Time has pretty much beaten me I’m afraid. So my preview of the junior events is going to be somewhat curtailed.
Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup
Holders: Eton College
This has the makings of one of the best Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cups for years, the champions of Great Britain, the USA and Australia are all racing. The top half of the draw is massively stacked with St Pauls, Scotch College and Eton College.
Scotch College are the Australian schoolboy champions, they raced at the Holland Beker last weekend finishing 2nd in the JM8 to the Dutch junior national squad. The posted a time of 5:40 which is brisk for any crew let alone a junior boat. They face St. Georges in the first round, winners of the 1st Fours at the National Schools.
St Pauls are the reigning British National School’s Champions. Bobby Thatcher has put together an outstanding unit. They made the final of Championship 8’s at Marlow Regatta finishing 6th (beating the Elizabethan Ladies Plate crew in the process).
Eton are the reigning champions and have half of that crew returning. At the National Schools Regatta they finished 2nd to St Pauls by under 2 seconds. With coach Alex Henshilwood stepping down from his position as head coach to become a Housemaster a victory in his last race would be a fitting send off.
Gonzaga from the USA will also be confident of doing well in the bottom half of the draw, they finished 4th at the Youth Nationals – this is particularly noteworthy as they were the best placed school, the top three were all from youth club programmes.
Radley College have a habit of peaking just at the right time for Henley. They finished 5th at the National Schools but Master in charge of Rowing and former Olympian Sam Townsend, has changed the line up and have found more speed in the last few weeks and finished 4th in Tier 2 8’s at Marlow.
The top US school racing are Montclair from New Jersey. They’ve had an undefeated season so far this year winning the Stotesbury Cup, Scholatics and the National Schools Championship Regatta.
My picks…any one of St Pauls, Eton, Scotch, Montclair or Gonzaga could win this. One of the best races could be a potential semi-final between Eton and St Pauls, whoever wins that will win the title. I’ve a sneaky feeling Eton will make it 5 wins in 9 years.
The Fawley Challenge Cup
Holders: Claires Court Boat Club
8 Selected crews in this event, all of whom get a bye through the first round. The first Selected crew are San Diego Rowing Club USA. They last raced at Henley in 2015 losing to finalists Nottingham in the early stages. At the Southwest Youth Championships they finished 3rd in the M4X.
Leander are the next Selected crew, 2nd at the Schools Head, 2nd at the National Schools they will be looking to go one better at Henley and take their first win in the event for 15 years
Malvern Prep from Pennsylvania were losing finalists in this event back in 2003. The 2017 crew arrive in Henley on the back of a win at the SRAA Championships.
Windsor Boys are possibly the favourites in the event. Finalists in two of the last three years. Winners of the National Schools Regatta in both the Champ quads and the Champ doubles. They’ve raced for GB at the Munich Junior Regatta and the European Junior Championships.
In the lower half of the draw the first Selected crew are the defending champions, Claires Court. 4th at the National Schools but have been improving since then with a win at the Metropolitan Regatta.
Globe are the next Selected crew, 5th at Wallingford followed by 2nd at the Met and 3rd at Marlow. A potential quarter final against Claires Court beckons.
Maidenhead are the 3rd of the Selected crews in the bottom half of the draw. Winners at the Schools Head of the River was followed by silver at the National Schools and a win at Marlow. The way the draw is looking they will be favourites to reach the final.
The last of the Selected crews are The Tideway Scullers. A number of this crew have been involved with the GB system at the Munich Junior Regatta and placed 3rd at the Metropolitan Regatta and 5th at Marlow.
My picks I’m going to plump for a Windsor v Maidenhead final with Windsor taking the win
The Diamond Jubilee Challenge Cup
4 selected crews out of the 16 crews in the event. The first of the Selected crews are also possibly the favourites, Gloucester. They won Junior quads at Henley Women’s Regatta and were 4th at the National Schools.
The 2nd Selected crew in the top half of the draw are the biggest threats to Gloucester, Headington School. They won by 10 seconds at the National Schools Regatta and raced in the Senior Quads at Henley Women’s Regatta, just losing out in the final to Tideway Scullers.
Henley are the first of the Selected crews in the bottom half of the draw. Henley have an outstanding junior programme and were the first winners of this event back in 2012. 2nd at National Schools they made the semi-finals of Henley Women’s Regatta.
The final Selected crew are Latymer Upper. Bronze medallists at the National Schools Regatta, they lost to Gloucester in the quarter finals of Henley Women’s Regatta.
Outside of the selected crews the ones to watch include Beckett School – 5th in Champ 4X at National Schools Regatta. Also watch out for Isle of Ely, finalists at the Henley Women’s Regatta.
My picks…a potential Headington v Gloucester semi looks to be a potential classic, whoever wins that will take the title. I’m going for a win for Ryan Demaine’s girls from Headington.
So that’s it. My apologies the school events have been a bit cursory, but time has run out.
I hoe you’ve enjoyed reading my previews, judging by the number of hits they do seem quite popular. Now to sit back and enjoy the racing and if you see a slightly frazzled Fatsculler at the regatta, and you’ve enjoyed reading these blogs maybe you could buy me a pint!!