The rowing season re-commences in earnest this weekend on the Tideway, where most crews will look to gain valuable experience, if not a medal. At this point in the season, it remains to be seen who is strong and who has work to do, who is J16, who is the firsts, who are fielding parallel crews, so any predictions at this point in time are fraught, but one can certainly say that all crews will be filled with optimism, so hopefully the weather Gods are kind and the racing is on!
This year’s seniors certainly have a lot to live up to… However, the two remaining oarsmen from the dominant crew last year, Parish and Horncastle, showed the junior crews how it’s done with a win at Pairs Head. The coxless four entered seems to be their strongest boat, despite labelled the B boat; we know for sure that one of the crews will be strong, but there is still uncertainty over the strengths of those filling the huge voids left by those who won the triple.
Coming off the back of an unexpectedly strong season in which we saw their 1st VIII reach the semi-finals of the PE, it will be interesting to see if they can build on last year.
Henry Fletcher is one of those hoping to prove themselves in a bid to earn a seat in the School’s First Eight; Fours Head is a perfect opportunity for those in the 2nds and J16s last year to do just that.
Westminster and King’s
Both schools endured lacklustre campaigns last year and will be desperate to see improvements. Their coaches will be praying that with the help of fresh blood and hungry returners, Fours Head will be the beginning of a return to form for both schools respectively. Westminster have entered four crews.
The coaches at Shiplake must be licking their lips at the prospect of achieving big things this year. Although a few have dropped out of their rowing programme, there is still a large pool of talent for them to pick from, with many returning 1st VIII rowers and the members of the impressive J16 VIII. Despite rumours of a coxless quad in the lead up to this event, the Bees seemingly have not entered one, so we cannot be sure if their top crew have pulled out altogether, had race entry issues, or if their coxless four is their top boat.
Interestingly, the Etonians have not entered a 4-; with it being likely that all the other schools’ top boats have been entered in the coxless fours division, Eton could very well be hoping for easy glory in the coxed division instead. We can expect both coxed fours entered to be closely matched, as is often the case.
Abingdon and Radley
Last year Abingdon did not achieve the highs that they were accustomed to a few years back and will be itching to use this as an opportunity to showcase their river and gym work and step up. The latter had a more successful season but fell short of their expectations. With Radley looking swole and Abingdon looking silky, it will be interesting to see the two approaches head-to-head.
Norwich, Winchester, Walton and Claire’s Court
Winchester appears to have been putting in some cheeky hard effort if their social media is to be believed, Walton has been quite fours-focused, Norwich will be without their talismanic coach Cruickshank for the first time in multiple years and two boats from Claire’s Court not in Quads: mmm...
- Rory J16