Reading Small Boats Head 2015 – J18 Sculling Events (1x, 2x)

With only a single entry in the J18 quad category, the single and double will be the main battlegrounds for the senior scullers at Reading SBH. With a large number of entries in the single sculls particularly, this should be an exciting and intense contest between some of the rising stars of British junior sculling.

J18 1x

There is a very big entry for this event, with many talented athletes choosing to compete in the single as opposed to the other sculling events which have significantly fewer boats racing. Although it is a fairly short, downstream course at Reading, racing it in a single should be a good test of the mental capacity of many of the competing scullers. Here are a few athletes who will be looking to place highly in this event.

St. Edward’s School – Reilly
Reilly competed in the St. Edward’s first eight last season which did reasonably well at Henley, even if it had a disappointing National School’s. Despite this, it is a club that regularly produces a high standard of athlete and provided he can move a single, Reilly should show some good speed.
Borlase – Spicer
Although he competed in the pretty successful Borlase eight last year, Spicer has the potential to be pretty quick as he makes the move to two oars. Borlase have proven over the years that they have an incredible sculling system, and therefore I would expect him to be one to watch. He’s a big guy, and he’s got some leverage to play with – whether or not his experience in a single will be enough to have him take the win in this category remains to be seen.
Pangbourne – Harris
Competing in the top sculling boat the Coup de la Jeunesse last year, as well as winning a Bronze medal in the Championship quad at National School’s stands Harris in very good stead for the forthcoming season. I think most of the athletes in this event will struggle to match this standard and would certainly expect Harris to be aiming to be right at the top.
Borlase – Bennett
Bennett also competed in the Borlase eight last season, and will likely be aiming to step up to their quad this year. Putting in a good result in the single this weekend would certainly help this and should be enough motivation for him to do well. It will be interesting to see who is the quickest sculler from last season’s eight.
Reading Rowing Club – Iddon
Iddon was a part of Reading’s reasonably successful quad last year that did pretty well at National Schools’ and came 4th at the British Rowing Championships. He failed to make it through the time trial in Championship Singles, however in an event of that standard, this is hardly surprising. He is likely to do well, even if he’s not right at the top.
Windsor Boys’ – Smith
Smith was part of Windsor’s top quad last year, which was relatively fast but disappointing by Windsor’s high standards. I would therefore expect the athletes from this crew to be much quicker with another year of training, so Windsor should return to form. On the back of this, Smith should be fast.
Windsor Boys’ – Oliver
Oliver was part of last season’s Coupe quad, and proved that he was very quick in a single by doing well in the B final at the GB Small Boats regatta. He’s not the biggest or tallest sculler out of the bunch that took on the rest of the world in Summer 2015, but he’s got a lot of fight and it has thus far stood him in good stead. As he has proven his speed in a single previously, he will be quick at the weekend and should be right up there with Harris. As Windsor’s top sculler, he certainly has the potential to challenge Harris of Pangbourne.
Star & Arrow – Golawski
Golawski was, I believe, part of Leander’s second quad last season, a crew which punched well above its weight by regularly challenging the likes of the Grange School’s top quad. Despite this, he failed to make it through the time trial in J17 Singles at National Schools’ last season so struggles to move a small boat quite as well. I think Golawski will do well however, I just can’t see him competing right at the top end.
Windsor Boys’ – Laws A
Laws A is one of a set of twins from Windsor Boys’ School’s J18 squad, and he competed in Windsor’s top quad for much of last season. Although they didn’t have the best season in comparison to previous seasons, they were still relatively quick and once again, should improve and make a step up this year. The top athletes from Windsor therefore should do well.
Windsor Boys’ – Laws E
Laws E failed to make the Windsor top quad last season so spent much of his time racing in a single. He did however, prove good speed in his single by doing fairly well in the J17 Single at National Schools’. Because of this, he should be well prepared for the weekend and it will be interesting to see if he can challenge his brother, as well as the other athletes from Windsor.
Borlase – Bolton
Bolton is another athlete who competed in the Borlase eight last season, and as a consequence should be quick. I expect to see the athletes from Borlase competing against each other for a spot in the quad, so they should all be of a fairly high standard. Again, I’ll look forward to seeing who has made the necessary step up. Bolton sat in the two seat of the Coupe Eight this Summer, that won a fine bronze medal on both days of racing. This guy was at the top of the Borlase sweep squad last year, and he’s certainly one to watch.
Borlase – Wright
Although Wright raced National Schools’ and Henley in the eight, I believe that he competed in the top quad at Schools’ Head and Sculling Head, where Borlase still won by a huge margin. Wright also made it into the Coupe team as a sweep rower, which is very impressive for an athlete outside of his club’s top crew; he rowed in the Eight with fellow Borlase rower Angus Bolton. I therefore think he will be very close to the top come the weekend; he’s a good sweep oarsman, and by all accounts he’s a better sculler. It’ll be interesting to see what he can do. He’ll be one of the integral parts of the Borlase quad that has, for the past few years, dominated all who’ve come before them; guys like Wright will have to step up and really try and fill the shoes that have been left by the departure of Chris Lawrie, Rufus Biggs and Fraser Russel.

