Schools’ Head 2016 – J16 1st 8+

This event gives an interesting insight into how the school boy first eight scene will shape up in the next few years; no doubt the future winners of the Child Beale Cup are lurking among the competing crews. Here are details of the crews I think will most likely make up the top 5 on Thursday:

Dulwich College
Dulwich have has a good season in the J16 age category so far this year, placing 3rd at Quintin Head and 2nd at Hampton Head. What’s more, they are one of the few boats in this category also fielding a second eight; the depth of their squad will have brought all of the athletes on. On top of this, they will be racing on their home stretch of water. All factors point to them being quick on Thursday.

Norwich School
Norwich had a decent J15 eight last summer and appear to have moved on with the step up to J16. They placed 2nd and 3rd in J16 4+ at Wallingford Fours and Eights Head back in December, before joining together to place 4th in the J16 8+ event. With a good row, I think they might scrape into the top 5.

Bedford School

Having won Novice 8+ at Worcester, Reading University and Bedford Heads as well as J168+ in the latter, Bedford have proven that they have the legs and togetherness to keep the boat moving quickly for a sustained time. I think these guys will be impressive on Thursday.

King’s Chester

One would normally expect Chester to be racing in the championship category at a J15 level otherwise the step up as J18s will be greater. Nonetheless, that is not the case this year and I expect them to go out to prove a point that they are good enough to race champ anyway. Their recent loss at Runcorn Spring Head to local rivals Shrewsbury by the smallest of margins will have further stoked their desire to win. Expect them to be fast.

Great Marlow School
Having placed 6th in J15Ch8+ last summer, Great Marlow, like Chester, have dropped down to the first eight category this year, raising its standard. They have proven that they are at the top of their game this season by winning J168+ convincingly at Wallingford and placing second in both J164x and J164- at Hampton Head. Hopefully, if they perform well on Thursday, they’ll decide to make the step back up to the Championship category – I have every confidence they’ll excel over the long School’s Head course.

My Prediction:
1- Great Marlow School
2- Dulwich College
3- King’s Chester
Good luck to all crews.