A COACH hopes his crew’s experience of trying to qualify for last year’s Henley Royal Regatta benefits them this time around.

Northwich Rowing Club are sending a junior men’s quad scull to the world-famous venue tomorrow, Friday, when they will attempt to make the cut for the Fawley Challenge Cup.

It is one of the most fiercely-contested categories, and a total of 50 boats are hoping to claim one of only seven places up for grabs in next week's main event.

A further 17 have already been pre-selected.

Patrick Brogan and Gwilym Harris narrowly missed out in 2018, and are hoping for better fortune with debutants Jack Wilne and Harrison Kendall-Smith.

“I think know-how can help,” Jed Barlow, their coach, told the Guardian.

“It was definitely a factor last year when it was the boys’ first time.

"The qualification races for Henley are all done on the same day and so are a huge event in their own right because there are always far more crews trying to get through than there are spots available.

“Those guys that have been there in the past can do their bit to help the others that perhaps haven’t.”

The Northwich combination suffered a blow at the National Schools’ Regatta in April when they were eliminated after a time trial.

They ranked 17th, and only a dozen crews progressed to the semi-finals stage.

The format on Friday is similar; a race against the clock along the 2,112m course with the Fawley Challenge Cup entrants divided into five waves of 10 boats.

They will be told tomorrow if they were fast enough.

Barlow said: “We were disappointed with the way things worked out at the National Schools’ Regatta.

“We expected to be fast enough to make the top 12, which would have given us a crack at the other crews in side-by-side racing, but it wasn’t to be.

“The boys have gone away and trained hard to improve on that.”

He believes it is getting harder to qualify each year.

That is true for this category; there are more entries than 12 months ago, and fewer spots kept open for qualifiers.

Last year, it was nine.

The fact Northwich have had a presence in the main draw for Henley so often should never be underestimated.

"The standard of coaching across the board is so much higher now and people are rowing better than they did five years ago," said Barlow.

"If you get through, then it's a fine achievement.

"For these boys, it would be the highlight of their year."