With a majority of championship and non-champ 8+ breaking into 4s on the Sunday, with most prioritising the Champ 4-, it will be interesting to see which schools have the depth to grab hold of the Champ 4+ and bring the fight to the schools prioritising the 4+.
Ones to watch
There will be no surprises that these boys are one of the favourites to win this event. Despite being the bottom half the 8 these boys shouldn’t be underestimated. Having won Challenge 4+ at Wallingford a few weeks ago ahead the likes of Tideway Scullers and half of the Thames 8+ that beat them to a close final in Challenge 8+ it would be very hard to find anyone who are as near the speed as they are. St Pauls also won this event last year and with last year’s GB Worlds cox Axel de Boissard on board to steer the boat down they are firm favourites heading into the event.
Eton will be fielding a 2nd 4+ in this event and have had a decent run into this race. Like St Paul’s they took a win at Wallingford, the School’s 4+ beating two Shiplake crews on the way to the win. This should give them plenty of confidence going into NSR to fight for one of the medal spots and being on home water should give them an extra nudge to mount a challenge to the St Paul’s crews.
Hampton and Abingdon
With one of the few Champ 8+ schools prioritising a 4+, Abingdon and Hampton will be fielding a top 4+ each. Having not seen much of the two schools in fours results from them being in 8+ indicate this maybe a close battle indeed. Despite Hampton losing to Abingdon by a mere .2 seconds along the Boat Race course and losing out at Wallingford the boys in black and yellow will be hunting for revenge down the Olympic course to prove who are the better boat movers. Will they have another speed to mount a challenge to the St Paul’s and Eton crews? Only time will tell.
The Henley finalist last year have looked to be struggling all season. Despite a wealth of experience on the big stage alongside some quick times on the ergs Radley haven’t seem to quite transfer their expectations on the water. As seen just recently their top 4+ lost out by a foot to Shiplake’s 2nd 4+ at the inaugural Bedford Regatta. With a few weeks in between, Bedford and NSR it would be interesting to see if they can come up with the performances that reach Radley’s normal expectation or if they fall just below the line.
Under the helm of Dave Curry, Shiplake have gone from strength to strength every year as seen with their back to back 2nd place finishes in Champ 8s at SHORR. This Shiplake crew had a good run at Bedford Regatta by both beating KGS and Radley’s top 4+ albeit losing to GMS’s top 4+ by a length and a half. It would be interesting to see what they could do on a longer stretch of water and the progress they would’ve made since then.
One of the favourites to take home the win in Non-Champ 8s, Bedford will be fielding 1 crew due to the racing rules. They will be fielding their top 4+ unsurprisingly which again like many other crews were seen at Bedford Regatta. Despite going out in the first round in J18 4+ at Bedford there really is more than meets the eye. They lost out to a very neat and eventual winners Norwich by a canvas on what many deem to be the “unfavourable” side of the river. Norwich would go on to beat GMS in the final by 2/3 of a length despite being on the “unfavourable” side. I will be interesting to see if the boys in blue have the quality to reach the tops of this Champ 4+ event having made the A final last year.
Watching this GMS year group come up through the years it was no surprise that they would be mixing in with the middle pack of the senior crews. After finishing second to Norwich at Bedford as mentioned earlier it is looking like it will be a fierce battle between them a Bedford as the front runners for the “Non-Champ 4+”.
It looks like this year the boys from Shrewsbury will be fielding a 2nd 4+ in this event and after the recent impressive forms of their top 8 winning J18 8+ and Open 8s at Bedford all eyes will be on this crew to try and replicate recent successes.