National Schools’ Regatta 2016 – Championship Coxless Fours

The changes to the structure of the regatta so that 1st Fours is now on the Sunday has unfortunately made this event far less attractive for Child Beale crews, although there are still a good mix of entries and there should be a tight race, even if it may be something of a rematch of Saturday’s eights racing.

St Paul’s School

While this may be a mix of first and second boat athletes, the calibre of any St Paul’s boat cannot be mistaken. Their clean and powerful style of rowing has historically transferred successfully into their fours rowing, and Harry Orwell and Alex Waller both have international experience, having competed in the GB France match. With some big competition around them I wouldn’t expect to see them on the medal podium, but a place in the final is definitely on the cards.

Hampton School
This year Hampton have decided to load the coxless four with their strongest and most prolific athletes, and this will have surfaced some fears for the other crews gunning for first place. This is essentially an international crew, with Chris Zahn having competed at Junior Worlds last season, Jens Clausen having competed at Coupe and Dom Jackson having earned a place at Munich International Regatta. One would be mistaken to underestimate the strength of Hampton’s programme and their top crew’s technical ability, and I can definitely see this crew sitting on the podium.

Marlow RC

I can see this crew as being something of a dark horse for Sunday. While they haven’t been seen on the sweep scene this season, this crew have been one of the dominant forces on the sculling scene, with a second place finish at School’s Head and a fourth place finish at Wallingford Regatta. With the level of technical proficiency gained from sculling, I can see no reason why they will not be precise and technical rowers with a healthy dose of power brought in from GB trials B finalists Long and Simon. My advice: don’t underestimate the scullers.

Shiplake College

Shiplake have, like Hampton, decided to put their powerhouse into the coxless four and make no mistake, they’re here to win. Shiplake have exploded into the top echelons of male junior rowing this season with their joint second place finish at School’s Head in the eight, but there has been much speculation as to whether this pace will hold through the regatta season. I see the answer in the fours event as relatively simple. A mixture of their aggressive and determined attitude and the international experience (and sculling ability) of Seb Newman and Henry Blois-Brooke will make this one of the top performing crews on Sunday, and they will definitely be in contention to a spot on the medal podium.

Westminster School

For all my speculation about Hampton and Shiplake ting their top boys into their coxless fours, the truth is that the Henley finalists and national champions from last season are untouchable. The Plaut twins have been notorious this season for their lightning speed both in the double and pair, and this clear technical prestige won them both places at Munich International Regatta. The quality of the crew doesn’t end there however; both Oswald Stocker and Oskar Arzt-Jones were invited to Munich to join their crewmates. With three Henley finalists, three national schools gold medallists and four Schools’ Head winners (and athletes who will probably be attending Junior Worlds this summer), this crew entering has essentially pre-determined the winner of the event.

Other crews that I think will be competing for final spots are King’s Chester as they have been performing well this season and have put their top athletes into this boat class, Abingdon School and Radley College because of both of their prestige in the eights category, and King’s Canterbury, who won first fours last season.

Gold- Westminster
Silver- Hampton
Bronze- Shiplake