Hampton Head 2016 – J18 4-

Coming as a relatively pleasant and refreshing surprise, this category will not be dominated by broken down eights, as such categories often fall victim to (and end up producing the same results as the eights). Instead, the most competitive fours here are club crews and smaller school squads, and this event may provide an early indication as to which of these will be strong enough to deal with the swarm of broken-down eights which will inevitably fall on this category come summer.

Molesey (Ayres)

The junior squad at Molesey took a leap last season into the world of junior eights and top-end fours, and for the most part this was a successful year. In the four in particular, the fifth place finish against the likes of Westminster and Eton was certainly something to brag about. While they haven’t been seen in this boat class since, I would expect that the squad will be continuing their rise through the ranks of major competition, and I predict a top placing for this crew.

Kingston Rowing Club (Betty)

Another established four, this crew came fourth in 1st 4+ at National Schools’ last season, and have continued to have success in the sculling discipline. Their 12th place in the competitive junior quads category at Fours’ Head is a testament to their technical ability, especially in the appalling conditions that may be present to a lesser extent on Saturday. I can certainly see these boys providing the top end of the competition; they should be very much in contention with Molesey for the top spot in this competition.

Hampton (Kerr)

Contrary to my opening statement, there is one crew from the established eights area in serious contention for a high placing here. This crew, assuming it is unchanged from Fours’ Head, came 23rd out of 37 in IM2 4+ at that event. This is a highly respectable result from these athletes, and the time would have placed them around half way down junior coxed fours. With home-water giving them a natural advantage in terms of the all-important steering in this boat class, this crew shouldn’t be too far behind the previously mentioned ones, even if not quite able to match up to the speed, since they are more specialists in the eight.

Great Marlow School (Wheal)

Great Marlow School are on an upsurge, having won J15 eights last season, and historically qualified for the Fawley Challenge Cup at Henley. This season, their most notable achievement is their exceedingly high placing in the coxed fours event at Wallingford Head, coming in at second place ahead one of the top St Paul’s School fours. This is sufficient evidence to back them for a finish ahead of Hampton, as they obviously have a great deal of pedigree in this boat class, and will attacking this race in order to establish themselves among some of the country’s strongest competition.

King’s School Canterbury (Nichols and John)

It was a fantastic achievement for King’s Canterbury, who had been in something of a decline for a few years in the major boat classes, to win first fours at National Schools’ last season. Even though the boat has been split up into two matched coxless boats for this competition, with the obvious proficiency demonstrated by the top four athletes these crews will still be highly competitive in this boat class. I predict them as both coming in with a similar time, a short while behind Hampton and Great Marlow School.

1. Molesey
2. Kingston RC
3. Great Marlow School
4. Hampton
5. King’s Canterbury
6. King’s Canterbury