Quintin Head 2018 – J16 8+

It’s January, and for school crews, it’s time for a small injection of rowers from other sports. As shown at the top end, by Oxford and Cambridge, it’s also the time for matched eights. Clubs that can field them, increase the competitiveness within the squad. While this can limit the time spent creating an airtight crew, the eight produced at the end of selection is often good enough to make up for this in speed.

 

Hampton

Hampton are one of the crews to send out a pair of matched eights. If they send out similar crews to the Eton Invitational Head, there will be plenty of healthy competition between the two eights. 8 seconds difference over a 5.7k race is encouraging for the coaches. More so that both crews came 1st and 2nd there. While there was a limited number of crews racing, it would suggest Hampton are packing some heat this year. Depending on how they develop, they may echo the success of previous generations. Perhaps one of their matched eights could make the top.

St. Paul’s

St Paul’s have been one of the biggest names in junior rowing recently, which is expected after recent success at all levels. However, this cohort is yet to show signs of repeating that. St Paul’s have been very dominant in J16s over the last 2 years, and it’s at this point in the season where it starts to be seen. These boys will certainly want to live up to that reputation and will be going for gold. Last year, the two eights came 3rd and 5th with 10 seconds between them. I think they could crack the top five again, but plenty of crews are aiming for similar positions. It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds on their home turf.

Westminster

Last year’s winners and locals will be fielding a single 8 to keep the trophy in their cabinet. There is, however, limited info on this crew. Based on school reputation, this should be a crew with some speed to it. This cohort was not too impressive last year, so this appears to be a down year for Westminster. Nevertheless, they have the space to grow and show whether they are a top contender this coming year. For this race, I imagine a middle of the pack finish. Let’s hope their familiarity with the course will see them through.

Radley

Radley are another contender for the top spot. While I think they should be able to send out more than one eight, a single entry suggests this is a prototype top eight for School’s Head. This will be a good test run for them, and this race will be useful assessing where they currently stand. Considering the other crews entered, Radley should place around the middle or even above.

Shiplake

Shiplake are a crew capable of taking the trophy this weekend. This crew put down the fastest time at Wallingford, showing a higher level of speed at this early stage. But Wallingford lacked the tougher competition that Shiplake may encounter through this season. The analogy of a big fish in a small pond may apply here, so we’ll see if these Thames Valley fish can handle the Tideway. Coming into this part of the season strong is good, but I’m not sure if they have a strong challenge for the trophy.

Latymer Upper BC

Latymer may have had success in quads and singles, but the club is making a clear move toward sweep oar rowing. This bunch enjoyed some podium time at NSR 2017 and will have the drive to go higher than 3rd this year. However, J16 is where the gap between Champ 8s and 1st 8s appear. I have a feeling Latymer will aim high this year. Saturday will be their chance to once again, stick it to the crews regularly seen at the peak of Championship Eights.

Regardless of if they’re here or not, plenty of crews have started their march towards School’s Head. A shorter race on the same water is ideal for laying a marker into the future. Crews such as St. George’s or Bedford Modern School, may struggle a bit, with most of their competition firmly rooted in Champ 8 divisions. I think their aim will be beating crews of a similar level, like Reading Blue Coat School or Dulwich College.

Good Luck to all crews racing. Anything can happen on the Tideway, so interesting results are expected.

 

3Speed

3Speed