Head of the River Fours 2015 – Jun4x

As one of the biggest Head of Rivers of the year, the Fours Head of River is an excellent way of identifying which crews will be challenging for the top prizes in the summer at an early stage in the season. Although many clubs tend to focus on smaller boats at this time of year, the Junior Quad events are the main focus for the season, and this can definitely be seen with this year’s entry, as almost all of the top clubs are set to be taking on the gruelling tidal course this Saturday. With over 40 entries, I won’t be looking at each individual crew, but will instead be looking at the favourites for the top spots.

Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School

Despite losing three key athletes and their head coach, it is impossible to ignore the potential for this crew’s success. Wolfin remains a part of this crew after last season’s successes at National Schools’ and Henley, and with a big ergo he will be proving that this crew still has the necessary horsepower. Wright spent much of last season in the quad before moving into the eight, so he is also an experienced sculler that will be looking to drive this crew along. This quad contains two boys that were both in last year’s Coupe eight, so even though they weren’t in the Henley winning quad, they have proven that they have what it takes to compete at the top level. In singles, some of these guys have had pretty good results, so it is looking like this could still be a very fast crew.

Leander Club

Leander are looking like they will have a very strong quad this season, with Mortimer returning after his appearance in the Coupe quad last season. The other three athletes in this crew are also very strong, so they will be looking to go one better than last season’s second place, even if they have lost a few high quality scullers. With a second quad racing in IM1 Quads, this squad should have a lot of depth and will therefore be looking to continue on from last season, where they had a highly competitive second quad all year. It will be interesting to see how close they are, as they showed a significant amount of strength in depth at the senior British Rowing Championships a few weeks ago.

Claire’s Court School

Claire’s Court have certainly been a club on the up in recent years, with a pretty competitive quad last year, with Cameron returning from last season’s successful 4th place in CH1X and qualification for the Coupe Quad. The other athletes in this crew also have the potential to show some real speed, and it looks like Claire’s Court are going to be one of the crews to beat this year. Their win of the U194X- at the Senior British Rowing Championships suggests that they’re already moving quads pretty quickly, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this crew being right up at the top, attempting to better last season’s third place.

The Windsor Boys’ School

By their own high standards, the Windsor quad was not as successful as would often be expected last season. Despite this, with only one leaving athlete and a strong set of J16 and J17 athletes coming through, this year is looking far more promising. With top athlete Harry Oliver returning after his success in the GB system, this year’s quad is likely to be very strong. Windsor Boys’ will certainly be another crew to beat this season, and with another crew racing in IM1 this would suggest some decent depth to the squad too, so it’ll be very interesting to see how they compete against each other on Saturday.

Maidenhead RC

This crew from Maidenhead is very young and as far as I can tell, is the same as their quad that raced at Henley last year. What makes this crew impressive is that two of those boys were J15s when they raced at Henley, which you don’t see very often. Older and more experienced, Maidenhead won the J16 Double at Pairs Head a few weeks ago, suggesting that they’ve continued to step up to the older and more competitive events very successfully. Despite this, they may lack the experience to be the fastest crew in this J18 event. I think they’ll be quick, but I can’t see them taking any of the top spots.

Northwich RC

Northwich lost many athletes at the end of last season but have held onto Lawton, who will be instrumental in their success this season. It sounds like they have been recruiting strong athletes from other local clubs, so despite losing so many boys they will still produce a very strong crew and will be looking to continue the success that they’ve seen in recent years. Whether they can match up to the two medals in the CH4X- that they’ve won in the last two years remains to be seen, but Northwich are certainly still going to be a crew to watch.

RGS High Wycombe

RGS had an incredibly successful J16 year, winning National Schools’ and racing at GB vs France, but for the most part struggled to make the step up to J18 level last year. They won a decent silver medal at the British Rowing Championships, however struggled to make a huge impact at National Schools’. They are now a far more experienced J18 crew so should be looking to produce some much stronger results this year, and I think that this will definitely be the case. They may not win at the weekend but I still expect a good result from them.

Marlow RC

I’m interested to see how Marlow are going to get on this year as their results last year were strange to say the least. After an impressive second place finish at the Schools’ Head of River, they ended up failing to qualify a crew for Fawley. I’m under the impression that this was because they lost some key athletes, however I think that with athletes such as Simon stepping up to J18 level, they will be likely to produce some much stronger results this year.

Other crews to watch include Kingston RC, who impressively qualified a J16 Quad to Fawley last year, as well as York City RC who had a relatively quick J18 Quad last year, even if it wasn’t competing right at the top end.

Prediction

There may be other clubs likely to do well on Saturday, however these are certainly the ones that stood out to me. It is very difficult to make an accurate prediction on the winning crews for this event so early in the season, however I expect the very top crews to consist of Leander, Claire’s Court, Borlase, Windsor Boys’ and Northwich. Which order these crews finish in depends really on how they each cope with losing athletes, competing on the tideway and their ability to race well at higher rates over a long distance so early in the season. They will all be very tough to beat, so I think there’ll be some very good racing on Saturday.

FootSteerer

FootSteerer