Quintin Head is the first major Tideway race of the calendar year and provides a rare opportunity for eights to get some racing experience on the Championship Course ahead of HORR and WEHORR. Quintin always attracts a large crowd of matched eights and incomplete top boats, but that’s not to say the racing isn’t competitive, and the results provide a strong indication of which clubs have put in the Winter training, looking to reap the benefits in the Spring racing season.
This is an undoubtedly exciting event for all involved, one of the few (if not the first) sweep race of the season for many J15s, not to mention on the challenging waters of the Tideway. Conditions will be tough this weekend if the race goes ahead; as always the Tideway based clubs will most definitely have the upper hand. The change from sculling to sweeping is huge, and usually completely reshuffles the school ranking. This is down to different coaching priorities, a change of facilities or simply just the rowers being more mature and eager to listen.
It will be hard to make predictions at this stage of the season, but Shiplake, with two of their boys having broken British Rowing records on the erg, are going off first. It is likely that they have fielded mixed eights so a win may not be on the cards for them despite their 4th place finish at NSR last year. Again, looking like they’re fielding matched eights, the usual offenders of St Pauls and Latymer Upper should maintain their ranking near the top of the field after successful J14 years for both and so much more exposure on the Tideway. Westminster have only entered one boat in this event, this would likely be their fastest crew and should have a crack at winning this as KCS and St George’s are likely to have fielded matched eights too. As stated before, predictions are rather difficult as we cannot tell whether clubs have entered matched eights or simply their first and second boat.
The results from the BASHER regatta last weekend indicate that of the BASHER schools J15 first eights, Hampton are currently leading, followed closely by Abingdon, St Paul’s, Radley, Bedford and Eton in that order. This should be an interesting event to look out for, and will give a good indicator of the depth in some of these squads, as is with J15 heads season in general, it is over to the coaches to get their boats rowing as well as possible!
With a season of sweep rowing under their belts, this is where crews will be laying down foundations of become championship level rowers in a year or two’s time. 12 crews are entered, with big favourites and last years’ NSR finalists St Pauls’ and Radley are likely being the favourites to take the win, as KCS appear to have entered matched eights. St Pauls had a great year with a 2nd at SHORR behind KCS, and were booted out of the medals at NSR by Norwich, who hadn’t even entered SHORR earlier in the year. Again, Norwich haven’t entered despite the strength of competition here, and it it’s mind games they’re playing at then they are surely working well against the likes of Radley and KCS.
Missing entries also come from Hampton and Eton, two juggernauts of junior rowing, so we may have to wait for Hammersmith Head to make some sure-fire predictions for SHORR, as the rest of the field hasn’t previously proven themselves to be contending for medals. Reading Blue Coat’s seniors fell short last year but their J15’s performed well in coxed fours at NSR, Latymer Upper School will have a huge home-water advantage against the travelling clubs, and an eight entry for 1863, previously London Oratory School, is one of the most refreshing entries we’ve seen in a while, after fielding two fours at NSR.
Dave Currie has apparently decided to continue coaching the Shiplake J16s, and will be eager to step on from the results of last year’s J16s squad after not quite matching what Adam Moffatt achieved with his standout NSR winning crew back in 2018. This new set of J16s include a set of fresh recruits from abroad, with a few athletes from Germany joining Shiplake's squad, something we’ve seen in the past at Bedford. It will be interesting to see if their investment will pay off; we shall have to wait and see! Kew House School, a relatively new rowing club have also entered a crew and it is great to see some fresh faces entering the rowing scene. The rowing community will no doubt be welcoming them with open arms. This could be the start of a rivalry between Radley, St Pauls’ and KCS that will continue til the cross of the finish line at Nats a few months down.