Fours Head 2016- J18 4x

Men’s quads at a junior level are notoriously unpredictable, so Fours Head is often an early pointer as to who’s going to be performing this season. With more favourable conditions predicted than most tideway heads, this should be a very even race between crews from the Thames and elsewhere, hence why we think the odds may be in favour of stronger crews from elsewhere. Nevertheless, the rankings in this category are as liable to change as the conditions of the river, so we should be in for a tough but exciting race.

Shiplake

Over the past few years Shiplake College has been putting together quite a collection of results. This has ranged from winning the Child Beale in 2015 to 2nd place in CH8 at SHORR earlier this year. The start of this season has been no different. A dominant campaign in America racing at HOCR as well as Head of the Schuylkill saw some impressive results, placing 9th and 3rd in the quad and double respectively in Boston, and winner of the JM4x on the Schuylkill. The quad that will race this weekend is packed with experience in the form of Coupe winner Henry Blois-Brooke and Seb Newman who raced in the 4+ at the Junior Worlds. I believe,this crew will be on fine form this weekend and will definitely be looking forward to an extremely competitive performance challenging in for the win.

Claire’s Court School

You can’t do this preview without mentioning last year’s top crew from CCS. The winners of ‘the triple’ proved to be unstoppable and this was especially proven by Costly who won bronze and silver at Coupe in the single scull. Costly is the only returning member of last season’s mighty crew however, CCS will want to ensure they can recreate the magic of their Henley winning quad. The other members of the quad for this weekend all raced in the history making 8+ that was the first Claire’s Court 8+ to qualify for Henley. This proves they have a high level of experience racing against the very best in the country. These boys are seasoned racers and it will be a tough challenge for them but I believe they will once again be in contention for the top positions come results on Saturday.

Windsor Boys School

If Claire’s Court are mentioned it is impossible to not mention Windsor Boys in the same breath. 3rd at SHORR, 2nd in NSR CH4x and Fawley finalists, this was another class act from last year. This year both Ellery and Smith return, with Smith having won two Coupe golds in the British quad. Last year it could be argued that Windsor Boys were always the Bridesmaids to Claire’s Court. It would be nice to see them reach the top this year given how close they were last year. They placed 2nd at this event last year, and will want a similar result to kickstart their season this time round.

Northwich

Last year’s Fours Head winners have two returning members. Greg Murphy and Kevin Dudley. Both these athletes were involved in the trialling system at some point this year and will want to draw on that experience to lead this crew come the weekend. Their crew mates both raced in the Northwich ‘B’ quad who managed to qualify for the Fawley, a very commendable achievement. This crew would love to recreate last year’s performance but it will be a tough task, one which is definitely in them if the rowing stars align.

Marlow RC

Certainly, in terms of accolades, this boat appears to be one of the strongest in the category. Ben Simon has appeared at Coupe representing team GB two years running and along with Sam Long they came an impressive 5th in CH4x at NSR last season and broke into the semi-finals at Henley. This momentum has continued into this season with 2nd and 6th place at Pairs Head in J18 2x, which bodes well in terms of consistency of power throughout the crew. In light of these results paired with an exclusively sculling-oriented programme, Marlow are going to be gunning for the win at this event on Saturday.

Maidenhead RC

This is another club with a very strong tradition in this junior quads, and this year should be no exception. As a relatively young crew last season (mostly J17s and J16s), they put in an unexpectedly solid performance as they came 5th at NSR and were beaten narrowly by a much stronger and heavier crew from Abingdon by only a canvas. The crew hosts two immensely talented scullers in Sean O’Mahony and Victor Kleshnev, the latter of whom has won the singles event for his age group three years running at the British Rowing Championships. It is too early to make a prediction about where they will go this season, but my guess is that they’ll definitely fall into the top five at this event and should be closing the distance down on their adversaries from last season: Marlow.

Leander

As one of the premier elite clubs in the country at every level, it is no surprise that Leander produce exceptionally strong quads each year, and last season was no exception as they picked up a bronze medal at National Schools’ Regatta and strolled through to the semi-finals at Henley. There are two returners but considering the quality of coaching and high entry requirements at the club, I have no doubt that the two new athletes joining them will be of the highest standard, and I would certainly expect them to be falling within the top 5 boats this weekend.

My prediction… Shiplake to to take the win, but watch out for Marlow along with Westminster and Tideway Scullers on home water.

Good luck to all crews!

6 man and Hightide

HighTide
  • John Yeatman

    You seem to have missed the minor fact that Marlow won Youth quads at HoCR, 28s faster than Shiplake with a cox on board. With three of last year’s quad returning, you forgot strokeman John Cooper. The new member is ex-Borlase’s 2015 Fawley winner, as a J16, Joe Wolfin.