Head of the Trent 2015 Preview

The Head of the Trent is fast approaching, and it will see hotly contested battles in the J18 and J16 events. Here is our preview.

 

Five Man: As in my Quintin Head preview, I will preview each club and then offer a top three finisher prediction at the end.

 

J18.8+

George Watson’s College

It would not be unfair to label George Watson’s as little-known; they had a rather middling season last year, with a fairly poor result at School’s Head and a time trial exit at National School’s in the Child Beale Cup. However, their recent results suggest that they have a somewhat stronger squad this year: their top coxed four placed second behind Durham ARC earlier in February at Durham Head, only 10 seconds off Tyne United’s Elite coxless four. Two boys in the boat, Oliver Fenton and James Stevenson, competed at the GB long distance trials in a pair last weekend, and finished 24th on Saturday, and 20th on Sunday. In a field of Britain’s best junior rowers, this is no mean feat, and suggests that George Watson’s has some talent at the top end of their squad – of course, it remains to be seen whether they have the necessary depth to put together an eight of sufficient speed to get in the mix with some of the faster Child Beale eights; however, I think they should feel optimistic, and use the Head of the Trent as a real test of their speed.

The King’s School Chester 

King’s Chester are always a quality club that puts together fast boats across all yeargroups, but often their 1st 8+ doesn’t quite match the top end Championship Eights. Having said this, it looks as if their eights entered at the Head of the Trent are matched eights – not only due to their exceptionally witty matched eight names – ‘North’ and ‘South’ – but also because no KCH rower that attended GB trials last weekend is in either boat, suggesting that these are 2nd/3rd 8+ matched boats. King’s Chester certainly have some good depth this year, as demonstrated early in the season by some fantastic results at Wallingford Fours and Eights Head, where two KCH matched eights placed 1st and 4th in J18.8+, both boats ahead of St Paul’s two matched eights and the faster eight beating the Latymer 1st 8+. However, without the stronger guys in the crews, these two eights have their work cut out for them at Head of the Trent.

Monmouth School

Monmouth had some pretty good results last season; a strong 1st 8+ was driven along by a fantastic four that took the CH4+ title at National School’s. This year, they’ve seen some fairly poor results at Four’s Head, and a Monmouth/Cheltenham College composite pair came last at GB trials last weekend. However, Monmouth should be looking to build on the success of last year – while some of their strongest athletes have gone, last year’s results should really inspire the younger guys coming into the squad to push on and really drive their respective boats. Monmouth should again prove that you don’t need to be an established ‘rowing school’ to have a crack at going for gold in a Championship National School’s event – and their journey really starts here.

Radley College

Two Radley boats are entered here, and it looks as though they are matched eights. Nothing really has to be said for Radley; they are consistently a form Championship Eight school, with some massive talent at their top end. While perhaps not the most successful small-boat movers, Radley are, certainly come the Summer, a force to be reckoned with in eights, and really they should be looking for the 1st/2nd finish at the Head of the Trent. While the season so far perhaps hasn’t been stellar for Radley (poor results at both BASHER and Hampton Head are somewhat concerning for them) they aren’t a school that’s particularly known for strength in the head season. They should however be confident about the Head of the Trent, and really see it as an opportunity to test themselves against faster crews in other categories – with a good race, both boats should leave their J18 rivals trailing.

St Peter’s School

Like George Watson’s, St Peter’s had a decidedly average season last year, but have been performing decently this season at some smaller heads. Positive results at the South Yorkshire Head and Rutherford Head puts St Peter’s J18 8+ in a fairly good position going into the race this weekend; I think that there’ll be a strong battle between this crew and the George Watson’s crew, given that last year, their First Eights were within a second of each other at School’s Head. However, I think these boys will be hard pressed making the top spot, and should see this head as a stepping stone in their preparations for Schools’ Head.

TOP THREE FINISHERS

1. RADLEY (Bevan)  2. RADLEY(Hazell)  3. MONMOUTH

 

W.J18.8+

The King’s School Chester

It’s difficult to really know what King’s Chester are planning to field for the Head of the Trent – judging by the teamsheet, despite their ‘A’ and ‘B’ boat labels, they appear to be matched eights. This should not detract really from the performance that these girls could put in; women’s rowing at King’s Chester is really strong, and is strengthening every year. Last year, the Championships Girl’s Eight performed very well at National School’s, and a few of the girls who were in that boat appear to be racing this weekend at the Trent. They should be looking to drive the squad on to some very strong performances and hopefully, perhaps, a first place finish for one of the boats.

