These girls will be facing truly adverse conditions by the look of the forecast but are most likely more than capable of dealing with them. These seven crews are some of the best when it comes to junior women’s eights, and competition will be stiff. The infamous rivalry between Henley RC and Headington will come to its head this weekend, and we will get to see if Headington have come back fighting for their title after their defeat at Nat Schools. They will be facing a Henley squad who have become impressively consistent over the last season or two, and are the defending champions in this category, so should be putting up a good fight to come away with the pennant again. The other names in the category cannot be ignored, all coming in with their own challenge for the title.
Lady Eleanor Holles came third in last year’s competition yet cannot be taken as a given. They have repeatedly shown over the last few years that they are a force to be reckoned with after impressive results, though in the last season they have faced off to the absent Marlow crews and not quite met the mark, so it will be interesting how this, no doubt, speedy crew will face up against the other prestigious names in the category. Again, Latymer have a history at School’s Head of putting our speedy crews, though in the last few years not quite reaching the top spots. However, this crew will no doubt go out and give the other crews some real competition.
Enniskillen put down an impressive performance last season to surge into first place in girls first school eights at last season’s School’s Head, so should be a crew hoping to repeat this success. An Italian crew will be coming over to show us how they do it, and it will be good to see how these girls place against our country’s best. St George’s have had some great runs over the last season and should be looking forward to showing what they can do down this bordering on 7k course.
The pure depth of girls rowing can be seen in the girls first eights, with 19 crews entered, so around 152 athletes will be putting their all into this competition, hoping to come away with that elusive top spot. This category includes a couple of big names in school rowing, including Headington, Putney, Henley and Surbiton, as well as many smaller names that are sure to go out and put down some speedy times on a course that is going to throw everything at these crews. These girls are going to have to handle some dodgy conditions, and this race may just come down to who can handle this treacherous course best, and essentially who has the most experience.
The coxes will have to watch for the fastest water, watch the crews around them, and keep their girls going when they truly are in the depths of the pain cave which this course will inevitably present. It could be said that crews such as Putney, Latymer Upper School and Emanuel School could have the upper hand when it comes to this weekend, with in-depth knowledge of the twists and turns of this difficult course, so it could be interesting to see if that gives them an advantage when it comes to the final standings. It can be hard to see where these crews sit coming into this race, with limited open competition this year and therefore can be anyone’s game.
The Championship Girls Quads event is always an exciting one, with its significance only increasing as the season goes on towards Henley Royal, where quads is the only category for junior girls. Some of the traditionally strong names in junior girls’ sculling are absent here, including Henley RC and Latymer Upper School, who took first and third respectively at Fours Head this season and who have both chosen to focus on champ eights for SHORR this year. Regardless of this, there are some very promising crews entered, although with tough wind conditions predicted for Friday, it may simply come down to which crew copes best with all that the Tideway will throw at them.
Firstly Marlow, who took the win at both Reading University and Quintin Heads recently. This seems to be a crew going from strength to strength at the moment, and individually the club also had some excellent performances at GB Trials in February, so they should be one of the crews challenging at the top of this event. They follow Gloucester Hartpury, who, although not having raced at any of the big events so far this year, always turn out excellent crews, especially in junior women’s sculling, evidenced by their famous streak of back-to-back Henley wins in the Diamond Jubilee.
In the tough conditions, Tideway Scullers and Fulham Reach BC should have an advantage. The TSS crew took the win on this, their home stretch, at Hammersmith Head, and with a strong junior girls sculling programme they can be expected to replicate that same speed come Friday. It is great to see an entry from Tideway natives Fulham Reach BC too, with their admirable Future Blues project, and who should be right in the mix with some of the more established programmes at the top of this event.
Sir William Perkins's School and Queen Anne's School are the only clubs to have two crews in this category. Strength in depth is always beneficial, especially at this time in the winter when there are fewer races and so competition is focussed more internally. Both these clubs raced at Reading University Head, where QAS took fourth place and SWP took second place, behind Marlow, as well as second place at Hammersmith Head behind Tideway Scullers. Other notable performances could come from Bedford Modern School and Shiplake, who took third and fifth respectively at Reading University Head, as well as Hinksey who, despite having a small squad coming to SHORR this year, took the win at Avon Spring Head, becoming the fastest women’s crew of the day in the process.
All in all, Champ Girls Quads is looking to be a very exciting event, and could produce some very fast times, especially if the strong tail winds predicted materialise. School’s Head should therefore be a good indicator of how these crews are doing as we move out of winter training and into the pointier end of the season.
Quite obviously the favourites for this race, the undefeated Kingston four has dominated all aspects of racing this season so far. The middle pair of this four came together at GB Trials to win the JW2- by a staggering 37 seconds on Sunday after perhaps a disappointing Saturday of racing for them. We expect this four will win by quite a margin after their lead of 30 seconds at Fours Head so it’s a puzzle that they are starting 12th. Under the name Stilwell it is difficult to know if this Marlow four is the same four which won WJ 4+ Challenge at the Fours Head in November. But, there being only four fours faster than them then, and with none of them racing this weekend- these girls could easily come away with second place. Marlow won the Junior eights at Hammersmith Head a couple of weekends ago so this four should be used to putting in solid performances on the tideway.
The Glasgow Academy four should definitely prove a challenge for second place after Kingston, Miller was among the sweepers who travelled to France last year as part of the GB France match. Their four raced very well throughout last season, including a semi-final in HWR last year. It is expected that this four will be battling it out with Marlow for second place. Godolphin and Latymer have two fours starting 1st and 4th, so it’s expected that both of these boats will race well. Last year the girls got a bronze at NSR, and in November came 6th and 7th at the Fours Head. I expect these girls will be up in the top seven or so, but considering they have two fours entered, it’s surprising they haven’t entered an eight. The rest of the field remains strong with big names like Sir William Perkin’s, Lady Eleanor Holles, Stratford-upon-Avon, Walton and St Paul’s. Our prediction is that the unbeaten (so far) Kingston four will win, followed by either Marlow or Glasgow. As for the rest, we expect LEH and Sir William Perkin’s to be up there along with Godolphin and Latymer.