Hampton Head 2016 – J16 4X

The Hampton Head of River is always an exciting event for both competitors and spectators alike, with this year’s conditions likely to be extremely quick, and the course being only 3000 metres, it will no doubt be a close affair across different boat classes. The J16 age category marks the transition into coxless quads, and therefore the event is hard to predict, as many clubs and schools aim to put out their fastest J16 crews which will look to be competitive going forwards towards the regatta season. This event appears to be highly completive, and includes the clubs that won all three medals in the J154x+ event at 2015’s National Schools Regatta.

Tideway Scullers School – Joss
Off first, and as silver medallists at The National Schools Regattas, Tideway Scullers have to be considered one of the favourites to take the win on Saturday. Scullers have a decent history of producing fast junior athletes, though have often lacked the prowess to compete at the top level of junior domestic sculling, with their juniors generally focussing on British selection. Given the success in last year’s regatta season however, Scullers current J16 squad are certainly one to watch and I expect a strong result.

Windsor Boys’ School – Bartoletti
Windsor Boys’ School eased to victory in the J154X+ at National Schools last year, and have one of the richest pedigrees when it comes to producing fast junior scullers at the top end of the sport. If this is their strongest J16 combination then they are undoubted favourites to win this event. Despite this strong individual performances from J16’s may have led to selection in the more prestigious J18 boat classes, thus weakening this entry. It remains to be seen whether this is a strongest combination, but if it is then I would predict a strong victory for Windsor Boys’ School.

Star & Arrow – Minns
Representing Leander’s development academy under the name ‘Star & Arrow’ this crew will without any doubt be made up four extremely physically able athletes. The fact that they are yet to races as Leander Club however, suggests that they are not necessarily the most technically developed juniors. Despite this they will no doubt be a big crew, and will be aiming to put a marker down on Saturday, and because of this a quick time will almost certainly be displayed.

Maidenhead – Stepney
Perhaps a bit of a wildcard, as this crew may not contain the strongest set of athletes at the clubs disposal; but Maidenhead impressed last season, producing a J164X with only one athlete that was not racing a year up, which was quick enough to win silver at the National Schools. Whether or not the core of this very fast crew will be present here remains to be seen, but if they are then this crew will be fast.

RGS High Wycombe – Smith
A school whose junior programme seems to be going from strength to strength, with multiple crews qualifying for the Fawley Challenge Cup in recent years along with several medals at a national level. Last season RGS had a successful J154X+ that most notably took bronze at National Schools and two athletes took gold in the 2X. This shows that there is class in this squad, and as such they will look to be challenging for first place come the weekend.

Prediction
If Windsor Boys’ School have entered a full strength crew then they will go into the event as outright favourites, if not however then victory on Saturday will very much be an open affair. RGS and Scullers will look to put down markers as they aim to replicate last season’s form, though the potential physical prowess of Star & Arrow also renders them a crew to watch. Given the speed of the coruse, it should be a close affair and I look forward to some exciting racing.

Mr T