Brit Champs 2016 – J18 2x

The British Junior Championships this weekend promise to be a great spectacle; the weather should be fairly nice aside from a reasonably stiff headwind on all three days. A headwind never fails to separate quality crews with the rest of the field, but that doesn’t mean the racing isn’t often close and with a good level of experience in the J18 doubles event this will no doubt be the case.

It is worth noting that the J18 2x event winners will, as with certain other events in the regatta (JM/W 2-, 4-, 1x and 4x) be selected, if eligible, to represent England at the Home International Regatta in Cardiff the following weekend, so the stakes are higher than normal.

Here are my top picks for making the final:

Claires Court School – Jonathan Cameron, Alex Richardson
This guys enter the competition as stand out favourites; both were members of the triple-winning Claires Court quadruple scull and have proven their mettle in the double as well, finishing 4th in the A-final at National Schools’ Regatta (NSR). Jono Cameron represented GB at the Coupe de la Jeunesse. These guys are both powerful athletes and its hard to see their class being matched at this regatta.

Dart Totnes ARC – Jacob Collinson, Luke Riou
These guys did well to make the B-final at NSR, placing 7th in it. Dart Totnes does not have a very big junior programme and so I imagine these guys will have spent a lot of time in smaller boats, which bodes well for them. Moreover, the success of their club mate Matt Swiss will undoubtedly have pushed them on.

Glasgow Schools RA – Callum Broad, Frank Murray
Glasgow have seen considerable success over the past few years, with Gavin Horsburgh and Josh Armstrong winning gold medals in the quad at the junior world championships in Rio last summer. Broad and Murray will have fed off this success and the strength of their programme and have themselves achieved a good result of placing 6th in the B-final of CH2x at NSR. They are lucky to be able to use Strathclyde Country Park and will have benefitted from the practice racing they can do there.

The King’s School, Worcester A – James Beattie, Theo Beever
King’s Worcester have had a strong season in the quad this year, and their two strongest athletes are in this double, which also placed 3rd in the B-final at NSR. Worcester have another double entered and will have been sparring with them in training, so expect them to be race ready.

Leander Club – Tom Ballinger, David Few
Leander have a history of producing very strong junior crews and this double will be no exception. David Few was in a double at NSR that placed 4th in the B-final and Tom Ballinger was in one slightly further back. With a bit more experience under their belts and the fantastic spectacle of Henley having been on their doorstep (a training incentive like no other), I reckon this crew will be quick.

Thames RC – Fred Beaty, Sebastien Tyrie
These two guys won the JM2- at Brit Champs last year and so qualified to race the pair for England at the Home International Regatta 2015. It would be rather special if they could return this year in a sculling boat. They finished 5th in the B-final of the CH2x event at NSR but I think they can improve relative to their competition this weekend as the huge amount of time these guys have spent together will pay dividends in the tricky conditions.

My prediction:
1-Claires Court School
2- King’s School Worcester A
3- Thames Rowing Club

Good luck to all crews!