Hampton Head 2015 – J18 Eights Preview

As the head season quickly progresses and the School’s Head approaches in exactly 40 days, the attention this weekend turns upstream to the 2015 Hampton Head. First of all, hats off to Hampton School for organising what is set to be a fantastic head, especially in the J18 VIIIs category. Hampton have had some bad luck over the last few years in terms of weather, with cancellations a’plenty due to excessively high tides and ice. Nearly all of the ‘big’ rowing schools have entered this event, which is very exciting. This will be a very good barometer of speed in the run up to the School’s Head in mid-March. In addition there are two categories, for 1st and 2nd eights. I’ll provide my own prediction of the quickest five crews in the 1st VIIIs category at the bottom of this article.

 

J18 VIII

Borlase

Borlase haven’t given away any indication of their speed recently, mostly because they haven’t entered many races! However I can make a conjecture that they will be fairly fast as over the last few years or so Borlase have graced us with some seriously fast crews, including their J16 eight last year, who had a successful regatta season, and who will form a large proportion of their 1st VIII this year no doubt. If the eight becomes their top boat for School’s Head I would imagine that they would enter 1st VIIIs, as they have never really had an enormous presence as a ‘Champ Eight’ school. However School’s Head is a separate matter all together and back to Hampton! While I don’t believe they could push some of the more established school’s off their high perch this weekend, I think that they’ll certainly be aiming for the top five, a feat that would be impressive given the entrants.

Canford

Sadly I really struggle to see Canford laying down a decent time this weekend. Their performance at Quintin last weekend was quite poor and they certainly don’t have the same speed in either of their two crews as they did this time last year, when they later went on to win 1st VIIIs at School’s Head. Hopefully, Quintin will have given Canford a good wake-up call and shown them where they stand in terms of schoolboy rowing. Nonetheless, I wish them all the best for their race this weekend.

Eton

It’s often quite hard to tell what Eton are up to half the time. For this event they’ve entered 3 coxed fours and one eight into the J18 event. Chances are that all of these boats will be quick and after Eton’s strong performance at Quintin, things are certainly looking good. A strong performance in IM2 by one of the Eton eights landed them 2nd place behind a seriously quick UL crew. Looking back a bit further and Eton’s performance at BASHER must be taken into account. Their first boat won the eights category and consistently beat Paul’s by a fair few seconds over the three runs of Dorney. This matched with boys from the PE crew last year returning this year and a full batch of GB trialists will no doubt be the cause of an Etonian domination this head season.

Hampton

A decent performance at Quintin last saturday for Hampton, with their IM2 eights finishing sixth and ninth. I’ve said this before, but i’ll say it again, Hampton must be commended for the depth in their boat club with four eights, a further two entered in J18, producing respectable times at Quintin. Yet Hampton will no doubt be looking to go that one step further and challenge Eton and Paul’s for the top spots. However, these eights were matched eights and so do not provide a great deal of indication of Hampton’s speed right now. At BASHER, the fastest Hampton boat finished 4th, which I’m sure won’t be good enough for MIC of rowing at Hampton, Colin Greenaway. With their depth comes great consistency across all their crews and at least one of these crews should be able to challenge a fast Paul’s eight or the Westminster 1st VIII, preferably HAM-Jesse Pinkman.

Latymer

I’d just like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt sympathy to the entire Latymer Boat Club after the news concerning Latymer coach Michael Hill.
In term’s of the first eight’s chances this weekend, the outlook is very strong indeed and Latymer’s performance at Quintin head stands them in very good stead. The 1st VIII was about 20 seconds off being the fastest junior crew at Quintin, yet they distanced themselves from those crews entered in the J18 category by about six seconds, a fairly comfortable lead over 4.2km. Latymer will probably follow in the footsteps of last year’s 1st VIII and enter Championship VIIIs at School’s Head. With an array of impressive results recently, Latymer are set to out-perform many crews at Hampton.

Radley

Two Radley eights are entered into the 1st VIIIs category, both with GB trialists in the form of Charlie Elwes (who is currently in the Upper Sixth), James Brocklebank-Fowler, James Murrell and Miles Rowse. However, despite these rowers, Radley failed to surprise at BASHER and finished a disappointing 12th overall. While they were racing matched eights, they should be performing much higher given the person’s at their disposal. Let’s just hope that they’ve turned things around by the weekend as I and a number of others would love to see a quick Radley VIII this early on in the year.

Westminster

This is exciting. The famous Westminster eight of yesteryear takes their first stride forward this year. All eyes will be on these nine guys this weekend and not only because of their new carbon wing rigged Empacher. There isn’t really much to say, their success last year is legendary across the schoolboy scene and as a crew they’ll be around for two years, before handing the torch to their current J16s who appear just as quick at a comparable stage. Westminster’s first VIII is certainly my favourite to win on Saturday. Surprisingly, Westminster have also entered a second eight which could definitely beat some of the other crews entered in the first VIIIs category.Taken from www.hrr.co.uk

 

PREDICTION: 1st – Westminster 2nd – Eton 3rd – Latymer 4th – Hampton 5th – Radley

 

WJ18 VIII

I’m really looking forward to this race and to finding out which women’s crew is currently on top form. Early on in the year it may be, but the Tideway is calling and in just over a month the top junior women’s crews will be doing battle over the Championship Course (a reminder-6.8km!). I think the main questions we should be asking are: Will Lady Eleanor Holles be able to carry their success from Quintin to Hampton a week later? Will Headington, having been absent at Quintin shake things up at the top end? Or will Henley RC give us a taste of what’s to come later on? These are certainly the key players in this event, but as is always the case in rowing, beware of the underdogs…

Lady Eleanor Holles
LEH have only entered one crew into this event, which suggests that this is their 1st VIII, the crew that came first last weekend on the Tideway with a staggering margin of 31 seconds. In terms of LEH representation at GB trials, only one rower, Kirstin Giddy, attended the Early ID Assessment in Boston, Lincs. She finished 63rd, so not quite fast enough. However LEH have shown recently they can make boats go fast and after all that’s all that matters. They’re definitely my favourites for the weekend.

St George’s
St George’s have entered two boats into Saturday’s race and they should be quite quick come the weekend and could definitely challenge for the top spots, however I would say second place is more realistic for one of the George’s crews, provided they haven’t opted to race matched eights. Nonetheless 2 Georgian’s went to the EID assessment, with Nuala Gannon finishing 22nd overall. Recent results include a second place finish at the Quintin Head, which is promising as School’s Head approaches.

Henley
Also a crew that is in contention to win. We’ve seen over the last few years and last year especially that Henley RC are capable of producing fast boats. Numerous successes both at Henley Women’s Regatta and National School’s last year exemplify this. They sailed to victory in the J16 quads at National School’s 2014 and I’m sure some of these girls will feature in this Henley eight. More recently they placed first at Wallingford Head in December which is promising. It will certainly be close between these women and the likes of LEH and George’s, but a top 3 finish should certainly be the aim. Good luck to them!

Headington
Headington are by far the most successful girl’s rowing school, with numerous wins of Championship eights at National School’s recently. I imagine a first and second eight have already been formed to some extent as Headington entered one boat into IM2 at Wallingford and one into IM3, both finishing third. Given these results I think Headington are in a realistic position to rise to the top of schoolgirl rowing, a spot that is frequented so often by Headington crews.

 

PREDICTION: 1ST – LEH 2ND – HEADINGTON 3RD – ST GEORGE’S 4TH – HENLEY 5TH – SIR WILLIAM PERKINS

 

Dr. Oarsome