National Schools’ Regatta- Championship Coxed Fours

All but one of the crews entered in this event will race in the semi-finals, which promise to be fantastic viewing; not only is the field of a very high standard, but the crews in second place and onwards cannot afford to cruise as the places in the final go to the winners of each semi-final and the next five fastest crews.
This preview will look at the seven crews I think are most likely to secure a place in the final. As is often the case with this category, this year’s field looks to be dominated by crews made up of members of Championship eights from the previous day; it is worth noting how much of a psychological impact the results in the Championship eight event will have on many of the competitors in this event and what a difference a good row in the eight could make on a crew’s prospects in the fours event…

Radley College
Reigning champions in this event, Radley have entered a strong boat comprised of five athletes from their Championship 8+. However, missing the fire power of Charles Elwes, I fear they may not have the class to retain the title this year. They are not predicted to be near the top of the eights event this year, however, they have a history of producing well drilled crews and no doubt will have made the most of their new facilities this winter to build a strong base level. With a good race in their semi, I can see these guys scraping into the top seven, but not really being in the position to challenge for a medal.

Royal Shrewsbury School
Like Radley, Shrewsbury do not appear to be near the top of the Championship eight game this year, though that is not always indicative of how they may perform in smaller boats. This crew notably contains Matthew Rowe, who recently represented GB at Munich International Regatta and Patrick George, who represented Wales at the Home International Regatta last summer. I do not think these guys will take home a medal, but would be surprised if they didn’t make the final.

Westminster School
On paper the less experienced half of the Westminster Championship eight, commanded by accomplished cox Matthew Holland, this crew still looks incredibly strong, which is testament to the depth of the current squad at the Tideway based school. I believe the crew 2k ergo average to be comfortably in the 6.20s, and this, coupled with the good boat moving skills consistently shown by Westminster athletes, puts this crew in a strong position ahead of this weekend. I think these guys will relish the chance to show that the Westminster eight is more than just the Plaut Twins et al. and I believe they have a good chance of bringing home a medal.

Eton College
This Eton boat looks scary on paper: both David Bewicke-Copley and cox George Cozens represented GB in the Coupe de la Jeunesse last summer, in the coxed four and eight respectively, whilst Benedict Aldous and Felix Drinkall raced at Munich earlier this year. Eton have the strongest squad they have had for a while and this boat is representative of that. I put the 2k ergo average in the 6.10s, and power really pays in a coxed four. This crew has very good prospects for medalling.

St Paul’s School ‘B’
Another loaded crew, collectively possessing a wealth of experience, these guys are an almost sure bet to medal at the weekend. All five members of the crew have represented GB: Vlad Saigu coxed the 4+ at the Junior World’s last year, Seb Benzecry, Bertie Woodward-Fisher and Alfred Jaquemot all raced at the Coupe de la Jeunesse and Caspar Woods (alongside Seb, Bertie and Vlad) picked up a vest at Munich several weeks ago. Although not the highest horsepower crew on the course, it is tricky to see these guys being beaten.

Abingdon School
This looks to be the strongest four Abingdon could put out, containing both two time world silver medallist Tom Digby and Adam Teece, who raced the England coxed four and eight at the Home International Regatta last year and picked up a GB vest at Munich international regatta. It looks as though Digby is in the stroke seat, from which he will undoubtedly be powering the crew on with his sub 6 minute 2k generating engine. I think this crew has a strong chance of medalling if they fulfil their potential.

Winchester College ‘A’
I hardly need tell the success story that has been Winchester’s season so far, but, in short, good crew momentum from last year has seen their largely J17 top 8+ push into the Championship category. The eight rowers from that boat are in two coxed fours in this category, and the ‘A’ crew looks the stronger, containing GB hopefuls Tobias Schroder and Hugo Durward alongside Robbie Boswall, who rowed alongside Abingdon’s Teece in the England coxed four and eight at the Home International regatta last year. I am confident that the ‘A’ crew will make the final and could push for a medal with a good row.

My prediction:
1) St Paul’s ‘B’
2) Eton College
3) Abingdon School

Good luck to all crews!