Stratford Boat Club Regatta: Another Great Success despite Covid!

A marvelous late summer day with the weather ideal for racing! Great participation from crews local and further afield from Evesham, Stourport, Hereford, Becket School Rowing Club (Nottingham), Worcester, AB Severn Rowing Club (Tewkesbury), Pengwern Boat Club (Shrewsbury), Lagan Scullers’ Club (Belfast), Marlow, City of Oxford and Agecroft Rowing Club (Salford)  as well as major entries from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club. The regatta this year had three divisions and two adaptive (disabled) divisions and one hundred and sixteen separate races starting at 08.30 and running all day through until a prompt close at 16.30hrs!

Dr Graham Collier, Stratford Boat Club’s Regatta Secretary said, “This year we were very heartened by the huge turn out from local and distant clubs and the interest from the public who also had the bonus of having the Stratford Town Food Festival close by. A massive thanks to all our hard working Stratford Boat Club members, visiting crews, umpires and officials and especially the public for supporting the event. We were especially honoured to have Stratford upon Avon Town Council Mayor Councillor Kevin Taylor attend the regatta.”

Steve Wellstead, Stratford Boat Club’s Junior Co-ordinator and Course Marshal commented. “It was a long day’s racing: our tea tent was extremely busy dispensing dozens of cakes and snacks: what a magnificent day topped by great racing!  We decided to stay with the shortened 650 metre course to ensure the safety of all the competitors and river users: we ran the regatta under very tight Covid rules and protocols.  We were especially grateful for the help and tolerance of those operators who work and make their living on the river.”

Commenting further, Mark Dewdney, Stratford Boat Club’s Head Adaptive Coach said, “It was very heartening to see at least fifteen adaptive races in two divisions and the fact that an adaptive sculler came over from Belfast to compete in our regatta speaks volumes! To see the effort that the adaptive athletes, helpers and supporters put into racing was very humbling and gratifying!”

Saturday’s busy regatta was followed by Sunday’s Shakespeare Hospice Dragon Boat Racing with more action on the river: Stratford Boat Club’s 2022 Regatta is tentatively scheduled for the more usual month of June, Covid permitting! Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club’s President said, “We were blessed with good weather and large crowds watching the racing adding much to Stratford’s atmosphere and vitality: we were glad to showcase our sport and demonstrate our part in the success of our town!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald pages fifty six and page fifty four and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/straford-boat-club-regatta-back-on-the-water

For more great pictures of the regatta, see Stuart Baines’ selection: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9jv0hRZs7yxtLL3GInw?e=CcLB9s

Trophies Presented for 2020/2021 for President’s Sculls

The week ended for Stratford Boat Club with the presentation of trophies on Sunday for the winners of The President’s Sculls competition run over 2020 and 2021 due to the interruption by Covid. The winner of the Men’s Trophy was Tim Lunel and the Ladies’ Trophy was Heather Hayton, neither of whom could attend. However, Tim sent a note to Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club’s President, saying, “Having concentrated almost exclusively on sweep oar rowing in my university rowing days, it has been really enjoyable to have the chance to transfer those skills to sculling at Stratford. It has been great to hear hints and tips from lots of Stratford Boat Club members. The fact that I was able to win the President Sculls is however due almost exclusively to the patience and good humour of Chris Straw. It was sculling with Chris, learning from him and being coached by him that means that at least I know what I am trying to do in getting a single scull moving quickly through the water – if only achieving it on rare occasions! Thank you Chris, this President’s Sculls’ prize is more yours than it is mine! Thank you Paul for making this competition happen and getting as many people in the Club to appreciate the joys of sculling”

The winner of the junior trophy was Freya Watts who came through her fiercely fought heats to win against all including some juniors older than her. The Adaptive trophy, repurposed/ recycled from Head Adaptive Coach, Mark Dewdney’s own collection was won by Jake Blatcher for his dedication and input to the adaptive squad over the last two years and his marked improvement in his sculling and rowing

Commenting, Paul Stanton said, “We are indebted to the Rose family for the original trophies which have again been recycled/repurposed for today’s presentation. Albert George Gerald Rose was the original benefactor and everyone knew him as Sonny and was captain of the Club in the early 1930’s and rowed in many winning fours. Sonny owned and ran The Boat House [now Avon Boating] next door. Tim Lunel’s pot is dated 1929 which Sonny won at Nottingham and Heather Hayton’s pot dates from 1927 and was awarded as the President’s Sculls. Jake Blatcher’s second trophy dates back to 1928 and was when Sonny won the Maiden Fours at Stratford’s own regatta. Freya Watts’ trophy dates from 1929 and appropriately was won by Sonny in the Junior Fours race at Ross Regatta where Freya raced last week with some considerable success!”

