Rowing for the Disabled Flourishing at Stratford Boat Club!

If there’s one thing Stratford upon Avon Boat Club takes great pride in, it’s being able to give everybody, no matter their age, ability or circumstances, the chance to compete on the water.

And one of the Swans Nest Lane club’s biggest success stories has been the growth of their adaptive rowing section for those who have disabilities. The adaptive squad had just two rowers when it was first launched in 2015, but since then, the numbers have increased steadily year on year.

Fast-forward five years and the Club now has ten regular members who are out on the River Avon and competing at events across the country. “This might not seem like many, but in adaptive terms it’s enormous,” said Head Adaptive Coach Mark Dewdney. “It’s regarded as just about the largest, and certainly the fastest growing squad in the country and an exemplar for what can be achieved in adaptive rowing with relatively few resources.”

Last year provided plenty of success for the talented group, with every rower who competed in the summer claiming at least one regatta victory. On top of that, Kingsley Ijomah – who was one of the first two members of the adaptive squad in 2015 – will compete at the Paralympics for his native Nigeria this year. “We started him off and we are proud of what he has gone on to achieve,” beamed Dewdney.

Current athletes in the adaptive squad have spinal cord injuries, hemiplegia, visual impairment, autism and other disabilities. Because of this, as well as the rising number of members, the squad is dependent on a large set of dedicated coaches and volunteers. “We need fifteen or more helpers to run a squad of ten rowers,” explained Dewdney. “It is a major logistical exercise, especially when we go away to compete. We would be nothing without these volunteers.”

While getting the adaptive squad into competitive action is the primary aim, Dewdney stressed participation and social inclusion was “equally important”. “We are a social and mutually supportive group and everyone is encouraged to participate as fully as possible, not just on the water,” he added. “Like any club squad, we are only as good as what the members are prepared to contribute.”

While it’s all go on the competitive side of things, the Club are actively working hard to improve the in-house facilities for its adaptive rowers. “We are making steady progress, but we still have some way to go to provide our adaptive members with full access to everything at the club,” said Dewdney. “The adaptive squad could certainly do with a corporate sponsor to help towards this aim.”

As part of the wider scene across the country, adaptive rowing is still in its infancy. Dewdney currently chairs a group of English adaptive clubs who are attempting to grow the sport, but it’s all about evolution and not revolution. The committee works directly with the governing body, British Rowing, to formulate plans for adaptive rowing going forward. Many of the lessons learned at Stratford and at the other established clubs are now being fed directly into future strategy.

Paul Stanton, President of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club, concluded: “The amount of work that Mark and his fellow adaptive coaches and helpers have put into the adaptive squad is shown by their success not only in regattas, but also by the enjoyment that can be clearly seen by the ‘can do’ attitude of the squad. “Mark thoroughly deserved the James Roe Award for outstanding services to the club and rowing in the area that was given to him last year.”

Anyone interested in learning more about adaptive rowing can contact Dewdney through the boat club website: www.stratford-rowing.co.uk/contact. Businesses who would like to help the Club in their endeavours to improve its facilities should also contact Dewdney via the website.

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald pages sixteen and fourteen.

For more great pictures of our adaptive squad, see Trevor Tiller’s excellent selection at https://1drv.ms/f/s!Ajo1zADNwhQAmRM00kIAkANYR2i7

Article courtesy of Craig Gibbons, Sports Editor, Stratford Herald

Stratford at Gloucester in Showers and Rain!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Masters squad braved inclement weather conditions to gain some much needed race practice at Gloucester Head on Sunday. Competing on a canal system avoided the current flooding river problems being suffered by some clubs and enabled a full day’s racing albeit in very windy and choppy conditions.

First up for Stratford Boat Club Masters  in the morning division was Richard Nelson competing in his long course first singles scull race for over a year in Masters E/F age group .With a race spent coping with very choppy conditions blowing the boat about on the course as well as pressures from other competitors, Richard found himself in a tight battle with another sculler but managed to hold him off to finish in a deserved second place losing only to highly regarded Siderway from Warwick Boat Club.

The morning division also saw the first ever race for Arne Flood in open Men’s short course sculls. Arne who has only taken up the sport in the last year displayed exceptionally calm nerves given the tough conditions and was able to deliver a highly competent performance in choppy waters which promises much more to come in future races.

