Wallingford Long Distance Sculls 2017 – WJ18 4x

With a solid few weeks of training under their belts now, Wallingford LDS marks the return to racing for many clubs from the south. We often see clubs entering their athletes in singles here, giving coaches a chance to see an early season ranking within their squads. However, with last year’s J16 girls now moving up to race amongst the year above them, this is an interesting opportunity to test some new crew combinations in this early part of the season.

 

American School in London – Simpson

ASL are known to scull mostly, with some particularly strong performances last season, including wins in the WJ18 2x at both Pairs Head and National Schools Regatta for last year’s J18 girls, Brunsberg and Bake. They appear to have prioritised this top double throughout last season, rather than racing a quad, which may suggest a slight difference in ability between the younger girls who are now entering their final year. The members of this crew just missed out on qualifying in singles for the minor finals at NSR, but would have been part of the School’s Head quad who placed 7th in very tough conditions. It will be interesting to see how these girls perform, but I wouldn’t expect them to be placing near the top of this category.

 

Great Marlow School – Lester and Gosnell

After a few years racing in the smaller categories, Great Marlow School consistently fielded an eight last season, demonstrating an encouraging increase in the depth of their junior women’s squad. Their eight seemed to improve throughout the year, finishing with a 2nd place finish in the B final of Championship Girls’ Eights at NSR. Lester and Gosnell were also both part of the eight that placed 4th at Brit Champs at the tail end of last season. Gosnell appears to also be racing WJ16 1x at Wallingford, so they are either sisters or one of these quads may be made up of younger athletes. Nevertheless, GMS seem to have obtained their best results in sweep, with a 17th place finish at the Junior Sculling Head in the quad, so they may not be able to compete with some of the stronger sculling clubs.

 

Headington – Waldron and Douglas

Headington are a school that seem to produce top crews year in year out, with last season being no different. Their senior girls dominated both sweep and sculling, winning ChG8+ and ChG4x at National Schools. As we enter this season they will have their eyes on taking an unbelievable 10th consecutive win in ChG8+ at NSR. Their top quad last year were of an undeniably high calibre, narrowly missing out on winning Senior 4x at Henley Women’s, and whilst they only reached the semis at Henley Royal, many would argue their race against Gloucester was the deciding race of the Diamond Jubilee. Last year’s J16s may have some big shoes to fill with the loss of some of their top athletes, but their year group has shown characteristic good depth, with a gold in J16G8+ and bronze in J16G4x at last year’s NSR, so they should be taking some of the top spots in this category.

 

Henley RC- Hahn

Perhaps often outshone by Headington, Henley have also got an impressive junior women’s squad, who seem to be drawing ever closer to beating the seemingly invincible girls from Oxford in this J18 age group. As we enter this season, many will be wondering if this could be the year they do it. Henley were silver medallists in ChG8+ and ChG4x at National Schools, and spent most of the year finishing just short of HSOBC. Hahn proved herself as one of Henley’s strongest scullers last year, where she was part of their Four’s Head winning quad as only a J16, so is in a good position to officially move up into this more competitive age group. Henley are a club known for having remarkable depth, so whoever it is in this crew I’d be surprised if they weren’t aiming to finish at the top of this category.

 

Magdalen College School

Rowing is not one of the priority sports at Magdalen College School, so we don’t often see large numbers of them racing, particularly since girls are only taken for Sixth Form. They put out a ChG2x at National Schools Regatta last year, but it unfortunately did not qualify through the time trial. It is great to see them now fielding a quad, showing growing numbers of participation, but they will most likely not be finishing with one of the faster times in this category.

 

Maidenhead – White

Maidenhead are most well known for their strong junior boy’s sculling squad, sending the entirety of their top quad to either Coupe or Worlds last year. Their current junior women’s squad are not quite as big as the boys’, but with increasing numbers coming up through the younger age groups in particular. White appeared to be part of the WJ15 4x+ that were bronze medallists at Brit Champs in July, showing a strong performance, but this young crew may find the competition a little tougher in this older age category. Maidenhead also raced a WJ162x at Brit Champs, placing 4th, so these girls do have some decent results behind them to put in a solid performance this weekend.

 

Stratford upon Avon – Willis

Stratford upon Avon raced a quad fairly consistently throughout last season.  Their WJ184x won the B final at Brit Champs and finished 5th in the D final at National Schools, showing they gained some invaluable racing experience last season, but may be a little off the pace of some stronger clubs in this increasingly competitive category.  At School’s Head last year they placed 27th in Girls Ch4x so may have struggled a little in the tough wintery conditions, but hopefully will have better success here.

 

Twickenham RC – Panose

Twickenham is the Tideway’s only GB Start centre and has had great success in producing some strong junior scullers. We typically see entries from them in singles and doubles, so it is exciting to see them kicking off the season with their first entry in the quad for quite some time.  Panose placed 5th in the B final Brit Champs last summer in WJ16 1x, with their WJ16 4x qualifying for the D final at National Schools where they finished 2nd. Duthart was Twickenham’s standout athlete last season, with wins in WJ17 1x single at the Junior Sculling Regatta and reaching the semi final of junior singles at Henley Women’s Regatta, so her strength and experience will be invaluable to her crew here. This quad will be fairly new to the game, but are sure to have a lot of power behind them and it will be interesting to see how they perform this weekend.

 

Prediction: 

Henley to take the win, followed by the two Headington crews.

RockOver