AMO predicted that Bedford Regatta would be one to watch, and it didn’t disappoint. Forgetting about the medal podium, who were the real winners and losers of the day? And what does this mean for National Schools in less than two weeks time?
The top spots
We can’t see the top dogs being rattled by happenings today. St Paul’s, Shiplake and Eton elected to stay home. The only challenger could be Shrewsbury, but, they only managed to take a length and a half out of Bedford School, who had already had two tough races in quick succession, and Shrewsbury never really had a race before they faced off to Bedford. That said however, Shrewsbury will be pushing hard for the top spots at the weekend and are definitely moving in a positive direction for the remainder of the season.
Radley College suffered heavily this weekend. After a lacklustre performance at School’s Head, they would be looking to reassert their dominance as a top crew, and would’ve been looking to dispose of Bedford easily before a potentially big match up with Shrewsbury. However, this never materialised, and Bedford took advantage of a potentially complacent Radley and beat them by 1 ½ lengths, although Radley were on the well-known worse side of the river, this was a result that was much less close than anybody was expecting. After the 8, they moved into 4s, where their top 4, featuring Archie McChesney, who made the World’s team in 2017, lost by a canvas to Shiplake’s second crew, who went on to lose to Great Marlow’s top boat, who, in turn, went on to lose to Norwich’s top senior four. It will be interesting to see what Radley can pull out of the bag for National Schools.
KCS Wimbledon also lost out. After being beaten by Shrewsbury in the 8+, they moved into the 4+, where their top 4, featuring triallists Oscar Olsen and Rufus King, got beaten by Bedford Modern by 5 lengths. Considering BMS went on to lose to Norwich ‘easily' with Norwich at a lower rate across the line, this was a poor result.
Both Radley and KCS had the opportunity to rattle some cages today, but, it’s clear the opportunity wasn’t taken.
Despite losing to Shrewsbury, Great Marlow School put in a good performance. They lost to Shrewsbury by the same margin as Bedford, but will take confidence knowing Bedford is a fast starting crew and have a fast first thousand. Their top 4, also containing triallists Olivier Emmet-Bird and Oliver Peace, performed well, beating crews who struck down KCS, Shiplake and Radley.
Norwich's top 4 won Junior Coxed Fours, and this is a strong performance. If they stay in the 4 we will likely see them enter the 1st 4+ Category at NSR, racing like likes of St Georges, Shiplake’s second boat and possibly the likes of Walton RC, if they choose not to enter Champ 4+.
Bedford Regatta told us a lot about the spirit of Champ 8 schools. It is unlikely that any upset here would go on to scare the likes of St Paul’s at National School’s. The AMO prediction remains the same, with St Paul’s and Eton making up 1st and 2nd place, with third being more hotly contested between Shiplake, Shrewsbury and Abingdon.
The J15 1st 8 category was as competitive as ever, with St. Paul’s eventually winning over Abingdon. Racing commenced with Shiplake College taking on Royal Shrewsbury, with Shiplake winning comfortably, by 1½ lengths. Shiplake then went on to race Eton, who had progressed after beating Bedford Modern School by 1 foot, in one of the closest races of the day. The eventual winners, St. Paul’s, then brought Shiplake’s winning streak to a halt, beating them by 1¾ lengths. St. Paul’s started the day against King’s College School, finishing 2 lengths up on them, in a relatively one-sided match. St. Paul’s then raced against Hampton School, in their closest race of the day, winning by 1½ lengths. This race knocked out Hampton in their first race, although they lost to St. Paul’s by the least compared to the other crews that they raced, this may reveal that the results might not paint a full picture of the crews contending for medals at National Schools. Abingdon ended up racing St. Paul’s in the final, after a by into the second round, they rowed against Kings School Chester, winning very comfortably by 4 lengths. However, their race against Radley College wasn’t quite so easy, winning by just a canvas in a very tight contest. This then qualified them for the final against St. Paul’s, who seemed to have dominated all of their races throughout the day. Therefore, it came as no surprise that they finished the race 2¼ lengths up on Abingdon.
Although, St. Paul’s would seem favourites to go on and medal at National Schools, the other crews racing at Bedford cannot be underestimated and the results can hide the actual credibility of the runners up. Abingdon should be congratulated for making it into the final at the regatta, although it may not be an accurate representation of where they are compared to the other crews, seeing as they had a relatively easy side of the draw. Whereas, crews such as Hampton School and King’s College School Wimbledon didn’t really have a chance to display their genuine ability.
This leaves the circuit relatively open for some of the faster runners-up to steal the glory from the leading crews, such as St. Paul’s School, Westminster School, Tideway Scullers School and Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association in a couple of weeks time at Eton Dorney, for National Schools Regatta. Training hard, but intelligently, over the next weeks will be vital to determine the top positions.
Oli and Jasper
J18 and J15