Last month saw the announcement of the GB squad for the Munich Junior International Regatta, taking place at the Regattastrecke Oberschleißheim this weekend the 5th and 6th of May. Munich is the primary test event for the GB junior crews; for most athletes, the only chance they will get to race with potential crewmates before the summer events. The event attracts strong competition from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, as well as crews from as far afield as Argentina. Last year saw fifteen athletes who raced at Munich go on to win medals at the Junior World Championships in Trakai.
There has been a small change in the structure of the team this year, with an increase in the number of athletes in the men’s sculling squad, from six to eight, at the expense of the men’s sweep squad, reducing from fourteen to twelve. This is perhaps part of Great Britain’s continued attempts to increase focus nationally on sculling, since eight of the fourteen Olympic rowing events are now in sculling.
The squad this year features numerous athletes with previous GB junior experience, including two silver medallists in the men’s quad from last year’s Junior World Championships, Victor Kleshnev and Bryn Ellery, alongside four further athletes who raced in Trakai last year and ten Coupe de la Jeunesse medallists. Victor is joined by two other Maidenhead contemporaries in Edoardo Marshall and Elliot Kemp, both of the Coupe quad last season, which in turn was stroked by Globe's Jake Offiler, who also attends this weekend. Top Tideway Scullers' athlete Laurence Joss is the last of the Coupe veterans racing at Munich, whilst Hartpury's James Cartwright and Joseph Adamson of Chester-le-Street make their first international appearances.
Douwe de Graaf and Calvin Tarczy racing at Munich last year
Radley's Archie McChesney is the only athlete returning to race this weekend after earning his World's hoops last summer, but will be joined by a number of Coupe returners in the shape of Mikey Dalton, Theo Darlow and cox Scott Cockle, all from Molesey who have had a strong start to this year's trialling process, as well as Connor Sheridan (Bedford School) and Robert Powell (Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association). There are a number of younger athletes making up the rest of the sweep team with previous international vests from the J16 GB vs. France match, including Shiplake's Dom Brown, Walton's Matthew Heywood, Eton's Max Shakespeare and racing spare, Dom Sullivan of Shrewsbury School, who all raced at the event last summer, as well as Etonian Max Ridgwell who raced GB-France in 2016. Jake Swann of Westminster School and Paddy Craig of Dulwich College make up the team for their first, well-earnt international selection.
There are also some noticeable absences from the team list, namely junior world champions Douwe de Graaf and Calvin Tarczy in the men’s coxless four and cox of the world bronze medal winning eight, Axel de Boissard- all from St. Paul’s. Looking at the performances at the recent April GB Selection Regatta, it looks likely St. Paul's have a number of other athletes who would have been a real asset to the Munich team; namely new British Junior Lightweight 2k record holder, George Dickinson, and his pairs partner, Tom Horncastle. Without forgetting the absence of gold medalist in last year's Coupe eight, Miles Beeson, and top KCS athlete Oscar Olsen, the men's sweep squad undeniably doesn't look to be in full force this weekend, with many that show the potential to feature on the Junior World's team this summer staying at home. The depth of this year's junior boys' sweep squad will be put to the test this weekend.
St. Paul's coach Bobby Thatcher has elected not to release his athletes for Munich this year, and will instead be racing his National Schools’ crews at Wallingford Regatta. Headington School have also chosen not to allow athletes to race at Munich, most likely due to the fast-approaching A level exam season which begins shortly afterward. This means the girls' sweep team miss medallists from last year's Coupe in the pair and the eight, Lucy Pullinger and Franny Curtis, whilst Exeter/ Thames Tradesman's Phoebe Campbell of the Junior Worlds quad last year is also a notable absence on the girls' sculling side.
After Henley's formidable start to this season, it's no surprise to see four names on the list from them, with Worlds athletes Lottie Orr and Mary Wright of the quad and four respectively. They will race alongside Georgie Robinson-Ranger who medalled at Coupe in the double and Issy Jonsson who raced the Home International Regatta for England in the coxed four, who will be joined by her HIRR crewmate, Olivia Caesar of Monkton Combe, once again this weekend. The sweep team is completed by LEH's Celia Matthews from last year's pair at Junior Worlds. The scullers are of course led by the more experienced Lottie and Georgie, but on the whole it will be GB debuts for Emily Keen (Sir William Perkins’s School), Rhiannon Morgan (Gloucester RC) and Tasha Strudwick (Marlow RC), as well as the younger TSS standout sculler Izzy Lack, who is still only a J16.