The British Rowing Senior Championships kicks off this weekend, with famous rivals already eager to prove their place and put their name in the mix for the year ahead. With this event officially tagged onto the end of last season, it is at a weird part of the season for clubs that have taken a serious break over summer, most notably academic institutions. We might see the rise of more local clubs take stronger spots at this event, after a summer of training, rather than a summer off the water.
Sunday is the day of eights and quads, of which there are many favourites amongst these events. In the Open Quad Sculls, we have James Cartwright and Viktor Kleshnev who won silver alongside Jake Offiler in the GB junior quad at the world championships this summer, who are competing for Leander against the latter rower, who will be racing for Edinburgh alongside Matt Haywood and Josh Armstrong.
In 2016, Leander broke the Women's Quad event course record in a time of 6:42.15, so it may look like Leander will try to remain the top dogs in this event after entering a strong crew with the likes of Ruth Siddorn who competed in the BW1X at the U23 World Rowing Championships in Poznan, 2018.
In the O8+ event, Oxford Brookes University’s A crew look like the ones to beat, with a few Henley Regatta winners keeping their seats, and athletes such as Josh Bugajski, who was selected to be a spare for GB at the World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv. However, the record was broken by Leander in 2016 with a time of 5:36.50, who could be competitors for the gold medal. Leander and Molesey will be lacking many more athletes at this event than 2016 due to the Olympic trip to Tokyo that is happening this weekend as well. This could be the year for BW's boys to clinch the trophy.
There are only a few various boat clubs entered in the Open University Eights, however this comprises of three UL eights, five Brookes eights and two Imperial eights to name the biggest entries. The Imperial eight is made up of three athletes who won the Prince Albert Challenge Cup at HRR in 2018, who seem to be wanting to do the same in a bigger boat. The UL boat includes the names of Tom Worthington, a second year who made waves as a junior, going from race offs to the junior worlds squad in a matter of days, as well as making the Temple 8 of UL last year. The boat is also hinted to include third year student Will Carey in the stroke seat, however he is entered into the second eight on the entries list. The top Brookes boat in this event is OBU C, and consists of three Henley Regatta finalists in the Temple cup this year, who look to avenge their result, and perhaps better the existing course record set by Brookes in 2015. With strong depth in the Brookes squad this year, it will be interesting to see, not only the fight between the likes of Brookes and IC, but also the battle within the club for the top positions.
The W8+ event draw seems to look stacked, with crews either from an elite rowing club or an elite university boat club. Leander took the win back in 2016 and could be in the line for winning the gold medal, but all crews deserve a special mention with competitive racing being brought out from each club in the first year, it will be hard to determine who will come out on top when put side by side each other.
In the Women University Eights event, Glover loses an oar and takes to sweeping, in the Edinburgh A crew. Could this be the advantage they need to put themselves ahead of a strong UL women’s eight to obtain the championship title? Oxford Brookes also look to be in the running, after having a strong end to the 2018 racing season with a win in the academic eights event at Henley Women’s and qualifying for the Remenham at Henley Regatta.
With over 700 rowers and 77 clubs involved over the two days, it looks to be an exciting weekend of racing, where predictions can be proven wrong with crews coming back from a summer break stronger than ever. Hopefully the weather will be as good as 2016, so more records can be created, and hopefully not beaten for a long time...