National Schools’ Regatta 2016 – Junior 15 Championship Eight Part 1

We’ve had two submissions for the Junior 15 8+, so we’re going to publish them both. Take your pick as to your favourite…

While common wisdom in the rowing community dictates this event is to be won by the crew who makes the least mistakes over the course of 2,000m; in more recent times, with the ever improving erg standards across the junior circuit, it has taken a shift towards a balance of raw power and skill to take the Founders cup home. This race is made evermore exciting by the fact that there is an arising trend, where the winners of the event generally go onto dominate the sport for their remaining schoolboy years. In 2016, there are 10 entries into the event and with that let’s get onto the preview.

Westminster School BC

Under the watchful guidance of legendary former head coach Bill Mason, Westminster were able to win convincingly at SHORR in a time of 19:18. Only local rival St. Pauls coming near them over the 6,800m course. Our only view of Westminster this regatta season came from their Easter training camp in Ghent where they disappointingly lost to Kings Chester by 2/3 of a length. What we can see though is that the crew has been overhauled from Ghent and subsequently have elected not to take part in any of the major regattas leading up to NSR, in order to focus on increasing boat speed at home on the Tideway. This crew will definitely be aiming for the top spot on the Saturday and under the guidance of Mason this could well happen.

St. Pauls BC

With parallels to Westminster, St Pauls were able to put a marker down at SHORR with a strong second place in the time of 19:25. They impressed at Bedford Regatta with a win over Abingdon in the final and more importantly they beat Hampton School in the quarter final by 3/4 of a length, showing they are a crew in imperious form. With a plethora of GB athletes in the St Paul’s ranks, and a group of highly experienced coaches, this J15 crew will be looking to keep the reputation which St Paul’s have built up in recent years going and impress their fellow club mates over the 2000m at Dorney this weekend. It is my view that this is one of the crews who is surging in speed to peak at NSR and has a great chance of medalling. However in such a tight fight for those medals they must look for a faultless run on Saturday.

Hampton School

Hampton School have a history of being able to select from a wide range of boys giving them great squad depth. This year is seemingly no different, as shown by their J15 2nd 8+ coming within 9 seconds of their J15Ch8+ at SHORR. The crew is much like those of previous years in the fact it is technically sound and carrying some serious firepower in the boat. One cause for concern is there seems to be something lacking in the final 500m of their race plan. This was demonstrated by the results at Wallingford, their dominant position was overhauled right before the line to finish a close second. I’m certain they will have tried to learn from this in order to put in a strong result on the weekend at National Schools

King’s School Chester

Chester has been raising few eyebrows with their performances this season. With a somewhat average result at School head, they finished at the wrong end of a tight pack. However they seem to have found some boat speed coming into the regatta season. The Chester crew have been shown to go out hard, but have been found at times wanting in the middle 1K. Chester redeem themselves in the final 500m, as shown by their charge at Wallingford to come back to beat a very strong Hampton crew on the line. Under the supervision of former J14 coach Duncan Little, a man who has played a large role in forging Chester into a strong force in the J14 circuit in the last decade. If Chester wish to cause an upset this Saturday, they must row a near perfect race as their race tactics leave no margin for error.

Royal Shrewsbury School

A common theme at Shrewsbury in recent years seems to be the fact that their J15s are able to hold their own and even at times better their older club mates in the J16 squad. All though this may be a cause for concern for their J16s this is obviously good news for the J15s. Since SHORR, the Shrewsbury boys have been finding ever increasing form in the regatta season. A good showing was posted by Shrewsbury in the IM3 VIIIs at Nottingham City Regatta, they posted a 1 second faster time than King’s Chester J15s, albeit in a different heat. On top of this, the Shrewsbury boat has had members subbing in to their J16 VIII at Junior Inter Regional Regatta earlier this year, a possible testament to their maturity as athletes. Shrewsbury’s programme is often a strong one, so a final appearance seems definitely within this crew’s powers.

Marlow RC

Marlow RC have dipped their toes into the world of Championship VIII racing this year, without a doubt a positive sign for the health of the event going forward. A classically strong sculling club, it will be interesting to see if they are able to transfer their expertise into sweep boat racing. This J15 bunch has shown good form this year, with a strong top 5 finish at SHORR in March, and a close run 4th place at Wallingford, finishing ½ length behind St. Edwards, a school more experienced in the art of the single stick. Judging by recent results, a cool head is needed for this fresh crew in the event on Saturday, but I can definitely see Marlow RC doing their club proud and sticking themselves right in the mix of the final positions.

Notable other mentions

Eton usually has a crew knocking about in a final and if they avoid a repeat of the DQ like at Wallingford they could make it to the final. St. Edwards placed a solid third at Wallingford and should make the final but will be at the back end of it. Radley, winners of the regatta last year in the J14 Octuple, seem to be without the ability to contend for that same position again this year. Abingdon they made the final of Bedford Regattas however they lost to St. Pauls by a decent 2 length margin in the end, but this doesn’t leave them in that bad of a position given the power of Pauls.



  1. St Paul’s
  2. Hampton
  3. Westminster

Written by  Views From The Bows