National Schools Regatta - Crews to Watch: J15 8+

 The regatta season is officially underway after BASHER and Wallingford Regatta completed and thoughts are swiftly moving to National School’s Regatta. With only 2 weeks left to go before the biggest race of the year for most J15 crews, the big questions are starting to be asked. Who will be this year’s J15 8+ Champion? With many strong crews coming forward this year, these next few weeks in training will be crucial in the outcome of NSR.


Aberdeen Schools Rowing Association

A victory from these boys on the water at School’s Head of the River left the home crews shaken as the Scottish crew won by a convincing margin. Despite their location and lack of large side-by-side racing opportunities, this is a very strong crew and these boys should be looking to hold onto a medalist position at NSR, however head racing is very different to when you are neck and neck with opposition, it will be interesting to see how these guys handle themselves when under pressure at Dorney.



Westminster has shown strength this year with a 2nd place at SHORR, and showed good depth amongst their top J15s earlier on in the head season, achieving a 4th and 6th place at Quintin Head in mixed crews. As a school that doesn’t compete at BASHER, the only real indication of how this boat has changed over Easter was from their first place result at Wallingford, however lacking competition such as St Pauls, it will be interesting to see how the competition between these tideway boats  goes at NSR.



A very strong rowing school, this Shiplake crew placed 3rd at SHORR, and should be looking to hold onto Westminster after defeat at Ghent International Spring Regatta. Looking at past results from former crews, racing at Ghent can be key for many junior and senior crews alike to battle large margins and work out small errors. Only future results will tell if these guys have taken the experience on hard and will utilise this to move forward faster than ever. After edging out St. Paul’s by less than a second at School’s Head, these boys need to watch their backs if they want to finish NSR with some hardware.


St. Paul’s School

After a disappointing finish at SHORR, falling just outside of the medal table, this crew has hit the water harder than ever and with rumours of some big ergo scores coming out of this boat, the question to be asked is whether they “Can they convert it onto the water?”. With a J15 victory this weekend at BASHER, it seems to be promising and this boat is looking in very good shape. This is definitely a crew to watch for NSR. Moving away from the Thames and onto multilane racing will need serious focus from the boys in black and white and it will be interesting to see how this crew fares against their Tideway rivals such as Westminster and King’s College School. 

King’s College School - Wimbledon

With a very strong start early on in the head season, winning both at Quintin Head and Hampton Head, these boys will be disappointed to have been edged out of the top three at SHORR, with a sixth-place finish, and a disappointing heat at Wallingford, placing them just out of the final, they should be looking to get back up into the fray at NSR later in the month.



This crew looked very strong before School’s Head, leaving many wondering if the slightly underwhelming result at SHORR was simply an off-day for these boys, placing below Reading Blue Coat and St Georges. They should be looking to redeem some of their glory from early season, and get back into the midst of the top crews. Placing 3rd out of the J15 crews at BASHER and 3rd at Wallingford bodes well for this boat, and should look to hold onto this run throughout the next few weeks.



A traditionally very strong rowing school, with an impressive history of results from NSR, this crew placed 2nd out of the J15 crews at BASHER. With the sporting focus of the school shifting to rowing in the winter months, this crew can only rise places from their results in head season after a solid year of training.



This boat again should be aiming to rise places from their occasional appearances during head racing season, in the past, Eton J15 squad have left us with questions at this point of the year, however seem to have a knack of finding ‘free-speed’ in these last few weeks. These boys placed only 3 seconds behind the Radley’s J15 8+ at BASHER, and much can change over the course of the next month. Eton lets on very little, especially from their younger rowers, and with the sporting focus also changing over to rowing, this crew could be a surprise on their home water.


Radley College

4th place at BASHER, and in the midst at SHORR and earlier head races, this crew should look to hold their lead over Eton and pull as close to the Hampton 8+ as they can, however their result in the heat at Wallingford showed them around 10 seconds off the pace, however if we know J15 rowing, 10 seconds is able to be found through 'free-speed' coming into these final weeks.


Notable others

With the entries for NSR not published yet, it’s not certain which crews will be entering what, but among the other J15 8+s, St. George’s College, Reading Blue Coat School, Latymer Upper, St. Edward’s, Royal Shrewsbury, and Kings School Chester have all shown their faces throughout the head racing season, and it will be interesting to see how these boats perform down at Dorney. 



J15, South East