Wallingford Regatta offers crews the first opportunity to race side-by-side over 2km on the same course that National School's Regatta will be raced at on the weekend of the 25th/26th May, and it is the first major multi-lane regatta of the season for may crews. If offers a great insight into how much progress different crews have made over the Easter Holiday.
The women's J18 eights is going to be interesting with a couple of really strong schools split across the Challenge 8s and School 8s events. The girls at Henley finished Head season strong with a win at Schools Head, but Putney High School wasn't far behind them with only a 4 second gap between the two crews. With both crews now split across events, it’ll be interesting to see how their times compare as we begin the run up to national schools. Headington has 1 crew entered in the Challenge 8+ and 2 crews entered in the Schools 8+ event - so it will be interesting to see how close their crews are to the likes of Henley who are only entered in Schools 8+. The crew that everyone will be watching is Lady Eleanor Holles after their incredibly close second to Henley RC at SHORR by only 1.8 seconds. Their Easter training will have been filled with “beat Henley” vibes and a real drive to do so. Wallingford is only 3 weeks away from NSR, so if they’ve got gains to make, they need to start now.
The coxless quad event is looking very competitive, as I can imagine crews trying to get in all that crucial practice before Henley. After a win at the junior Sculling regatta, Marlow will be one to look out for in this event. I'd also keep an eye out for Lea, Sir William Perkins School and Surbiton High School after all making the A Final at Junior Sculling regatta, with tight times between them. Headington and Henley weren’t present at the Junior Sculling Regatta and are both renowned for being top scullers, Henley especially, but it’s unclear if these quads are from their top boats or reserve athletes.
In Schools 4+ event, Godolphin & Latymer school have two crews entered (and one crew in the challenge 4+) and after finishing 5th, 6th and 7th at Hammersmith Head it will be interesting to see how they compare during regatta season. Putney High School have entered in the challenge 4- event and the Schools 4+ event and after winning the 4+ at both Nat Schools and Henley Women's, it'll be interesting to see how they fare against the competition. Earlier in the season at Fours head Kingston had a convincing win in the 4+, with Putney High School in second and Henley in third- now as we get into side by side racing everything might change.
Once again, coming out of SHORR saw Headington and Henley have the top spots, who knew, this time in Girls J16 eights. Headington had a comfortable lead at SHORR of 8 seconds, with the third place Glasgow academy trailing 16 seconds behind Henley. Two clear frontrunners then, but they could be challenged by Great Marlow School, who didn’t enter at SHORR and thus pose an unknown, and by the South African Schools Rowing Union. These girls come over every year to race the UK circuit around Bedford Regatta time, with mixed results. They probably won’t be in medal contention, but it’s always fun to shake things up at multi-lane regattas. With no Glasgow academy, Surbiton High School will want to move up from the 4th at SHORR into the podium positions, with contention from LEH, no doubt spurred on by their senior’s success.
With a lack of SHORR results, J16 4’s is anybody’s game. Kingston Rowing Club have some pedigree in the event after their 4+ last year, and Emmanuel’s lack of an eight entry suggests that their top girls will be in this event too. The other names include some large programmes such as Marlow, who will be fielding a top sweeping boat here, but other big names will likely prioritise the 8, leaving perhaps a more spread out field than in other categories.