Sir William Perkin’s School

Sir William Perkin’s had a strong season last year in the girl’s squad, performing admirably at National School’s making the final of the Championship Girl’s Eight. While their is a paucity of more recent results surrounding the squad, if they have retained a fair amount of last year’s squad they should go fast; however, the fact that they appear to be in matched eights will obviously make it harder for them to put in a stellar performance. They should look to have a real battle with King’s Chester, who will probably be a large rival later in the year, and both schools will want to prove that they have the greater strength in depth.

St Peter’s School 

Last year, St Peter’s had a pretty good top pair in the form of Hinton and Falshaw, but their CHG.8+ left something to be desired at National School’s, and the squad did not fare well at Women’s Henley. Again I am confronted with a dearth of recent results when it comes to St Peter’s, and therefore any prediction I make can only be rather uninformed guesswork; however, based on their history, it seems unlikely that St Peter’s will be a strong squad yet. With no GB trialists, it doesn’t seem as if there’s a particularly stellar athlete in the St Peter’s ranks that will spur on this boat; I can’t really see them making an impression in this race.

Trent

The home water advantage should benefit this crew, as well as the addition to the senior squad last year’s strong J16 contingent. Trent RC tend towards sculling, however, so it will be interesting to see how they fare in a sweep oar race; one cannot underplay the benefit of rowing on home water, however, and while it is difficult to know how they will perform, they should I think be given the benefit of the doubt and aim to take down some of these other J18 eights.

Yarm School

Yarm had a decently strong Championship Girls Eight last year, that did however fail to progress past the semi final at National School’s. They aren’t a massively well established rowing school for either sex, but this again gives these girls an opportunity to surprise this weekend and produce a result that will stand them in good stead for the fast approaching School’s Head. Never discount an underdog – they may just surprise you.

TOP THREE FINISHERS

1. KINGS CHESTER (Cross)  2. SIR WILLIAM PERKINS (Stevenson)  3. KINGS CHESTER (Willis)

This concludes my preview. Good luck to all crews racing!

 

RowingJesus

 

J184x

I think it is safe to say that this is probably one of the last major races in the build up to the SHORR in just over two week’s time.

Only four crews in this line-up, comprised of York City, Monmouth School and two Windsor boys school crews. It’s safe to say that York don’t perhaps have the greatest prestige in place when it comes to producing slick crews and that, combined with the belief that the name they are entered under, Bruce, belongs to a J16, leads me to believe they probably won’t take the win.

It is surprising to see Monmouth entering a quad here, being a predominately sweep rowing club I would have expected them to focus on their fours. The name of their strokeman, Freeman, is also stroking their J18 eight in the first division, so I would expect this to be their top boat in the third division. A quad with the same strokeman placed 23rd at the Four’s Head, so perhaps there is hope for them yet, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you, they are the underdogs for sure.

Coming to the Windsor Boys School crews I would be willing to bet that one is an ‘A’ crew and the other is a ‘B’ crew, it would be foolish in my opinion to be entering matched boats this close to a major event, and the coaches over at WBS know what they are doing. I have no doubt that the crew entered under Smith is their first boat, given that their successful Fours Head result of 8th had the same lineup. I predict them to take the win with a fair amount of ease.

 

HighTide

 

J16 8+

Radley College would be an obvious choice to take first place at this event. Since winning a gold medal in J15 1st eights at National Schools, they’ve been laying low and unfortunately pulled out of Hampton Head a few weeks ago. I’ll be interested to see what progress they’ve made, and they’ll be hoping not to make as disappointing a start to this season as they did the last one.

The Yarm School boat under Reid should be strong opposition to Radley. This crew thrived in head race season last year, their efforts cumulating in a 2nd place in J15 1st 8+ at Schools’ Head. This season they’ve had a win at Boston Head so show no signs of slowing down. They’ll definitely take second place at the very least.

I can’t see any other crews being anywhere near to these two, but St Peters School had some success in small boats, with a first and second place in J16 doubles at Ancholme Head, and I think they should come ahead of Monmouth and Yarm’s 2nd boat.

WJ16 8+

There are only two boats in this category so this will be brief. Neither Yarm nor St Peters turned up to National Schools’ Regatta last season, and neither of them have pulled out any particularly impressive results this season, so it could be anoyone’s race.

Good luck to all!

 

Five Man