The afternoon division saw a strong wind become even stronger as the mixed Masters double sculls of Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty took on the long course. With no age group completion, Stratford found themselves in a battle with a mixed Masters B crew from Southampton half their age and some very good quality men’s doubles. A hard race saw Stratford hold off the men’s crews for some distance but eventually had to give way to the heavier men’s crews who were able to cope with the choppy conditions more favourably but still finished in a very creditable time. Said Tom Doherty, Masters Vice Captain, “It was great to see Arne in his first ever race cope so well in very tough conditions and also to see Richard back racing.”

Joining the Masters at the event, Stratford juniors were represented by J17 Jake Blatcher in his single scull. With his opposition withdrawn Jake was racing against the clock for a ‘time only’ run.

The 4km ‘warm up’ row down to the start of the 1750m (short course) race gave Jake plenty of opportunity to get used to being back on the water after a long break due to the recent local river conditions.

The sun continued to shine, however the steady wind driving down the canal caused some choppy waters which can easily cause all sorts of problems especially in smaller boats. Unfazed by the difficult water conditions and the odd passing shower, Jake achieved a time of 8:27, faster than some of the older more experienced scullers, and larger crewed boats over the same distance.

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/vital-practice-for-crews and Stratford Herald page fourteen and https://www.stratford-herald.com/106775-stratford-masters-brave-inclement-conditions-gloucester-head.html

Stratford Create Storm Indoors!

On Sunday, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club junior squad and their parents braved Storm Ciara to attend the annual South of England Indoor Rowing Championships in Abingdon run by Hinksey Sculling School.

The championship started with the individual events with the J15 girls five minutes category first. Ruby Howells went out hard and led her group closely followed by Fleur Griffiths and Freya Watts. At the other end of the sports hall, Bella Chappelhow also started out well and led her group by a considerable margin. The battle between Howells and Griffiths continued and they finished with exactly the same distance gaining themselves the silver medals. Chappelhow finished just one metre behind them to take the bronze, with Watts finishing in a very respectable seventh place.

Next up was the J15 boys’ five minutes race. Tomi Wilcock, Will Beattie and Toby Sartain all competed in this with another close battle for the top with Wilcock and an athlete from Hinksey Sculling School. Wilcock took the silver nine metres behind gold with Beattie in sixth and Sartain in twelfth place.

Will Clarke was the only J16 taking part and he raced over the full 2000m. He went out hard but having been suffering with a bad virus found he couldn’t sustain the fast pace he had set. Despite this, Clarke finished in a very good eighth place.

The day culminated with the relays. Both the open and girls’ J15 relays took place at the same time competing over 3000m. The open team of Wilcock, Beattie, Sartain and Lucy Browne put in a good performance in a battle with The Langley Academy and Falcon Boat Club. The Stratford Boat Club quartet finished in a brilliant third place to secure the bronze medal.

The girls’ team of Howells, Chappelhow, Griffiths and Watts faced another closely fought race with Hinksey Sculling School. The Stratford Boat Club girls did what was needed and despite the race coming down to the final 250m, they won the title for the second consecutive year picking up the gold medals.

Said J15 coach Abi Terry, “A brilliant result for the J15 squad all coming back to Stratford with at least one medal each!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifteen and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/105985-stratford-storm-medal-success-south-england-champs.html and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratford-rowers-create-a-storm-indoors

Stratford Battle It Out at Peterborough and Wycliffe!

Saturday saw Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Mixed Masters double scull of Heather Hayton and Thomas Doherty make the long trek across country to Peterborough for some racing on the River Nene. Racing in two of the three divisions saw them taking on the men in the Men’s Masters and Open events for some much needed race practice due to a lack of mixed doubles.

A sunny but extremely windy day saw the first division Men’s Masters double sculls race hotly competed with seven entries lead off by Stratford. Conditions on the way to the start began to get challenging as a combination of exposed location, high winds and a strong stream made it difficult for all the small boats (singles and doubles) to steer.

Once racing finally got under way Stratford managed, despite the blustery conditions, to settle into a good rhythm and pull away from the pursuing men’s crews. As the race developed, it soon became apparent that Stratford was in a battle with a very good quality men’s double crew as they made their way through the field to close on Stratford. This developed into a good close race as Stratford worked hard to hold them off over the remainder of the course but eventually were overtaken in the last 300m of the race. Strong head winds and rowing against a significant stream lead to overall times being longer than would normally be expected but Stratford were pleased to finish as the third fastest crew of seven in the event.

