Hammersmith Head 2015 Preview

The Schools’ Head is almost upon us and this weekend’s Hammersmith Head is the last major event beforehand. In the lead up to the School’s Head, a lot of schools will have begun to move away from matched eights to establish ranked crews. Looking at the draw as a whole and at the entire Junior entry, we can see that some schools have entered their top crews into IM1 and IM2 predominantly. However the battle amongst the J18 crews will undoubtedly be hard fought, with every crew yearning for the top spots, which will bring confidence to a crew in the buildup to the ultimate showdown in early March. The entrants for J18 eights are: Latymer, London Oratory, Abingdon, St George’s, St Edward’s, Bedford, Whitgift, Winchester, KCS, St Paul’s and Claire’s Court in racing order.
This is a very difficult event to predict, with a number of crews perfectly capable of taking the win. Potential winners definitely include Latymer, St George’s, KCS, Teddies, London Oratory, Abingdon and St Paul’s. Yes that’s a pretty long list, but I can see no reason why any of these crews can’t win on Sunday.

 

J18 8+

 

Abingdon
First of all this is Abingdon’s second eight with their first eight entered into IM1. Yet it would be foolish to disregard this crew because they are entered as a second eight. A squad such as Abingdon’s, with its sheer depth, has far more than eight decent rowers. For a lot of schools the division between the top crew and the rest of the squad may be distinct; at Abingdon the majority of their second eight will be making active attacks at seats in the first eight. It is for this reason that the Oxford based powerhouse must be feared, whichever crew they choose to boat. I feel as though a win for Abingdon is possible, however I sense that there are stronger crews out their who could finish ahead. Nevertheless I wish Abingdon all the best on Sunday – it will be close.

 

Bedford
Bedford don’t really have much to show for themselves this winter, with one of their first eights finishing 9th at BASHER. However they did finish joint fourth at Bedford fours and eights head and as a school they always seem to do quite well at School’s Head and I’d say that they have tradition in their favour. I’d say Bedford will finish 6th on Sunday, but that it will be close with the likes of Teddies and Abingdon.

 

Claire’s Court
Sadly I can’t see Claire’s Court making any kind of impact at Hammersmith and I imagine everyone else is just that bit quicker. They could push Whitgift although anything above tenth would be a stretch.

 

KCS
KCS will most likely do very well. They are in recent years really establishing themselves as a ‘Champ eight’ school and who knows perhaps they will again enter Champ VIIIs at National School’s this year. Strong performances so far include the fours’ head and Quintin head, where in matched eights they finished eighth and ninth in the J18 category. This time they have entered one boat in IM3 in addition to J18 and this would suggest that a KCS first eight is in the pipeline, ready to be rolled out by early March. With this said it is easy to see one of the top four spots this Sunday going to KCS.

 

Latymer
Latymer are serious contenders here and a win on their home water is certainly within their grasp. However if they were to win this weekend, it would certainly be by a far less comfortable margin as crews such as St George’s and London Oratory will have no doubt closed the gap considerably. Perhaps to such an extent that one of George’s or Oratory pip Latymer into second.

 

London Oratory
Oratory have had a fairly strong start to the head season with a solid performance at fours head and most recently a fourth place finish in Quintin Head. However, I’m sure that they have reflected on their performance at Quintin and have changed things up a bit. I can see them being significantly stronger and far more able to challenge Latymer at Hammersmith and for 1st VIIIs at School’s head.

 

St Edward’s
Teddies haven’t given us much indication of their speed this year and Hammersmith will be their first tideway race so far. Despite this the odds are in their favour, with Sam Hamilton-Peach and David Wilcox fresh back from Boston last weekend where they lay down a decent performance. However Sam is a returner from the Teddies first eight last year, along with others including cox, Hugo Marsh. I think it will be a battle between KCS, Teddies, Winchester and London Oratory for 3rd place.

 

St George’s
After a good performance at Quintin, St George’s are in a stable position to challenge for the top position this weekend. Perhaps they were helped at Quintin by their Tideway Sculler’s sub, although they are a strong crew and things are looking good as we approach School’s head.

 

St Paul’s
It’s not their first eight obviously as that is entered in senior eights, but this crew will still be fairly quick. I can see them battling it out with Abingdon’s second eight and certainly a number of the other boats, such as Bedford and Winchester.

 

Winchester

Winchester gave a commendable performance at Quintin finishing 5th behind London Oratory. They are clearly a strong crew, but I think it will be difficult for them to break the top three at Hammersmith.

1st-Latymer/St George’s/London Oratory 4th-KCS/Winchester/Teddies 7th-Abingdon/St Paul’s 9th-Bedford 10th-Whitgift 11th-Claire’s Court

 

WJ18 8+

Only two entries so a dramatic duel between Teddies and Lady Eleanor Holles will ensue. Due to their recent performance, I would predict LEH for the win as they won Quintin by over 30 seconds, with St George’s finishing in second. However I know little about the Teddies crew and who knows, perhaps they could surprise us. Yet LEH appear to be in such a strong position in girls rowing now, closing the gap on Headington and Henley. It will probably be close, but LEH are my favourites.

Dr. Oarsome