Wallingford Long Distance Sculls 2015 – J16 Preview (1x, 2x, 4x)

This is a combined preview from three writers, previewing the three major J16 events at Wallingford LDS this year – the 1x, 2x and 4x.

J16 1x

For many of these young scullers, this will be the first time they’ve piloted the treacherous Wallingford course. It’s a daunting prospect, particularly in a single scull, where you really only have yourself to blame if you end up lodged in a tree. All that aside, it’s a great race to introduce the new season – a fun, exciting and interesting matchup between some classy crews. This will, for the majority of the J16 1x entries, be their first races since their J15 year, so it’s got a level of sentimental value. For me, the favorite here by some margin is Maidenhead – Kleshnev. After a fantastic gold medal in the J15 1x at NSR this year, and then a fine silver in J16 4x – racing up an age group – Kleshnev is fast becoming a serious presence in junior sculling. He topped off last season by representing GB in the Anglo-French match – a J16 event – where despite the fact he was younger than the other competitors, he managed to come away with a win over his French opponent in the single. Expect this guy to go from strength to strength, and to win this event. Kleshnev heads a large team from Maidenhead, all of whom I’d expect to perform well – Maidenhead always field some good boats in this age group, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a cluster of these boats at the top of the category. Henley RC-Jones may have something to say about this, however: he was part of the bronze medal-winning coxed four at NSR, and Henley, while most notable for their incredibly successful junior women’s program, are also adept at putting out some fast junior men. I’d expect Jones to feature highly here. Another member of his four, Henley RC – Turnell, is also entered here, and may also pose a challenge. However, the ‘dark horse’ of this event comes in the form of RGS High Wycombe – O Connor. O Connor and his partner destroyed the massive field in J15 2x at NSR, and I fancy this guy knows how to scull – to the point where he might give Kleshnev a run for his money. It’s difficult after this point to put out any form of accurate prediction; many of these guys appear to be pretty new to the scene, without many results to their name. However, watch out for Kingston RC – they often put out some strong sculling boats at this point in the season.

Prediction
I’m going to call Maidenhead – Kleshnev to take the win, with RGS High Wycombe – O Connor in second and another Maidenhead sculler – perhaps Kemp, who came fourth in J15 2x – in third.

Five Man

J16 2x

My favourite for this event is Wallingford Rowing Club, racing on their home stretch. Wardle and Wilcox scraped through the time trial at National Schools’ Regatta in 16th place, although in a field of 40 boats this was a reasonably good performance. Added to this, they produced a time that placed them ahead of seven other crews in the qualifying contingent in their semi-final. While they’re not the ‘kings’ of their boat-class, I think they’ll be winning this event with style. However, Saccomani and Joseph from Kingston Rowing Club will be putting a solid row in, knowing that they have a chance of taking on the locals. Their 0.12 second difference from the aforementioned crew at the NSR time trial puts them in a good position to one-up their rival scullers from Oxfordshire, on Wallingford’s terms no less. That leaves the doubles from Hinskey Sculling School and Stratford-upon Avon BC fighting at the back of this admittedly small pack. It is very difficult to compare the two whom, as far as I’m aware have never raced in the same category. I’m inclined to say that, due to Wilson and Turner (of Hinskey)’s particularly mediocre performance in J15 2x at NSR (33/40 in the time trial), they’ll be bringing up the rear end of the category. That said, Stratford’s sculling ability has yet to be seen, owing to their focus on the coxed four last season.

Prediction
Wallingford to win, with Kingston coming in a close second. Stratford to come third and Hinksey last.

HighTide

J16 4x

This will be the first race of the season for many competitors; coaches and athletes alike will be keen to see what improvements have been made over the summer and how much work needs to be done to keep up with the competition. For those in this J16 event, exploits as J15s can largely be forgotten; so great are the physiological and technical developments that can be made at this young age that no crew can afford to rest on their laurels. Nonetheless, I will be using results from National Schools’ Regatta (NSR) as a rough form guide for the crews entered to race this Saturday.

Stratford-upon-Avon
Stratford spent most of their season in a coxed four last year and sadly didn’t secure a spot in the semi-finals for the J154+ event at NSR. Perhaps a change to sculling will prove more fruitful for the boys; they should look to make a statement of their intent this season with a strong row at Wallingford.
St George’s College
Champions in the J151st8+ category at NSR in May, St George’s have entered two boats in this category. It will be useful for both of their boats to have each other to push off in training, and there is no doubt that there is some power in the squad. It will be interesting to see whether these boys adapt to sculling well, given a sweep-oared dense season last year.
RGS High Wycombe
High Wycombe have had some success on the sculling stage in recent years, and it would appear that the crew entered in this event have contributed to that success, having achieved a bronze medal in the J154x+1 event at NSR in the summer. I imagine that the camaraderie in the crew will be good off the back of that result and will provide an invaluable resource to draw upon as the afternoons become darker and the training, tougher, through the start of this season. I expect that the background of sculling that this crew has will serve them well this weekend.
Hinksey Sculling School
Hinksey also competed in the J154x+1 event at NSR earlier this year, but unfortunately failed to qualify for the semi-finals, missing out by some 3 seconds. I hope that the crew have used this as an incentive to train harder than ever. It would be fantastic for the crew to show that the sculling school lives up to its name and deliver a good performance come Saturday.

Prediction
I think RGS High Wycombe will take the pennant in this event, followed by one of the St George’s crews and Hinksey. It is early doors, however, so anything could happen!

As always, good luck to all crews.

KingCrab

HighTide