Stratford Boat Club is looking forward to its own Covid secure regatta on Saturday 18 September: racing will be from 08.00hrs to mid/late afternoon and there will be a catering wagon and bar open to all. Excellent views of the racing can be seen from the Club, Bancroft Gardens, The Royal Shakespeare Theatre Riverside Café and the Rec

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page sixty one and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/prestigious-trophies-handed-out-to-top-performers-9215851

Stratford’s Juniors Take Home The Pots From Ross!

The August Bank Holiday weekend is synonymous with the Ross on Wye Regatta for the athletes of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club. The event marks the close of the 2020/2021 racing season and made a much welcome return this year following a two year hiatus.  Always a superb event – this year was as expected with crews from across the club competing for victory on the Wye over 500m and 750m courses across two days.

For the Sunday sprints, conditions were perfect.  The Herefordshire sunshine split the mist over the Wye heralding the commencement of racing. Representing the Masters squad the dream team of Tom Doherty and Heather Hayton met their double sculls nemesis from Dart-Totnes and whilst closer were unable to avenge prior defeats.

Ross was only the J13’s second regatta. They demonstrated excellent steering skills by negotiating the long bend and its current without a hitch. Sophie in her 1x was pitted against girls a year older in the J14 category, finishing second, but with a very credible and solid performance. The 4x+ of Meg, Poppy, Alex, Sophie and Lily kept up well with their City of Bristol competitors, finishing a couple of lengths behind. Ollie Seth sailed through their semi-final, kept a very good line around the centre buoys on each race and galloped to victory against QPH in the final. Last but not least, both the W2x of Meg and Alex and W2x of Poppy and Alice won their semi-finals and raced in all Stratford final, which Meg and Alex carried to victory – a credit to both crews. Said Richard Nelson, J13 Coach, “The J13s have come a long way in a short time and their form at Ross Regatta is a tribute to their athletic dedication and strong team spirit throughout this turbulent year.”

Sunday 29 August was a great day for the Stratford Boat Club J14 scullers. For some, it was their first ever competition. The J14 boys did brilliantly against tough competition from Queens Park High, Upton and Evesham, in the 1x and 2x categories. The J14 girls did equally well against their opposition from Bristol, Evesham, QPH and Staines. In the WJ14 2x Final, SuABC (Appleton/Rowan) had a strong last 200m and were beaten by a canvas. In the WJ14 1x Final, Stratford’s (Vondrak) was ahead of her Evesham opposition after 300m but clipped a buoy and capsized. She stood up and gave a thespian bow which gained her the biggest round of applause from the bank. The J14 athletes ended an adrenaline fuelled day by splashing each other in the river Wye!

For the Monday 750m event, the sunshine stayed away but still conditions continued for another day of racing. Undeterred by the prior day, Stratford Boat Club’s Masters squad stalwart Heather Hayton was again disappointed as her opposition from Bedford rowing club withdrew from the event to avoid certain defeat. Representing the Adaptive squad, Jake Blatcher in the single scull performed well but narrowly missed out on a place in the final. In their final regatta as Juniors (for some), the J17/J18 athletes of Mili Wilcock, Amélie Sartain, Maiya James and Alice Baines represented the club in coxless quadruple sculls, double sculls and single sculls throughout the day. Commenting, Steve Welstead, J17/18 Performance Squad Coach and Junior Co-ordinator said, “The J17/18 squad swept the board in what can only be described in a “pot-tastic” set of races with all crews winning their events!”

Stratford’s J15 athletes attended the last regatta of the season before the new rowing season as J16. A very full day of racing but proving to be very successful as yet again our junior athletes performed over and above expectations.

First up for Stratford was Uche Nwachuckwa who sculled very powerfully to overcome competition from Evesham and Ross rowing club setting up a semi final race with her colleague, Grace Beason before meeting Saunders of Evesham in the final. Again demonstrating great power and style, she eventually lost by three lengths. Grace Beason had earlier powerfully steered a great course to win against Ross rowing club easily before losing out to Uche.

