With a field size of 25, and both 1st and 2nd eights racing together similarly to the Championship and Non-Championship J18 eights, the race will consist of 2 A and B semi-finals with the fastest crews getting seeded into an A and B Final - leaving no room for error over the 1500m time trial as if you don’t make those semi-finals there’s no way to avoid a C final.
At Wallingford Regatta, Henley dominated by beating Marlow to first place by almost 12 seconds! Consequently, this category is really proving the up and coming strength at the top end of British rowing who could potentially be the girls who trial for the GB vs France J16 match in 2020. Both of these clubs medalled in this event last year, separated by Latymer Upper School taking the silver medal. None of these schools were present at Bedford Regatta 2 weeks ago, which saw Lady Eleanor Holles beat Kings School Chester by only half a length in the final. LEH finished 3rd at Wallingford, so this suggests a very tight battle for 2nd and 3rd could take place, while Henley seem set to storm to gold.
Although, the non-champ races don’t generally get mentioned as much as the championship crews, I think it's very important to still recognize the commitment of the younger athletes heading into the national circuit. Specifically, the passion that drives their first few years - which I’m sure every junior athlete can remember firing them up in their first race.
Through the field of 25 there are crews from Durham Amateur and Nottingham & Union where NSR is one of their first larger-scale races and although their nerves may be showing against the likes of the more established Surbiton, LEH and Putney High, the desire felt on the start line will most definitely be felt as the girls pound down the course. Nottingham and Union won J14 G8x+ at NSR last year by a clear margin, so if we see some returners from that crew in their crew this year, they could catch these other girls by surprise.
Not many events offer separate events for WJ15 2nd Boats, so these girls will have been used to racing their A crew counterparts at most races throughout the year. Schools such as Bedford Girls School and Putney High have demonstrated their squad depth throughout the year, and will have their second boats competing against the likes of Latymer Upper and LEH, who had the 2 fastest 2nd eights at NSR last year.
This is the largest event in the competition, with a huge 68 crews entered. No worries, we are here to help navigate this huge field of competitors, and to see who can come into Friday’s racing feeling confident.
At the Junior Sculling Regatta, Wycliffe took the win in this event, followed by Nottingham and Union, Ross RC and Henley RC, all of whom posted times of under 8 minutes which is very impressive for crews of this age. For that reason, I would expect these crews to do well, however not all clubs were racing that day.
At Wallingford Head, there was not a WJ15 quads event, but many of the same crews entered here raced too, with Henley coming away with the win, showing good strength in depth which was also shown by the gold medal winning double at the JSR that raced alongside their quad.
There are also two crews entered from Enniskillen Royal Boat Club, from Northern Ireland. International crews tend to be strong competitors, making the trip over to Dorney for a weekend of racing is no easy feat, so these girls could present a bit of a challenge to the crews that have been racing on the domestic scene this year.
The J14-15 events at national Schools are held over 1km on the Friday, and so it will be interesting to see how the crews adapt to racing over half the normal distance, and whether this will throw up any surprises in the results. After the controversial cancellation of the WJ15 eights at Schools Head whilst the boys’ event was allowed to race, these girls will be looking to show the world that they are just as capable racers, and so some fierce rowing and exciting competition can be expected in this event.
There are 19 crews in this event with 12 crews moving on to the AB Semi-finals and 7 crews to the C Final. This will be the first year of many of these crews sweeping which will lend itself to some very interesting racing. Especially with these younger crews, racing experience proves itself to be very important when you are put in a high stress situation like National Schools. Often with younger women's crews that get ahead at the start have a better chance at holding that place ahead.
Leading the racing pack is Kingston Rowing Club, who are starting off first. Kingston have two crews entered in this event; the club has a very strong junior women's program so these crews are looking quite strong. The Grange School (Hartford) had a strong win of 5 lengths against their opposition in this A event at Bedford Regatta, Kings School Chester had two crews in the final of the B event at Bedford Regatta- now faring off in the same event, it will be interesting how these two strong crews do.
Lea RC have been having a good season this year and based on the standard of their older members, this WJ15 crew could do quite well. Streatham and Clapham High School BC have two crews entered in this event. Streatham and Clapham are part of the GDST alongside Putney High School and have been racing in more local events like Putney town as of recent, this racing experience will definitely come in handy for this event.
North Staffordshire Rowing Club look to develop rowing in the North West, and as the crew starting off second in between Kingston RC and Lady Eleanor Holles BC A, it will be interesting to see how their times compare to these local crews. Likewise, the Beckett RC crew from Nottingham could do quite well, but it's still all to play for. St Edwards School Boat Club has also entered two crews, with a win at Thames Ditton Regatta- this crew looks like they could be moving up the ranks after the time trial. This will definitely be an event to look forward to in amongst Fridays Racing.