In Division Two, Stratford was competing in the Men’s Open double sculls event. However, the conditions had considerably worsened with winds reaching up to 60mph causing the river conditions to become almost unrowable. Chaotic scenes developed as crews struggled to control their boats and manage the conditions with the result that there was a delayed start to the division. Rowing conditions were so bad that even the fours struggled to steer and maintain any race speed turning the division into a survival test!. Conditions saw the remaining Division Three suspended for all but eights racing with the course reduced to half its planned length.

Said Heather Hayton, “We were pleased to take on the men again and come up with some scalps and have a good race in Division One, making the long trip worthwhile. Division Two proved to be a  real test of character and nerve rather than racing!”

Meanwhile, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Junior Squad made their way to Wycliffe Big Head where changeable weather and gusting winds greeted the WJ17/18 squad but even this was a welcome change to the recent weeks of fog bound and flooded conditions of the Avon.

The Wycliffe Big Head is raced over a distance of 4500M  from Slimbridge to Frampton in Gloucestershire: 178 crews took part in the annual event. The initial challenge was getting onto the course under a very low bridge and high water! This was the first opportunity for a newly formed eight to test themselves against established crews from Marlow, Monmouth and Chester to name a few. The crew of Katie Wellstead, Mili Wilcock Emily Browne, Khloe Curnock, Molly Gill-Swift, Alice Baines, Amelie Sartain, Maiya James coxed by Hermione Hill were not fazed by their competition: leading from the front, they dominated the race in a time of 16:58 bringing home a gold medal.

After a brief rest, the girls took to the water again in the afternoon division splitting into two crews. First down the course in a time of 18:45 was Emily Browne, Mili Wilcock, Alice Baines and Katie Wellstead in a four coxed by Hermione Hill. Being spurred on by their success in the morning division, the girls once again achieved gold medal status, the fastest time of the combined women’s and junior 18 coxed four events.

Finally it was the turn of Molly Gill – Swift, Khloe Curnock, Amelie Sartain and Maiya James. This crew formed only two weeks prior to the event and came home in sixth place out of a field of eleven coxless quads, a good result given the stiff competition of more established crews.

Said J17/J18 coach Colin Bell, “Given the lack of training time on the water, the results are a good lead up to their next competitive event at Worcester in two weeks time.”

Stratford’s sister club, King Edward The Sixth School took two coxed fours to Wycliffe Big Head. They competed in Men’s Open Fours and Novice Fours winning gold in both races against some of the top rowing school opposition in the country.

Racing first in very blustery conditions was the top boat of Joe Hodson, Felix Crabtree, Adam Bayliss and Cameron Dalrymple-Baker, very ably coxed by Jamie Mitchell who beat highly ranked crews from Shrewsbury School, Kings Worcester and Shiplake College to take home the winning pennant, in just over seventeen minutes.

In the second division, the Novice crew of Cameron Dalrymple-Baker, Fred Allanson, Tobias Bretschneider, Sam Thornton, again very ably coxed by Jamie Mitchell, won by nearly a minute from Monmouth School.

Said coach Bill Sullivan, “Rowing at King Edward The Sixth continues to thrive and the squad will now aim to maintain their progress heading into the West of England Championships in early March and the prestigious Schools Head, run on the Tideway on 18th March.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifteen and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/105808-juniors-enjoy-golden-success-gloucestershire.html and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratford-rowers-shine-at-peterborough-and-wycliffe

For more great pictures of Wycliffe Big Head, see Kathy Baines’ great selection https://1drv.ms/f/s!AgY7EiDB2lCOg6xz7r8fpil-WrbuNA

Sunday Soaking for Stratford at Stourport!

Stourport saw the return to racing of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Junior crews and the debut of some Masters rowers for their first experience of long distance head racing after recent floods.

With the rain starting to fall and a cold wind blowing, crews marshalled at the start in conditions representative of typical winter head racing! The event was held on a fast flowing, slightly high, and in places choppy River Seven in the town of Stourport on Seven. The event was split into two divisions, morning and afternoon, with the early risers on the water at 09.00hrs for a 4km row to the start for Division One.

In the Masters’ event, first off for Stratford Boat Club was Richard Nelson and Simon Cowley in their men’s double sculls racing in the open men’s event. This was Simon’s and this crew’s first head race and he acquitted himself very well to see the crew come home in a time of 14.53 minutes. However it was not enough to beat an experienced Trenthan crew who finished in 13.22 minutes.