Next up was a double boat of Charles Happel and Elliot Baird, competing for the first time, against a crew from Queens Park School Rowing Club but despite a strong performance, they missed out by a distance of “very close”. The girls quad of Kate Richardson, Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes, Ruby Brooker Collins and coxed by Imogen Hill came up against  a crew from Queens Park High School firstly winning by one length before having to dig deeper in their final to beat City of Bristol in a very exciting race by three quarters of a length showing great determination and sculling precision to get over that winning line to win their very well deserved pots.

Charles Happel won his first singles race against Queens park High School by one and a half lengths and then against another competitor from Queens Park school by one foot and in so doing provided the comic moment. The race had been so close and tough he celebrated very enthusiastically raising one hand and in so doing struck a tree stump with one blade and very gently capsized  – comical for spectators but he had still won the race. He then raced an opponent from previous regattas, Woodfin of Evesham in the final but try as he might, missed out by one length, in his words, -“until the next time”!

The WJ15 double’s crew of Maddie Hall and Harriet Noyes sculled extremely powerfully to beat a crew from Queens Park School by four lengths to set up a final with Grace Beason and Ruby Brooker Collins who had earlier beaten another Queens Park school by only a canvas after another exciting demonstration of sculling technique. The final was again competitive but was won by Maddie and Harriet having just that little more power on the day to win by four lengths. Said Steve Marsden, J15 Coach, “A great day, great performances by all to bring home those treasured “pots” – real china Ross Rowing Club mugs- for those winners.”

The J16 squad were lucky enough to row both days at Ross Regatta. Starting on the Sunday in the Junior and Masters Sprint over 550m, Stratford had the J16 doubles of Tomi Wilcock and Owen Perkins. They started the day against Evesham with a convincing lead to put them into the final. There they met fellow Stratford duo Will Beattie and Toby Sartain who had also had a comfortable win in the semi final, this time against Liverpool Victoria. It was the Wilcock and Perkins duo who were victorious in the closely contested final against their team mates.

Next up was the turn of the girls where Freya Watts, Ruby Howells and Harriet Holmes were joined by colleague Amelie Sartain, racing up in the WJ18 coxless quads. They also raced against Liverpool Victoria in the semi final beating them by an impressive margin of five lengths. In the final they faced a strong crew from Exeter, but managed to come away victorious with a fantastic performance.

The afternoon saw Beattie and Wilcock in the J16 singles. Wilcock was up first against a strong sculler from Royal Chester who proved to be just too quick for Wilcock beating him over the line. Beattie faced a home club Ross sculler. Despite the Ross sculler knowing the course, Beattie pushed ahead to take a verdict of three lengths. He then met the Royal Chester lad in the final and despite his best efforts lost by just 1 length in a fantastic race.

The WJ18 4+ was up next of Amelie Sartain, Watts, Howells and Holmes, this time joined by expert cox Toby Sartain. In one of the closest races of the day their straight final was a spectacle for the spectators. Toby Sartain steered an amazing course and this put them over the line just in front of their opposition with the verdict a canvas.

Monday’s longer 750m course saw the J16 squad in action again. Tomi Wilcock joined up again with Owen Perkins in the J16 doubles event and faced two of the same crews from the day before. They raced Evesham first with an easy win and then faced Liverpool Victoria in the final. The Stratford duo won with a comfortable verdict of three lengths.

The afternoon saw the J16 singles of Owen Perkins and Toby Sartain. Both Stratford scullers were up against athletes from Evesham in the semi finals and both won booking their places in the final to face each other. On this occasion Perkins was victorious taking his third win of the weekend. The girls double of Freya Watts and Harriet Holmes had a good battle against Exeter, however this time it was Exeter who took the win by just 1 and half lengths.

Said Abi Terry, J16 Coach, “It was great to see all of the juniors racing and enjoying their rowing. The J16 squad are looking forward to starting their J17 year with a bang at our own regatta in a couple of week’s time!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/juniors-make-a-splash-at-regatta-9214157

A Busy Week for Stratford Boat Club!

