Wallingford Regatta 2016 – Junior Quads

As the inaugural multi-lane regatta on British soil, Wallingford will provide an exciting glimpse into how this regatta season will unfold. Prospective CH4x and Fawley Challenge Cup crews will look to lay down a marker for the season, and build upon successes at prior regattas and head of river races. The random draw means that if conditions are tricky, as they often are at Dorney, racing here may come down to lane advantages rendering predicting results difficult, but no doubt we should see some exciting racing from Britain’s top junior sculling crews. Notable absences include Scullery champions Glasgow Schools, Northwich Rowing Club and The Windsor Boys’ School, with the latter racing in the elite challenge class.

Sir William Borlase
It’s hard to look at a junior quads event without expecting a strong Borlase crew, with their success in the past five years being unmatched by any club or school. Clearly with the departure of coach Robin Dowell, and three exceptional athletes, they have struggled to recreate this form. Despite this a strong crew appears to be in the making, and a place in the final is not at all out of the question here. Whilst I expect Marlow to take the top spot in heat A Borlase should not be far behind, and if conditions are in their favour they could spring a surprise and take the heat themselves.

Marlow Rowing Club
With an impressive second place at the Schools Head of River, Marlow will this season be looking to recreate the 2012 heroics in which they took the Fawley Challenge Cup. Whilst perhaps not at the top of the junior scene, they certainly don’t lack physical prowess and in terms of individual athletes Ben Simon has been one of the stand out athletes within the J17 category. The draw has certainly favoured them here, and I would expect a fairly straightforward route to the final for them, though Borlase and RGS High Wycombe may challenge that.

Maidenhead are a young crew made up of athletes with very exciting potential. For the past two years Kleshnev has dominated his age group in the single scull, and O’mahony has remained consistently competitive at a national level in the same boat class. In terms of results thus far, a very strong performance at the Scullery saw Maidenhead take a silver medal, and a second place finish at Ghent Spring Regatta shows that they certainly have the potential for a very strong season. They are probably the strongest crew in their heat, and should take a spot in the final, though lack of experience could be their Achilles Heel. Whilst a strong performance is on the cards, a win may be just out of reach.

Claire’s Court School
Claire’s Court have really made a case for themselves as one of the favourites for this year’s Fawley Challenge Cup, with a series of trialling athletes as well as the one year junior Jono Cameron, who already has international experience under his belt. An excellent victory at the Schools Head, and the shrewd decision to not race at the Scullery has led to Claire’s Court being the only quad that has not been beaten by Glasgow, rendering them favourites for this event. Conditions allowing, I would expect them to take the heat with ease and potentially go on to win in the final.

King’s School Worcester
Not a school known for producing outstanding crews, King’s Worcester have certainly made a name for themselves in the world of junior sculling. A bronze medal at the Scullery, and a win in the J164X at National Schools has displayed that they are ones to watch. In their heat, they look to be the strongest crew and I would expect them to progress with relative ease, with Molesey being the only potential challengers.

Leander are a crew that have not been particularly present on the circuit this season, with their first quad pulling out of the Scullery. Clearly their pedigree as a club is excellent, and athletes such as Mortimer and Placidi display extremely good physical capability. Whether this will translate into a fast crew is yet to be seen, but given their results from last year and the relatively low standard of their heat I would expect them to progress with ease, as potential favourites to win in the final.

Clearly, given how early in the season this race is, and the potentially tricky conditions, this is a very difficult event to predict. Based on their results so far this season, it is hard to look past Claire’s Court when predicting a favourite to take the win. Leander’s history of putting out strong quads and their individual talent means they will most likely be their closest challengers, Marlow will also be looking to test these crews and I would expect them to finish third. Maidenhead and King’s Worcester may well spring a surprise or two however.

Mr T