Hampton Head 2016 – J18 4x

With recent weather conditions and such a short, downstream course, the J18 Quads will be looking to set some very fast times at Hampton this weekend. This is one of the first major head races of 2016, and it will be interesting to see how crews have stepped on since Fours Head. As Fours Head is the most recent major quadruple sculling event, almost all of my predictions are largely based on its results. All of the crews racing in this event will be looking to set a benchmark for the rest of the season, especially with the first big national head races coming up – so there should definitely be some good racing. Here are a few crews likely to be competing towards the top end of the event:

Northwich Rowing Club – Lawton

As winners of Fours Head earlier in the season with a margin of several seconds, this crew will likely be going into the event as favourites. They’ve certainly got pedigree in their lead athlete Lawton, who experienced success in the Coupe double last season. They’ve been edging ever closer towards the top end of junior sculling in the last few years, so they will want to start 2016 strong, and winning this weekend would certainly do that. Other crews such as Windsor and Claire’s Court might have something to say about that, however this crew will definitely be aiming to start the year with a win.

Leander Club – Few

Leander certainly have depth in their squad, consistently putting out two very strong crews. They seemed to have a very disappointing result at Fours Head however, finishing in 8th. This was a huge surprise for me, as they have such a strong junior squad. I certainly think both of their crews will be ones to watch though, and I’m sure after such a disappointing result they will be looking to make a big step up. If this crew meet their potential they should be fairly successful on Saturday, however based on their last result they won’t be the favourites.

Tideway Scullers – Phelan

Tideway Scullers haven’t traditionally been right at the top end of junior sculling, however a 6th place finish at Fours Head indicates that they will be looking to compete at a much higher level this year. Although I can’t see this crew competing for a 1st place finish, I expect them to show some speed.

Claire’s Court School – Cameron

This will definitely be a crew to watch this season. They finished 3rd at Fours Head and showed some real potential at Early IDs, even without their lead athlete (who is too old to trial). Based on this I wouldn’t be surprised to see Claire’s Court competing against the likes of Northwich this weekend and throughout the rest of the season. Like Northwich they’ve been getting ever closer to the top end of junior sculling over the last few years, and will want to prove that they’ve got what it takes to get right to the very top.

Borlase – Bennett

Another crew who were probably disappointed with their result at Fours Head, Borlase are looking like they might be suffering the effects of losing their top athletes and head coach. Despite this, they are certainly not without talent and have multiple GB representatives in their crew as well as a very big ergo in Wolfin. Based on Fours Head I’m assuming this is their top quad, and while I think it’ll be very competitive, I think it is unlikely that it will win on Saturday. I still expect a solid result from them however.

Maidenhead – O’Mahony

This is still a relatively young crew however it certainly has potential. It narrowly missed out on the top 10 at Fours head, and was probably hoping for a much better result. Despite this, the likes of Kleshnev and O’Mahony are good athletes and should help this crew get a solid result on Saturday, even if they are not competing right at the top end.

Marlow – Simon

Marlow didn’t actually have a quad racing at Fours Head, and their junior quad last season had some very inconsistent results. Despite this, athletes such as Simon have shown potential so far in the GB trialling system so they should be able to boat a very fast quad. It is difficult to say how fast this crew will be, however I’d expect them to be relatively close to the top.

RGS High Wycombe – Williams

This crew has a very strong history, being particularly good in their J16 year, however last season they seemed to struggle to make the step up to J18 level and for the most part weren’t especially competitive at the top end. Despite this, they saw some success at Fours head where they managed to beat the likes of Leander. They will certainly want show how much they have stepped on then, and I expect them to be pretty competitive, even if not right at the top end.

Windsor Boys’ School – Smith

After a disappointing last season, Windsor Boys’ are looking to be back at the top end of junior sculling after their 2nd place at Fours Head. They will certainly want to step on again, and they likely have the depth to do this with their strong junior squad. Northwich had a reasonable margin on them at Fours Head and they certainly have other crews such as Claire’s Court and Borlase to keep their eyes on, however being a club with such a pedigree in sculling means they should be able to cope with this and be one of the quickest crews on the weekend.

Prediction

From what I’ve seen so far this season, it looks like Northwich RC will be the favourites to win on Saturday, and will want to continue making an impact on the other crews behind them. Despite this, I really can’t see the likes of Windsor Boys’ and Claire’s Court being too far off them at all, especially on such a short, downstream course. I expect these to be the top three crews, however I’d be surprised if Borlase are far off them at all. Leander will also want to prove themselves as contenders for this season on Saturday, so I would expect a big step on from them but I can’t see them taking the top prize.

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