National Schools’ Regatta 2016 – 2nd Eights

Second eights, even more so than Championship eights, is very often a case of the usual suspects. While it is fantastic to see clubs like Millfield School and Cantabrigian making entries, it’s clear the front of the pack will be dominated by those who you would expect, although there are a couple of schools not known for their strong second eight programmes stepping up, which will provide and interesting new dynamic, and, I suspect, a different set of medallists this season.

With seven returners from their Henley finalist crew and a high performance J16 crew on the water last season, it should come as no surprise that Westminster have produced a fantastic second eight this year. While they couldn’t match the 1st placing of their first eight in their category at Schools’ Head, their result at Wallingford was far more promising for them; the feat of appearing in the final for the “A” eights event (beating out some very strong second and first crews) was unforeseen by many. With much confidence built up from this race, I reckon this crew is going to be in for a medal on Saturday, and they’ll certainly have their eye on the gold.

St Paul’s School
St Paul’s have a strong legacy of producing fast second crews, and this year looks to be no exception. Their win at School’s Head will have gone some way to recovering their lost pride over the failure of their first boat to stop Westminster retaking the head, and they have continued to build up a strong set of results to take into this regatta. Most notable among these is a 3rd place finish in “B” eights at Wallingford Regatta, although Abingdon trailing only a canvas behind may have been some cause for concern. However, I doubt these boys are going to let a crew creep up on them again, and as such I think they’re in medal contention.

Shiplake College
Like Westminster, it should come as no surprise that Shiplake have produced two fast eights this season, with a number of returners from their Child Beale-winning crew from last season, as well as a strong J16 contingent stepping up to the senior mark. They’ve built strongly on their 5th place at Schools’ Head and showed an unexpected dominance over Abingdon with a 2 and a half length lead at Bedford Regatta. I have no doubt that this crew will appear in the final, and after Bedford I would imagine that they will be wanting to retain a strong lead over Abingdon, and by an extension of the Wallingford boat, St Paul’s.

Hampton School
Coming out ahead of Westminster by a couple of seconds at Schools’ Head, Hampton will have come into this season with high hopes, and having received a silver medal in this category last season they will have been confident in their programme. Unfortunately, in my eyes their Wallingford result significantly diminished their standing; they were unable to get the better of Eton and didn’t manage to make the A final as Westminster did. Expect to see them in the final, but not on the podium at the end of Saturday.

Eton College
Eton will have held a similar disappointment to Hampton at Wallingford Regatta, and although they managed to just lead them to the line, they will have watched with despair as Westminster rowed up to the start of the final that they were unable to qualify for. However, Eton have a habit of performing when it’s most required, so I wouldn’t underestimate the aggression and speed that they’ll come into this race with.

Abingdon School
Abingdon will have been very pleased with their progression from Schools’ Head this season, going from the sixth placing to being less than a second behind the category leader at Wallingford. While I wouldn’t expect them to medal this season, I think a strong performance here may be a sign of a resurgence in their programme, showing a good depth to their squad after a few years of disappointment.

Predicted Medallists

Gold- Westminster
Silver- St Paul’s
Bronze- Shiplake