National Schools’ Regatta 2015 – 1st Eights (Child Beale Cup)

1st VIIIs

RECENT CHANGE TO 1ST EIGHTS: FIRST 12 FROM TIME TRIAL TO SEMIS, NEXT 12 TO C & D FINALS, 1 ELIMINATED.

This year’s Child Beale looks to be of an exceptionally high standard, with a strong calibre of crews smashing it out on the Saturday. Last year’s victors, Pangbourne are absent this year, which was somewhat expected as they raced a four at Wallingford last month. Nonetheless, some seriously close and brutal racing is expected. No holding back. The wind looks to be a fairly strong cross tail turning into a tail later on. This combined with a fine selection of seriously quick boats, may see a course record being set.

Those who will qualify from the time trial (in no particular order): St George’s, Reading Blue Coat, Canford, London Oratory, Shiplake, King’s Wimbledon, Latymer, Bedford, Borlase, Bedford Modern, Monmouth, KGS.

Bedford School
Bedford seem to have had a productive training camp in Sarnen over Easter, judging by their montage. Consistent finishes over the last few months show this Bedford crew are seriously a force to be reckoned with. They finished 5th at the School’s Head, but were noticeably absent from Wallingford Regatta. However they did finish second to Shrewsbury at Bedford Amateur Regatta by three lengths. I certainly think this Bedford crew can progress to the final and a medal may even be within their grasp.

Bedford Modern School
BMS showed some good speed at Wallingford in the heat, losing to St George’s by about half a length and beating London Oratory, although the wind conditions played a large role in this. Nevertheless, this BMS will no doubt race hard in the semi, although I’m uncertain as to whether they’ll progress to the final, this will depend on the seeding of the semis.

Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School
Borlase have unsurprisingly made the quad their focus and have filled it with a heap of GB scullers. While being less of a focus, their eight should still be decent, as last year’s Borlase eight was. However these guys have failed to impress in recent weeks, especially at Wallingford where despite being in the slowest heat and despite having a huge lane advantage, they finished fourth. The eight does however contain a few notable names, including Wright and Bolton who came fifth in the C final at GB trials in April. I think it’s unlikely however that Borlase will progress any further than the semi, but should be looking for a fourth or fifth place finish in the semi.

Canford School
Canford are one of the usual suspects in contention for Child Beale. They showed their speed fairly early on at the School’s Head, but haven’t featured much as a crew since then. Yet on the international scene, strokesider Jonny Naylor has become the one to watch, winning the pairs at Trials with Pangbourne’s Towers and picking up a bronze at Munich International Regatta in the GB eight. Definite contenders for a medal. Watch out for these guys.

Kingston Grammar School
KGS have performed reasonably well over the last few months, culminating in an eighth place finish at the School’s Head. They’re definitely a quick crew and will no doubt put the other key players under pressure. I think depending on the spread of both semis, they may find themselves up against the likes of Shiplake, Latymer and a few others, who may deny them entry into the final. Expect a hard fought battle on the line in KGS’s semi final.

King’s College, Wimbledon
KCS have in recent years entered Champ Eights, however this year they have taken the decision to race first eights. This is interesting as their performance at the School’s Head would indicate that they are definitely ‘in the mix’ with the other Champ eight crews. They were 4 seconds behind Shiplake over the Championship Course, so the fact that Shiplake have also entered first suggests spectators will see some close racing on Saturday. The KCS guys are all fairly big, however their application of power is questionable and their technique may restrict them from reaching their maximum boat speed. Nonetheless, these guys are definite contenders for the final.

Latymer Upper School
This Latymer crew appears to be one of the finest in a long while. They dominated the head season and are set to have some serious speed come Saturday. Their eight contains a few notable names, including Tom Phelps of the Phelps rowing dynasty and Tom Yates, who is fresh back from picking up a bronze in Munich in the eight. Latymer were in the quickest heat at Wallingford, but proved to cope well with this, although they did finish just under a second behind Shiplake. Latymer will most likely reach the final and could potentially medal. I feel this is not definite though as there is more than three crews in the same position and who knows which way it will swing on Saturday.

The London Oratory School
After a decent but somewhat shaky start to the year, London Oratory seem to be really picking up the pace now. Earlier on in the season the idea of something clicking in their boat was discussed, which now appears to have been completed. They have recently looked very tidy in training and are really moving their USP now. At Wallingford, like a host of others, they were somewhat disadvantaged by their lane due to the wind, however it is clear that they have the speed and will battle it out with fellow Tideway school, Latymer, as well as crews such as St George’s, Shiplake and KCS at the weekend. Personally, I can see them progressing from the semi to the final, but that it is difficult to predict the outcome of the final as the crews in contention are all of exceptionally high standards and are separated by very little.

Monmouth School
Again usual contenders for Child Beale, however the speed of their eight is relatively unknown and so the prediction that they will make the semi final is based on the usual standard of Monmouth crews. Their crews are usually fast and so it seems likely that they will make the semi final this year. Sadly however, I cannot see them making the final as pretty quick crews don’t tend to hide away and since School’s Head where they finished 11th, these guys have been absent from main events.

Reading Blue Coat School
Reading Blue Coat have this year formed three eights which shows that they have a great deal of depth within the boat club. There is that age old debate about Child Beale vs Champ eights and whether or not a boat club fielding three eights is justified in entering first eights. Personally, I think this is at the discretion of the MIC of rowing at Reading Blue Coat and shouldn’t be questioned. Their first eight however has performed well over the season, coming 7th at School’s Head and 3rd at Wallingford, behind Borlase. These guys will be pretty fast on Saturday.

Shiplake College
I must admit it came as a shock when I saw that Shiplake had entered first eights, but now it seems wise as they haven’t shown themselves to be any different compared to the other first eight crews in terms of speed. They will be at the top end of Child Beale for sure and may potentially medal. I look forward to seeing what magic Dave Currie has been working over at Shiplake however and these guys evidently have some great boat speed. Definite finalists. After that, it will be excruciatingly close, as the top guns hit the pedal to the metal for space on the podium.

St George’s College
Yet another key contender for this event. They performed consistently well during the head season and have in recent weeks shown no sign of stepping off the gas. No standout names in their boat, yet they seem to move well together and have a good build, a trait that will serve them well no doubt this summer. I can also see St George’s making the final, but that depends on who they meet in the semi. Something tells me they may be pipped on the line, by KCS perhaps.

Final: KCS, Latymer, London Oratory, Shiplake, St George’s, Canford

King's College, Wimbledon

Dr. Oarsome