In 2018, at NSR’s J14 1st Octuple category, we saw Norwich School A take the lead over St Paul’s School A and Radley College A in the time trials by 1 and 4 seconds respectively; a very close set of results. Three other crews qualified for the A Final with Abingdon School A, Great Marlow School A, and Windsor Boys’ School A, securing 4th, 5th, and 6th position respectively. The A Final regatta race of the J14 Octuples played out a lot differently than the time trials would have foreseen. St Paul’s School A managed to take the win over Norwich School A by quite literally a fraction of a second (0.83s), which for a J14 race, was a sight to see. Windsor Boys School A, Radley College, Great Marlow School A, and Abingdon School A came 3rd, 4th 5th, and 6th respectively; a large differentiation from the time trial results, although some crews tend to have certain tactics regarding time trials and finals.
Once again, both St Paul’s School and Norwich School have continued to shine this year whilst beginning to competitively race eights. Most recently, Bedford Regatta has proven the determination of this now-J15 year group. In the semi-finals at Bedford, Norwich School A secured the win over the 1200m distance against St Paul’s School A. Norwich School A then went on to win the final against Abingdon School. At Schools Head in March, in the J15 Ch8+ Category, Kings College School secured a 5 second win over St Paul’s School A. SPS took lead over ten other crews, however, proving their capability at such a long-distance race. This might mean that as NSR, SPS may have an advantage on a 2000m course versus the 1200m course at Bedford.
At Wallingford Regatta in their heat, King’s College School once again secured a victory over the 2000m course with a time of 06:33.06. They beat Shiplake College and St George’s College by a margin of less than 10 seconds. However, in the final, Windsor Boys School A overcame KCS by just 3 seconds. The Grange School and Radley shortly followed. St Paul’s and Norwich were not racing. We’ve also heard that St Paul’s School J15 A Eight beat KCS J15 A Eight whilst they were both away on training camp together. This once again heightens the tension around NSR and adds an air of unpredictability. So essentially, we could see SPS A and Norwich School A come face-to-face once again on the national stage. Throw KCS, another very strong competitor, Windsor, and Abingdon in the mix and one of the most competitive J15 races may take place that could literally go any way.
Last year at NSR in the J14 2nd Octuple A Final, St Paul’s School B beat Bedford School B and Kings School Chester A by almost as close of a margin as the 1st 8+ A Final. It is difficult to predict the 2nd 8+ Category as, for events like Schools Head, only J15 Champ Eights ended up racing, and in many events earlier in the season, only 1st Eights or mixed eights have been competing. However, the recently held Bedford Regatta (although being 1200m) gives us a good insight into the J15 2nd 8s as this was a dedicated category at Bedford. 10 crews entered the J15 2nd 8+ Category at Bedford and after some intense racing throughout the day the final came down, once again, to St Paul’s School B and Norwich School B; a familiar sight in J15 eights. A fierce and unrelenting battle then commenced between SPS and NSBC and St Paul’s managed to pull themselves through the finish line 2.5 lengths ahead of Norwich.
Bedford School and Latymer Upper also performed well to make the semi-finals at Bedford, and almost all of the margins of victory were very small compared to other categories. It will be interesting to see who takes the lead over an extra 800m at NSR next week. For this year’s National Schools’ Regatta, there have been 21 entries into the J15 2nd 8+ Category. Most crews are from well-known boat clubs, as you would expect on this level of racing, and unsurprisingly we’ve seen multiple boats from the same club entered into this category. As demonstrated time and time again, it’s the large championship schools with squad depth who consistently perform well. The J15 2nd 8+ Category is sometimes overlooked but it can be assured that this year there will be just as much competitivity as the J15 1st Eight Category.
J15 Fours is a highly subscribed event this year with 24 entries ranging from Hampton to Hereford. The best indication we can get of these crew’s speed is from Bedford Regatta. However, it seems that many schools have prioritised their eights and thus the fast Bedford Regatta crews haven’t entered the Mariner Cup. Of the 11 crews racing at Bedford Regatta, only one crew is racing in the same category at NSR, and this is The Grange School Hartford. Grange were beaten by verdict of “easily” by Latymer Upper who then progressed until the Semi-Finals. Their racing experience at Bedford Regatta I’m sure will help them massively, as this is a different crew to the eight racing the next day, and may not be their priority boat.
The Aberdeen crew looks poised to certainly be one of the fastest crews in the event. ASRA are consistently one of the top performing schools in Scotland, and given that this is their only J15 crew in the regatta, it’s clear that the club’s resources and focus will be on this boat. Whether this is due to a lack of athletes and thus talent, we will have to wait and see. Similarly, another school we would expect to see an eight from and haven’t is Pangbourne College. Pangbourne have flooded the entries with 3 boats, and have a lot of rowing heritage themselves – they originally hosted NSR on their stretch of Oxford river! The split into fours could suggest a steep drop-off in ability in their squad, making their A crew even more dangerous.
Reading Blue Coat, The 1863 Club and Monkton Coombe are more traditionally non-championship schools with a priority on the four. From last year’s results, it’s the schools who prioritise the four and not treat it as a second boat like we see from Hampton, Great Marlow and Winchester, who perform better. Last year the medals were won by Radnor House, Kingston and Walton. None of these three crews have re-entered, and with little information before racing, the Mariner Cup remains unpredictable and exciting.
J15 Coxed Quads and the Creber Cup at National Schools’ is one of the newly modified events this year, with only the top 18 crews racing side by side. With 62 entries in the 2019 draw, this means that lots of crews may leave disappointed from Friday, with only having the option to race the 1900m time trial. This makes it THE most competitive event in the competition! With such a large entry we are taking a close look at some of the clubs that have stood out throughout the 2018-2019 season.
Although we are lacking a lot of information about their regatta speeds, Trentham cannot be left out after a stellar performance at the Junior Sculling Head in March. They took the win by an 11 second margin over Maidenhead. We have not seen them at any of the big J15 races this year, however with a result like this earlier in the season, they could be a crew to watch in the time trial for a good placement into the finals.
Maidenhead matched Trentham’s second leg at the scullery in a time of 6:28, taking second place. They have gone on to win the sculling regatta at Dorney a few weeks ago, beating out the Windsor Boys crew by 0.6 seconds. The gap between Maidenhead and Windsor has been closing since the Scullery in March, only time will tell if this gap will close further, or if Maidenhead have pulled out a larger lead. Windsor Boys came second at the Junior Sculling Regatta but took the win in the time trial. They also raced recently at Bedford Regatta, where they narrowly lost out to The Grange School in the final by ¼ length.
Although Grange School did not race at the Junior Sculling Regatta, they have placed a strong time at the Sculling Head, coming in 4th. They also turned a few heads last weekend at Bedford Regatta, beating out two Norwich School crews and one Emanuel School crew, with all races receiving verdicts of 3 length wins or more. The final win over Windsor Boys A places them into the top category of coxed quads going into this weekend, it will be a test to see if the longer 2km course, notably the middle 500-1000m favours the northerners come the semi-finals and finals.
Other crews that deserve mentions are City of Bristol, who although a 19th place result at JSHOR put them on the back foot, they were able to move up the field to place in the A final for the Sculling Regatta. This is very similar to the results of Claires Court School, who has seen a large speed ramp from head season to the first regatta race of the year, however CCS(B) were the crew to make the A final at Dorney, with CCS(A) placing second in the C final. With so few results to go off, there are a significant number of crews that have not raced since the JSHOR in March, the time trial on Friday will be the first real sign whether certain crews will be racing with the big names, or fighting out for the final 6 spaces in the C final.