National Schools’ Regatta 2017 – 1st Fours

This has traditionally been one of my favourite events of the regatta, and it was a tragedy, in my view, that last year this became a rerun of Saturday’s proceedings in first eights, being placed on the Sunday. However, first fours is back on the Saturday where it belongs, giving clubs and schools who don’t have enough depth to form eights but still have a set of committed athletes, the chance to battle on a level playing-field. The medals are all to play for here.

St George’s College

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this crew will enter the weekend believing that they will win this event. They battled with the tough condition at Schools’ Head to take the pennant by a reasonable margin of four seconds, which over the shortened course was quite an achievement. At Wallingford Regatta they faced equally tough odds again Championship schools like Shiplake, and they put in an admirable performance to come second in their heat, and fifth overall in the event. Whilst they’ll face stiff competition, confidence and polish will serve this unit well and push them to the top of the field.

Hinksey Sculling School

This crew is certainly going to be capable of upsetting St George’s, as part of the tight pack at the sharp end of this event at SHORR. In the Challenge Fours event at Wallingford, they placed 10th in the Challenge Fours event, which would have put them mid-way in the semis with the same performance, in a senior event no less. A confident win by over three lengths at Nottingham City will also have given them some confidence in side-by-side racing, so they’ll be bow-to-bow with St George’s down the course.

Aberdeen Schools RA

Scottish and Irish crews can be a bit of a wildcard- local events make it difficult to judge their relative speed on the national scale. However, Aberdeen have a history of producing strong individual athletes, and consistently turn out fast fours and quads. The only notable result for this four is a win at Strathclyde Park Regatta, against two university crews. Whilst this isn’t much to go on, don’t underestimate this Scottish crew- they could upset the two lead contenders.

Monmouth School

Monmouth School dominated the first eights scene up until very recently, and their fours were equally impressive- they won Championship Coxed Fours against the likes of Abingdon and Hampton a few years ago. The club have not managed to replicate this in recent years, but a third place in this event at Schools’ Head would suggest that they’ve managed to knit together a tight and committed crew, with a strong programme. Expect to see them in the final.

Sir William Borlase deserve a mention on account of their high placing at SHORR, but were considerably off the pace of the top contenders at Wallingford, and as such I can’t see them in the medal zone.

My prediction:
Gold for St George’s
Silver for Hinksey
Bronze for Monmouth