At this early stage of the season it is rather hard to gauge which crews are the ones to watch, however with most rowers spending the opening to this season in their sculls to push their technical skills we are bound to see a high level of competitive racing. It’s near on impossible to pull out crews that will win as everything can be so touch and go on the tideway, results can be decided by steering lines, as well as ability to deal with potentially treacherous conditions. Last years competition can down to a margin of only 0.8 seconds. As would be expected there has been good performances so far by scullers from Henley RC, Headington and Tideway Scullers in their singles at races such as Wallingford long distance sculls and pairs head on the tideway. They all have a good history of transferring these skills into a high-level crew boat performances, so these will be ones to watch as usual. Clubs such as Maidenhead, Surbiton and LEH will be hoping to contest with these well-established crews to snatch those top places, and Marlow will return ready and raring to go after last years narrow loss. Latymer Upper School enter this race season having crossed the infamous Henley finish line first and will likely hope to continue this form into head season. Again this is a thoroughly open field, with every crew confident that they’ll have the skill to cross the line first, and will be a very interesting way to set up the 19/20 season
The second band of junior women’s quads fields much wider competition with around 36 crews entered. Many of the same names crop up again such as LEH and Surbiton, but here we also find many other crews such as St George’s, York City and Putney High school. With such a large pool of competitors and such little racing up to this point in crew boats it is very tricky to pass comment on the likely outcome of this racing. Many if these girls will have spent the majority of their time racing on the Tideway in larger boats such as eights and this will provide the new challenge for the girl in bow of steering the fastest line they can find and dealing with the twist and turns of this course. Many will expect the big names to come out on top here as they have the deeper squads and more established programmes, however you can never rule out small clubs ability to cultivate talent from a young age and turn it into something special so this category could be excitingly unpredictable
With only four crews entered this is a much smaller category than that of the sculling counterparts. Kinston have been dominant over the last 3 years, with back to back wins at fours head as well as on a shorter course at National school, so we expect this crew to again be entering in excellent form. They are the easy option to select as winners, and definitely shouldn’t be underestimated (not that many would). The two LEH crews entered shows not only the depth of squad this school has but also the level of sweep that has come to be expected of these girls. Coming of the back of a stunning victory in last years championship eights these girls will be looking to extend their repertoire of medals. Marlow has been a consistent name in girls rowing over the last couple of years, so it will be interesting to see what these young athletes can leave on the water.
Again there is a larger entry into the second band of this category, and will inevitably be highly contested. With the focus being mainly on sculling thus far in the season it is again very tricky to gauge the level of these crews leading into this race. Many of these names are staples of the national sweep stage so we cant wait to see how this race shapes up. Tideway scullers have put out many strong sweep crews over the years so along with Putney high school they are the bigger names heading onto the start line, but no one can ever be ruled out with many a strong crew putting their name in the hat. We wish all the girls the best of luck on this course which may seem endless but will be worth it when its over.
Perhaps the most challenging category for a young crew a coxless four requires extreme skill and cohesion amongst a crew. The girls who sit in the bow seat may feel the heat but will likely deal amazingly with the pressure. The small category is littered with big names hoping to swoop (sweep) in a snatch the prize. The likes of Tideway Scullers and Latymer Upper have established programmes and will be hoping this history will have given these girls the skills to speed to the line, but all of the six crews have had success in fours over the last season so will likely come ready and raring to go so we can’t wait to see what they pull out the bag.