Hampton Head 2017- J18 4+

The coxed fours category here is furnished with some of the finest crews from rowing squads of all standards, and as such expect a tough race and possibly some surprises from the less established crews around.

Eton College
Without any other entries in the morning division, I suspect the three boats entered, named after the warring factions from Game of Thrones, are the top 12 athletes in their senior squad. Their first boat at Fours Head didn’t distinguish them much from the pack with a standard 5th place finish, but Eton’s programme is known for winding up gradually as the season progresses. That said, these boys are still going to be forming a classy unit, and I can’t see anyone (bar Winchester) in this category being able to take a swing at them.

Winchester College
It’s been a long journey for the current J18 contingent at Winchester, who despite having only one boat have produced a series of GB-standard athletes and one of the best drilled crews in recent memory. I’d suggest that this boat is made up of their four strongest athletes, and working off the back of being the fastest junior crew on the water at Wallingford in December they should be pushing for a very fast time on Saturday. Whether they can step up to challenge Eton is a very different story, but expect these boys to be somewhere far up the pack.

Despite this definitely not being the top eight athletes from the Hampton squad, it would be unfair to write them off entirely. These crews will largely consist of the newly initiated J17s- the gold medallists in J16 CH 8+ at NSR last season. On their home water, these crews will both definitely have something to prove, and as such I think they’ll be towards the top of the results table.

Latymer Upper
Latymer had a slightly uncharacteristic break from their eights programme last season, possibly as a result of wanting to preserve a strong J16 squad and having a lack of athletes in their J17/18 squad. They will have benefitted from an influx of some very talented J17 athletes, and the fact that they spent almost the entirety of last season in fours will benefit this crew immensely- Both J16 fours won gold at NSR and the J18s won a bronze medal in 1st fours. Whilst I can’t see them challenging the top end of Eton’s programme, this will be a good opportunity for them to lay down a benchmark for the next season, and as such they’ll be challenging Hampton for top places.

Great Marlow School
It’s very difficult to tell whether this is the top crew, but if it is this will be one to watch out for. This is by and large due to the victory of their top J18 coxed four at Wallingford, among some of the biggest competition in the country. With a rapidly improving programme and a very strong new lot of J17s I can see them being very much in the mix with Latymer, provided this is their top crew.

Bedford School get an honourable mention as they produced a four that came 7th at Fours Head and have a reputation for producing strong crews every year.

1. Eton
2. Winchester
3. Latymer