Hampton Head 2015 – J16 Preview

Hampton Head offers us the first real opportunity of the season to see how clubs and schools are shaping up in the bigger boat categories. The racing is often close and exciting, and promises to be so in these two categories.


J16.8+ 1st VIII

Hampton have performed very well so far this season, their two matched eights took the 2nd and 3rd positions at Wallingford Head and their J16 ‘A’ eight came 2nd at Quintin head to a very strong Westminster eight, who no doubt capitalised on their home water advantage. Hampton had a strong J15 squad last year, placing 3rd in J15CH8+ at National Schools (NS).

Dulwich too performed well at Quintin, with their top J16 boat placing 3rd, almost 15 seconds behind Hampton. The Dulwich J15CH8+ didn’t reach the final at NS last year, and will be hoping for better success in the J16 category this year.

Eton, on the other hand, were the winners of J15CH8+ last summer at NS, but have yet to appear on the J16 eights racing scene this season. I will be surprised if the Eton crew doesn’t come away with a top three finish, though they may be lacking the recent racing experience of some of the other crews.

Radley have also had a quiet start to the season. As the winners of the J151st8+ category at NS last summer, I expect them to be quick, but perhaps not quick enough to challenge for a top 3 spot; with little information on the crew it is hard to call.

St. Paul’s raced matched eights at both Wallingford (coming 6th and 8th) and Quintin (4th and 6th) and look to be adopting the same tactic for this event. Although I expect both crews to be quick, I do not think either will be challenging for a top 3 spot. Racing matched eights will, however, prove useful to St Paul’s later in the season; if competition for seats within a squad is high, all squad members will improve greatly, so I expect that St. Paul’s will be a force to be reckoned with in the summer.

The remaining crews- Reading Blue Coats, Bedford Modern, Norwich and Oratory were all of a fairly similar standard in the J15 1st 8+ category at NS last year and although I don’t expect any of them to place in the top three, I think an interesting race for the lower places will take place amongst them.

On the assumption that the St Paul’s crews are matched, my prediction of the results is: 1st: Hampton, 2nd: Eton, 3rd: Dulwich.



Henley look to be entering this event as clear favourites; they won the J15G8+ at NS by a comfortable 6 seconds and rowed to a pennant at Wallingford Head with a startling winning margin of close to 50 seconds. Henley has become the model club for successful women’s junior rowing in recent years and I don’t expect that this will change anytime soon.

LEH were the crew that came 2nd to Henley at Wallingford Head, and after a win at Quintin, they will be looking to close the gap on them this Saturday.

Marlow came 2nd at NS in the J15G8+ category last summer, comfortably ahead of the crew finishing 3rd. Although we haven’t seen anything from these girls yet this season in the eight, I expect that they will be fast, and will have capitalised from the recent renovation of their boathouse.

It is unclear whether St Paul’s Girls School are emulating their male counterparts and entering two matched eights into this category or a 1st and 2nd boat. It appears that their two boats were well matched at Wallingford (finishing only 0.6 seconds apart), however this gap increased to more like 55 seconds at Quintin, begging the question of what they have decided to do for Hampton. Irrespective of whether the boats are matched or not, I do not think St Paul’s will be challenging for a top three finish.

Godolphin and Latymer School came 3rd at Quintin, and were a bit behind the pace in the final of J15G8+ at NS last year, coming last 12 seconds behind those in fifth. I do not expect these girls to be challenging for a top three spot, but they may be able to find an extra gear after their valuable racing experience at Quintin.

It was Canford who placed fifth at NS in J15G8+; they may be quick, but as this will be the first race from which relative speeds can be examined, it is too early to tell,

Bedford Modern came last in their J15G8+ semi-final at NS in the summer and were no doubt disappointed with this result; hopefully they are using it as fuel to propel them to new heights this season- we will see on Saturday.

It is encouraging to see that girls’ rowing is growing in clubs as well as schools, with both Lea and Barn Elms having entered crews. Both clubs are somewhat unknown entities in the eights game, but have had some success in small boats earlier this season.

My prediction for the result is: 1st: Henley, 2nd: LEH, 3rd: Marlow.



Weybridge have performed well in the quad so far this season, winning both Henley Long Distance Sculls and Weybridge Winter Head. These boys have been together for quite a while and I expect their experience in the boat class to help them on Saturday.

Kingston were runners up in the J154x+1 event at NS last summer, and so evidently have some sculling prowess, I think that they too will be quick, even if they haven’t been that successful in smaller boats so far this season.

Marlow have a very strong J16 squad, with several boys trialling for GB junior rowing; if they have put all their eggs in this basket, I reckon that they will prove difficult to beat.

Northwich had a very successful J154+ last year, and I think that it will be the same group of boys in their quad, only opting for sculling as the sweep alternative is in the earlier division. If this is the case, I expect them to be strong contenders for the pennant.

I think we may also see some speed from the Windsor Boys School, Llandaff and Henley, though I wouldn’t discount any of the other crews either.



Eton Excelsior have not had a bad start to the season, performing reasonably well in smaller boats; I think that they will be close to the top of the bunch in this category.

Surbiton High School have also had some good results in doubles, and I expect that they will show some speed. Watch out for Llandaff in this category too, as well as Marlow and Star. Unfortunately, there isn’t too much information on the crews in this category, hence the fairly short preview; I look forward to seeing how the rest of the year looks for this boat class on the back of Saturday’s results.

Good luck to all crews racing, if you have any comments on the article or information regarding these categories, please tweet me @KingCrabRowing .