National Schools’ Regatta 2016 – Championship Singles

One of rowing’s most gladiatorial events, and a suitable category to kick-start our coverage of the National Schools’ Regatta. There’s 44 boats entered so competition will be fierce, with the top 16 from the time trial progressing to the A/B semi-finals. From there, four will progress from each of the two semis to the A final, with the remaining four heading for the B final. Those that did not finish in the top sixteen during the time-trial will contest the C, D and E finals, aside from the bottom four who will drop out altogether.

Got it? Then let’s begin…

 

Josh Armstrong [Glasgow Schools Rowing Club]

Great Britain’s foremost junior sculler and world champion to boot, Josh has to be considered strong favourite for this event. He’s chosen to forsake the CH4x in pursuit of a solo national title – a bold move in most cases, but one that we can forgive on account of the Scottish sculler’s pedigree. He’s the current holder of the Youth Singles title at the Head of the Charles, whilst his quad raced to gold at the Oarsport Junior Sculling Head in March. Josh’s strength lies in his power – he’s a superb natural athlete with long levers and a fearsome ergo score. Coached by Iain Somerside, I expect the Glaswegian to top the podium on Saturday.

Sam Champion [Isle of Ely Rowing Club]

Racing in Isle of Ely colours, Cambridge’s Sam Champion is another athlete to watch out for this weekend. He’s a GB Start athlete and represented his country at the Coupe De La Jeunesse last summer. He featured on one of our product reviews earlier this season and, having finished fourth last year, he’ll be looking to take home a medal. He races pre-dominantly in the single through the year, largely due to the lack of club-mates available to row bigger boats with. That means his sole focus is on progressing through the trials system and racking up wins at regional, national and international level, by developing his sculling technique. He won Elite Single Sculls at Nottingham City Regatta last weekend, so is in good form. A powerful athlete, who I fancy to challenge Josh on Saturday.

Matt Swiss [Dart Totnes Rowing Club]

Another sculler with international representation under his belt, Matt raced at the Junior World Championships last summer alongside Scott Ozsanlav-Harris in the double scull. He’s got huge sculling pedigree and will be another firm contender for a spot on the podium. For an interesting insight into the Devon-based athlete, take a listen to this podcast which details Matt’s rise to stardom. In any case, Matt has dual cause for motivation this weekend – he won silver in J171x last year, before just missing out on qualification for the final of CH1x. Back with a vengeance, I anticipate that the junior international will be pushing for a podium finish.

James Mawby [Nottingham Rowing Club]

A Fawley Challenge Cup finalist in 2015, James is another product of the superb system up in Nottingham. They club consistently churns out top-class athletes and James is no exception, having won the doubles category at the February GB Trials this year alongside fellow competitor Sam Champion. Another advocate for power-based scullers, James’ strength is his key asset – his ergo score is pretty impressive and he’ll be eyeing selection for the GB junior team this summer. He’s an experienced athlete and a definite threat to the three aforementioned scullers.

Rory Harris [Pangbourne College]

Yet another international athlete, a fact which speaks volumes about the quality of rower that this event attracts. Rory has raced in Pangbourne’s newly formed sculling squad for a couple of years now, whilst he also sat in the quad which made the final of Championship Quads last year before reaching the Friday of the Fawley Challenge Cup. He won silver at the Coupe De La Jeunesse last summer in the double sculls and I know that Pangbourne always produce real racers, testament to their success in recent years. Rory carries the expectation of his school and I fancy him to be sat on the A-final start line on Saturday. From there, it’s anyone’s game.

Sean O’Mahony [Maidenhead Rowing Club]

An outside bet, but I know Maidenhead turn out top-quality scullers. Sean has raced at national level throughout his development as a junior athlete, turning out strong results at a variety of levels. His silver in J161x last year means he’s racing up a year this time round, and so this will be a learning curve for the young athlete. I’m a little surprised he hasn’t been selected for the quad, which also races on Saturday, but this will be his chance to prove his mettle. I’ll be interested to see whether he can make the A final.

Giacomo Galano [Clydesdale Amateur Rowing Club]

A Scottish sculler, although not in name, Giacomo won the J171x title last year so will looking to add the CH1x to his collection. He’ll find this event a more difficult task, but he’s a talented sculler and will be pushing for an A-final spot. He’s had a relatively quiet year, not featuring too much on the domestic front, but he’ll be in good shape ahead of the most important race of his year.

Oli Ayres [Molesey Boat Club]

On the other hand, Oli is a sculler with tonnes of domestic proof that he’ll be quick this weekend. He finished 13th at the GB Early ID trials in November and racked up solo wins at Kingston and Weybridge Heads earlier in the season. He raced at the Coupe De La Jeunesse in the eight last summer and has made the switch to sculling domestically this year, although he raced a pair at the February GB Trials alongside Dom Jackson of Hampton School [5th place on the Saturday]. Nestled on the off-beat of the Thames, Molesey always produce athletes of note and Oli will be fighting for an A-final spot this weekend.

Robbie Crowther [City of Oxford Rowing Club]

Robbie has been on the junior scene for a couple of years now, having burst through with a win in the J15 double sculls alongside fellow sculler Will Rogers at the British Championships in 2014. This year, Robbie has been racing well; he finished fourth at the February GB Trials in a composite double and has recorded a few decent results in domestic heads. I expect him to be a comfortable qualifier for the A/B semi-finals.

Tyler Skow [The American School in London]

The American School in London have struggled to hold down a seat at junior rowing’s elite table, but Tyler is doing his very best to change that. He finished eighth at the February GB Trials and raced well in the single to come home third at Wallingford Regatta a few weeks ago.  He’s got great pedigree at this event – he won J161x last year before missing out on a spot in the final of the J171x by a matter of seconds. Racing up a year, Tyler should also be qualifying for the A/B semi-finals.

 

That’s the end of my preview for this event. I’ve named who I believe will be the top competitors, but if you’ve think I’ve missed people out, please feel free to correct!

Good luck to all scullers!

 

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