National Schools’ Regatta 2016 – 1st Eights

This year sees an interesting change to the way that the Child Beale Cup will be run: competing crews will race alongside the Championship eight boats. This promises to improve the top end standard of the School First Eights and will improve the spectacle for those on the banks. The field looks strong in the Child Beale this year although Winchester College, strong victors of the first eight category at Schools’ Head, have opted to enter a Championship eight and so the competition at the top is much more open that it might otherwise have been.

There are 18 entries in the Child Beale Cup, this preview will look at the nine crews with the best chances of coming away with a medal.

 

King’s College School, Wimbledon
Schools’ Head Position: 2nd
Last year’s silver medallists in the Child Beale Cup, KCS Wimbledon look like serious contenders coming into this event; they finished in the best position of all the crews entered in the Schools’ Head. Side by side racing is a different game altogether, however, and KCS will be keen to show their mettle, having finished 0.5s behind Windsor Boys’ School at Wallingford regatta. Their performance at Wallingford bodes well for this weekend though, and will have shown them a thing or two they can improve on. I will be surprised if Wimbledon aren’t in the top 5 first eights on Saturday, and think there is a strong chance of them taking a medal home.

Portora School (Ireland):
Schools’ Head Position: Raced CH8+, time would have placed them 3rd in 1st 8+
Portora have one of Ireland’s strongest junior rowing programmes and I am confident they will finish within the top 5 first eights. I imagine that they are coming to NSR to help with qualification for Henley; they had to go through qualifiers last year and I’m sure they want to avoid having to again. If not, then the trip to Dorney will be an event in and of itself for them. Either way, they will be keen to make the trip worth it.

Windsor Boys’ School:
Schools’ Head Position: 3rd
This year has seen Windsor Boys’ School really assert themselves as a big name on the junior scene; they are in a similar position to where Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School were last year, prioritising a quad, but having a very strong first eight as well. It has been a while since this school has performed well on the sweep scene, so they should make the most of the way that fellow competitors may underestimate them. The fellow competitors should do this at their own peril, however, as WBS have improved consistently through the season, and finished top of all boats entered in the Child Beale at Wallingford Regatta, beating KCS Wimbledon by a canvas to 3rd in their heat of Challenge Eights, as mentioned above. I think Windsor Boys’ School have a very strong chance of medalling, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have to work hard to do so!

Norwich School:
Schools’ Head Position: 4th
Having finished strongly at Schools’ Head, I was surprised to see Norwich’s perhaps lacklustre performance in the eight at Ghent International May Regatta; they came fifth on both days of the racing weekend. Granted, they were racing in other combinations also and this, coupled with the heat and strong headwind, may have left them tired for the eight, but the margin that The King’s School, Canterbury beat them by was fairly large- 12s on the Saturday and 18s on the Sunday. No doubt this will have added fuel to their fires though, and I don’t think they will prove so easy to turn over this weekend.

London Oratory School

Schools’ Head Position: 5th

It looks like London Oratory School are ones to watch this weekend; they commandingly won Junior B Eights at Wallingford Regatta in a very fast time. They have had a strong season so far with a particularly strong performances at Hampton Head and I can see them getting a medal if they row to their potential.

Bedford School:
Schools’ Head Position: 6th =
Bedford are generally near the top of the first eight back, and this doesn’t look like it will change this year. They enjoyed a good early season, and have attended both Wallingford and Nottingham City regattas in the past month, so should be in tune with the style of racing. Their result at Wallingford wasn’t as strong as I would have expected, but they improved their time for 2k (condition relative) at Nottingham City Regatta so I think they are in a good position ahead of NSR. I think they could make the top 5 with a good row.

Kingston Grammar School:
Schools’ Head Position: 6th =
KGS have been consistently strong through the season and their time at Wallingford sees them in the right bracket to be in with a shout this weekend. Many members of the crew will have formed part of the eight that narrowly failed to qualify for Henley last year, and they know that a good race at NSR could see them avoid the qualifying races altogether so will be firing on all cylinders.

Reading Blue Coat School:
Schools’ Head Position: 8th
Reading Blue Coat School have also had a good season so far, and have been close to, but not quite equal to KGS at both the Schools’ head and Wallingford Regatta. It may be useful for them to work of this rivalry to catapult them to higher things this weekend.

The King’s School, Canterbury:
Schools’ Head Position: 10th
King’s Canterbury are the strongest they have been for many years and performed well, though not perhaps as well as they could have done at the Schools’ Head; they finished a strong 65th overall at the eights head several days later. As mentioned above, King’s pulled away from Norwich at Ghent International May Regatta, winning the Junior eight on the first day and placing second by several feet to a prospective Belgian junior eight on the second. If they have kept their momentum up, I think that a top five finish is well within their grasp.

Monmouth School:
Schools’ Head Position: 13th
Monmouth were a bit off the pace at Schools’ Head, however, their recent second place finish in Junior/School B eights at Wallingford was executed in comparable times to KGS and Reading Blue Coats, so it is fair to say that they are back in contention!

 

At any rate, this weekend promises to be a great spectacle for any with an eye on the first eight scene. Good luck to all crews!

KingCrab