Head of the Trent 2016 – J18 8+

The Head of the Trent is a gruelling 5700m long, with boats covering the course in times typically a couple of minutes quicker than those for the championship course on the Tideway. This race therefore gives crews a good chance to practice for Schools’ Head, which is now only three weeks away.

There are only four boats in the J18 8+ category, with several other junior eights entered in other categories.

Eton College have two boats entered, one in the Elite category and another in the J18 category. Given the calibre of crew likely to enter Elite, I think it is a fair assumption that the boat in this category is their top one. It will be interesting to see how the Eton squad is shaping up this year- they had a very strong J16Ch8+ last year, members of which will now be integrated into the senior squad, joining the likes of Oscar Lindsay and David Bewicke-Copley, both of whom represented Great Britain last summer. Even if the crew entered in the J18 category is Eton’s 2nd VIII, they should not be discounted; it is worth noting that at Schools’ Head last year, Eton’s 2nd VIII beat all boats entered in the 1st VIII category!

King’s Chester have entered the J18 category but are starting up the order, I imagine off the back of a strong result in the competition last year. King’s Chester had a fairly lack lustre result at Wallingford, but much time has passed since then and I am sure that they have stepped on. They will have Harry Higginbottom powering the crew on, who, having been in the same boat as Bewicke-Copley of Eton in the Coupe de la Jeunesse, will be keen to be close to the fellow Championship Eight school.

The final two entries in the J18 Category are rival schools Bedford School and Bedford Modern School. Of these two, I think Bedford School will be the stronger, having recently beaten their local rivals on home water, albeit by three seconds. Moreover, Bedford School are no doubt capitalising on the new stretch of water they have access to at Earith, which allows them to rack up good mileage.

King’s School Canterbury have entered an eight in the IM3 category; it will be interesting to compare their result with those of the two Bedford Schools to see how the 1st VIII landscape is looking this year. King’s Canterbury were about 10 seconds ahead of Bedford Modern at Hampton Head and so may potentially be of a similar level to Bedford School.

My Prediction (in the J18 Category):
1- King’s Chester
2- Eton College
3- Bedford School

Best of luck to all crews.