Head Season 2019 – Recap

This weekend kicks off the busy regatta season with the Junior Sculling Regatta on Sunday, so here's a brief look back at last season and the standout results from it.

Shiplake's Success

The end of the season brought a sight that most Champ 8+ rowers have longed to see over the past 2 years, and that is to see St Paul’s dethroned at a major event. At School’s Head, both Shiplake and Eton were faster than St Paul’s, but barely. The 3 schools were almost 20 seconds ahead of Radley in 4th, and if this continues into regatta season, we’ll have a clear breakaway from the rest of the peloton of other schools. However this isn’t a surprise result – both Shiplake and Eton had lead at Hammersmith Head only 2 weeks prior, and Shiplake have been dominating the circuit in the Upper Thames valley all year.

Coming into the regatta season all eyes are on Shiplake and Eton. Shiplake haven’t ever won NSR outright, although they did win the Child Beale in 2015 before moving up to the championship event, and Eton haven’t won it since 2011 but have consistently been right up there for many years. The first major race of the regatta season is Wallingford Regatta in 2 weeks, but with all the top crews missing athletes racing at Munich Junior Regatta, it’s likely we won’t get a clear picture of how the regatta season will shape up until Nottingham City or Bedford Regatta. Other changes from last year show that King’s Chester have moved on considerably, and Shrewsbury have been making it clear that they have big aspirations for this season.

Leander Surge

Windsor Boys and Maidenhead were two incredibly matched crews for much of the season which made for some nail-biting racing, especially the hugely anticipated Fawley Final. However, for much of the year it was Leander Club who silently trailed in 3rd place to pick up the bronze medals and semi-finals. But this year, both Windsor and Maidenhead have failed to reach last year’s heights while Leander have gotten faster and stronger. In the wake of School’s Head cancelling all coxless boats, Leander dominated at The Scullery as the only crew under 12 minutes, clocking 11:54 with a comfy 20 seconds on Henley Rowing Club.

Leander’s big competition for the regatta season will come mostly from the clubs rather than schools, with Henley, Lea and Walton all looking strong. A surprise entry into champ quads from Bedford School, yes that is correct this is their priority boat, shouldn’t cause them any problems. At the Junior Sculling Regatta next week, we should get more of an idea of how they’ve improved on camp in Tilburg and of any potential rivals to what is looking like their regatta season.

LEH closing the gap 

When Henley Rowing Club broke Headington’s record streak at NSR people hailed it as the dawn of a Henley-dominated few years, I mean they were leagues faster than all other crews, right? Well, according to SHORR results, wrong. Hampton’s twin Lady Eleanor Holles shocked everybody by trailing Henley by only 2 seconds over almost 19 minutes, which translates to roughly half a second over 2k. With LEH so close, and Headington racing their top boat at WEHORR-turn-HORR, there are a lot of questions coming into the regatta season. LEH have always been a presence in girl’s rowing, supplying a steady stream of GB athletes and top results, but like Eton earlier, haven’t won the premier event at NSR for quite some time. They won’t need much of a step on to overtake Henley based off current results, but Henley have had their feathers ruffled and any feelings of complacency will have been ironed out, making LEH’s job a whole lot harder.

It’s a Tie!

In a surprise result, Monmouth and Winchester tied to take home the first 8’s pennant at School’s Head. A considerable step up from Winchester, who didn’t perform too well in the shadow of their infamous 2017 eight. Monmouth on the other hand have been creeping back over the past few years and up the rankings slowly but surely. While it’s reassuring to see the 1st 8 category crews back behind the champ 8 category, results from as early as Wallingford Head have indicated that at least this year’s events will have some more exciting racing, rather than last year’s race for 2nd place.

Business as Usual

Many of the other categories of racing haven’t had many outstandingly exciting results, so here’s what happened with the rest. Eton are currently the frontrunners in Ch J16 eights, with Westminster and Aberdeen School’s Rowing Association trailing closely, but Westminster did have 10 seconds on Eton at Hammersmith Head, so there could be a lot less between these crews than the results imply. Putney High School has a very comfortable lead over the rest on the Girls First 8’s field with a more championship-esque time, and only lost out on a School’s Head pennant to Henley’s 2nd 8. In girls J16 eights, Headington have the jump on Henley ahead of the rest of the field; a familiar sight. KCS lead St Paul’s in J15 eights coming back from 0.1 seconds down at Hammersmith Head to 5 seconds clear, and if their chat is anything to go by, they have more in their tank.