Schools’ Head 2017 – J16 1st Eights

The head racing season has rolled around once more to this; The Schools Head of the River. 6.8km of pure misery in what is possibly the fairest test of a crew there is all year. It is a brutal event, one that is in the red almost from the go. By the Barnes Bridge you’re in full flow but the hurt is still a dull ache but building, by Chiswick Steps you’re beginning to question you’re sanity doing this and by Hammersmith you’re in a hole so deep you can barely see the light of day. The perpetual shouts from Hammersmith will lift you and lull you into a false security that the finish is almost nigh, but no, what comes is possibly the bleakest and most drawn out finishing strait of your life. After Harrods goes by, the banks recede and you are left with nothing but your own demons and the incessant screech of your cox for company, small wonder that area is called the Graveyard. As you begin to drive yourself deeper into the hole, so that by the Black Buoy you may as well be trapped under a mountain, you cannot see any daylight at the end. The vision begins to blur, everything is reduced to a dull haze, even the voice of the cox recedes. The only focus now is on maintaining your flagging technique and praying like a fundamentalist for the finish line. It is into this self induced hell that these crews will have to contend with on Thursday and whilst they may not be the most prestigious, they will give it their all.

Latymer School 

Latymer tend to drift between the fringes of the championship scene and the first eight scene, with their entry choice often down to be on yearly variation. This year they have opted for the less prestigious first eights, but they most certainly have speed and are likely favorites for this category. The entered crews have not directly raced each other recently but at Hampton Head, Latymer won J16 8+s, beating a St Pauls matched eight and Bedford, Kingston Grammer and London Oratory. There is little other direct racing I’m aware of, but with strong results in this precursor and a revitalized programme, I would have them as favorites.

London Oratory School

These boys have recorded a solid result at Hammersmith Head and beat finished top behind Latymer at Hampton Head. They have a large amount of support from their school and their senior eights are typically very strong in the first eight scene, exemplified by a victory in the Child Beale least season. This crew will be strong but are unlikely to top Latymer.

Reading Blue Coats

Without a standout result at Reading University Head (admittedly not against any of the crews racing here) they are unlikely to do extremely well on Thursday. The school has struggled in recent years and this crew may not be set to change that.


This Bedford School crew have shown a decent turn of pace in the off-season, beating their own second eight as well as nearly toppling Bedford Modern’s first crew. Expect this boat to be up there.


  • Lennart Roese

    Note that they are talking about Bedford Modern School not Bedford School.

  • Lennart Roese

    I think Bedford School will be a favorite to win the event as they have shown some real speed at Bedford, beating their second 8 and almost beating BMS first 8. Their second 8 have beaten Latymer at Hampton earlier this season as well. Also they Managed to win Novice 8s at Reading. At Peterborough Bedford beat KCS by 8 seconds, which would have also made them competitive in the champ category. The Bedford crew that was reviewed here was BMS, as Bedford School didn’t even race at Hampton. I find it really disappointing that a top class crew like Bedford was simply missed out in the review.