Schools’ Head 2016 – Girls Jun 4x

One of the last head races of this year and with some of the best quads in the sculling scene doing eights for this race there’s a lot to play for. With many familiar faces, including many tideway clubs, steering will play a large part of who makes the top end of results this Thursday. At the moment the weather is looking promising with little wind – although there seems to be a rather ominous propensity for a headwind being generated. Generally of course, on this course if you have a tailwind at one point you’re going to face a headwind too so crews who are confident enough to be flexible with their technique and adjust to the conditions on the tideway will be successful. Schools’ Head is the perfect marker before the summer races begin as to where all the crews are standing and what faces we are likely to see in the summer circuit. I’m going to review the crews I reckon will come top 7 on Thursday.

Surbiton – This crew having been getting stronger as the season goes on with a competitive 3rd place most recently at Hampton Head; only 0.6 seconds off Headington, who will certainly be a crew to beat in the summer. The Surbiton quad was also oaly 0.3 seconds off Molesey who are racing on Thursday which makes them one to watch as those seconds can be lost and gained depending on how crews deal with the Tideway. Lola Anderson has produced some impressive results in the GB circuit this year – despite a somewhat fraught experience at February trials – making the quad a stronger unit. Surbiton will definitely be fighting for the win on Thursday.

Molesey – A  This quad is undoubtedly a strong contender for first place on Thursday. It’s an accomplished quad, filled with talented individual athletes. Though they did not compete at Fours Head, their prior results have shown they are not unfamiliar to tough distances. They placed second, 0.3 seconds off Headington at Hampton Head, showing they are in the top end range of quads and can be strong enough to secure those seconds over Surbiton. Molesey are definitely making their mark now ready for the summer and if they steer the course well could be the winning crew. They’ve got the vastly experienced and well-decorated Georgie Grant in the boat, which is both a physical and psychological boost.

Shiplake Vikings – A consistently strong crew this season with a second place at Fours Head that showed that they can take the Tideway course head-on and dominate it. I’m sure this crew will be going for the win on Thursday. With some very successful results from individuals in the quad such as Hattie and Lottie Orr at the most recent GB trails, this quad will definitely be one to watch out for.

Gloucester Hartpury – A formidable quad last year, whose season culminated in winning the Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup at Henley Royal last summer. Though they have not shown their hand in the quad circuit yet and have lost the likes of Charlotte Hodgkins-Bryne and Flo Pickles, their most recent result  in a composite eight at eights head shows they are still strong and ready to show what they are made of this year. Will they have the strength and depth to win the Diamond Jubilee again? It’s really impossible to tell at this point, but I’d certainly suggest that they’re a crew with bags of potential.

Thames Rowing Club – A new face to the top end of the quad scene this season. Their crew last year won the J16 category at Schools’ Head and with their club being on the Tideway they have the home advantage if they use it well. Thames came 5th at Hampton Head following Shiplake Vikings with a 10 second difference; if Thames keep progressing they could be getting closer to the tightly packed top 3 crews racing. They also recently won WJ18 quads at Reading Uni Head showing they can take on a longer distance. Thames will be looking for top 4 on Thursday and with good steering could achieve a competitive time.

Latymer Upper School – Another club from this stretch of the tideway, Latymer came 6th at Fours Head and this crew are clearly competing at the top end of junior quads. Despite their unexpected result at Hampton Head due to catching a crab, this quad will be looking to regain some momentum and to make a strong placing leading up to the summer.

Henley Rowing Club – Though this is not their fastest quad Henley are well-known for producing excellent results from a large squad – crucially, not just one crew. I think this quad could still produce a competitive result on Thursday. They’ve got an unbelievable strength in depth over at Henley, and I trust them to produce some great results across all their crews.

My prediction is Molesey to take the win, followed closely by Gloucester Hartpury and Surbiton to take third place.

Good luck to all crews racing!