Hampton Small Boats Head 2015 – J18 1X

The J181X field at Hampton SBH is perhaps the strongest we have seen at any Head of River this season, with multiple Great Britain representatives from both the disciplines of sculling and sweep. Large entries from several of the clubs that will be battling it out in the Fawley Challenge Cup this season, including four scullers from Claires Court; four from Leander Club and three from The Windsor Boy’s School. This will no doubt give a great indication as to which clubs will be competitive in the larger boats, and coupled with the results from the J171X should suggest who will be competitive within regards to claiming a place in the British team. Also noteworthy is the fact that three members of last season’s Coupe quad will be racing this event, which will certainly be an incentive for those aiming to measure themselves against their standard.

Claires Court School – Cameron
An extremely physical sculler, as a junior Jonathan Cameron has great experience in racing at the top end of the sport. An impressive fourth position in the CH1X at National School’s, as well as international representation in the M4X at Coupe, Cameron will undoubtedly go into Saturday’s race as one of the favourites to take the J181X win. Despite being too old to trial this year Cameron has reportedly been pulling some extremely impressive scores on the ergo this year, and being part of the Claire’s Court 4X that achieved 3rd at the HOR4s, suggests that Cameron will be going into this event with good momentum, and I would not be surprised to see him take the win.

Claires Court School – Gronmark
Certainly an athlete that has shifted into the limelight with some extremely impressive performances in the single scull recently, including EID. Gronmark will no doubt be aiming to keep this form going, and continue to make a name for himself in this discipline. Whilst not an outright favourite I would expect a strong performance from this sculler, and he is certainly one to watch this season.

Hampton School – Zahn
Chris Zahn is certainly an athlete more recognised for his ability in a sweep boat, as opposed to in the single scull. Despite this, his representation of Great Britain in the M4+ at the Junior World Championships in Rio, suggests that physically he is an athlete capable of moving boats extremely quickly. His result here will come down more to whether he is able to transfer this into a sculling boat, perhaps not a favourite to take the win, but will certainly be expecting to finish near the top of the pile.

Hampton School – Clausen
In a similar position to his club mate Zahn, Clausen also represented Great Britain last season in the M8+, but at Coupe rather than the World Championships. Clearly another athlete with the ability to move a boat, but whether he has the finesse to move a single scull quite as effectively as he does a sweep boat remains to be seen, and will no doubt determine his result here. Despite this, representation at Coupe is enough to suggest a good result can be expected.

Kings School Worcester – Beattie
James Beattie has been putting in some excellent results in the single scull, and after a strong performance at EID, he will be aiming to carry some of this momentum into Saturday’s race. Kings Worcester are a school who have been on the up in recent years, with an excellent J164X last season, so I am not surprised to see Beattie going from strength to strength. He will no doubt be expecting to pace highly on Saturday, though he may fall short of taking the win owing to extremely high standard of this event.

Kingston Grammar School – Hillier
Luke Hillier would have to be considered the standout athlete in KGS’s J18 squad, and whilst last season will have been a disappointing one for them, Hiller has put in some strong performances in the single, notably at Reading SBH where he placed second, only behind Harry Oliver of Windsor Boys’ School. It will be interesting to see where he ranks in a much larger field, and it will be interesting to see how he gets on.

Leander Club – Mortimer
Thomas Mortimer entered into this season as the top athlete in a talented pool of juniors at Leander. Reportedly illness and injury have prevented him from competing earlier in the season, and being too old to trial, he has not seen much racing in a single. However, International representation in the M4X at the Coupe, and a very strong ergo score to his name, Mortimer will certainly be going into Saturday as one of the favourites for the top spot.

Molesey Boat Club – Ayres
A member of the British M8+ at Coupe, it is clear that Oliver Ayres is a talented athlete and has shown his ability to move a sweep boat to an international standard. This year has seen him racing more frequently in the single scull, and whether he will be able to transfer this physical prowess into the more skilful disciple of sculling will be interesting to see. He will no doubt be entering into Saturday as one of the favourites, and I expect him to rank highly.

Windsor Boys’ School – Oliver
Another member of the British M4X that raced at the Coupe in Szeged last season, Harry Oliver will no doubt be aiming to take a win here. Whilst not having the same ability on the ergo as his former Great Britain crew mates, he has displayed that perhaps he can move a boat with a greater technical proficiency. The leading athlete in the Windsor Boys’ School J4X that took an extremely impressive 2nd place at the HOR4s, I certainly expect a strong performance and potentially even a victory here.

With such a large field, and such a high standard, this is not an easy one to predict. As one of the strongest physically, and the athlete with the greatest pedigree in domestic single sculling I will put Jonathan Cameron as my prediction for first place. Not far behind I expect to see his former crew mates Harry Oliver and Tom Mortimer, with Oliver edging Mortimer based on his increased racing experience this season. Despite this I would not be surprised if Ayres of Molesey; Beattie of Kings Worcester; or indeed another sculler, were to prove me wrong and take one of these positions. Either way, it will certainly be very interesting to see how this event unfolds.

Mr T

Mr T