National Schools Regatta 2016 – Championship Girls Coxless Four

Coxless fours is a fantastic event, where we see the Champs eights from Saturday split and battle it out with the top crews from some of the smaller clubs. Sometimes this event is considered to have less competition due to its clash with the Champs 4x, an event popularized by the addition of the quad as the only Junior women’s event at Henley Royal. This year however, many clubs have tried to utilize the ‘easier’ event resulting in an absolutely stacked field with multiple international athletes and previous gold medalists. With most of these crews spending their time as half an eight, not many have come head to head yet this season, so expect some close and exciting racing on Sunday.

I’ll go through the main crews entered, followed by a mention about the remaining ones at the end.

Henley RC

Henley is currently the home of a large number of incredibly skilled oarswomens. They have proven their ability in both sweep and sculling by winning both the Junior Women’s Quad and Four at Fours Head of the River, and looking at the entries list two golds will probably be their aim again on Sunday as they split their eight over the Ch4- and Ch4x. This four is slightly different to the one they fielded at Fours Head back in November, but it has ‘Kay’ and ‘Pearson’ who appeared recently at GB April trials in a pair, winning the B final. ‘Morgan’ also raced a single at this event, winning the D final. This is bound to be a powerful unit, though it is unclear if this boat is actually their ‘top’ crew or second behind the quad. Even so these girls are sweeping in the eight on Saturday and I expect them to be in the fight for medal positions on Sunday too.

 

St Edwards School

A strong girls rowing school, this four is likely to be the top half of the St Edwards Eight from Saturday. Teddies sometimes struggle to get fantastic results as they haven’t quite got the depth for a champs eight, so I am excited to see how their top four girls can perform without this holding them back. There is international experience in this crew with Tilly Caitlin, who was in the Coupe team last year, and also another athlete ‘Mottram’ put in a decent performance at November Early IDs. This crew doesn’t seem to have raced, so its hard to tell whether they’ll be able to keep up with the big names in this event, I’d say a good B final result is likely.

 

 

Sir William Borlase

Sir William Borlase seem to have been experimenting racing several different eight and four combinations throughout the year. The crew racing in this event is the same crew that came second at Fours Head behind Henley, and so I assume it is their top boat. They also raced at Wallingford in Women’s challenge coxless fours, where they came 3rd in a straight final beating two LEH fours. It is worth noting however, LEH also had a Junior eight entered in the morning division, so these fours are unlikely to be their top girls. Despite this the Borlase crew look strong, with returners from their fantastic season last year, and two of the four with previous experience racing GB-France as J16s, they are likely to be in the mix. I think A final for these girls, not sure if they’ll quite be fast enough to get a medal though.

 

Lady Eleanor Holles A B and C 

LEH have swamped this event with three entries with what seems to be their top 12 girls. Confusingly ‘LEH C’ and ‘LEH B’ are the two halves of their Ch8+ on Saturday, whilst ‘LEH A’ are half of their second eight. I reckon ‘LEH C’ are their top crew, it has three out of four girls from their Jun4+ at Fours Head which came 3rd, and one of them ‘Giddy’ was half the LEH pair that came 3rd at GB April Trials. This is also probably the same crew who raced Junior coxed fours at Wallingford, coming a strong second place in the Final. LEH have clearly thrown everything they have at this event, and will be hoping to come out with a medal. It looks like they should have the speed to get close, however with such a stacked field I think they may find it more difficult than expected. Still, they’ve clearly been focusing on fours recently, and that could make the difference for them in the final. As for LEH B and A, I find it hard to believe a second crew will make the A final here, but if ‘LEH B’ put in a good performance they may find themselves near the top of the B final results.

