Schools’ Head 2017 – First Eights Preview

This is the first chance we get to see all the 1st Eights in action and battling it out over the notorious Schools Head course.This year it seems as though the category is surprisingly empty in comparison to what it has been previously with only 15 entries, to CH8’s 16 entries. Continuing in the vein of strangeness and surprises the course seems to be shorter this year with the end being moved to the black buoy due to works on the river. However what is not surprising is seeing the usual suspects in this category who compete in this event regularly.

Kings College Wimbledon

After a strong showing in the early season at the Head of the Charles I would have expected Kings Wimbledon to have entered into Champ Eights. Considering they beat the likes of Westminster, Shiplake and King’s Chester there. Now albeit none of these crews were at full strength missing one or two from their eights it was still a good enough performance for KCS to rumble with the big boys. Also with some good ergs on board from the likes of Iggo I wonder what has held them back from making the jump. It could possibly have been the result on the entry deadline day with the marginal loss to a very strong St. Pauls unit at the Hammersmith head or even they are just testing the water as Winchester did last year, the latter being the more likely. I believe that Kings Wimbledon will be strong competitors for the 1st 8 title at this years SHORR.

Bedford School

Bedford in recent years have been a crew that has always been there or there about but never at the top of what ever category they have entered. However this year I truly believe this could be their year to break that cycle. With some good results at Reading Uni head and Hampton head where they out performed their fellow 1st 8 competitors whilst only being marginally behind their Championship opposition. We haven’t seen any direct racing between them and KCS so this will make Schools head results more exciting. They always look to be a big crew in terms of their mass I hope they can apply a bit more subtleness when it comes to technique this year, if they do so then they will be the ones scrapping it out for the 1st place medal.

Great Marlow School

Last year the Great Marlow J16s had the perfect season picking up not only a win in the J16 1st 8 Category at Nat schools ahead of Bedford’s J16 eight but they also qualified for the PE. This shows all the promising signs that Great Marlow will be good this year. Their start position could either help or hinder them. Setting off second to last could mean that they waste a lot of time over taking but if they are fast then they could run over their near opposition quickly and this should provide them more confidence as the race goes on. I’m expecting good things from this crew but I don’t know if we are going to see it at this event due to them generally being down the order at the other head events, but not so far down that they are losing to many 1st 8s.

Latymer Upper School

Latymer have made the return to the 8 this season after trying their hand at just competing in the 4+ at the latter stages of last season and why shouldn’t they return, they finished at the top of the medal table at NSR last year showing they’ve got some good young talent in their ranks. This boat I believe is a relatively young crew in terms of birth years if their triallists are anything to go by, so they should be out to make their mark in this category throughout this year. When looking at their results they seem to be ahead of some 1st 8s but some way behind Bedford at the Reading University head so I don’t believe they are quite ready to challenge in this event.

Norwich School

Having a good cox on board is vital to this schools head course because if you don’t maximise your time in the stream then it can cost you dearly. Luckily Norwich have got experienced Rory Cruickshank on board from coupe 4+ fame last year. The Stampfli boys are starting off second this year being charged down by Bedford who beat them at Bedford head in February so they need to be able to hold them off by trying to open that gap up. I don’t quite think that Norwich will be able to replicate what they did at last years schools head but they’ll damn well try to do so.

Bedford Modern School

Having returned to the 8 this year from the quad from last season Bedford Modern have had some up and down results head racing this year, mostly down I may add. Their good result was on home water where they led out Norwich school but fell short of beating local rivals Bedford. I have to wonder why they changed it up like this considering they retained two first quad members in Ventisei and Kavanagh. Maybe with a longer period of gelling the crew together it will become obvious why they made the change as there must have been a good reason to return to the old ways.

Other Crews

This is not exhaustive of the category but crews to watch out for include: Reading Blue Coat and Canford are both definitely house hold names in 1st 8s but they really haven’t had good enough results this year to be competitive for SHORR. Dulwich Should look to use their home water advantage to raise their game from what they have been putting out in recent results. The rest of the boats such as Bradford Grammar and Stowe Sculling club are all relatively new names into this category, in this race so it will be interesting to see how they fair.

Overall Prediction

1st Kings College Wimbledon

2nd Bedford School

3rd Latymer/Norwich