Hampton Head 2018 – J18 8+

Aside from the large tideway Pairs’ and Fours’ Heads, this is the largest field of schoolboy eights so far this year, and promises to be an exciting battle between both first and second crews racing in the same category. The exciting thing about Hampton Head is that it is a much quicker race than the other head races around this time, so the intensity of racing will be even higher, where it is more likely that mistakes can be made, but also less to separate crews. Barely seconds, tenths, will split crews when the results are published.

Bedford Modern School

After having scratched at Quintin Head last weekend, the crew from BMS will be hoping to build on the 6th place they placed Wallingford Head in their first race this year on Saturday. Off the water, there were quick performances at BRIC, with a second place in the team 8min relay and 8th place in the 2k from Glen Mulkerrins, with a time of 6:35.5.

Bedford School

Racing unmatched crews unlike at Wallingford Head (where they placed 9th and 10th), Bedford are fielding a large cohort of three eights. Recently at the Eton BASHER, their two top eights placed 7th and 8th, behind two top eights from SPS, ETN and HAM.

Dulwich College

This will be the first race of the season in the eight for Dulwich, and I am looking forward to see where they fit in against everybody else this year. There is not going to be a larger field of top schoolboy eights this year until Schools’ Head, so their entry has come at the best time to compare them.

Eton College

As it always is the case with Eton, they have a large squad, taking three senior eights with them to the event. Over the winter, they went off on camp to Spain to kickstart them stepping up into larger boats in the run up to Schools’ Head.  At the Eton BASHER, they only lost to the two crews from SPS, but what is more surprising is that it seems the Eton second crew beat the first crew. This inter-squad rivalry will continue into the event on Saturday, where the second crew will hope justify their place in the first boat by making two wins in a row over their teammates.

Great Marlow School

Great Marlow have shown promise this year, with a strong placing of 6th and also 14th at Fours’ Head in the 4x and 4+ respectively. There is no quad entered in the morning division for GMS, so I imagine that this eight is a combination of those two Fours’ Head crews.

Hampton School

With this event being their home race, there is more pressure on Hampton than usual to perform. They have already shown this season that they can get results here. At their Small Boats Head, there were placings of 1st, 3rd, and 5th in the J18 2-. They will be hoping to repeat this such on home water again as to not lose face. However, at the Eton BASHER, there was a gap of almost 30 seconds between the Hampton first crew and the Eton first crew, in favour of Eton.

King’s College School

This is to be a second showing in two successive weekends of the crew that finished 6/12 at Quintin Head. The photos from this race show that King’s are currently without their captain of boats and big-hitter Felix Iggo, big shoes to fill, and all the more difficult in a squad that lacks the same depth as others. As per my article last week, KCS are hoping to progress on being mid-field finishers, and there is not a better opportunity to show this than Saturday. With as many as 16 top crews entered, I am backing King’s for a finish better than 8th.

Latymer Upper School

Latymer is an interesting case. They finished 9th at Quintin Head, although it is suggested that this was their second crew. If this was the case, it was a very respectable performance. They are no strangers to the course, where they had 2nd placing in the J17 and J18 pairs at Hampton Small Boats Head earlier in the season.

Oratory School

The most recent race for Oratory was at Weybridge Winter Head, with a finishing position of 3/3 in the J18 8+ category, off the pace of winners Winchester College and 2nd place St George’s College.

St Paul’s School

St Paul’s last weekend were almost 20 seconds quicker than the next fastest junior crew at Quintin Head, and will be favourites to win this weekend. There is not much more to say that is different from my article last week, this is a formidable crew, who do their talking on the water. They are favourites and the strongest contenders in recent years for the triple, and a likely win on Saturday will set them up nicely into the final run leading into stage one of the triple: Schools’ Head.

Westminster School

It turns out last weekend at Quintin Head it was a combination of their top quad and second crew, with a placing of 5th. The top quad will be racing in the morning, then moving into the eight for the second division, where they will be hoping to turn out a result even better than last weekend.

Winchester College

As I said earlier, Winchester won J18 8+ at Weybridge Winter Head. At this event they also won the 4+ category. This is the first big race for them of the season, let’s see what they can do against a much bigger field.