The Schools’ Head of the River 2015 – Women’s Junior Coxed Fours

This is the last event I will be previewing, and is the one with the largest number of entries – a grand total of 22 crews will be battling it out for the top spot. As in the Junior Coxed Fours event, the WJ4+ seems to be populated mostly by the second/third senior boat from the larger boat clubs and schools, and the first boat from the smaller clubs. This means that while these athletes aren’t perhaps aren’t quite the same standard as those in the Women’s Championship Eights category, nonetheless the racing should be close and exciting.

As there is such a large entry, and many of these crews are rather unknown, instead of previewing each entry individually as I usually do in my previews, I will look at the contenders more briefly, interspersed into a larger article.

Henley Rowing Club are almost destined to finish highly in this event. They are really the form club in terms of girl’s rowing at the moment, across all age groups – one need only look at the results of NSR last year to see the extend of Henley’s monopoly over the vast majority of girl’s rowing, topping the medal table with a whopping 7 golds and 3 silvers. This shows a remarkable depth about the club, and it is exciting to see such levels of success for these girls. They row with great technical efficiency, and this is really key to their speed. This crew is made up of J17’s, some of whom raced in that all-conquering J16 quad from last year as their J16 athletes fill the Champ Eight. The technical prowess of these girls should see them to a strong finish here. Last year at SHORR, Henley won both the WJ4+ and the WJ174x-, so the girls in this boat are likely to have experience of the race – and experience of winning it.

Hot on their heels will be Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls. This is their only senior crew entered, and will therefore be comprised of their best girls – clearly a massive advantage. These girls have been pretty successful thus far in their four, being the fastest woman’s four at the Monmouth Christmas Head back in December, and taking the title at Hampton Head – six seconds in front of Weybridge. These girls have power, and I expect them to really push Henley – with a good row, I think they could really push to win the event. However, I’m sure the girls at Lady Eleanor Holles School Boat Club will have something to say about that. Under the leadership of Jonathan Cheeseman, LEH are really starting to grow in strength as a club, and I expect them to not only finish highly in Champ Eights, but also put in a good row here. They performed very well late last year at Pairs Head and Hampton Small Boats, and raced well at Hampton – although their four was soundly beaten by the Haberdashers’ four. I’m sure these girls will be looking to turn this around – I have heard from coaches at LEH that the senior squad is looking very strong at the moment, and is really rising to the challenge posed by SHORR and the host of competitors that they will be facing. I expect a podium finish for these girls.

Weybridge Rowing Club is another club that is really impressing me at the moment in the women’s junior rowing scene. From humble beginnings, they are rising force and have some very strong athletes leading the squad, including Leila Wheeldon and Megan Pickering. While their top athletes have entered the eight, I think with such talented oarswomen in the squad, even the weaker athletes will be brought up – this was highlighted by a very respectable result at Hampton Head, where the Weybridge boat finished second behind the Haberdashers’ boat by just 6 seconds – an easy loss to turn around. I anticipate a strong finishing position from these girls – it is well within their grasp. Molesey Boat Club are another club worth watching in this event. While they don’t have many official races under their belt for me to draw on, these girls raced at Four’s Head back in October, and performed very well in WJun4+ to finish 4th – although they were some way behind LEH in 3rd. This Molesey crew contains the top athletes from the women’s junior squad, and so will probably be much more competitive against the second boats from Henley and LEH. Molesey have some really strong girls representing them – the Slabbert twins being the obvious names that jump to mind – and while they may not be racing at SHORR, the girls in this boat should really be inspired by their success and strive to emulate the American sisters in their rowing. I think Molesey have a strong chance here.

There are a few other boats that could also compete for the title with a strong row, but I think the above boats are really the ones to look out for. Marlow Rowing Club have been performing well of late, putting in a decent showing at Hampton Head, finishing just behind LEH. They have also entered the quad event though, and as Marlow is known more for its sculling, it is likely that the top girls will be entered into the quad. However, Marlow should really be trying to take as many scalps as possible – they are a good club, with some fine athletes at the top end. Bedford Girls School performed admirably at SHORR last year to come 4th in this event, and will be looking to repeat this success; Latymer Upper School are a club with a lot of depth in terms of girl’s rowing, and should also therefore be aiming highly in this event (although granted sculling is the discipline where the Latymer girls excel – think Henley 2013) and St Edwards School have also been racking up some good results this season, although their top athletes are entered into the eights. And never forget the Scots – George Heriot’s School is a wildcard that has been performing decently up North, and will be looking for a strong finish.


1) Henley Rowing Club

2) Haberdasher’s Monmouth School for Girls

3) Weybridge Rowing Club

4) Lady Eleanor Holles School Boat Club

5) Molesey Boat Club

6) Bedford Girls School

7) Marlow Rowing Club

8) Latymer Upper School

9) St Edwards School

10) George Heriot’s School

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

Five Man

Five Man