Hampton Head 2017 – WJ184+

Hampton head is one of the most competitive events in junior rowing, with this event being no exception. 12 events strong, it’s going to be a difficult one to call. With one name per crew, all crews will have to be based of this individual’s performance assuming each crew member will be of a similar standard.

LEH – Lady Eleanor Holles have entered two crews into this category: Bowyer and Mason. It appears that Bowyer was rowing for SHORR last year but coxing for NSR, and assuming she is this crew’s stroke then I do not see this as LEH’s top crew (they do have entries in lots of categories). Mason raced NSR in LEH’s J16 C four, so again I think this is not a top boat. However, LEH is a school with a lot of talent so despite these not being top crews, I imagine they won’t be at the bottom of the group.

HED – Headington only have one crew in this category and assuming that Smith is King Smith then this crew is in serious contention for the win. King-Smith raced in the GB quad which raced at Coupe last summer, so I can easily see this crew being Headington’s fastest. That being said, Headington have reputation for their talent in eights, but can they match this in the four? It will be a good test for the season to see how strong their squad is this year, so I eagerly await to see the performance of these girls.

HAB – Haberdasher’s are entering two crews into this category. They do have a reputation in this event, last year winning bronze medals at NSR, so I definitely see them up there with the top crews this weekend. One of their crews at NSR even had their Hampton Head stroke Du Toit in it, so I see this being a competitive boat. Their other stroke, Hunter, was not in this top crew so may be their second crew. Nevertheless, I foresee both crews putting up a fight, in this their preferred event, on Saturday.

SPG – St Paul’s Girls is a school which has improved greatly in it’s performance over the last decade and continues to do so. Having come second at their home ground for Quintin Head to Henley, they’ve shown they mean business this season. However this was not Henley’s top crew so it’s hard to tell how they will do compared to other squads. Lewis, their stroke, was in SPGS’s NSR first 8 last season which came 7th, so I think this may well be a top crew. I do not seeing SPGS rivalling HED or MAR but I don’t think they would hand them the win and will be very competitive with other crews – for instance LEH or HAB.

MAR – Marlow has always been an excellent rowing club, with no exception in the past few years. Their stroke, Strudwick, was in the WJ164+ last year which won NSR and Women’s Henley, as well as representing GB in the 8 at the annual J16 match vs. France. I therefore have no doubt that this crew is in serious contention for this win if their stroke as anything to go by. If any crew is to beat Headington, this crew is one of their most serious threats.

BMS – Bedford Modern have not performed well so far this year, coming 8th out of 10 eights at Quintin Head last month. If that is anything to go by then I would not put BMS down for a win at Hampton. They may however come back with a vengence, racing some of their QH competitors again such as Putney and be looking to shave some seconds off their lead.

HEN – Henley is a consistently excellent club in the junior girls, with a recent win in the eight at Quintin Head – which is impressive considering I do not think that was their top crew. If that is the case, it shows their strength in the seniors this season. Their stroke this Saturday is Sotnick who was stroking their first eight at NSR last season, so I would put good money on this being one of their top crews (despite their stroke not being in Henley’s top crew at HORR which won the quad). This rower in particular transferred from Yarm club to Henley, which would imply a serious calibre. Therefore I think this crew is up there with Marlow and Headington for a shot at this gold.

PHS – Putney did not specify any crew member names so this is a hard one to judge. However they did race an eight at Quintin, which gives an idea of how their senior squad is performing this year. As they came fourth in this event, and if this is their top four, then they could put in a solid performance this weekend but I do not see them medaling. I reckon they could provide some more competition for the middling spots in this category, but with no stroke name – they could come out and surprise us!

MBC – Molesey are racing on their home stretch which can significantly change the ranking of crews, especially in a coxed category if the cox knows the waters. However they will not have this against LEH of course who share this stretch. Earlier this season they did have a win in the WIM34+ which shows that they can produce fast fours to win a junior category. If this crew is the same then I would see them being up there at the top of the category.

CAN – Canford School have not made many notable appearances yet this season, so looking back to last year is the easiest way to evaluate them. In this event last year at NSR Canford narrowly missed out on bronze medals by 1.5s, however this event did not include crews racing the 8+. Therefore I would put them in the fight for the middling positions as I wouldn’t have them down as threats for the top dogs.

1. Headington
2. Marlow
3. Henley/Molesey