 

Putney High School

Putney are the first crew on this list so far who aren’t half an eight from Saturday, something that could be considered an advantage as they are focusing solely on this event and won’t be tired from the day before. Putney, like many of these crews, raced Junior coxed fours at Wallingford. They came a close second to the top LEH boat in their heat, and went on to win the repechage but eventually placed 5th in the final. One member of the crew, Emma Andrews, was the spare at Coupe last year and raced in the Women’s eight. She also raced with ‘Caitlin’ from the St Edwards four and came 2nd in the B final at GB April Trials. Another crew member ‘Scambler’ also appeared at J16 trials in February. This should bring the horsepower they need to be competitive this weekend, and although they probably won’t be on pace with the top crews, the A final is perfectly possible for these girls.

 

Marlow RC

Yet another Ch8+, Marlow seem to have taken the switch to a sweep club in their stride. Coming from Diamond Jubliee finalists in the women’s quad last year, they have completely switched to entering a champs eight and top four this summer. However surprising, Marlow have been getting strong results, consistently in the top 6 crews when racing their eight. This four is almost certainly the pedigree of those athletes as it includes two time Junior Worlds athlete Molly Harding. With a silver medal from Rio in the quad last year, she is one of the top J18 girls in the country and will bring immense power to this crew. To back her up are three girls from the very successful Marlow J16 Ch8+ last year. I think these girls are going to be quick, and despite their inexperience of putting out a top four, they should still be in the mix for the medals, and may even be dark horses for the gold.

 

Bedford Modern School

A club who’s consistently improving year on year, BMS have managed to break into the champs events this regatta season. I think this four is their top crew, taken from their Champs eight from Saturday, and they have fielded a second boat in the Saturday coxed four event. This boat contains athelete ‘Graham’ who’s been involved in the trialling system and raced in a composite pair at April trials, coming 3rd in the B final. BMS had a coxed four at Wallingford who came 4th in the Final just ahead of Putney, and a coxless four at Nottingham city who came second in the final to Great Marlow. These are promising results, and they’ve clearly been trying to gain race experience in both the four and eight. If these girls have a good race they could make it into the A final, but with several similar crews fighting for the last spots it’s very hard to tell who will make it on the day.

 

Gloucester Hartpury

Another club who’s made a surprising switch from sweep to sculling. Winners of National Schools and Henley Royal Regatta in the Women’s Junior Quad last season, Gloucester made the dramatic switch from two blades to one in September. A risky move, especially with rumours flying that they had to be taught sweep from scratch. However nothing can hold back these girls who seem to have got to just as high a standard in a different discipline, and have entered this event as possible favourites. They have one returner from their quad last year ‘Russell’ who together with ‘Lawrence’ have been making a huge impact at GB Trials. As well as coming second at April trials, they individually triumphed in seat racing at Spring Assessments and both competed alongside two Glasglow girls in the GB Womens 4- at Munich International regatta, where they won a gold medal. This result, if nothing else, shows the exceptional talent of these athletes, and with 50% of the crew bringing international experience Gloucester may be taking home even more gold medals this year.

 

Other crews in this event include Kings School Chester, who’s top four at Wallingford came second in their heat but unfortunately last in the rep and failed to make the A final. LEA RC who seem to have put out a 4th of their 2-6th girls from their eight, with their top two in a pair. Commercial RC Dublin is also racing, it’s difficult to predict the speeds of the Irish crew, though they did have a Junior womens eight win Silver at Ghent regatta, and if these are the same crews Dublin may turn some heads with a good result. St Pauls Girls have a decent eight, and one girl in their four ‘Lawless’ has a 2k in the top 10 in the country. This should give them power, though a disappointing 4th in a heat in Wallingford puts them off the pace. Finally Surbiton High School have a crew entered, though if they followed the same strategy as last year their top four will race coxed on Saturday and this will be a second crew.

 

Prediction:

I think they’ll be two fights going on in this event. The first between the top four crews for the medals, and then for the next four crews getting their place in the A final. Both look like they’re going to be devastatingly close, so should be a great race to watch!

  1. Gloucester Hartpury
  2. Henley RC
  3. Marlow or LEH C

 

Good luck to all crews racing!

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