It’s been a busy week for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club! On Thursday, the adaptive section had a visit from Cllr Tony Jackson, former Mayor of Stratford upon Avon, to see what his donation from The Mayor’s Fund had gone towards

Cllr Jackson during his term in office had three chosen causes which were Volunteers, People with Disabilities and Health and Well Being. Commenting Paul Stanton, President of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club said, “Tony has been a great supporter of the Club and especially the adaptive squad and he understands the importance of sport and recreation for the welling and health of the adaptive and other athletes”

Said Mark Dewdney, Stratford Boat Club’s Head Adaptive Coach, “Tony was most interested to learn of the extra and special equipment needed to get adaptive athletes onto the water such as a Madeleine chair for lifting athletes from their wheelchair to their boat; specially adapted seats enabling disabled athletes to row and use an ergo; a ramp for wheelchairs to access the pontoon for boating; floats for adaptive boats as well as the emergency rescue launch with all its specialised equipment, purchase and running costs. Tony was pleased to learn that his contribution from The Mayor’s Fund has gone towards some of these essential items as well as towards a new adaptive boat soon to arrive”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page ten

Stratford’s Adaptive Squad Show Promise at Oxford and Juniors Finish 2020 Competition!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s adaptive (disabled) squad raced at Oxford on the weekend. Building on recent success, they won five events and came extremely close to winning a couple more.

The Oxford City Rowing Club regatta was solely for disabled rowers with the usual two day regatta being cancelled for Covid reasons.

Pride of place goes to Kelly Donald in the wheelchair user women’s single sculls event. Competing in her first event, she beat a plucky and experienced City of Oxford sculler in the final by a little over a length.

James Bastin’s win in beating his Stratford colleague Gillian Middleton in the final of a doubles event was also a first win in his first event. A great performance from the visually and physically impaired athlete. Gillian competed in two events and a win for her must surely be just around the corner.

Xander van der Poll, a Stratford Great Britain Paralympic hopeful, won a very close final against another Oxford opponent. Further wins were completed by Ian Ward supported by his sister Sofia and Hattie Throssell with Paola Ward.

The unluckiest pair of the day were Jake Blatcher and Dan Godefroy. Competing in two events, they lost the finals by just a foot in each case. Steve Binns, in his fifties, had a tough draw against a much younger Guildford opponent.

The squad’s next outing is at Stratford Boat Club’s own regatta on Saturday 18th September.

Not to be out done, Stratford Boat Club’s Junior Squad was in action over the weekend finalising the concluding junior heats of the 2020 President’s Sculls. Yes, 2020 President’s Sculls, just over a year after the first races and very much in the style of Tokyo Olympics affected by Covid restrictions and disruptions!

Some close racing was delivered by Freya Watts as this year’s junior champion who won by one length in the final.

Said Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator and J17/18 Performance Squad Coach, “Well done to all entrants: we’ll be having the trophy presentation soon!”

The original trophy was initially presented by Ian Cartwright, the then Captain, to Derek Eardley in 2004 during his tenure as President of Stratford Boat Club to mark his many years of service to the Club and was to be raced for annually in coxed fours.

Over the years, the competition faded from the annual calendar and was reinstated comparatively recently as an annual sculling competition in three categories – women, men and juniors.

Paul Stanton, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club President commented, “We hope that the President’s Sculls award will continue to inspire all members to continue with sculling at a high level and further contribute to all sections of the Club mixing and communicating with each other. Our congratulations go to Freya Watts who has won the Junior Award. Our thanks go to all those who supervised this final by marshalling and safety spotting on the bank and from the launch.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty five

Stratford’s Juniors and Masters Clean Up at Stourport

This weekend saw Stratford upon Avon Boat Club attend one of their local regattas in Stourport upon Severn: this regatta takes place every year in August and has done since the late 1800’s! It is the premier sporting event in Stourport and the surrounding area and attracts around six hundred crews from across the UK with an age range from thirteen years right up to veteran rowers in their seventies and eighties!

First off representing the Women’s Junior 17/18 Performance squad was Amelie Sartain. Having not competed in a single scull for two years, it was time to brush of the cobwebs and in her first heat took a commanding lead from the onset, maintaining her lead saw her crossing the finish line two boat lengths against opposition from Nottingham. After a brief rest, Sartain was pitched against a crew from our nearest neighbour Evesham: Sartain took advantage of a quick start and dominated the race winning comfortably by three lengths. Before too long her final against a sculler from Ross on Wye was upon her: the Ross sculler had a bye to her final and having been more rested, the Ross sculler maintained a short lead until the final 200 meters. Undeterred, Sartain steered a perfect racing line, dug deep and crossed the line first winning by three quarters of a length.

Next up for the Junior 18’s were Milena Wilcox and the less experienced Isabelle Watts competing in the Women’s Junior 18 doubles: given this was only the third time Watts had competed but being in the safe hands of Wilcox saw a win against Pengwern by one and a half lengths. After a short interlude next they were pitched against their fellow squad members of Maiya James and Alice Baines, the more experienced crew went on to win by one and a half lengths, James and Baines went on to win the final of the Women’s Junior 18 doubles by half a length saving their energy for the looming quad event.

