Fours Head 2017 – Junior Quads Part 1

One of the largest races of the head season, this event is the first time many of these crews will have raced the full 6.8km Championship course from Chiswick to Putney. The junior quads has a massive entry this year of 56 crews so we should see some very close racing with each crew looking for their very best row as this category will be determined on tight margins. As well as 55 other boats the river itself is sure to play a part, with those steering looking for the best line to ensure they make the best use of the stream.

 

The Windsor Boys School

One of the standout crews in the draw, Windsor Boys will no doubt be challenging very seriously for the win. This crew has retained 3 of the crew that took National Schools gold and the Fawley Challenge Cup last year. One of these athletes, Bryn Ellery is a particularly outstanding talent racing the Munich International Regatta last year, before following this up with silver in the GB quad at the Junior World Championships in August as a J17. He without doubt will want a seat in GB’s top sculling crew this year. Historically Windsor Boys don’t always have a massive average ergo in their crews, but they scull with a technical proficiency that enables them to rival crews who are much stronger physically. This trademark efficiency should stand them in  good stead over the long championship course.

 

Maidenhead RC  

Another top quality crew, Maidenhead have gone one better than Windsor Boys and retained all 4 of their National Schools silver medal winning and Fawley Cup semi final crew from last year. They also trump Windsor Boys on the GB experience front too, with Victor Kleshnev also a part of the Munich Regatta squad and silver medal winning Junior Worlds quad. Two members of the crew, Elliott Kemp and Eduardo Marshall were a part of the Coupe quad that took the bronze medal on the Saturday. The final member of the crew, Harrison Rowe raced the single at the Coupe taking an outstanding gold and bronze medal. With one change, this crew placed second in the recent Head of the Charles, suggesting good form early on in the season. This Maidenhead crew row a very physical style, doing a lot of the work behind the pin, with a massive shunt into the finish, which is undoubtedly powerful and moves the boat well, though as Claires Court proved last year in the Fawley semi final, it can come unstuck against a more fluid, efficient style of sculling. Nevertheless Maidenhead will definitely go out for the win and are one of the favorites.

 

Westminster School 

This is a new crew who have been brought together this season to follow on from last years successful quad project for Westminster. All 4 of these guys are new to this boat having rowed in Westminster’s 1st VIII last year. Whilst this crew may not have quite had the speed of previous Westminster boats they still finished 4th in Ch8 at National Schools and had they not been drawn against Shiplake on the Wednesday at Henley they would have gone deeper into the Regatta. Whilst the quad may not have been Westminster’s primary focus in recent years Westminster have a rich history sculling. This season a boat enetred under the name of Cowling took 2nd in the J18 Champ 2x at the Pairs Head so clearly Westminster have good speed in a smaller boat. How this speed translates into the larger boat remains to be seen. As well as this Westminster are based on the Tideway which could give them a slight edge on the steering against crews who row elsewhere.

 

Shrewsbury School

This quad from Shrewsbury has the potential to surprise a few people I think. It is a relatively young crew, two of the crew were part of Shrewsbury’s J16 Ch8 last year that took gold in the Junior Inter-Regional Regatta racing for WAGS and Wales and went on to place 3rd, winning the bronze medal. This crew also contains a specialist sculler in Henry Fletcher who moved from City of Bristol RC where he was an integral part of Bristol’s quad that took the J16 4x at Schools Head and pinched a bronze medal after a rocky day at National Schools last year. He also rowed for the Welsh Team at the Home International Regatta which is no mean feat being only a J16. His experience, combined with the depth and strength of the programme at Shrewsbury means that this crew could well surprise.

 

Claires Court School

A totally new crew to last years crew that ran Windsor Boys right to the line in an epic Fawley Cup final last year, Claires Court will be looking to establish themselves as one of the front runners on the junior sculling scene once again. With no returners from last years quad this crew is made up of athletes who were a part of the 8 that came together last year in  that made the final of Tier 5 Eights at the Met Regatta. As such this crew should work well as a unit, especially as Claires Court have used the half term break for a training camp at Wimleball Lake. Claires Court, similar to Windsor Boys row a very distinctive style, doing a lot of the work of the stroke in front of the pin, with a very upright finish position to allow the boat time to run. Last year Claires Court found a lot of speed between National Schools and Henley having had a difficult start to their season so it will be interesting to see how this new crew come together and if they can maintain their form the whole way down the course.

 

Leander B

Whilst this may only be a second crew this is not a boat to be underestimated. 3 members of this crew raced at Henley Royal Regatta last year as Leander achieved the extraordinary feat of qualifying 3 boats for the Fawley Challenge Cup, with all boats making it at least to the Thursday. The final memeber of the crew, Joe Murphy, was another part of the City of Bristol quad that has been at the top end of the quads over the past couple of years and winner of JM16 1x at February Trials. He and Miles Devereux raced a double at British Rowing Junior Championships where they made the B final. This season all this crew raced a 1x at Reading Small Boats Head with Sharp finishing 5th in J16, with Devereux, Murphy and Pikelis placing 3rd, 4th and 5th respectively in J17. Such consistency within the squad bodes well for this quad, and despite being a young crew racing as a second crew, they could well be one to watch.

 

Marlow RC

Coming off the back of a poor season by Marlow’s high standards, not racing at National Schools (although this was partly down to injury) and loosing out to Lea on Wednesday at Henley, this crew will want to make amends by starting the season with a positive result here. At Reading Small Boats Head, Marlow were the only club to enter J18 2x, and two crews with names that are in this crew came 2nd and 3rd in that 4 boat, inter club field. Long and Marshall raced the J16 1x trials in February placing 6th and 7th and earning a place on the April camp. They then were a part of the Marlow J16 4x that finished 5th in J16 4x at National Schools. This experience in the quad bodes well for this crew, and combined with Marlow’s desire to prove last years form was a minor blip, I feel they could well be a crew who may not challenge for the win, but will be in the frame for a solid finish.

 

Predictions

As I am only covering half of the draw, I can only give my thoughts on the crews I have covered in this article. I think it will be tight between Windsor Boys and Maidenhead but I think that the Windsor Boys more efficient style of sculling will prevail over the more powerful Maidenhead crew over the long Championship course, but having said that the margins between the crews is bound to be tight. Westminster’s knowledge of the Tideway will certainly be an advantage, though this crew may not have the cohesion and understanding of the crews that have retained athletes and are more established. My predictions for the crews covered above are:

1. Windsor Boys School

2. Maidenhead RC

3. Westminster School

4. Leander Club ‘B’

5. Shrewsbury School

6. Claires Court School

7. Marlow RC

 

 

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