Vesta Scullers Head 2015 – J181X

This year’s scullers head sees a whole host of Junior Scullers competing on the gruelling tidal course, with a vast contingent from tideway based schools. This includes several athletes who have represented their country at the Junior World Championships or Coupe De La Jeunesse, and many who competed in 2015’s PE final. Given that many of these are athletes far more used to sweep oar rowing, it will be exciting to see which individuals are able to apply this into a sculling boat and find a rhythm strong enough to carry them down the course.

Westminster School – N Plaut
A member of Junior Rowing’s crew of the month for October, Nick Plaut has certainly developed a pedigree within both sculling and sweep that makes him an easy choice for favourite to take the J181X win here. An athlete who has competed at Junior World Championships in the 8+, as well as winner of the Head of Charles; gold in the CH8+ at National Schools and a Henley final. It is clear that Plaut is an excellent oarsman, and whether he is able to transfer this ability into the single scull will determine his success come the weekend. It is also noteworthy that his twin brother, and fellow crew of the month member James, is starting before Nick competing in the IM31X. It will be exciting to see how these two level up against one another in sculling boats.

St. Pauls School – Woodward-Fisher
The next junior athlete to set off is Bertie Woodward-Fisher of St Pauls. A member of the fantastic St. Pauls eight that won The PE in style last season, as well as the coxless four that raced at the Coupe De La Jeunesse in Szeged, Woodward-Fisher has displayed his ability to perform at the top level of the sport as a junior. Whilst not having quite the same pedigree as Plaut does in a sculling boat, I would expect him to record a fast time and place highly.

Shiplake College – Oliver Gerrard
A sculler with a good level of physical capacity, and one who has already put in a fairly strong performance at the Pairs Head. I would not be surprised to see Gerrard towards the top of the field come the release of results. Despite this, I think it is unlikely he will be competitive for the first place spot, with their being too many athletes of greater experience at the top level of junior rowing.

Shiplake College – Will Carey
An athlete who was in Shiplake’s Child Beale winning eight, I am expecting a strong performance and a quick time. Whilst no doubt he will finish towards the top of the results, given that much of his experience is not at Championship or International level I would be surprised to see him competitive for the top spot, but I am predicting a good result nonetheless.

St. Pauls School – Benzecry
Another member of the PE winning St. Pauls crew, and one who also raced at the Coupe De La Jeunesse but in the eight. Seb Benzecry is a strong athlete who like his club mate Woodward-Fisher is regarded more for his ability in a sweep boat than in a single. Despite this, as a Henley winning athlete with international experience, I would expect nothing but a strong performance from Benzecry. Perhaps not quite at the level as Nick Plaut, but of the junior scullers I would certainly expect him to be one of the quickest.

Westminster School – Stocker
Yet another sculler from a tideway based school, and another with international experience. Oswald Stocker raced at the Junior World Championships in Rio last season as a member of the coxed four. This coupled with a win in the CH8+ at National Schools, as well as a Henley final, presents Stocker as an athlete with very good experience racing at the top level of Junior Rowing. Stocker has already put in a strong performance whilst sculling on the tideway this season, winning the J182X at pairs head in style. No doubt he will be expecting a top end finish, and be aiming to get as close to Nick and James Plaut as possible.

Lea Rowing Club – Dixon
Toby Dixon is not a sculler we see much of throughout the head season, his vast stature is no doubt integral in his ability to move a single, and he put in a strong performance at the National Schools Regatta coming in in 5th in the fiercely competitive J171X. Whilst not having the quickest start, Dixon settles onto a strong rhythm that will no doubt be crucial in securing a good result. Whilst I expect a good performance from Dixon I don’t expect him to take one of the top spots.

St. Pauls School – Ambler
David Ambler is considered by many to be St. Paul’s top athlete going into the 2015/16 season. This is aptly displayed by the fact that he was a member of the M8+ that raced at the Junior World Championships in Rio last season, and an integral part of their PE winning crew. I would personally pick Ambler to be the top finisher of all of the St. Pauls athletes, though it could come down to which athlete holds their rhythm together best in a single scull on the long tidal course. I expect a high finish from Ambler, and of all of the St. Pauls athletes he is the one I think most likely to challenge Nick Plaut for first place.

St. Pauls School – Jacquemot
The final St. Pauls sculler to set off, Alfred Jacquemot is another who I would expect to be looking at a top end finish. An athlete with international experience, and a Henley win, I am fully expecting a strong performance. Clearly, like his club mates, sculling is not his preferred discipline but as an experienced athlete I would still be surprised by anything less than a finish towards the top end of the field.

I am fully expecting Nick Plaut to take the win here, David Ambler will of course be aiming to push him but I predict he will fall just short, coming in second place. I believe Oswald Stocker of Westminster is likely to take third, though I would not be surprised to see it go to another sculler from either St. Pauls or Westminster.

Mr T

Mr T