Prediction
This event is of a very high standard, and I think there will be some close racing at the top end. It seems to me that Harris of Pangbourne will be the top sculler in this event with Oliver of Windsor Boys’ not far behind. Both Coupe scullers, I think these two will be very difficult to beat by any standard. I then think that Wright of Borlase will finish in third place as he is clearly a very high standard of athlete as well, but with a large focus on sweep last year may not quite be as strong in a single as the other two Coup athletes competing in this event.

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J18 2x

The entry for the J18 double is relatively small at this head of river, with once again many scullers choosing to focus on the single this early on in the year. Some of the crews in this field could still show some considerable speed however, and it will be interesting to see how some of the more prestigious club’s crews will compare to some of the smaller clubs.

Star & Arrow – Ballinger, Taylor
Star & Arrow have two crews racing in this event, under the names Ballinger and Taylor. As they are racing under this name rather than Leander Club, it is unlikely that it will be their top scullers, however from such a strong programme they should still show good speed. Taylor failed to make it through the time trial in the J17 1X at National Schools’ last year, however this was a very competitive event so this makes him by no means a bad sculler. Ballinger is not a name I have seen in any Leander Club or Star & Arrow crew before, however having made it into such a system would suggest he shows the potential to move a boat reasonably quickly. These two doubles will be fairly quick, expect them to do well on the weekend.
Mossbourne – Ibitoye
This is again, not a name I’ve seen before. Despite this, Mossbourne have put considerable money into their state school rowing and had an impressive result at Fours Head last year in a composite with Thames RC that would have put them third in the Junior Quad. This suggests that Mossbourne could be a club to watch in the future, even if the result this weekend is not fantastic.
Emanuel – O’Riordan
Emanuel aren’t a club known for producing big results, particularly in sculling boats. O’Riordan was part of the Emanuel eight that came fourth in the J16 first eights at National Schools so it is likely that his partner will have been from the same crew. As this was not the top J16 event, I wouldn’t expect this crew to be too high up the pecking order in a J18 event, unless a big step up has been made.
Henley RC – Meyer O’Kane
Henley RC has produced interesting and mixed results in junior men’s sculling in the last few years, however there have been no stand out performances, particularly when compared to their girls. Meyer O’Kane is yet another name that did not seem to compete at National Schools’ last year and therefore I doubt this double will have too much speed, but it could be one to watch, especially if the partner is one of their stronger junior boys.
Radley College – Trelawny
Although Radley are a very strong sweep school, Trelawny is not a name that was part of their top boat last year, it was part of the third eight. Clearly then, with the transition to sculling on top of this, this crew is unlikely to be especially fast and I can’y see it challenging the likes of the Star & Arrow Crews.

Prediction
Although they may not be the top Leander scullers, I think it’s unlikely that the other crews in the event will challenge the two Star & Arrow crews. As a name I recognise, I’m going to take a risk and predict that the Taylor crew will be the stronger of the doubles, however this result is difficult to predict without knowing the other member of the double. I think the rest of the crews may be some way off, however I’d expect third place to go the crew from Henley RC, with the other three doubles being slightly further off the pace.

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