Quintin Head 2016 – J18 8+

This is the first event we’ll be previewing in 2016, and it’s a rather low-key affair that plays out over the first half and-a-bit of the School’s Head course. Schools are just starting to field their respective 1st VIIIs, although many remain in matched eights until slightly closer to the main Head, and generally Quintin is seen as an early indication of School’s Head form.

This year, there is one very notable entry in the J18 8+ category – that of Westminster School. Westminster were the strongest 1st VIII in the country for the majority of last season, undone only at Henley, and seven of the nine boys are returning this year. They will pose a very serious challenge to the major national titles this year, and will be spurred on by last year’s PE defeat. A number of the Westminster boys have been making waves in the GB system, and have secured themselves places at prestigious US universities – so expect some fireworks from this crew. What may transpire is that this is not actually their 1st VIII; generally, the Westminster Champ Eight enters Elite, Senior or a high Intermediate category at these sorts of events, so this may be a Head of the Charles-esque ‘2nd VIII’ comprised mostly of last year’s successful J16s. Even if this does turn out to be the case, they’ll still be worth watching. Latymer Upper School will also be ones to watch, for my money. They’re a decent unit and have some good pedigree in the boat; although Kings College School will undoubtedly be hot on their heels. KCS have struggled a little with depth, and they certainly won’t be the force they were in 2014 – this year, I’d expect to see them committed to 1st 8+ rather than Champ 8+ – but they’ll still put in some good fights in these early heads. The entry from St Paul’s School appears to be a 2nd VIII, so they’ll want to try and beat as many 1st VIII entries as possible. This year, I think that will be very attainable for St Paul’s – they’ve got depth that they haven’t really seen before, considering their results at Wallingford Head late last year, and it looks like their 2nd VIII could be a form crew in the category. Abingdon School will also try and put in a good showing; they’ll have something to prove after the loss of so many powerful athletes last year. This being their 2nd VIII, I don’t necessarily think that Abingdon will have the depth to really challenge this year – although this race may go some way to proving otherwise. I’d hate to see Abingdon see a dramatic decline this year, as obviously they had such a golden era a few years ago; it would be unfortunate to see them fade into obscurity. These boys I’m sure will go to great lengths to see a strong result for their club.

In terms of a final finishing order, I’m going to go with Westminster in first, King’s College School in second and Latymer Upper School in third – although I’d suggest that St Paul’s may well contest that third place spot.

Good luck to all crews!

Five Man

Five Man