Wallingford Head 2017 – J16 8+

Many crews are now moving from their sculling season to their sweep season, and Wallingford Fours and Eights Head is a chance to gauge where they currently stand. Around half of the crews listed are familiar names in the J16 1st 8 category at NSR, but races like these can show if that will carry on into the future. Most J16 crews are not at a level where their ability can be determined by the presence of one or two skilled athletes. This rings especially true for eights.


Abingdon School

From what I can gather, Abingdon’s J16 have not raced in an 8 this season. But since their last race at Fours Head, they will have had plenty of time to transition into the 8. Abingdon as a squad are no longer as dominant as they once were, and that trend may continue with this cohort. Perhaps this year will be different, but currently I see them in the bottom half of the results table.


Bedford Modern School

Bedford Modern School (not to be confused with Bedford School) have not had any notable performances this season. This cohort also lacks a strong record going back to last year. The club itself is not particularly high-performing, and so this crew may struggle here and into the future against top-end crews from all around.


Norwich School

Entering 2 eights named ‘Blue’ and ‘Burgundy’ suggests they are matched crews. Sending out 2 eights at this point in the year suggests good depth into the latter days of head racing. This can be expected from some of their success in the previous season, where both NSR medalled in their events. What differs now, is the presence of Champ eight crews in their category, but recent results suggest Norwich could take a few scalps off the Champ eight crews.


Latymer Upper School

Latymer often sit on the threshold between 1st 8 and Champ8, and if this cohort develops well, they could be a force to be reckoned with. However, their performance at Henley Long Distance Sculls suggests either sculling is not this cohort’s speciality, or they aren’t a strong crew. The latter can be counteracted by a strong performance at NSR last year, but it’s important to not dwell on past success and continue moving forward. I predict Latymer to finish in the top half, but anything could happen on Sunday.


Winchester College

Winchester have some individual success recently, but their younger crews have been fairly quiet. The few performances seen do not give me faith in Winchester’s ability to compete on Sunday. While it is good to see them putting out an eight, they will be in for a challenge if their aim is the top spots. I have however, been unable to find many results for them, so if they can row a good race, then the year ahead may appear brighter for them.


Royal Shrewsbury School

Shrewsbury’s J16s have not put down a lot of times recently, predicting their speed will be hard. Despite this, they have a reputation for forming solid sweep crews. Much like other crews, they would have had a training camp over half-term, but entering a race this long after suggests they’re aiming to win this event.


Kings School Canterbury

Not a lot can be said about Kings School Canterbury. Based in South East Kent, this is one of the few times they will be in direct competition with other 1st eights. Yet, they are often found at the tail end of 1st 8 categories. Their performance at Kingston Head was far off the speed of their competitors, and they may have a similar experience in the 8 at Wallingford.


Shiplake College

Shiplake are another school with a reputation for producing good sweep crews. This has already been shown by a victory in the 4+ at Reading Small Boats. The versatility of this J16 squad has also been shown by a respectable 4th place finish at Pangbourne Head. However, few of the crews listed here have been in direct competition with Shiplake. Now that they have managed to put out an 8, it will be interesting to see how fast they go.


St George’s College

St George’s are frequently seen in 1st 8 categories, but at this stage, they are far from high-attaining. Although this is most likely their top 8, results this season suggests they are far from the top end of this event. Last year they placed 3rd (to 2 St Paul’s matched 8s) but this year there are twice as many entries. St George’s may need something special if they want to replicate this success.



There is a spread of ability within this event, but making a prediction revolves around the difference between a Champ 8 and a 1st 8. Based on speed, it’s not always apparent this early on. Shrewsbury, Shiplake, and Latymer are my pick for the top 3 spots. However, it would be nice to see an upset from Norwich or Winchester.


Good Luck to all crews racing on Sunday.