Hampton Small Boats Head – J172-

This race can be quite an interesting barometer for things to come. Almost everyone racing at Hampton this weekend will be probably using it as a stepping stone for greater things. It’s something of a niche event, and it happens to clash with the first GB team assessment, but seems to have nonetheless amassed a respectable number of entries.

Hampton School

The 3 pairs here are named under Nur, Hamilton and Ladhur. Whilst Nur was a member of Hampton’s well-performing J16 2nd VIII last year, it is his squad-mates that boast the more impressive palmarès, each with GB-France vests and two gold medals from Nationals. It is not unreasonable to assume they would be paired with the two remaining athletes from their 2016 J164- that attained said international honours. Whilst steering is a negligible factor with regards to speed on this, the Molesey stretch of the Thames, I would be surprised if it was not one of these athletes making their rather short journey home with pot in hand. My instincts tell me that the victors will be the duo featuring Matthew Hamilton, who despite Hampton‘s dearth of triallists, posted a strong 2k time for the first GB ranking. Although he received an invite to the aforementioned first trial, it appears as though the Hamptonians have opted to put in a showing at their own race instead, and will be disappointed with less than a win.

Latymer Upper School

A school fielding 2 pairs, under the names of Traeger and Brett, from Latymer’s J16A and B coxed fours in 2016 respectively. The former performed strongly, with gold at national schools, until GB-France trials where they placed third initially, and then lost out to Eton in the race-off for the last four seats in the 8+. Latymer have been on the rise in recent years, having sent Tom Phelps to the Coupe de la Jeunesse, and paddling on the tideway their senior squad looks tidy. I’d bet my hat that James Phelps, the next in line in that most prominent of rowing dynasties, will be racing, most likely paired with Traeger. There’s no reason why these boys couldn’t give Hampton a run for the their money; it all depends how things go on the day.

Molesey Boat Club’s “Lucas” looks to be new to the sport, but with the club being only a few kilometres upstream of Hampton, he certainly won’t have far to go. Being such a well established club, Molesey is more than capable of attracting gifted walk-ons relatively late in the day in terms of junior rowing, and can produce outstanding athletes. Molesey juniors athletes have a habit of going on to do great things: look no further than Moe Sbihi, Olympic Champion with the GB coxless four in Rio. In August they also sent Oliver Ayres to Rotterdam, where he won a bronze medal in the JM8+ at the World Championships.

Norwich School and Walton Rowing Club will struggle to match the pedigree of the other entrants here, the former being more of a Child Beale club.