Finally hot footing from their doubles event Maiya James and Alice Baines were joined by Milena Wilcox and Amelie Sartain in the Women’s School Junior quad winning by one length. With only ten minutes rest, it was time to boat for the last race of the day, their opposition from Ross had been given a bye to the final and took advantage of this rest period to take an early lead. Commenting, Colin Bell, J17/18 Performance Squad Coach said, “Not fazed by the early lead, Wilcox, James, Sartain and Baines put all of their training post their return to rowing from the outage caused by the current pandemic into practice and eventually won by one a half lengths!”

For the J16 squad, first up were the J16 singles where Toby Sartain sailed through his first two rounds and found himself in the final against a sculler from Warwick. The Warwick sculler had beaten Stratford sculler Owen Perkins in a close heat to get his place in the final. Sartain put in a good effort but sadly it wasn’t to be and he had to settle for second place, still a fantastic result.

Next was the turn of the WJ16 doubles, where Stratford again had two crews entered. Honour Keil and Fleur Griffiths were up first and took on a duo from Worcester first beating them by two lengths. Next they took on a strong double from Nottingham where they were just beaten to the line putting Nottingham into the final. The other Stratford double of Lucy Browne and Harriet Holmes took on a Ross crew in their first round where they had a comfortable win. That win booked their place in the final where despite a good battle down the course, the Nottingham boat was just too quick for the Stratford duo.

Griffiths, Browne and Holmes then teamed up with Ruby Howells and cox Lucy Sartain in the open women’s fours event. Here the J16 Stratford crew faced a ladies crew from Stourport in the final and the girls put up a good fight with fantastic steering from J14 Lucy Sartain, losing by just two boat lengths, a great result given the ladies racing them were at least four years their senior!

Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie took to the water next in the J18 doubles event. Racing up two years, they took on a local derby, facing Evesham in the heat. In one of the closest races of the day, they lost by just a canvas. Another brilliant result, showing how strong this duo are.

Wilcock then teamed up with Toby Sartain in the J16 event. First up for them was Nottingham where the Stratford crew put on a show in front of the crowd to take the win. In the semi-final they took on Warwick who proved to be too strong for the Stratford double.

In the same J16 double event Beattie joined Perkins in the semi-final to take on a crew from Becket. This proved to be another good race which went right down to the wire with the Becket crew just edging out the Stratford crew on the line.

The WJ16 quad raced next in a straight final against Worcester. The Stratford crew of Freya Watts, Howells, Keil and Griffiths started well giving them the early lead. This continued all the way down the course where they took a fabulous win. Freya Watts also raced in the WJ16 singles event, facing a sculler from Derwent in the first round taking a comfortable win. She then went through to the final facing a sculler from Nottingham. Watts again lead from the start and pushed on in the last 200m to take her second event win of the day.

Said Abi Terry, J16 Coach, “It was great to be back racing at a local event where supporters were allowed and with some brilliant racing. We’re all now looking forward to Ross over the Bank Holiday weekend!”

Next were the J15 crews who competed admirably over a 650m sprint course at Stourport Regatta. A very early start for Uche Nwachukwa racing her single scull saw her row strongly but losing out to Evesham, the eventual final winner, by three lengths. Charles Happel was next up racing in gusty conditions against Evesham. Unfortunately the conditions didn’t help but a spirited sprint finish saw him closing rapidly but finishing one length behind Evesham.

The first of the J15 ladies’ doubles of Ruby Brooker Collins and Imogen Hill battled strongly against A B Severn showing great technique but losing eventually by three lengths. Next up was the doubles boat of Kate Richardson and Harriet Noyes who having benefited from a bye came up against Trent Rowing in the next round and demonstrated a really strong expert scull to win by four lengths. In their final, they were up against AB Severn crossing the line ahead of them but suffering the anguish of a disqualification having been judged to have steered across their opposition – a tough call but it had been a truly strong scull perhaps deserving a better result. Said Steve Marsden, J15 Coach, “Overall perhaps not the results to reward lots of effort by the crews but great experience ready for our next test at Ross in two weeks time.”

Joining the rest of the Junior Squad were the J13’s spreading their wings in the first regatta of their lives! Displaying tremendous grit and maturity, they handled the river circulation and the bends with apparent ease and gave Stourport crews a good run for their money. Ollie, who only a few weeks ago was climbing into a single scull for the first time, steered brilliantly for the whole course.