Following them down the course was Heather Hayton and Thomas Doherty in the men’s masters double sculls event. The crew was out for a warm up race in an inexperienced event before facing tough opposition in the afternoon and had a solid row to finish in a time of 14.43 minutes to win the event.

A return to the club for a complete change of soaking wet rowing kit saw Heather Hayton and Thomas Doherty again taking to the water in Division Two to race the much fancied Birmingham mixed double. A change to dry kit proved unnecessary as the heavens opened to drench all competitors on the way to the start and for much of the race! The Birmingham double, starting just behind Stratford, who had multiple medalists at national championships in their crew were out for a win and a fast start saw then close on Stratford, however Stratford responded and over the 3.8km course began to slowly pull away from them to finish in a time of 13.57 minutes, and Birmingham finishing in 14.29 minutes, with Stratford sealing the win!

The best result of the day for the Masters’ entries was Gina Fusco in her single scull when she raced in the afternoon division which saw a torrential downpour just before the start. But, despite this being only her second singles race, Gina kept her nerve and achieved a comfortable win over a Birmingham sculler, overtaking right in front of the boat house! On a river she had not previously raced on, Gina put in a very good performance in difficult conditions to win her event in a time of 16.28 minutes and secure her first ever rowing win. Said Tom Doherty, Masters’ Vice Captain, “It was great to see Simon Crowley having a good race and Gina having a great event win which hopefully will lead to more success for them both in the future!”

Stratford Junior Squad entered a scratch crew in the WJ18 Coxless Quad event drawn from the J16, J17 and J18 squads. Katie Phillips, Martha Usselmann, Isabelle and Matilda Watts with only three previous outings together gelled on the day to put in a fine performance beating Evesham by half a second to finish second to Wycliffe.

Building experience from last weekend’s racing, J17 Jake Blatcher in his single scull took on his longest event so far. The 3.8km of the River Stour was taken in his stride, finishing the winding course in seventh place in a time of 15:49 minutes.

The Stourport Winter Head was the first opportunity for Stratford Boat Club’s J14 athletes to test themselves over the long 3.7km distance and they duly proved themselves to be exceptionally capable. First crew to challenge the course was the OP J14 4X+ crew of Louie Beason, Uche Nwachukwa, Grace Beason and Charles Happel with great coxing from Emily Stobart. They were racing against an all boys’ J15 4X+ crew from Hereford Cathedral School and although the Stratford crew finished strongly in a time of 14:50:06 minutes, the experience of the older crew told.

Next on the water the WJ14 4X+ crew of Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes, Millie Hodgson and Amalia Richardson and expertly coxed by Imogen Hill, Sculling very powerfully they powered their way down the course in a very impressive time of 14:26:9 minutes beating the home Stourport crew into a very distant second place.

Stratford’s last J14 crew was the J14 WJ 2x of Kate Richardson and Ruby Brooker Collin: they had the very worst of the weather with heavy driving rain and wind but this didn’t deter them. They demonstrated excellent sculling over the course to finish a respectable distance behind a more experienced crew from Evesham in a time of 15:34 minutes. Said Steve Marsden, J14 coach, “A very brave effort in extremely poor weather conditions, well done girls! In fact well done to all our J14 athletes, they never fail to impress!”

For media coverage, Stratford Herald online https://www.stratford-herald.com/105537-stratford-rowers-make-waves-stourport.html and page fifteen and Stratford Observer https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/gina-produces-a-masterful-row

Stratford Returns to Racing!

NRS HORR 2020

A cold but beautiful sunny day saw the resumption of competitive head season racing after several months of flooded rivers and cancellations with Stratford upon Avon Boat Club heading to Northampton for some much needed competition.

The event split into four divisions throughout the day enabled a number of races for each crew. For the early birds in division one 09.15hrs race start saw Stratford take on much fancied Derwent in Mixed Masters D (50-55 average age category) double sculls. Derwent current National Championship silver medalists were always going to be a tough challenge but a good solid race by Stratford saw them hold Derwent for the majority of the course until poor steering towards the finish by a Leicester quad crew being overtaken led to an entanglement of blades forcing both crews to stop. Once Stratford got going again they pulled away on a closing Derwent crew but the stoppage proved too much to pull back and they finished ten seconds behind Derwent in 8.19 minutes.

