National Schools’ Regatta 2015- Championship Singles Preview

The racing that this event produces is gladiatorial in its nature- there is no room for error, no cavity in which to hide. Last year, the event was graced by a number of guys who went on to represent Great Britain at international level and so all eyes will be on the racing on Sunday. The event is arguably a little weaker than last year, with only a few real stand-out names. Onto the preview…

Will New [Leander Club]

Leander’s newest recruit, Will has had an impressive season so far. Finishing consistently high at GB Trials, he’s also been part of an impressive Leander quad which has racked up strong results at the Fours Head and the Schools’ Head of the River. Like all Leander athletes, he has a devastatingly fast ergo score and this power matched against his sculling ability makes him a fierce opponent. He previously raced for Hinksey Sculling School, but was lured away by the prospect of competing for the top prizes- he has a chance to satiate this desire on Sunday. I think he’s a good bet for a spot in the final.

Rowan Law [Nottingham Rowing Club]

Arguably the favourite for the event on paper, Rowan has had a pretty quiet season by his own exceptionally high standards. He hasn’t been involved in the trialling process due to age so he’s been consigned to a single, racing various local events and picking up good wins and results. It’ll be interesting to see whether he’s retained the sculling form he showed last year, which saw him win the ‘A’ final of April GB trials. He hasn’t got to face any of the top ranked scullers but Alex Haynes will surely give him a good run.

Alex Haynes [Reading Blue Coat School]

I’m struggling to keep up with Alex’s migration patterns. Having moved from Marlow Rowing Club at the beginning of the season, he’s raced for Sir William Borlase through this season. However, he’s competing under the Reading Blue Coat banner this weekend, which is technically his school. It’s been a pretty unpredictable season for Alex, who has been consigned to the single for much of it. He picked up an impressive result at Wallingford Regatta, finishing second in Elite Challenge Single Sculls. He raced in this event last year, finishing fourth in an exceptionally strong field whilst he was also a spare for the Junior World Championships team. I think he’ll medal on Sunday- it remains to be seen whether he can get past the formidable figure of Rowan Law.

Ollie Jonas [Tideway Scullers School]

A figure that’s been around the junior scene for a number of years now, Ollie will gunning for a spot in the final this year. He had a bit of a nightmare in J171x last year, crashing out at the semi-final stage. Having spent much of the past two years in sweep-oar, including a spot in the pair for the Junior World Championships last summer, it’ll be interesting to see if he can race the single at the top level. I’ve included him here because his pedigree is superb and he’s a real racer- I think he’ll be a finalist contender.

Seb Matthews [Norwich Rowing Club]

Norwich’s top oarsman, and a chap with a superb sculling style. Following in the footsteps of Steve Parsonage, Seb will be looking to lay down a strong performance on Sunday and make the final. He finished fourth in J171x last year and I don’t think he’d turn down a similar result here. Norwich have had a blistering season, finishing fourth at the Scullery in J184x, beating Northwich, Grange and Windsor Boys amongst others. I certainly wasn’t expecting them to show such strength and I’ll be interested to see how they fare in CH4x.

James Mackins [Gloucester Hartpury]

Formerly of Evesham Rowing Club, James is an exceptionally powerful athlete with plenty of resources to call upon. Evesham have been through something of a golden age over the past few years, producing a number of excellent athletes and James is another example of this production line. Gloucester Hartpury, under the stewardship of Tom Pattichis, had a magnificent 2014 but lost several of their strongest athletes in September. James has filled the gap left by Jack Williams and I fancy him to be a contender for a spot in the final on Sunday.

Olly Dix [Leicester Rowing Club]

A chap who often flies under the radar, Olly has been going about his business this year with unerring skill and aptitude. Finishing eighth at the November GB Trials and fourth at the February equivalent in a double with Leon Langmead, he’s a definite contender for a spot in the final on Sunday. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that Olly’s speciality is in the single- he finished fifth in an extremely competitive J171x field last year and is sponsored by Leicestershire and Rutland Sport and SportsAid. Perhaps the most telling indication of speed was his performance at Nottingham City Regatta last weekend- he won both the events he entered, including J181x. Watch out for this guy.

Jono Cameron [Claire’s Court School]

Another ergo monster, Jono has burst onto the scene from near obscurity this year. He finished eleventh at the November GB trials and then combined with club mate Toby Jones to finish eighth at the February races. He’s got great strength and athleticism to call upon, factors which play a big part in a notorious Pierre-point headwind. Having already raced the quad on Saturday, I think we will discover what sort of form Jono is in at that point. A contender for the final.

Notable mentions go to Dan Wilkinson, whose presence in the Wallingford quad has been particularly telling, Will Kemp, who raced in the Gloucester Hartpury crew last year, Alex Laws, whose tutelage under the Windsor Boys School will have brought him speed and Harry Blake, who has been in impressive form already this season.

Predictions for the final- Haynes, Law, New, Dix, Matthews, Mackins.

Prediction for the win- Haynes.

I am the editor of a rapidly growing blog based around the junior rowing circuit within the UK. From launch in June 2013, the website has experienced vast growth in both its reader count and view count while the article range has expanded. I currently work with a team of 10 people, all of whom voluntarily write articles for the blog. In our first year, I looked to expand from the standard previews and reviews that had gained initial success to building relationships with clubs and conducting interviews. This move proved successful and we are currently exploring new routes to further improve our platform. The blog has led to involvement with Regatta Radio, Rowing & Regatta, Row 360 and British Rowing.