Wallingford Regatta 2017 – J4+

Many schools race the Schools’ Head in eights, making it hard to predict exactly how well they will perform in smaller boats like coxed fours.

Shiplake College won the Championship eight event at the Schools’ Head in March, making the best of the rough conditions and establishing themselves as strong contenders for the season ahead. Shiplake have entered what looks like a top four in this event, which will likely include returners Seb Newman and Henry Blois-Brooke. The former went to the World Championships in Rotterdam and the later to the Coupe de la Jeunesse in Poznan. This will be a very strong crew, both in terms of power and technique. I would predict them to win this event.

Shiplake have also entered their B crew. This crew placed third at the Fours Head, beating a top crew from Radley and Eton’s second four in the process. They will be hungry to prove themselves against their top four and attempt to maintain their dominance over other schools by beating their top crews. This should certainly be possible, if they are rowing as well as they did at Schools’ Head.

Westminster usually race a top coxless four on the Sunday of National Schools’, so it’s not clear if this crew will be made up of their top four athletes or not. Either way, Westminster are looking very strong this year, and placed 4th at the Schools’ Head, finishing not far behind the likes of Eton, Shiplake and St Paul’s. They’ll be looking for redemption and will be hoping to beat the boys from Shiplake College.

King’s College School should not be underestimated. They have two GB junior trialists (Felix Iggo and Oscar Olsen), who put in strong performances at the recent pairs regatta. They are quite a young group of athletes, who have the potential to find real speed coming into the regatta season. After what sounded like a productive training camp in Figueira da Foz, Portugal, they’ll be looking to lay down a marker and prove that they can compete with the likes of Shiplake and Westminster.

Monmouth School and Emanuel School have both prioritised their coxed fours, and have been training in these combinations for most of the season. This means that both crews should be able to stay relaxed and smooth when put under pressure, and may be able to catch other crews off guard as a result.