours Head really took me by surprise and showed a crew with heat in the boat; they’ll be looking to upset a few punters on Saturday. I can’t see them challenging for top honours this year but their progress will be interesting. Following them are Sir William Borlase. It’d be no injustice to suggest that these boys will be strong whatever crew they boat but I’m personally interested to see who they select. Alex Haynes, formerly of Marlow, starred in a few cameo appearances earlier in the season but has faded off my radar since, although it is worth noting that my vision is hindered by the fact that I only have two eyes looking at a bunch of photographs. Borlase will be looking to continue their ominous form by stretching the gap between themselves and Star & Arrow, who go off two places behind them. The Manchester City of rowing, Star & Arrow [aka Leander] have recruited some of the very best junior athletes to launch an assault on that elusive Fawley Cup. They’ve come close in the past few years but have fallen twice at the Friday. Windsor Boys take to the stage for the first time and, with two returners from the Fawley finalist crew, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with. They’ve got a truly remarkable coaching and development system, which is evidenced in the consistency of their performance. I fancy these boys to roll a top five finish. Claire’s Court, who recorded a stunning third place at the Fours Head, will be looking to consolidate this over the shorter Hampton course. The Thames Valley Trial Head was cancelled, meaning we didn’t get a chance to see how CCS have been preparing over the Christmas break. It doesn’t take an expert to say that Claire’s Court will finish highly but I’m not so sure that they’ll replicate the Fours Head performance- the competition, although smaller in size, is stronger I feel. Northwich have boated two crews, with Leon Langmead sitting in the front-runner. Strangely enough though, George Lawton is apparently in the other crew. That’s an odd move from Jed Barlow but who am I to judge? I fancy some good speed from these guys, who had a phenomenal J154+ last year. Tideway Scullers have also entered two crews although I believe their best guys are in the J184- that races later in the division. Great Marlow School have flown under the radar over the last few years, despite having a pretty good bunch of J17 athletes a couple of years back. They finished a strong tenth at the Fours Head and I think, with a new look crew, they could be a surprise package this year.

I fancy Sir William Borlase, who traditionally get faster as the year goes on, to take the win here followed closely by Star & Arrow, Northwich and Claire’s Court.

WJ184x

Eton Excelsior lead the division off and these girls will be looking to set right some of the demons from last year. Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t have a bad season but their extended absence from racing cost them valuable time in the summer. They’ve lost some of their best athletes and I’m told they’re still experimenting with a line-up but these girls have the potential to push the very best. Marlow are chasing them down and the Excelsior girls will do well to hold off this steam train of a quad. The full cohort are back after a fantastic season last year and, in their first competitive quad race of 2015, will be looking to lay down a marker. After some impressive performances at the Hampton Small Boats Head, I’m going to tip these girls for the win outright. Kingston Grammar School is another name that hovers intently when the brain harks back to the best junior women’s scullers over the past few years. They raced competitively in a double last year, picking up a bronze at the National Schools’ Regatta. A return to the quad will be an interesting change. Latymer struggled last year but are back with a vengeance. Their quest to re-claim the Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup will be aided by the sculling ability of Georgia Hellard Timm, a light-weight who has recorded a number of impressive results through the early season. Surbiton will also be a player in proceedings although I’m really still waiting for them to take on the groundwork they laid down two years ago. They have a fabulous young sculler in Lola Anderson and I hope to see them feature towards the top of the pile on Saturday.

I fancy Marlow to take the win with Latymer and Eton Excelsior bringing up the rear.

JuniorRowingBlogger
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.