National Schools’ Regatta 2017 – Second Eights

Boasting eleven entries, this event will likely bring forth the second-fastest times of the whole regatta. Competition for the Elsenham Cup is usually dominated by the Championship schools and features athletes who will go on to do great things with their schools’ top eights. Without further ado…

Eton College
For me this is the standout offering. A look at the draw reveals that this boat contains Theo Hall, Aubrey Warley and Richard Taylor, all J17s who raced at GB-France last year. Whilst they may have fallen short of the standard for Eton’s first eight, I doubt they’ve been slacking. Also to note is cox Edward Bracey, who was present at the GB Spring Assessments (albeit playing second fiddle to George Cozens). This crew won SHORR in style and will be expected to win on Saturday.

St Paul’s School
This crew contains Alex Waller and Rufus Guy, both former GB-France athletes who missed out on a seat in the St Paul’s first eight. The former raced in the final of the PE – a potential warning to other schools of the standard of the SPS top boat. The remainder of this crew is made up of athletes who raced second eights and J16B at Nat Schools’ 2016. Despite relative experience and pedigree, this crew have yet to produce the goods. They sat in 3rd at SHORR, a strong result if it weren’t for the substantial time difference to Eton and Shiplake. The truncated course length aside, conditions were perhaps polarising, and this crew ought to try contest a medal.

The “Bees” have enjoyed a run of success in the last two seasons, capitalising on their excellent equipment and two handpicked scholars a year to win the Schools’ Head pennant and take second in second eights. Eton and Shiplake avoided each other at Wallingford, with the boys in blue racing up in Junior A eights. Even so, they bested the likes of Dulwich‘s first eight. SHP nevertheless won Junior B under the adjusted conditions of racing. My prediction? I predict silver for Shiplake.

London Oratory
These boys won their heat at Wallingford, but in a time not fast enough to be in the proverbial medals. Sadly this club faces being closed due to of cuts – a travesty for last year’s Child Beale winners. I’d like to see these boys get right in the faces of the independent schools. In a few short years Oratory has gone from being a recreational club to one competing with Shiplake on the Thursday of Henley. They raced SHORR as a quad and a four, and are as such mostly untested. I hope to see Oratory at the sharp end of this category.

This boat contains a few of last year’s victorious J16s, including Harry Fieldhouse at six, who was in the top four that made GB-France. This crew finished at 6th at SHORR, very much in the pack. They came in 5s behind the aforementioned Oratory in their Wallingford heat. One is led to think that this will not be their year.

Familiar names such as Abingdon, Shrewsbury and Radley will all be racing and have had quick first and second eights in their time – some very recent and some more historic. Abingdon in particular outshone their first eight in terms of performance to take 4th at SHORR. As such I reckon they’ll have the bronze.