Pairs Head 2015 – Review

As is customary in races on the Tideway at this time of the year, Pairs Head was blighted by grey skies and a significant amount of chop on the water. Coupled with a strong headwind, these weren’t perfect conditions for the intrepid combinations that took to the water on Saturday; however, this did not detract from the great racing that was evident from the crowded banks.

J16 2x
A strong performance from Maidenhead shone out in this talented field. Victor Kleshnev, after a slightly disappointing result at Wallingford LDS, has bounced back and taken the headship with his Maidenhead partner. This is a great result for the two scullers, and I fancy that they’ll go from strength to strength this season – perhaps they’ll think about taking on the trials system a year early. The real surprise was the showing from Westminster, who performed very well to come second. Westminster have experienced a real upsurge with the year of the Plaut twins and their cohorts, and it seems that their success has rubbed off on the younger yeargroups. If these guys can base themselves off the Westminster J16s of 2014 that were so dominant, I’d say they’ll have a great chance at medalling later on in the season. Tideway Scullers were strong, as predicted, and its good to see them with a podium finish: third place behind Westminster. They’ve produced good athletes every year – Ollie Jonas and Ben Brophy in 2014, Lucas Rodd in 2015 – and they’ve got off to a good start this year.

WJ16 2x
Here, Henley showed their mettle, taking first and second in a field packed with talent. Henley are absolutely blowing the competition away at the moment; there aren’t enough superlatives I can use really to describe these girls. Judging from the results at this stage in the season, other clubs will be hard pressed to catch them come Summer, particularly in small boats. LEH will be spurred on by their third place finish. LEH can be a really strong squad, but they’ve not quite been performing to expectation lately; however, this is a good result and it should give them the confidence to stride forward and strive for bigger and better prizes. Maidenhead possibly didn’t perform quite as well as they’d have liked; but this is a small blip in what promises to be a strong season for these girls. They’re all very proficient scullers, and I’d imagine they’d take the disappointment of Pairs Head and use it to strive for more.

J18 2x
What a performance from Westminster! For guys who are sweep rowers for most of the year, Oswald Stocker and Oscar Arzt-Jones put in a fantastic showing, winning the J18 event but in the process setting a time that would have won Elite Doubles. Clearly, Westminster has no dearth of talent this year, with the vast majority of last year’s Henley Eight back for another crack – and judging from this, combined with their results in the pairs, they’re on for another great season. Who knows what it is that makes these guys go so fast – perhaps it’s all in the technique, or maybe it’s their exceptional power to weight, but
they are certainly already making a strong statement. Shiplake performed excellently to take second ahead of RGS High Wycombe. RGS are a sculling club, and they’ve seen great success in the past – indeed, the two guys in the double both rowed at GB France in the quad. They’re strong, and Shiplake should be very pleased that they managed to edge them out at Pairs Head. Indeed, Shiplake put some good results in across the board – early days, but maybe this will be the year that Shiplake consistently enter Championship Eights at the major national races.

WJ18 2x
Henley took the women’s doubles, and in some style, with a big margin over the next crew from Lea. Contrary to expectation, only one Henley double ended up racing, and Marlow, who we fancied for third place, didn’t show up. Instead, Lea took a strong second place behind Henley, and Thames, showing their squad strength this early in the season, took third. The real star was, of course, Henley, and they’ll be pleased that they’re continuing to assert their dominance in every race they enter. Latymer will be disappointed by their results on Saturday; they’ll be looking to perform very well come the Summer, but currently I don’t think they’re showing good enough form. They’ve got a way to go, but then again, there’s a lot of time to improve. I hope that they really find their footing in the coming months, to tackle School’s Head in March with renewed fervour.

J18 2-
It’s impossible to deny the fact that the Plauts took this event by storm. They were certainly favorites to win the event, but the margin by which they did was rather unprecedented. Not only did they win J18 2-, but they also set the fastest junior pairs time of the day, quicker than Freddie Davidson and David Ambler of SPS racing in Elite 2-. The SPS boys were the quickest pair in the country last year – beating even Luke Towers and Jonny Naylor at GB Trials, who both were in the top GB sweep boat at Junior Worlds. The Plaut’s victory, then, is even more significant. Westminster’s results generally were strong, and their performance in the double scull – a performance that would have beaten all Elite Doubles – confirms that they are still the force that they were last year. Their old rivalry with St Paul’s was prominent in the pairs category, with Alfred Jacquemot and Bertie Woodward-Fisher taking second place, and Lachlan Thorpe and Harry Orwell taking third. This is a good result from the latter SPS pair in particular, and St Paul’s are again showing their strength in small boats, as they did last year. I fancy this will be another year of fierce competition between Westminster and SPS. While it does seem that Shrewsbury performed well, as well as Latymer and Shiplake, SPS and Westminster were on average in a different league, and I’m excited to see the battles that they’ll have through the course of the year.

WJ18 2-
Putney High School dominated this race, and its a great result for this experienced pair. Emma Andrews went to Coupe in the Summer, and she’s a real standout from the Putney program. It will be interesting to see where she can go later in the season. Mossbourne also performed very well to come second. Kes Roe is establishing herself not only as a sculling technician, but also a very proficient sweep rower, and she’ll certainly be a major player in the GB system come Summer, age permitting. Henley once again showed good form in coming third, demonstrating their strength across all yeargroups and rowing disciplines. Sir William Borlase seemed slightly off the pace – perhaps they encountered some technical issues, or maybe even a crash. In any case, they’ll be irritated by this blip to their names, and eager to perform better next time.

Five Man

Five Man