Straight off in division two saw Heather Hayton from Stratford in her first ever single scull head race. With her competitors racing over three divisions it was left to Heather to focus on her own performance which saw her pull away from the scullers behind her to finish strongly in a time of 9.19 minutes. Overall in her event racing category C, minimum age 43, she was just pipped by the younger age group sculler from Oundle (age category B, minimum age 36), who finished in a time of 9.16 minutes, but the medal went to the youngest competitor from Milton Keynes (age category A, minimum age 27 years) in a time of 8.48 seconds.

With the third division reserved for recovery and cake, division four saw the Stratford’s Masters’ mixed double of Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty racing in the younger age category event of A,B,C, taking on younger age category competitors from Peterborough (age category A), and Sudbury (age category B).

A good start saw some overtaking of slower doubles resulting in a solid finish time of 8.02 minutes, with Sudbury  finishing in 7.56 minutes, but Peterborough were clearly the strongest in a very fast time of 7.24 minutes.

The Junior squad was also represented in division four with Jake Blatcher racing in the J17 single sculls event. This was Jake’s first head race having only been rowing for a year. Head racing is different to the rowing events normally seen, as rowers set off in procession and race purely against the clock with the other competitors around you not necessary in the same event.

After a good start, negotiating the corner well, Jake set off strongly, settled well and soon caught the double ahead of him. Despite having to crisscross the river in order to overtake, he soon regained his rhythm keeping distance from a senior boat chasing him and finishing fifth in a time of 9:29 minutes. Said coach Trevor Tiller, “This is a great start to the season for Jake, especially now that water training can continue after months of local flooding.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowers-thrilled-to-make-return and Stratford Herald page fifteen and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/105399-welcome-return-racing-stratford-rowers.html

Stratford Boat Club coaches will now be warm & dry this winter thanks to a local company!

Warwick Events, the area’s premier destination event design company, has teamed up with Stratford upon Avon Boat Club to provide all-weather jackets to the Club’s volunteer coaches. The coaches who work in all weather conditions throughout the year will now be warm and dry whilst coaching the Club’s athletes on the River Avon, as well as regional and national events

Said Dr Graham Collier, J17/18 coach and former Club Captain, “Having support like this makes a big difference to our club. We’re the oldest sports’ club in Stratford and we’re still here because of all the great community of volunteers we have. So, to have a company like Warwick Events seeing us striving for success, and wanting to help us, is really appreciated – our new jackets means we’ll no longer go home all cold and wet!”

Warwick Events, based on John Street in Stratford upon Avon, design experiential events for national and international groups. They connect their clients and visitors with the local heritage, culture and people. Their events all happen within a fifty mile radius of Stratford upon Avon and thus have immense local knowledge with 97% of their supplier base being local. Organising corporate retreats, incentives, meetings, launches, team activities and high-end individual or VIP group trips with that local immersive twist is Warwick Events’ specialty.

Commenting, Emma Wellstead, Managing Director at Warwick Events, said, “We often see Stratford crews out in all weathers on the river and we admire the dedication that the coaches put into the training and mentoring of their crews. Stratford Boat Club’s success doesn’t happen by accident: it takes lots of thought, care and a genuine passion to make success happen and Warwick Events share this ethos with Stratford Boat Club. With their Warwick Events sponsored Musto jackets, the coaches will at least be able to keep warm and dry!”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer hard copy Friday 17 January and https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/news/weather-no-bother-now-for-coaches-at-stratford-boat-club-following-generous-donation

Stratford Cleans Up Indoors!

On Saturday a number of the Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s J14, J15 and J16 junior squad travelled to King’s School Worcester for the annual Indoor Rowing Championships.

First up was J14 Harriet Noyes in the four minute race. Harriet raced hard and took an early lead. This continued to build and she finished with a comfortable win over her nearest rivals.

Next up were the J15 five minute races. Here Freya Watts, Fleur Griffiths and Lucy Browne took part in the closely fought girls’ event where they came up against the recently crowned British Champion from King’s Worcester. She was too tough to beat but Freya and Fleur took the silver and bronze medals respectively. Tomi Wilcock took part in the equivalent boys’ event where after comfortably winning his heat, he was pipped by just four metres from the second heat. Tomi picked up the silver medal a long way ahead of the bronze.

