GB February Trials 2017 – Junior Men’s Sweep Review

With the most recent set of racing for GB vests completed at Boston this weekend, it apt that we should do a reviews on the events that unfolded. The best way I believe that a review could be done on this, would be to take a look at some of the promising athletes in their first year of trials and looking at those who are veterans of the system. I will only be speaking about those who were at the Boston trials but I know there were a few big names missing.

*SS, BS and NP denotes side of preference

St. Pauls School – Douwe de Graaf (SS)

Douwe’s performance at trials last weekend certainly came a surprise to me coming in 1st on the Saturday and 3rd on the Sunday. However this really shouldn’t be a surprise given Douwe’s pedigree, as the stroke of the J16 4+ which went to GB vs France and part of the 8+ which came second in J16 Champ 8’s. The simple fact that Douwe was going to be paired up with Woods on the Saturday should have given away his ability, as it would show him as the top Pauls Strokesider. I think it would be reasonable to believe that Douwe would find himself in one of the top boats at worlds this year.

Winchester College  – Tobias Schroder (SS)

Certainly one of the most powerful sweep athletes in the system right now and this ergo power should come as no surprise due to the amount of indoor training Winchester do. I think the top 2 finishes on the weekend is a testament to the ability Schroder has as an athlete and with the limited stretch of water that I’ve heard Winchester have, it would suggest a good natural ability to get a boat up and running. Also another clear reason why I would tip him to go to worlds this year is because he earned a vest in the Coupe 4+ last year which won gold. (albeit against only one other crew)

Shiplake College – Henry Blois-Brooke (BS)

With Newman either indisposed or even possibly having dropped out of trials Blois-Brooke was partnered up with fellow ‘Shiplakian’  and relatively unknown Oli Newton. This is where credit must go to both the athletes for a decent outing on the weekend, finishing in the top 10 twice. This demonstrates that Henry doesn’t need a top class partner who’s been to worlds like Newman to perform well at trials and wasn’t just pulled along last year. Blois-Brooke is however an athlete who I’m undecided on; will he be a coupe to worlds athlete or a double coupe specialist? I think his ability to move fours as shown by a Silver in J16 CH 4- and a Bronze last year in a competitive CH 4 – event  should allow him to nudge up into worlds.

Eton College – Felix Drinkall (SS)

No trials review would be without this rower, and what a fine rower he is. With Pearson injured/ill Drinkall opted to take the single scull out on the Saturday finishing a very respectable 12th place. On the Sunday however he hopped in the pair with Woods to take the win with hardly anyone in touching distance. Drinkall this season will undoubtedly be the top Strokesider and with his valiant effort stroking the worlds 8 to bronze last year I would think he will be stroking GB’s top boat what ever that may be. There isn’t really much more to say; you just have to look at his medal haul over his career to realise how valuable he has been to Eton and his value to the junior team this year (Medal Haul, Golds: J16 CH4-, J16 CH8+, J15 CH8+, CH4+, Silvers: CH8 + Bronze: GB JM 8 + and of course the PE)

Royal Shrewsbury School – Matt Rowe (SS)

Shrewsbury’s top talent this year isn’t even a home grown Shrubber. Matt now into his second year at Shrewsbury was originally a sculler at Kingston Rowing Club but received a scholarship to Shrewsbury. The well established Shrewsbury pair of Fox and Rowe looked to be quite tidy on the weekend coming in the top 4 pairs. I think Matt would hope to find himself not in one of  the bottom worlds boat this year as he was in the 4+ last year. This is not to say that the bottom boat at worlds is bad, making worlds itself is impressive. Yet I think Rowe would like to make the 8 this year and with his height and new coach this is certainly possible.

Radley College – Archie McChesney (BS)

I was told by a Radley College student recently that all reviews are the same, with generic sayings like ‘good finish from this pair’, ‘Obviously looking to do well at schools head’ he mustn’t have been talking about Radley (three stage season process, poor SHORR, better NSR and Peak at Henley) and he also said to me we recycle ‘so and so is good on the ergo’. Well, guess what – this will be different. 3rd was a very good finish for this pair and McChesney is good on the ergo but that’s beside the point. As a well established school Radley certainly need to look to get someone back in that GB vest and after last years poor showing at trials, McChesney looks to be the man to reverse this.

Eton College – Paddy Adams (BS)

A decent performance on the weekend with Norman from Adams. Paddy is known for his ability to move a pair as shown by his Silver medal at Nat schools when he was in the pair with Lindsay and also the fact he raced himself into a worlds seat last year. His exceedingly long levers should prove to be once again his greatest tool and he will be aiming for a top boat come final trials.

St. Pauls School – Calvin Tarczy (BS)

Cheeky little import by St. Pauls here from Tideway Scullers in bringing  Calvin across. From what I can see Calvin is a bit of a monster with his extraordinary height and the he doesn’t look ungainly and a bit lanky like some of the other very tall athletes in the system. I would have thought this may be a hindrance in the pair by not being as light but it doesn’t seem to be affecting him that much with some good performances. This power coupled with the excellent coaching at Pauls will prove very useful for an rower like Tarczy and ultimately GB.

Westminster School – Henry Jones (BS)

Jones was paired up with Leo Von Malaise from SPS on the Saturday where they came 7th together and he came 13th with Cowling on the Sunday. Jones played a big role in the Westminster 8 last year sitting in the seven seat when they won NSR. Jones was also part of the Coupe 4- which won gold twice. Henry is definitely Westminster’s best shot at getting someone into GB this year.

St Pauls School – Casper Woods (BS)

Certainly the top Bow side rower in my eyes Casper is a fine example of how power to weight works for the lighter rowers. Now of course he’s got some height on him but he certainly isn’t the heaviest if his Henley weight is anything to go by, but damn he uses it effectively in the boat. This is shown by the fact he came first in both days with two different partners. You can also see this ability and level headedness through last years trials where he went to Munich in top boats and then because his internship wouldn’t allow it he dropped out of an all but confirmed worlds place. Showing Casper to be a great student athlete we just hope this year to see him actually racing at worlds.

Overall View

I think the overriding view you can take away from this weekend is that Pauls have got a lot of good athletes who can move these small boats very well and some of them wont even be in their first 8. Also it is good to see some Molesey guys performing well in the system after the success of Oliver Ayres last year. Yet this is very early in the season and some of the people who don’t move pairs as well may be much better when it comes to the latter trialling stages, especially when it gets into the bigger boats at seat racing. A disappointing factor is the fact that Hampton don’t seem to have anyone good enough to challenge for a worlds seat this year, but maybe they can turn it around.