Oarsport Junior Sculling Head 2016 – J164X

Being the day after the Schools’ Head and having a significantly larger and stronger entry, this should be a far better marker of where this year’s J16 scullers are, and should set the scene for the rest of the season. Being on a straight course also means in theory that factors such as conditions and steering should have less of an impact, so it’ll be interesting to see how these crews get on the day after the tidal event. As one of the first major J16 crew sculling events of the year, it still remains to be seen which crews have most effectively made the step up, but here are a few who will be looking strong.

The Windsor Boys’ School
The first and obvious favourites, this crew hasn’t had a lot of race time this season as Windsor are focusing on boating stronger J18 crews using these athletes. This looks to be a full strength J16 crew however, and should contain similar athletes to the dominant J15 quad from last year. With this in mind, as well as the fact that three of these athletes have had impressive results at GB trials already, I can’t see any other J16 crew coming close. This crew should win – it’s just a question of how big the margin is.

Henley RC
Henley have a reasonably strong history in junior sculling, however often don’t match up to the standard at the very top end. With that in mind, this crew has shown some pretty good potential so far this season, with a recent third place at Hampton Head. They had a fairly fast J15 quad last year so it’s safe to assume it’ll be made up of similar athletes. They’ll certainly be looking for a medal, it’s just a question of how much they want it on the day.

Great Marlow School
Great Marlow are certainly a school on the up, and this crew in particularly seems to have a lot of potential. They have a bit of a history with the Windsor quad after Bedford Regatta last year, so they’ll certainly put up a fight, and should do very well. Despite this, they lack the firepower needed to beat the Windsor crew and will be more likely to receive one of the minor medals.

Leander Club
Whilst this isn’t a crew we’ve seen much of yet, a lot of Leander’s recruiting seems to happen at around the J16 age group, so this could certainly be a crew for the future. How quick they are just yet remains to be seen, but racing under the name of such a prestigious club would suggest that this crew has a reasonable amount of speed and should do fairly well.

Oundle School
From what I’ve seen so far this season, this crew has appeared to be fairly strong. With a fairly comfortable win at Head of the Trent to their name, they will probably go in to this event with a lot of confidence. This bodes well for them, and they should get a decent result.

Traditionally, it is the J16 year in which Borlase athletes really come into their own. Although we haven’t seen much of this age group just yet, this is often the case at this stage. The J18 squad has looked a bit weaker so far this season, however I can’t see this crew going slowly at all, and would expect them to make the step up to J16 level with a lot of confidence.

Despite results at Hampton not being especially impressive, Marlow’s strong junior system means that they should be able to put out a reasonably fast J16 crew. Even if this crew is not likely to win a medal on Friday, I would expect it to learn from its results so far this season and put in a much bigger performance.

While these are the crews I expect to be the most competitive, it is so difficult to predict at a J16 level, and there always a few surprise crews that come out of nowhere. Other crews which should do well include Warrington RC which seems to have an ever improving junior system, as well as Windsor Boys’ B who were head and shoulders above the rest of the field in the J15 B quad event at National Schools’ last year.

The gold medal will undoubtedly go to Windsor Boys’ who in this age group just seem to be a cut above the rest of the field. I think the minor medals could go to a variety of other crews, however I’d expect based on the Hampton results that Great Marlow and Henley will be the forerunners for them, especially with crews such as Tideway Scullers focusing on Schools’ Head.