Bella Chappelhow and Ruby Howells were next up in the J15 500m girls’ event. Both girls started fast and it quickly became a race between the two of them. On this occasion, it was Bella that was victorious with Ruby closely behind taking the silver.

Then it was time for the relays. As a club, Stratford fielded two J15 girls’ teams into another close race. King’s Worcester and the first team for Stratford developed a race between them and it quickly became apparent these two were going to get the gold and silver. The Stratford first team of Freya Watts, Fleur Griffiths, Ruby Howells and Bella Chappelhow, managed to push ahead to win by just 0.6 of a second. These girls then turned to cheer for the second team who had also developed a race between them and RGS Worcester for the bronze and fourth places. The Stratford second team of Lucy Browne, Harriet Holmes and Harriet Noyes (racing up a year), with only three rowers put in a big push and managed to finish 1.9 seconds ahead of RGS.

Said Abi Terry, J15 coach, “A fantastic day’s racing with Stratford picking up five golds, three silvers and two bronze medals with all athletes coming home with at least one medal!”

Emma Harrison and Martha Usselmann took part in the Yr11 girls’ 500 metre individual races. They achieved good middle of the pack scores with Martha close behind bronze position.

The J16s also fielded a strong Yr 11 boys’ 500m competitor in Will Clarke who showed his skill in easily beating his nearest rival over the three heats to comfortably win gold.

At the end of the competition Martha, Emma and Will, along with Tomi Wilcox (Tomi racing up an age group) joined forces in the Yr11 3000m mixed relay, comfortably winning gold for Stratford.

Stratford’s sister club, King Edward The Sixth School also had four rowers competing at the event. First up were Joe Hodson and Sam Thornton in the 6th form 2km race. They both started strong and quickly pulled away from the rest of the field. Joe took the gold and Sam finished only a few seconds behind for the silver, 10 seconds ahead of third place.

Up next were Adam Baylis and Felix Crabtree in the 6th form 500m race. After having seen the times to beat in a previous heat, the boys started strong and held their own. Felix came home in third place and Adam got fourth place just 1.7 seconds off the medal position.

To finish the event, the boys had the 6th form relay, a 2km race split between four people. They started strong and displayed great composure, sadly losing out to Kings Worcester by four seconds. This gave them the silver medal, meaning that KES came away with a very impressive tally of medals – one gold, five silver and a bronze. Said Bill Sullivan, a KES rowing coach, “A great haul of medals: they should be very proud of themselves!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifteen and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/105131-medals-galore-stratford-juniors-indoor-championships.html and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratford-squad-cleans-up-indoors

Onwards to 2020!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s annual Boxing Day Scratch Regatta took place early on Thursday morning and over eighty members managed to leave their beds to come down to the river. The crews were supported by friends and relatives who came down to watch the spectacle and cheer.

Competitors, also including former members and visiting rowers, took part with a mix of mature and younger members from all sections of the Club. Some of the athletes had been rowing for less than a year. Multiple crews raced in a knock out competition: the final had to be re-run to get a clear result after a dead heat! The conditions were mild with little wind or current and the crews were supported by Club volunteers driving the safety launch and acting as scorers.

J17/J18 coach Dr Graham Collier, race organiser said, “All races were over a short sprint course from the Ferry to the Club grounds on the Town stretch of the River Avon.” The racing provided great interest to early morning sightseers and visitors watching from the Recreation Ground, The Royal Shakespeare Theatre Terrace, Bancroft Gardens and The Tramway Bridge. Said Dawson Curnock, Chairman for Stratford Boat Club, “The scratch regatta caught the imagination of all that came down to the river and this year’s racing included many more juniors and members of our ever growing adaptive squad.”

Commenting, Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator and start umpire for the racing said, “It was great to have such a mix of members competing and especially some of the weekday rowers who we often don’t see during the weekend sessions. Their participation in the running of the Club has been a great bonus as they bring management and organizational skills to the Club as well as offering their time and effort volunteering and carrying out maintenance and other jobs.”

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club will be back on the river this weekend and after the New Year training hard for the 2020 head season and our own regatta in June.

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online http://www.stratford-herald.com/104676-stratford-boat-club-gears-2020.html and page fifteen.

For more great pictures of the Boxing Day Scratch Regatta, see Kathy Baines’ excellent selection https://1drv.ms/f/s!AgY7EiDB2lCOg6ZWOj-VQR1erO43pg