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With Quintin Head already just around the corner, and some big names entered into the event, racing is looking to be invigorating come this Sunday. Being the first major Tideway race of the year, Quintin is always greatly anticipated by rowers and coaches alike. Each and every crew & club will be looking forward to setting their name high in the rankings and hoping to leave their impression not only on the course, but on other crews coming through to SHORR.
Racing over the 4600m course from Chiswick bridge all the way to Harrods furniture depository, weather conditions will limit even the best crews. With tides this weekend looking “awkward” according to race organisers, and strong winds gusting up to 35mph threatened, there may well be some tough racing conditions. From Barnes Bridge through to the Eyot, crews can expect a North-Westerly cross wind, creating some tricky water conditions. However, from Chiswick bridge through to Barnes Bridge, and likewise with Hammersmith Bridge to the finish, it is looking to be a strong tail wind, which could lead to some rather exciting final sprints.
On the junior side, at this point in the season many successful J16 crews from last year have transitioned well into their J18 crews, so racing is looking to be more and more thrilling. Looking on from Wallingford Head back in November, we can expect some strong performances from the likes of Shiplake, Radley, Abingdon, and the London schools like St Paul’s and Westminster, who will be well accustomed to the stretch. Without having had much racing this year, it is difficult to tell who will come out on top. St Paul’s fielded two strong eights at Wallingford, both of which came out high in the results for J18 eights category. With a very successful season last year, will St Pauls continue this for years to come? Radley sat at the top of the ladder at Wallingford, so we can expect to see another competitive performance from them and see them place high on the board. Shiplake have entered two crews, under the imaginative names “Ship” and “Lake”, and with last year’s outstanding Shiplake J16 crew now moving into J18 eights- the crew that broke the J16 8+ national record by 6 seconds and qualified for the Temple Challenge Cup at Henley- we can expect to see a strong time from them.
On the girls' side, the big names of Henley and Headington are conspicuous in their absence after their dominance of eights racing over the last few years. This means that the top spots are very much up for grabs, with contenders including Tideway locals Putney High School, Godolphin & Latymer, Tideway Scullers, St Paul’s Girls', Team Keane and Emanuel School. City of Oxford, Lady Eleanor Holles and 2018 Diamond Jubilee finalists Marlow complete the list. Henley dominated at junior level last year, and look to have a strong squad this year too, so their absence this weekend certainly opens up the field. Marlow and LEH are historically competitive, but TSS and PHS will be looking to put themselves on the mark. Marlow and Putney were second in the junior category at Four's Head, and in the pennant winners' absences, will look to claim the Quintin title.
With the large Brookes contingent keeping their cards close to their chest, the senior Men’s events also look to provide some very exciting match ups this weekend. With St Paul’s, UL, two Imperial crews, Thames, Tideway Scullers, Molesey, Lea and two UL Tyrian crews entered into Champ, some tough, close battling through tricky conditions can be expected at the start of an exciting lead up to HORR in March. St. Paul's finished just outside of the top 5 overall last year, so it will be interesting to see how their young crew fares. After a disappointing 5th place in the B final of Champ Eights at the British Senior Championships for UL, and in the absence of any Goldie crews, Imperial should hope to step on from last year and finish as the top university crew. Molesey are likely favourites to take the overall win, but it will be interesting to see how Thames, Lea and TSS slot into the finish order. TSS will look to step on under new coach David Mannion, while the Thames squad looks strong as ever this season.
In the Women’s events, several Cambridge crews are racing ahead of the Boat Race in April, and their should be some exciting racing for the top spots between CUWBC, UL and Molesey. Molesey finished just short of UL at Brit Champs, and the former will have their work cut out to overturn this with a home turf advantage against them. After some racing practice in match pieces with Imperial, Thames have entries into both the champ and senior events and will look to make their mark with what looks to be a strong squad this season. University and club crews alike well be using this weekend to show what they can do at the start of their WEHORR campaigns.