Henley Royal Regatta 2015 – Fawley Cup Draw Preview

While it may look like a forgone victory for Sir William Borlase School here this week, that’s not to say that this event at one of the most prestigious regattas in the world doesn’t have a group of well matched and competitive crews, both domestic and foreign. The first day will be most interesting in terms of seeing the speed of the American and German crews coming over, and it’s sure to deliver a spectacular start to the regatta.

Kingston RC vs. Y Quad Cities, USA

Kingston RC did very well to qualify for this event; I believe the first junior crew in the club’s history. However, they’ve rather drawn the short straw, coming up against the bronze medalists at the Youth Nationals in the United States. Kingston performed relatively well at Marlow, being 10th placed against some of the top junior crews, but their time was not so impressive, coming out with a time of 6:32 on a day where sub 6:20 was the name of the game for top crews in the strong tail-wind. Y Quad Cities, provided they’re on form, will take a lead and stick with it.

Verdict- 3+ lengths to Y Quad Cities

York City RC vs. The Windsor Boys’ School

There’s no doubt that Windsor Boys’ School were one of the great surprises of last year’s regatta, and their epic journey to Sunday was completely unforeseeable. This new unit hasn’t been quite as formidable as last years, but with GB trialist Harry Oliver in the mix they will certainly take a good lead over National fifth place semi-finalists: York City. You’ll be seeing Windsor Boys’ again on Thursday.

Verdict- 3+ lengths to Windsor Boys’ School

Norwich RC vs. Thames RC

This is one of the first evenly matched races of the event. These crews both performed well at National Schools’, coming 3rd and 4th respectively in different heats, but missing places in the final. Also note the presence of outstanding J16 sculler Alex Kelly, and well acquitted GB trialist Oscar Bird in the Thames boat. The times at that regatta suggest that both these crews sustain their speed well over a 2KM course, but don’t have the fastest of starts. This could make this a very difficult and close race for both crews, but Norwich school have produced consistently faster times than Thames, and as such I think they’ll come out ahead.

Verdict- 1 length to Norwich School

Claire’s Court vs. Maidenhead RC

This is undoubtedly going to be another close race, as we can see from the 3 second difference between them at Wallingford Regatta. Maidenhead went on to win a silver medal in J16 4x at National Schools’ Regatta, while Claire’s Court missed the CH4x final with a fourth-place in the semi-final. Both clubs have high-performance athletes at their respective levels. While Maidenhead will no doubt be making a splash over the next couple of years, I think Claire’s Court’s experience of the course will lead them to travel further through the competition.

Verdict- 1 1/2 Lengths to Claire’s Court.

Tiffin School vs. Frankfurter R.G. Germany

Tiffin had a strong J16 season last year, this being one of the best boats the club has produced in recent years. However, this season they simply haven’t been able to contend with the sheer pace of the strong domestic pack we have at the moment. With this in mind, it’s a little unfortunate that the National Schools’ non-qualifiers will have to face up against the German crew. The German crew in question, Frankfurter Rudergesellschaft, are presumably holding the German Championships U17 doubles silver medalists; adding to the odds stacked up against their domestic counterparts. Tiffin won’t go down without a fight, but it’ll be a victory for Frankfurter R.G.

Verdict- 3+ lengths to Frankfurter R.G., GER.

Wallingford RC vs. RGS High Wycombe

The draw has somehow managed to pair together two crews who have been exceedingly close since the first race of the season. RGS High Wycombe edged Wallingford out of the final at Wallingford Regatta by just over a second in one of the closest races of the event, and again came out ahead in the National Schools’ time trial by less than a second. This will be a brutal, neck and neck race for the line and may be one of the closest races of the day. However, I’m going to cautiously predict RGS High Wycombe for the win, particularly after their 8th place finish at Marlow Regatta.

Verdict- 1/2 length to RGS High Wycombe

Leander Club ‘B’ vs. Reading RC

It’s always impressive when a club gets two boats qualified for the Fawley, but it’s not often one makes it through the first two days. Going by the results of Marlow, Leander qualified two boats for the ‘A’ final so we can assume that this will be a fast unit. Reading on the other hand won the ‘C’ final. Similar times suggest that it may be close at the start, but I think Leander will take it through to the second day.

Verdict- 1 1/2 lengths to Leander Club ‘B’.

Great Marlow School vs. San Diego RC, USA

Great Marlow have made considerable progress over the last few weeks, and went from being an NSR non-qualifier to the winner of the ‘B’ final at Marlow Regatta, coming ahead of many crews who had beaten them over the course of the season. However, like Tiffin they’ve had an unlucky draw against a selected crew. It’s a shame, because Great Marlow school might have otherwise progressed a few more days into the competition. San Diego RC came fourth place in a very tight field at the Youth National Championships, so are set up to take a significant victory against Great Marlow.

Verdict- 3+ lengths to San Diego RC, USA