Wallingford Regatta 2016 – Women’s Junior Eights

As the first multi-lane race of the regatta season, Wallingford has always been exciting as crews showcase for the first time their speed post-Easter training camps. It is especially important for juniors this year as Wallingford takes place at Eton Dorney, the location of National Schools 2016. For many crews this will be their first and last opportunity to rehearse their race plan over the same course. This event has a straight final, so I will preview all crews in lane order.

Lane One- The Kings School Chester

A consistent crew in the champs eight category, Kings Chester came 9th at the Schools Head this year. This result, although not outstanding, shows a solid start, and they usually have good depth in their squad, as they managed to field a second eight at National Schools 2015. Their top crew narrowly missed out on the Champ 8+ final last year, so they won’t be fighting for the gold, but hopefully closing the gap between them and the top three.

Lane Two- St Pauls Girls School

SPGS came 2nd in first eights at Schools Head, but their time was only 1 second behind Kings Chester. These crews racing side by side is going to be extremely close, and it’s very hard to predict who will come out on top. I think, despite the Schools head result, St Pauls might just take The Kings Chester School, simply because of the rapid improvement the club has seen in the last year.

Lane Three- Henley

Henley are currently one of the top Girls Junior squads in the country, and their eight is a true reflection of this standard. They came 2nd at the Schools Head, 7 seconds behind Headington. This is a small margin over such a long course, and I have no doubt this crews aim will be to take Gold at National Schools, ending Headington’s winning streak. This race will be vital preparation for that, and they have had a successful start to the regatta season showing good speed over a shorter distance, with some very strong results in both Girls sculling and sweep at GB Trials April Regatta in A and B Finals.

Lane Four- Lady Eleanor Holles School

Another top Girls school, LEH have shown good speed this year, and after coming 3rd in Schools Head they’ve really established themselves as a crew to watch as we move into summer racing. Being next to Henley will be a great chance to see their real speed across this course, and hopefully push them to an impressive time. They also had a very strong pair at GB Trials, who eventually placed higher than both the Headington and Henley pair, which should give them some extra confidence on Sunday.

Lane Five- SASRU

South Africa Schools Rowing Union is a large group of School Rowing Teams in South Africa. From the website it seems to run the National trials, and this race seems to be part of the Junior National Team Development Strategy, as it is listed as a squad camp. Having been unable to find any information about the athletes, it is hard to predict their speed, but if it is linked to the National team they probably will be a strong crew looking to show up the top British crews.

Lane Six- Headington School

Headington kept their reputation as the fastest girl’s crew in the country, with another win at the Schools Head, and gold in a quad at the Scullery the day after. They seem in as just as good shape this season as they have the past few years, however with Henley reducing their winning margins, they need to be ready to be put under pressure. They also produced some very good performances in singles and pairs at GB Trials, and I think will manage to take the win this Sunday.

Prediction: I don’t think much will have changed since School’s Head, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be different at National Schools in a months’ time.

1st– Headington

2nd– Henley

3rd– LEH

Good luck too all crews racing!