The Schools’ Head of the River 2015- Women’s Junior 16 Championship Eights

With a lower saturation of women’s junior eights on the tideway, Schools’ Head is always exciting for these events as it is often the first clash of the most competitive crews, and so the marker by which I’ll go for National Schools’ Regatta and Henley Women’s Regatta.

I should probably mention beforehand that for various reasons Henley RC do not have a J16 eight out on the water, but I should expect them to come back into it in summer, so watch how their 4+, 4x and Championship 8+ perform.

I don’t think I was the only one whose jaw slightly dropped when looking through the results for Hampton Head, and saw that Marlow RC had come ahead of Henley RC by 9 seconds to win the event. While I suspect that some of the stronger Henley girls have moved into the top eight, this was an impressive feat, and the 18 second difference they left Lady Eleanor Holles in on their home stretch only added to this. It looks like these girls are head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the field, and a win is likely.

That said, the crew from high performance Italian club Canottieri Monate will be looking to outclass their British counterparts. Their junior women’s eight most recently came second at the International Regatta in early February, which would suggest that they are an impressive unit. Although it’s hard to call as the national rankings cannot be compared, I think Marlow may be in for a tough battle.

Lady Eleanor Holles have been present at most events, but amid such a high level of competition, they’ve failed to put in any outstanding performances. The result at Hampton Head must have been disappointing to say the least, being beaten by such a margin on their own stretch. However, they came back at Hammersmith Head, pushing back against Lea RC to win the event by 5 seconds. With this confidence, and the absence of two of the three National Schools’ finalists from their category, a top three placing is within easy reach.

I didn’t expect very much from Bedford Modern School this season, having come fifth in their National Schools’ semi-final last year. However, at Hampton Head they came out with a respectable time; 13 seconds behind Lady Eleanor Holles. This was a big step up for them, and while there’s still definitely some distance between them and the three mentioned crews, they might do a good job of closing the gap.

The crews I can see challenging Bedford Modern are Canford School, who came fifth behind LEH in the National Schools’ Regatta final last year but haven’t been seen head racing this year; and St Paul’s Girls School who were a further 7 seconds slower than them at Hampton Head, and have been consistently sitting behind LEH all season.