The J15 season is a crucial one in the development of junior athletes, as the first in sweep boats for most, and the first year experiencing proper junior racing. With some fierce competition showing at the end of last year, and with less seasoned crews getting more experience under their belts, the 2019 season is shaping up to be a year of feisty duels on the water between the country’s top rowing schools and clubs.
1. Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association
2. Westminster School
3. Shiplake College
Full results here: http://www.shorr.org.uk/2018/results.html
NSR A Final
1. St. Pauls
3. Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association
Full Results here: https://regatta.time-team.nl/nsr/2018/results/220.php
The boys in pink have proven that they will not be giving their rivals an inch of water for free, with fierce competition at SHORR, and NSR. These boys were unable to secure better than second place at either big event and the pressure is now on for them to step it up into the J16 season. The question remains whether they can develop enough power to be a presence this year, as that is what their crew seemed to be lacking in their less-than-glittering J15 campaign.
This eight stormed down the tideway, setting a remarkable course record at SHORR; they rowed down the course “with a J18 crew’s finesse” according to witnesses from the bank. They seemed to be continuing this trend into the Scottish Eastern Sprints Regatta, and later, the NSR time trial, where they finished ahead of the pack. However, a disappointing semi-final left them with the 5th fastest time of the heats, and an overall 3rd place finish. This creates an element of doubt surrounding this crew’s regatta racing ability and brings into question whether these boys are still developing or are simply riding on the coattails of their winter training.
These boys in their off-pink were not a presence in the head season, but over the course of the year proved that they could challenge for medals and seem to improve with every appearance. Despite this, an unfortunate lane placement in the A final left them in the 4th lane, regardless of their 2nd fastest time going into the event. This crew will have learnt to deal with the hand that they are dealt, and to take the burden and move on. This is undoubtedly the crew to watch in the upcoming season.
Shrewsbury and Winchester
These two crews largely went under the radar in the build up to Nationals, but both finished 3rd in heats to secure a place in the final. They will go into the 2019 season as potential dark horses, and it will be interesting to see how they develop. They will be edging to make ground on the leading crews: for these boys, the business is in the boat.
There is an air of hope surrounding this crew in their boathouse. They have some real power coming from stern four, most notably in record-breaker Max Gillard with his 6:27 J15 2k score, and a couple other fats in his shadow. They will go into every race as favourites, and the question is whether they can take the pressure and expectation in their stride, and whether they can live up to the legacy created by their all-conquering Henley eight.
The charm of rowing is that predictions often turn out to be incorrect, and upsets happen all the time; the transition to J16 is the perfect year for crews to make a real step up as training volumes increase significantly. The same can be said for the downfall of successful J15 crews, an example of that being 2017 J15 NSR medallists Latymer dropping off at J16, being nowhere, with their successes of J15 now fading into distant memories.
The SHORR bronze medallists failed to carry their momentum into the regatta seasons. Despite often having powerful starts, they often would fall out of contention by the 1500m mark, as seen at Wallingford and National Schools. At Ghent International Regatta, Shiplake lost to Westminster crews in the 4+ and 8+. However, they later won at the less competitive but equally prestigious Thames Ditton, which Westminster didn’t attend, but missed out on the A final a week later at National Schools. They ended their J15 season with a dreadful loss at TVP Regatta, getting knocked out in the first round to Reading Blue Coats. With Dave Currie taking charge of the J16 A boat this season, could this crew return as a force with which to be reckoned?
The Etonians endured a lacklustre J15 campaign, being at the bottom of the scrapheap at Schools Head, with few successes in turning it around for the regatta season, missing out on the AB Semis at National Schools. J16 is the perfect year for them to cause an upset and contend for things, it is very likely that Eton will find a way, as they have consistently done for many years, often entering crews that contend for medals. Stroked by Harry Geffen last year (the younger brother of the recently retired Boat Race winner Will Geffen), he and his crew could very well have a fruitful J16 campaign, much like the rise of Will Geffen during his junior career.
Tideway Scullers School
Their eight had people worried when they impressed everybody with their row at Wallingford Regatta, but changes in personnel made to their eight lead to them failing to make the A final at National Schools. Should they decide to focus on the eight this season, we could very well see Scullers show the world they can sweep too.
AllMarkOne J16 Team