Fours Head – WJ18 4x

Fours Head is a good opportunity to see clubs racing bigger boats they may be considering racing in the spring. Pairs Head was a good indicator for the potential some of these crews, although this is the first tideway race of the season for many of these crews, and the first head race on this nearly 7km stretch of the Thames. Experience on the Tideway will come into play, especially due to its unpredictable conditions, and visiting crews need to hope their bow steers the course well or results could be disappointing.



A clearly dominant crew in this event, consisting of very successful girls. Orr and Kay both competed at Coupe in the double and four respectively, with Kay coming away with silver and bronze, and Orr winning gold both days, and Robinson Ranger has also put in some impressive performances at GB trials last season. All girls also competed at Henley Royal, with Kay and Robinson Ranger reaching the quarter finals in the A boat. The three J17s in the boat (Orr, Robinson Ranger, Wright) also won WJ16 4X at NSR last season. Kay won silver in CH4- at NSR and also came 2nd in WJ18 2X recently at Pairs Head. Given such a wealth of experience and some very strong results from all 4 girls, I think this crew has a solid chance at taking the win. They also won this event in 2014 and 2015, so I’m sure they’ll be looking to continue this streak.



Another very strong crew, who have already proved themselves this year in Pairs Head. Dean and Bird came in 3rd, closely followed by Matthews and Fennell in 5th, an impressive feat to have two crews rank so highly. Last season these girls also had success in various events; at NSR, Matthews came 5th in CH4X, and Dean and Matthews won bronze in CH2-. Bird, who I believe previously raced for Maidenhead, competed with Marlow at Brit Champs, coming 5th in WJ184X and 4th in the WJ18 8+, alongside Matthews and Fennell. This crew also competed at Head of the Charles, coming 3rd in Youth Coxed Quads. Given this experience, I’ll think Marlow will have a good run, and will be putting up a fight for the win.



Headington have demonstrated a depth throughout their squad, with a crew making the final at Henley Royal last season, and various high ranking results at national events. However, this crew doesn’t consist of its top girls, and looks to be a younger crew, so I’m unsure how they will fare against the likes of Henley and Marlow. Townley competed at HOCR, coming 11th in Youth Doubles, and also came 11th in the Girls 4+ at NSR last season. Stephens came away with bronze in WJ16 4+, and Van Onselen and Grieg-O’Connor came 6th in WJ15 4X. These girls do have some good results however I’m not sure they will have the experience to get them into the top places.



Emanuel do have the advantage of Tideway experience, however his crew is also younger, which could be a surprise, but it does look like Emanuel is trying to prioritize their four in this race. Sutton has already put in a good result at Pairs Head this year, coming in 6th in Junior 2X, and is also trialling this year. Ellis came 4th in WJ18 2nd 4X, and Weighill and Laughton, the younger girls in the crew, came 4th in WJ15 8+ at NSR, not a bad result at all, but it is a large step up for them to now compete as J18s.



Another Tideway crew, these girls have a wealth of experience on this course, and will be able to steer to their advantage and keep composed. Savage, Butterworth and Scambler all raced in CH4- at NSR, coming 7th, and I believe Savage was also in the 4+ that came 2nd in Schools Head. Maini appears to be a younger sculler in the crew, who came 5th in WJ15 8+ at NSR last season. Although they seem to be more used to sweep, I think this crew will put in a solid performance, aiming for a high ranking.



Half of this boat (Price/Umbelino-Purton) placed 7th at place pairs head in the junior pair. The other two girls are J16s and are not the top two girls in the club, so the boat may be a little weaker than their top four girls. Thames has been showing strength recently but is not as traditionally strong as some other clubs, so they may not have the depth to pull off a top result, although they could still place well with this younger crew. Training on the Tideway will also aid them in steering a good course.



Three out of four of these girls were in the J16 G 4x at Nationals last spring that placed 4th in the time trial but got disqualified in their semifinal. It’s hard to say what happened there, possibly really bad steering which would be a disadvantage on the tideway, but at any rate these should be decently fast J17s. They also have one triallist in their boat. Their lack of experience means they may not be fighting for the top spots but they have potential to place well.


I reckon Henley will take the win on this one, followed by Marlow, however I think it could be a bit of a battle for the places after, with a lot riding on which crew has confidence on the Tideway.


Good Luck to all crews racing!