Wallingford Long Distance Sculls 2015 – J18 Preview (1x, 2x, 4x)

These scullers will all be competing for the top spot, not just for the sake of winning, but also with GB Trials firmly in mind in December. Wallingford is a fantastic event at this stage in the season, and there’s an exciting group of guys all vying for the top spot. This preview, a combination of the work of three different writers, will focus on all the J18 events: the 1x, 2x and 4x.

J18 1x

Being the first major head of the new school term, many clubs and schools are still yet to determine any rankings so have opted to race their scullers in the single. This coupled with the entries from smaller clubs who tend to enter their top athletes in the single, has made for a large field with 25 entries. The overwhelming favourite for this event has to be considered Matthew Swiss from Dart Totnes, who competed in the double at World Junior Championships in Rio, earlier in the year.

Dart Totnes – Swiss
Without any doubt Swiss has to be considered the front runner when predicting the outcome of this event. With a brilliant pedigree in the single scull, over the last few years Swiss has put in consistently strong performances on a national scale, with a strong performance at National Schools 2015 in which he took the silver medal in the J171X. His selection for the Junior World’s team, makes him the only competitor with international experience at J18 level, so he is unlikely to be challenged in this event
American School London – Skow
Skow has certainly showed that he is a very competitive sculler on a national level, and took gold in the J161X at the National School’s regatta 2015. An impressive feat in a competitive field, made more impressive by a strong performance in the J171X in which he narrowly missed out on making the final in a field which contained both Coupe and Junior World’s athletes. Because of this we can expect a strong performance, but he is unlikely to trouble Swiss who draws on more experience and remains at the top level for junior sculling within the country.
Reading – Iddon
With Iddon we see a big sculler who has put in some strong performances as a part of Reading’s Junior quad, including a solid fourth placed position in the Junior Quad at the Junior British Championships in Strathclyde earlier in the year. Iddon is certainly a physical sculler, and I wouldn’t be surprised to se him trialling this year. He often performs well in a single on the local regatta circuit, so it will be interesting to see how he matches up with current triallists. I would predict that he will be towards the top end of the field, though is unlikely to push those at the top.
Maidenhead – Hoxley
With Sam Hoxley we see an athlete who sculls extremely efficiently and has, over the years put in some impressive results – particularly in the more junior part of his career. Despite this, at J18 level he has not managed to maintain the same form he has done, and did not race at the 2015 National School’s Regatta. Hoxley is generally a competitive sculler, so it will be interesting to see how competitive he manages to remain as the year develops.
St. Pauls School
Being early in the year St. Pauls have opted to race their juniors in singles, drawing on coach Bobby Thatcher’s experience, there is a range of abilities including some with experience at junior international level. Clearly however, virtually all their experience will have come with one oar in their hand, so whilst there may be some strong individual performances, it’s unlikely that they will be able to reach the level of Matt Swiss or Tyler Skow.
Wallingford – Arnould & Lyons
Wallingford have made two entries and both of which have shown themselves to be competitve scullers, having previously competed at a national level in the 4X, as well as qualifying two crews for the Fawley Challenge Cup in 2014. This form hasn’t been held in 2015 however, so whilst I expect strong performances on home water, it is unlikely that they will be challenging for the win.

Prediction
I fully expect a comprehensive victory for Dart Totnes – Swiss, though it will be interesting to see how the rest of the field places. I would predict second and third to made up of Reading – Iddon and ASL – Skow, with Skow edging it on this occasion.

Mr T

J18 2x

As the first major head of the new school term, rankings and combinations are very much still a work in progress. As a result of this, it is perhaps unsurprising that the J182X has a comparatively small entry, with only five crews making the trip.

Hinksey
With two of Hinksey’s strongest junior scullers, this is a combination that has potential to put in a strong performance. With a disappointing showing at the Henley qualifiers last season, it will be interesting to see whether the club can make progress at junior level this year, a strong showing at Wallingford would provide an ideal springboard for success this year.
RGS High Wycombe
Royal Grammar School High Wycombe have recently developed a strong pedigree in junior sculling, and over the past few years a strong set of results on a national level, as well as representation at the annual GB vs. France match. This double have to be considered favourites for the event, with two athletes who won the silver medal in the junior quad at British Junior Championships held in Strathclyde earlier in the year. They’re a strong crew, but importantly they compliment this power with a good technical level, with particular emphasis on a strong, pressed-out finish. This should really allow these boys to motor down the Wallingford course.
Wallingford RC
Being the home club, Wallingford will hold an advantage over their competitors, but despite this, Wallingford have been unable to compete at the top level of British Junior Rowing in recent years. Indeed, I couldn’t find any particular recent result of note under the name Llewellyn-Worthy, which would suggest that these guys are possibly the lower end of the Wallingford RC group, with the top scullers in other categories. So whilst they could put in a strong performance using their knowledge of the twists and turns of the river, I don’t expect them to take the win.
St Pauls School – A & B
Clearly St. Pauls are not a specialist sculling centre, so it will be interesting to see how these two doubles perform. No doubt they will be buoyed by the spectacular results from the last regatta season, but whether these two doubles will be able to contest the sculling strength of RGS is unlikely. The names under which these guys are entered also appear to be either guys at the bottom end of the J16 squad last year, or guys from St Paul’s 2nd VIII – while the top SPS scullers have some good results to their name, I don’t think these guys will be able to find the same sort of pace.

Prediction
RGS High Wycombe to take the win here, followed by Hinksey Sculling School.

Mr T

J18 4x

J18 Quad events are always interesting this early on in the season, as many of the traditionally recognised sculling clubs focus on smaller boats. This is clearly true of Wallingford this year, with there only being four entries. This event sees two entries from St. Paul’s School, who may not be a club recognised for producing scullers, but certainly have a reputation for producing fast crews. This should stand both of these crews in good stead. The crews are entered under the names Waller and Mitchell. Waller raced at the GB vs France match last season, as well as winning a gold as a J16 at National Schools, in the pairs event, and will therefore be a very strong athlete. The other quad is entered under the name Mitchell, who also won a medal at National Schools as part of the St. Paul’s second eight last season, but I believe that this crew also contains a couple of GB France athletes. I would assume that the two quads are pretty matched then, and should put up a good fight against each other, as well as the other two entries. Lea RC are a club with a junior system that has been improving more and more in recent years with two seemingly relatively matched quads finishing respectably in the top 8 fastest non qualifiers of the Fawley Challenge Cup at Henley last season. They finished within one second of each other, which would suggest that they have a fair amount of depth in their junior system. I think that they are a club on the up, and that they could produce a fairly quick junior quad this season as their younger rowers from previous years will have matured into much stronger athletes. Finally, we see American School London set off. We didn’t see much of ASL in quads last season, although they raced at both Schools Head and the Junior Sculling Head, not finishing with especially impressive results in either. Despite this, the crew is entered under the name Skow, and with a National Schools’ gold medal (J161X) under his belt from last season he will surely bring at least some speed to this crew.

Prediction
This is a very difficult event to predict so early on in the season! Despite this, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that Lea RC will take the win over the two crews from St. Paul’s School who will finish second (Waller) and third (Mitchell). This is because not only will Lea contain more experienced scullers, they will presumably be racing a full strength crew, whereas St. Pauls have opted to enter matched boats. They should still have the edge over ASL however, who I think will finish in fourth position as despite having one particularly strong athlete in the boat, I just don’t think that they have the depth to produce very fast quads based on last season’s results, .

FootSteerer

Mr T