National Schools’ Regatta 2017 – Championship Quads

The National Schools’ Regatta clearly defines whether your winter’s training has been a waste of time or whether the sacrifices will equate to victory.  Regardless of victories prior to this weekend or in races to come, winning at Dorney this weekend is what a crew will be remembered for.  Following on from the Schools’ Head in March, Maidenhead is the only crew able to compete for the infamous ‘triple.’  That being said it is clear that every one of the 29 crews will present their polished outfit for judging in the gladiatorial arena that is the National Schools’ Regatta.

 

Windsor Boys’ School

Fresh from International duties at the European Championships, Tom Smith returns to this dominant quad. Windsor has always been a bastion of junior sculling, however, this year is their opportunity to do something special and create a piece of history. Following their victory at Wallingford, this crew are arguably favourites going into this weekend. The Mark Wilkinson coached quartet have all proved their worth at National Trials in small boats in order for several of them to gain a Great Britain vest, but this weekend is their opportunity to stamp their dominance on the bigger boat.

Leander

This quad has established a winning reputation over the longer races of the winter season and will look to turn headships into a national title.  Recent victory at the Sculling Regatta at Dorney just over a week ago, emphasises they are on track for a strong weekend.  Despite this result, this crew does need to step on again given they were off the pace at Wallingford.  That being said, there will be no doubt that this quad will once again look to be on top form and challenge the likes of Windsor for the gold medal.

Maidenhead

When Maidenhead is brought up, often the first thing that comes to mind is the raw aggression and grit seen from the crew against Abingdon in last year’s Fawley Cup.  Throughout this current season, the club has stamped its authority across junior sculling and staked a claim as one of the best programmes in the country.  Narrowly beaten at Wallingford by Windsor, nothing but perfection will be enough to gain the rowing equivalent of the Triple Crown.  There will be no doubt that the passion from last year’s Henley crew will be seen again on the waters of Dorney, and passion often has a way of trumping polish.

Lea

Lea has been something of a surprise this year. I would not have expected to be writing that this crew would be in contention for NSR gold back in November. It is clear that the system in place at Lea has allowed this quartet to have a solid winter’s training and really show their true colours since the turn of the year. The boys from Lea can feel confident going into this race despite a being a little off the pace of Windsor at Wallingford. This quad has proven their ability to race and win against the best in the country on a number of occasions in the head racing season, but in order to rekindle this magic, Lea will have to produce one hell of a race.

Globe

Globe have seen success in small boats at National Trials but are still unable to fully convert this into quadruple scull speed.  The Globe crew will undoubtedly be seeking redemption from missing out on Fawley qualification last season and this weekend is their chance to put on a display of what they are truly capable of and of what they have shown in smaller boats.  Their quad results have been improving and the result at Wallinford proved that they can do great things. Expect to see a Globe crew that can fight amongst the finest sculling programmes on Saturday.

Westminster

This Tideway based crew demonstrated good potential speed at the big head races of the season which caught several crews off guard, yet this quad has struggled with consistency.  They lacked speed at the Sculling Head and in order to be in contention for medals this weekend, this crew must be able to have a consistent and powerful row, especially with three potential races during the day.  Nonetheless, Westminster has a strong pedigree in sculling but they will need to recapture some of that magic in order to beat the favourite crews.

The King’s School, Worcester

This quad has been nip and tuck with Leander for the past few weeks. Three seconds separated them at Wallingford and only two at the Sculling Regatta.  We have not seen the best of this crew yet. The crew had an average head racing season at the big events and will need to improve if they want to build on last year’s win in the ‘B’ final at NSR.  Given their proximity to Leander in recent times, it is possible that King’s Worcester can step on and place well in this year’s ‘A’ final.  This crew is not quick enough to win, however, middle of the ‘A’ final is not an over-ambitious expectation.

 

These seven crews have all demonstrated the potential to reach this year’s ‘A’ final. Having moved to Dorney, NSR now sees eight lane racing.  It is unclear who the eighth crew will be in the final lineup but it could feature last year’s Fawley winners Claires Court School who have had an underwhelming season in comparison to last year’s dominance.  Second place at Wallingford has brought this crew right back into the mix.  Tideway Scullers School have opted to enter their top two scullers into championship singles on Saturday rather than opt for the quad.  As such their weaker unit will still show some speed given their Wallingford result, but their hopes of a national title are gone.

 

My prediction…Windsor to win with Maidenhead taking silver and Leander rounding off the medals with bronze.

 

6 man

6 Man