Now for the newest event at the regatta. Now in it’s 4th year the Diamond Jubilee has been expanded from 8 to 12 crews. Of the two overseas entry only one, Y Quad Cities RA of the USA are in the main draw, Loreto School Australia didn’t make it through qualifying.
There are six Selected crews. At the top of the draw the first Selected crew are 381 Headington School “A”. Coached by Ryan Demaine, Headington are the dominant force in junior women’s rowing in the UK and have won the National School’s title for the last seven years. But, there is no JW8 event at Henley so they split into quads where they are strong, but not dominant. Only the “A” crew are in the main draw with the “B” crew not making it through qualifiers. Headington have a strong pedigree in this event reaching the final in 2013 and the semi’s in 2014 (although with it only being an 8 boat event last year getting to the semis meant winning one race!) They face St George’s College in round one.
This is St.George’s first appearance in the event. As with Headington, they are more renowned as a sweep rowing school and this is their first foray into quads. Over the past couple of years they have been getting stronger and stronger in junior women’s rowing. At the National School’s this year they won the Girls 4- event and took bronze in the Champ 8’s. The crew for Henley includes the Gannon sisters, Joanna and Nuala, the latter raced for Great Britain in the JW4- at last year’s world Championships. This is going to be a good battle between two of the UK’s best sweep rowing schools and it’s by no means certain that the Selected crew will win.
The next Selected crew are 397 Surbiton High School, they have a bye in the first round and will meet the winners of Headington v St Georges. Surbiton as a school hasn’t been rowing for very long, but they have made a lot of progress in a relatively short period of time. This is their first time at Henley Royal Regatta. They have had a successful season so far with a win in Junior Quads at Henley Women’s Regatta, a bronze at the National schools and also winners of Junior quads at Wallingford. Lola Anderson at stroke has representative honours to her credit winning the JW1X in the GB v France match last year.
The final Selected crew in the top half of the draw are 390 Marlow Rowing Club “A”. A long established crew, the four girls have been racing together since J15 level. They made the final last year and in 2015 were runners up in the Junior Women’s Quads at the National Schools and winners of JW4X at the Schools Head of the River. Stroke Heidi Long raced for GB at the Junior World Championships last year. Coached by Brett King they will have high hopes of making the final again this year. A bye in the first round means that their first race will be against the winners of Shrewsbury School v Henley. This is the first girl’s crew from Shrewsbury to race at Henley. So far this season they were semi-finalists at Henley Women’s Regatta and 3rd in JW4X at Wallingford.
Henley Rowing Club have a great pedigree in this event, winners in the inaugural year they were beaten finalists in 2014. There season has not been the smoothest with some disruptions off the water. The crew racing at Henley are part of an outstanding J16 squad at the club and this crew of Ella Morgan, Lauren Kay, Clare Pearson and Flo Wiggins will be racing for GB against France later this season. Whilst they may struggle against the older girls this year they will be a major force in this event in 2016.
In the bottom half of the draw the first Selected crew are 379 Gloucester Rowing Club. The defending champions they are the red hot favourites to retain the title. They have three of last year’s champion crew back and contain some outstanding young scullers. Flo Pickles won Champ singles at the National Schools and is progressing within the GB U23 set-up. Pickles paired up with crewmate Charlotte Hodgkins-Byrne to be part of the JW4X that won bronze at last year’s world Championships.
Gloucester get a bye in the first round and will race the winners from Warrington v Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School.
Warrington are also making their first appearance at Henley. As a quad they missed out on the final at the National Schools but that was a poor result for them (and they weren’t at full strength) within the crew is one of the most outstanding young scullers in Britain, Lucy Glover. Glover won Junior 1X at Henley Women’s Regatta despite racing girls two years her senior. With Ellie Davies she won J16 W2X at the national Schools this season. She’s definitely one to watch for the future.
Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School and Henley Rowing Club. Borlase have been switching between sweep and sculling all season. In sweep their JW8 were runners-up at the National Schools and also at the School’s Head of the River. In the quad they were 5th at National Schools and 3rd in IM1 quads at the Metropolitan Regatta. This could be an excellent contest and possibly too close to call.
The penultimate Selected crew are 388 Latymer Upper School. Winners in 2013 they were losing finalists at Henley Women’s Regatta this season and were 6th in the Championship quads at the National schools. They will be please to be back in the main draw having missed out on qualification in 2014.
They also have a bye and will face the winners of the last selected crew, 403 Y Quad Cities Rowing Association USA v The Tideway Scullers School.
The Americans are the reigning national champions in the JW4X. Stroke Elizabeth Sharis and 2 seat Emily Delleman both have junior international honours. Sharis was silver medallist in the JW4X in 2013 and raced the JW1X at the World Championships last year. Delleman was in the JW4X that finished 7th at last year’s world championships. Both have been selected to race for the USA in the JW4X at this year’s Worlds as well.
Tideway Scullers are making their third appearance in the Diamond Jubilee Cup. So far their record isn’t brilliant losing their first races in both 2012 and 2014. This year’s crew is their strongest yet with junior internationals Saska Budgett (daughter of 1984 Olympic Gold medallist, Dr Richard Budgett) and Susannah Duncan. Duncan won bronze in the JW4X in Hamburg last year and Budgett raced in the JW4-. Their match-up with the US champions will be one of the most interesting races of the day and is very difficult to call.
My pick for the win….it’s difficult to see anyone stopping Gloucester for retaining their title.