J16 is the year when we really start to see where the true talent lies and who will be dominating when it comes to J18. Boats entered include a range of athletes currently in the GB trialling system and this event might also help us to predict who is going to be racing in the GB/ France match.
With the J16 8+ category having merged into one event it is looking like an exciting final will take place at 5:30 on Saturday; one which will say a lot about what the J18 event will look like in the years to come.
When looking at results from Wallingford, SHORR and the like, it is hard to say who’s coming out on top due to the wide variation in results. Back in March, we saw Westminster beat St. Paul’s by 3 seconds and Shiplake 7 seconds behind that. Immediately the fields looking tight, but when we try and get a correlation from the Wallingford results and the SHORR results, they get thrown on their head.
Wallingford saw Abingdon overtake SPS and Westminster to take 1stplace by 1.3 seconds but also saw crews like Windsor Boys School make an appearance, giving a highly credible performance, however that was not at fruitful at Bedford a week later, and with NSR seeing more crews coming from 1st 8+’s into Champs it will be interesting to keep an eye on crews like Norwich, Reading Blue Coat, Bedford, Emmanuel and Canford who all made firm starting points at SHORR, with Norwich being the ones to take gold on the day. Whilst we didn't see Eton race Wallingford or Bedford, they're consistently near the top end so we wouldn't completely count them out either. Similarly, Hampton School were 6th at School's Head and whilst they were a little behind some of the front runners, when we consider Abingdon's comeback at Wallingford, either Hampton or Kings Wimbledon could well make a surprise push on the top end, but should definitely aim to find themselves in the A final. Plus we rate crews that turn out above average memes.
Overall we can expect to see Westminster, Paul’s, Abingdon and the rest of the big names fighting for the Desmond Hill Cup but the ones pushing for a position in that A final is up for anyone who is willing to give it their all in the time trials, as we've seen from past races, in this age category, the front end of the day is crucial for overall performance.
The Henley RC girls have recently been dominant in races such as SHORR setting a new course record (19:02.2), as well as a gold medal at JIRR. No doubt the girls are looking to add another gold to their collection. Excitingly, whilst their J18 girls have been dominating, the younger age groups are also showing that same drive and determination that promises to maintain their legacy in seasons to come. Another younger coach has been proving himself in the shape of Ed Dean in leading this crew, and between him and Leon Redman, the team at Henley are certainly giving some of the stalwarts in the coaching community a run for their money.
Lady Eleanor Holles A crew have also been showing some speed placing a respectable 3rd at SHORR and 2nd in the Portcullis Cup at Wallingford Regatta. The LEH girls are probably hoping to place in the medal table at NSR, possibly even giving Henley a run for their money at the big event.
St Pauls Girl’s school lost by a mere 5 seconds to Surbiton at Wallingford Regatta so they’ll definitely be looking to turn that result around at Dorney this weekend. These girls will be aiming to bring home the bronze medal if they can chase down LEH or Surbiton. Perhaps a little at a disadvantage only starting at J15, these girls have worked hard to get back in the race with the other clubs that start their rowing careers earlier.
Surbiton look to be one of the favourites after a convincing win over Lady Eleanor Holles and St Paul’s Girls at Wallingford Regatta. They were also only beaten by 8 seconds to the top spot at SHORR and it’ll be good to see who can bring the pace when racing over 2k. If one thing’s for sure it’s that this race will be tight up until the line.
Headington School and Cantabrigian are also contending for places in the final and I think it will be St Micheal’s and the LEH second 8 that will be bringing up the rear of this event but on race day anything could happen!
Henley should be on the top of the podium but Surbiton will definitely give them a tough 2k and might even look to surprise them by taking the lead off the start.
Jemima, George, Emily and Joseph