Schools’ Head 2016 – Jun 4x

Although the Schools’ Head of River one of the biggest junior head races of the season, there are a remarkable number of crews missing from the junior sculling scene. In fact, potentially the current top junior quad in the country, Northwich RC, are missing, as well as last year’s winners Sir William Borlase. Many of these crews are clearly opting to focus on the Sculling Head at Dorney Lake, meaning that this event may be somewhat less competitive. Despite this, there are still some very strong crews taking to the tideway, and hopefully it’ll be a good insight into where some of these crews currently stand. Here are a few of the favourites, as well as some crews to watch on Thursday.

Claire’s Court School

I feel like this is a crew that has a huge amount of potential, and if they are able to apply this to a crew boat then it’ll be one of the favourites to be the top junior boat this season. The athletes in this boat have seen impressive success at GB trials this season, and their top athlete Jono Cameron is an experienced international racer. They did very well on the same course to come third at Fours Head earlier in the season, however recent results at events such as Hampton have been a bit less impressive. How well they do will depend on how they attack this race, but I would expect to see them finish in the top three.

Glasgow

This is a very exciting crew, and one that we have not seen much of so far this season. With one returning world champion and a host of other GB triallists in the crew, there is no doubt it will be very quick. Their quad last season was one of the fastest around, and despite losing a key athlete in Horsburgh, I expect them to be one of the crews to beat this season and in this event. As a pretty new club to the top end of junior sculling, it’ll be interesting to see if they can continue to beat more established clubs this season, however based on last season I expect them to continue doing incredibly well. They are definitely one of the favourite crews for this event, and I expect to see them right up there at the top.

Kings Worcester

This isn’t necessarily a club you’d expect to see competing at the top end of junior sculling, however their impressive win in the J16 Quad at National Schools’ last year has proven that they are definitely a very capable club. How well they will make the step up to the J18 events this season remains to be seen, however I would expect to see them do pretty well. They may not be a competitor for the top prize, but expect them to be up there.

Kingston RC

The junior system at Kingston has certainly been improving in recent years, and I believe that last season’s J16 quad was the first ever junior Kingston crew to qualify for the Fawley. At that age that’s a pretty impressive achievement, so it will also be interesting to see how effectively this crew has stepped up to the J18 level. While I expect this crew to be pretty fast, I can’t see them being hugely comptetive at the very top end. Despite this, they should still show some good speed.

Gloucester

Gloucester are a club that never seem to lack potential, as their junior quad last year had a huge amount of horsepower in it. Despite this, they never quite seemed to be able to fully take advantage of this and achieve the speed that they were capable of. If they are able to make full use of their horsepower this season I think Gloucester could start producing some impressive results, so they should do reasonable well on Thursday.

Marlow Rowing Club

With an impressive second place finish last year, Marlow are he first crew off in the M4X, and whilst it’s fair to say they have some individual talent at the top end of junior sculling, with Ben Simon posting strong results at junior trials, with an equally impressive ergo. Despite this, it is unclear as to whether this strength is consistent throughout their junior squad, and perhaps this lack of depth is what’s caused the fairly mixed results from Marlow this season. Hampton in particular where they placed 9th, just ahead of Northwich ‘B’ will be a result they look to make up for on the tideway, and given their result last year its clear they have the quality and experience to do so. Despite this I can’t see Marlow challenging or the pennant, though I would expect to see them towards the top of the category.

RGS High Wycombe

Whilst RGS have only just come into the fray for producing top end junior quads, it is clear that they are a school rapidly rising up the ranks consistently strong performances across age groups. An impressive silver medal at the 2015 British Junior Championships, along with a very respectable 5th place finish at Hampton shows that they have the quality to put in a strong performance here, and no doubt they will be looking to put down a marker to show they can perform when it matters.

Thames RC

A club known for producing exceptional athletes at a senior level, Thames have been developing a very strong junior system producing individual athletes with the quality to race internationally. Whilst the quality is clearly there, it hasn’t always translated to crews with the ability to race at the top end of junior sculling, and Thames’ junior quad will be looking to make up for the disappointing result at Reading University Head in which they were overtaken by Windsor Boys’ School. Despite this, on home water Thames should be able to put down a decent time and I would expect a fairly strong result.

Tideway Scullers

Tideway Scullers share with Thames the fact that they have produced some outstanding individual athletes but still have yet to produce a quad with the quality to perform consistently at the very top level. Also on home water, I would expect this crew to put in a relatively strong performance, though their 8th place result at Hampton suggests they will not be challenging for the pennant.

Windsor Boys’ School

With an impressive amount of athletes present at EID and February Trials, Windsor Boys’ have clearly found the strength in depth they lacked last season, with an excellent result at the Head of River Fours in which they came second in a strong field. Harry Oliver will look to let his experience drive the crew, and despite underperforming slightly at Hampton Windsor have to be considered one of the favourites to take the pennant here. What they lack in power they make up in form, and their comfortable win at Reading University Head, will certainly give the crew a confidence to post down an impressive performance here.

Prediction

With a world champion in the boat, Glasgow have to be considered favourites to take the win here. I would expect second and third to be between Windsor Boys’ School and Claire’s Court, Claire’s Court potentially have the more physically capable crew, but a quick time on the championship course often comes down to which crew can find the sharpest rhythm, and I think this plays into Windsor’s hands, so I expect them to take second, with Claire’s Court in third.

FootSteerer, Mr T

FootSteerer