Hampton Small Boats Head 2015 – J15 1x

Excitingly, this appears to be our first ever preview for a J15 event at this time of the year, and this is certainly a great race to preview. The Hampton Small Boats Head is one of the highlights of the junior season: the event is well organised, competitive and runs over a great stretch of water. The J15 single category has 20 entrants. Unfortunately it isn’t possible to know much about these scullers at this early stage of their junior career, however, what we can be sure of is that in several years some of these competitors will represent the crème de la crème of British junior rowing; an exciting prospect!

The three scullers from Henley had a good start to their junior career last year: all three were in the silver medal winning J14.4x+1 category at Nat Schools’. Henley have a strong junior set up in general, with a good record in sculling, and so I would expect these guys to be near the top of the field. Henley are a fantastically strong club across all age groups, and it’s exciting to see these young scullers coming up.

Kingston Grammar School didn’t have the strongest J14 squad last season, failing to qualify their 8x+ for the semi finals of its event at NSR. Two of their entrants were in that boat, however, this doesn’t mean that they can’t shift a single – there’s all to play for this weekend. Certainly the jump from J14 to J15 can be pretty astronomical, with guys seeing huge improvement in a relatively short space of time; so J14 form isn’t always necessarily the best way to judge who’ll really perform at J15 level.

The Rob Roy sculler was part of a reasonably strong double, competing above his age as a J15 last season, and so I think we can expect him to show some speed.

Walton’s Philpott won gold in the J142x event at NSR in the summer; I expect that he will set a quick time on Saturday, and I even venture to label him as my favourite to take the pennant.

Hampton scullers make up most of the other entries. The club had a strong J14 squad last year, fielding three 8x+s at Nat Schools’, all of which performed admirably. The well-established training programme and the home advantage will stand them in good stead for this race, and I expect good results from them.

As always, good luck to all crews!