Schools’ Head 2017 – Championship Girls Eights

School’s Head is the last big head race of the year for junior women’s eights, and with plenty of foreign competition in the mix there will be a lot of competition on the day for the top spots.

 

Headington

Headington have undoubtedly dominated the junior girls’ rowing scene in recent years, with last year marking their 8th consecutive win in Ch8+ at NSR. At WEHORR last weekend, they topped the junior category ahead of rivals Henley RC, with an impressive 13th place overall to set a new junior record. Having also won School’s Head for the last 4 years, they won’t be looking to settle for any less than 1st place. However, Henley have been in close reach all season and were only 5.4 seconds behind at WEHORR. Over the slightly shorter SHORR course, this margin is even smaller, so Headington will still need to perform well if they want to maintain their success amongst many high calibre crews.

 

Henley

With Henley once again finishing not far behind Headington, these girls will be doing everything they can to end the head season on a high. Whilst they finished 22.6 seconds ahead of Marlow, making them fairly safe from UK competition, with what could potentially be a very fast Merion Mercer crew, Henley will have to have made a lot of progress since WEHORR if they want to come away with a win.

 

Merion Mercy Academy (USA)

After what was most likely a slight disappointing 8th place finish in champ girls eights at SHORR last year, it’s clear that Merion Mercy Academy have a much stronger eight this year, finishing just 5 seconds behind Headington at Head of the Charles. Whilst there aren’t really any other results that can be drawn upon as a direct comparison to UK crews, with relative speeds changing over the past 5 months, Merion Mercy could end up being the crew to break Headington’s 4 year School’s Head winning streak.

 

Marlow

Marlow have consistently demonstrated their sculling ability and this season has been no different, taking 2nd place in junior quads at Four’s Head and bronze in WJ184x+ over at Head of the Charles. Their top triallist this year, Abbie Bird, has not only shown her power on the ergo but was also 9th at GB Feb Trials in her single. They had a decent performance at Reading Head to win WJ18 8+, but were still 13s short of Henley’s girls. After placing just over 20s behind them for 3rd at WEHORR, they don’t appear to have been able to close this gap up yet, so Marlow will be looking to see if they can gain any ground this Thursday, although LEH will be back to challenge them for 3rd place.

 

LEH

After not racing their top VIII at WEHORR, LEH are still to directly race any other crews in this category. Having raced against a few crews that did do WEHORR at Hammersmith Head, and using this to judge LEH’s approximate speed, LEH and Marlow will most likely have a very tight race, although they will both probably be quite a way off the medals.

 

Becket

Whilst Becket only placed 6th at WEHORR, where LEH’s first VIII didn’t race, with two of the crews who beat them (SPGS and Henley B) racing in first eights instead of champ eights, Becket should be looking to have a much stronger ranking within the category. Finishing 22 seconds off Marlow, it’s unlikely they’ll manage to find the speed needed to catch Marlow or LEH in the 12 days between WEHORR and SHORR, but over the slightly shorter course they will certainly be looking to close the gap.

 

Enniskillen Royal Boat Club (Ireland)

The Enniskillen Royal Grammar School was established at the start of this academic year over in Northern Ireland, merging two local schools including Portora- a more familiar name in our junior rowing circuit. They are at the top end of junior rowing over in Ireland, recently winning WJ18 8+ at Erne Head by an almost 40 second margin and placing 2nd & 3rd in WJ16 and WJ18 8s respectively at the Irish Championships last year. They also raced Lagan Head of the River this Saturday, winning WJ18 8+. Having said that, junior rowing is arguably more popular and competitive over here, and at NSR they were only 5th in their Ch8+ semi final. Perhaps with the expansion of their boat club and their recent head racing form they will be able to improve on last year’s respectable 11th place at SHORR.

 

ISIS E. Stein Gavirate (Italy)

This international crew are located on the beautiful Lake Varese and are part of a scheme of young volunteers supporting the organisation of events there. They have been key in promoting the participation of local Italian junior crews at races in the UK and thanks to various sponsors, including from a local hotel, they have been able to send a girls’ 8+ to SHORR for what appears to be the first time this year. It is hard to predict the standard of this crew, but looking at previous performances of other Italian crews who have travelled over to race SHORR they will struggle to be competitive, especially in such a strong draw.

 

Prediction:

  1. Headington
  2. Henley
  3. Merion Mercy Academy (USA)
Pairs Matrix