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.
It has been a frustrating few weeks with many events cancelled due to the red-board warnings on the Thames, so this means there have been few races this year to determine who is at the top of the field. Throughout last year Marlow dominated the J16 field and eventually got two fours into GB France; something no one has ever done before. At National Schools, both their J16 and Champ eights came away with a bronze, so one would expect this eight to be very strong. Three people from Marlow’s Henley quad last year are still juniors so they will have eight people straight from GB France plus three from HRR, including Emma Dabinett who went to worlds last year in the bow seat of the quad.
At Fours Head, Tideway Scullers won 3 out of 5 junior women’s events, so they have no doubt proved to everyone that they are ready to dominate this year after a perhaps disappointing end to last year’s season. Their winning quad from HOR4s included Izzy Lack and Evelyna Davies fresh from Coupe along with Zoe Scheske who took the win at early IDs by a considerable margin and also went to coupe at just J16. These athletes plus presumably some athletes from the GB France eight last year should make their eight extremely competitive.
As always, it's expected that Henley Rowing Club will put out a strong eight, made up of GB France athletes along with Hills and Brown of the winning national schools quad last year. At Fours Head Henley only put out one quad that came 3rd, so perhaps they aren’t as strong this year, but who knows- it's still all to play for after so many cancelled races. Lady Eleanor Holles took the win at last year's National Schools in the eight, so one would imagine that this eight will be just as good. At Fours Head, LEH put out two coxed fours who came second and third in the 4+ after Kingston, so they have clearly not been dormant. They have entered two eights this year so be sure that at least one of these will be competitive. Headington have two eights entered this year, showing the field the number of athletes they have. Last year their quad got to the final of HRR, remarkable considering that two of those athletes were J16. As usual I think their eight will be very competitive after what has perhaps been a lacklustre few seasons after their long rein in the junior women's scene.
The most likely outcome seems to be a toss up between Marlow and Scullers. At first glance it may look like Marlow, but considering it is unlikely they will have trained on the river due to the red boards, Scullers may have the edge they need. Henley, LEH and Headington will be looking to make up the remaining top places in this field.