The coxed four is not a championship event, but a popular option for schools who might not have the depth to field a full eight, especially given the rule changes this year that have arguably closed the door somewhat on smaller programmes. Especially with only two entries into girls' second eights this year, it appears many clubs have opted to field second fours.
With 27 entries into School 4+ this year, from only 16 entries of both Champ and School 4+ at SHORR, shows many Child Beale schools and clubs steps down to the coxed-fours category, this is also seen with the distinct lack of Non Championship 8s, from 20 1st 8s at SHORR to now only 10 entries at NSR, the attempt of forcing eights into an elitist event is definitely working for the NSR committee, with very few clubs racing for a category with no trophy. Names which we are used to seeing in the top bracket of Child Beale, such as Norwich School, and last year’s winners of J16 1st 8s, Monkton Combe.
School Coxed Fours is a secondary event, therefore A-class boats can tend to be second or third crews, such as Shiplake, Latymer and Pangbourne, so although the big names are in this event, its usually the smaller clubs that tend to do well here, with their top athletes racing against athletes 9-12 or 17-21 of other clubs.
Walton RC is a very strong contender, with athletes such as Matt Heywood and Ben Harris, taking 3rd place at SHORR shows that this crew is one to watch, with certified daddy status, no current large regatta results to go off and a free-speed tandem in their boat, whether their head season training will pay off here as well as it did at SHORR. #NatClubs
Shiplake College are putting in a coxed four ahead of their second eight this year, beating Radley College at Bedford Regatta, before losing to Great Marlow School who have opted to enter Championship 4+, put them in good stead for this weekend. Other results from Wallingford Regatta show them beating St Georges, however seemingly being 6 seconds off the pack of Winchester College and others. This crew, currently rumoured to be coached by the renown Dave Currie, will be aiming to lay down some large splits and show they are worthy of their seats in the Stampfli and not those of the 3rd VIII. #GoBees
Monkton Combe School are the first of the few schools who have opted to enter School 4+ instead of racing in Non-Championship 8, with a very strong J17 squad, from last years J16 squad which went to take the Shawcross Cup, it will be interesting to see, after a training camp in the eight, how the athletes have adapted for the heavier racing of the coxed four.
Norwich School have also decided to drop some of their J16 rowers, racing in the 1st 8 at SHORR, and opted to race a 4+. With triallists such as Oliver Udy in the boat, this crew went on to take the win at Bedford, beating clubs such as Bedford, Bedford Modern and GMS, all three racing at the Champ category. Coached by Chris Williams of the gold medal CoupeAchter will most likely be hunting for the marginal gains this weekend, and with a cross-wind predicting similar to last year, the time trials could be the winning or breaking point of this crew. #CaribbeanPirates
Other crews deserving of a mention include the AllMarkOne try-hards of @rowalters and the Funky Dragons, aka St Georges College, who last year took gold medal at this event, this year the same position will be a lot harder to hold onto. Kingston RC also have a good chance in this category, taking silver last year in J16 4+, the young J17s will face the heat of racing in the full J18 category, will it be a copy of last year with Norwich School leading them from the start, or will this year see a change?
Girls' School 4+
With a name like Henley on the draw, we might assume they're the clear favourites, but the School's Head results suggest we might be in for a closer race than that. Henley took the pennant, a crew made of girls who have several national medals to their name from across the age categories, but were less than two and a half seconds ahead of Putney High School. Over the gruelling 6.8km at SHORR, this margin will become much smaller as we shorten to regatta length racing, and if Putney have stepped on they could well be in a position to take the top spot. All but one of the athletes in this crew won the J16 GB-France match last summer in the coxless four, so we imagine they will be fast this weekend. Given the decision to enter two fours rather than an eight, they will be out to collect a medal in this event, it will just depend what colour they take home.
Looking at Marlow's entry into the eight also, we'd assume their second place at Wallingford was credit to some members of the eight, but if not, Marlow will be right in the mix of Henley and Putney. Local rivals Great Marlow School were the bronze medallists at School's Head and will of course look to retain that title in the summer racing this weekend, but may be challenged by Sir William Borlase, who again came within half a second of third place finishers Putney High School at Wallingford Regatta. Henley topped this category at Wallingford Regatta, but that was not the same crew entered here, but made of members of their first eight.
Schools such as LEH and Surbiton- who took the bronze in this category at NSR 2017- often have the depth to field two eights so could also pose a challenge, as although there haven't been any standout results this season from them, they tend to be consistent performers. Looking at recent results across the board, Henley still look to be favourites, but there are certainly a number of other crews who will be competing for the medals and this one looks very hard to call.