The 2x of Alex and Poppy kept the pressure on their counterparts, catching up to within two lengths at the finish. The coxed, mixed quad of Poppy, Alice, Alex, Seth and Meg contested Stourport’s home advantage neck and neck for the length of the course and with a surge at the end looked the stronger crew. To the roar of the crowd and the passionate shouting of their cox, Stratford’s J13’s finished within three feet of the winning crew. Said Richard Nelson. J13 Coach, “The fledgling J13 athletes thoroughly enjoyed the event and left with a smile and great motivation for their next contest at Ross Regatta.”

Stratford Masters’ Squad was represented at Stourport Regatta by Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty. The Masters’ double of Hayton and Doherty won their race by three lengths over Warwick Boat Club and Hayton lost her single’s race by half a length, her first race in a ‘new’ boat!

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page fifty one

Stratford’s Masters’, Adaptive & Junior Squads Competing at High Level!

The Junior and Masters squads of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club were in action again over the weekend on the hallowed waters of Henley-on-Thames.  As the trailer rolled into the historic town, the conditions could not have been better and gave no indication of what lay ahead.

Henley Town and Visitors Regatta provided high quality side by side racing over 800m on the Henley Royal Regatta course. Warm up complete, the Masters’ double scull of Henley Town and Visitors Regatta took to the water and made short work of their Guildford Rowing Cub competition in the first round. Steeling themselves for the final, the Hayton/Doherty combo turned swiftly and lined up against a quality crew from Poole & Warwick clubs. Sadly, victory was denied by a tight margin with the Poole/Warwick composite taking the win.

Then, it rained: with a biblical downpour in full effect the WJ18 quadruple scull of Jasmine Mountney, Isabelle Watts, Alice Baines and Mili Wilcock fully expected Noah and his Ark to be competing! Rowing up in the Senior Women’s event, the Stratford Boat Club athletes were drawn against what can only be described as a rowing super group consisting of Irish and Estonian national team members.

Unfazed, the J18 Stratford crew took their place on the start. The flag dropped and the girls went off well and held the Twickenham Rowing Club/ Thames Rowing Club/ Neptune Rowing Club composite to no more than half a length for the first half of the race. Experience won out in the end however and the composite took the win and went on to win the event overall. Commenting, Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator and J18 Performance Squad Coach commented, “That’s racing and indeed, the luck of the draw: onwards and upwards to Stourport Boat Club Regatta next Saturday!”

The Stratford Boat Club’s every increasing adaptive (disabled) squad competed at Maidenhead Rowing Club Regatta on Saturday. Xander Van Der Poll won his debut event in his single: in the final, he defeated a sculler from Northern Ireland by a considerable margin. Xander, a former King Edward The Sixth School pupil, is in the Great Britain Paralympic pathway system and hopes to represent Great Britain in the Paris Paralympics in 2024. He is one of two such athletes being developed by the Club’s adaptive section and can be seen on the Avon early most mornings training when not at Bristol University studying for his medical degree.

Gillian Middleton also made her first competitive appearance after only a few months rowing and an impressive one it was: she and her crewmate Joe Moore were only overhauled by a strong Marlow crew in the last few strokes of the final.

Paola and Ian Ward, in their final, were similarly overtaken close to the finish line by an all male Guildford crew. Dan Godefroy and Jake Blatcher were beaten by a technically excellent City of Oxford crew.

Said Mark Dewdney, Stratford Boat Club’s Head Adaptive Coach said, “Due to many last minute changes, some Stratford rowers were put in races against much faster opposition: on this occasion, this reduced our chances of multiple wins that we have had in most regattas in the last few years. Nonetheless, well done to all the rowers and helpers! We were very pleased with the general level of performance. Xander will face tougher opposition in the future so his training and steps along the GB Paralympic pathway will continue in earnest: Gillian’s performance was the star of the day! Stratford’s adaptive section is interested in everyone rowing as well as they can and we are happy as long as everyone rows well. The squad’s next outing is at Oxford on the 21st August in an event just for adaptive/disabled rowers.”

For media coverage see Stratford Herald online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/squads-show-they-can-compete-with-the-best-9211185 and page fifty.

For more great pictures of Henley Town & Visitors Regatta, see Kathy Baines’ selection at https://1drv.ms/f/s!AgY7EiDB2lCOhMdRfeSXA-kVvsp4wA

Weekend of Sport for Stratford Juniors!

Despite holidays and Covid, a very busy weekend for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Junior Squad. The day Stratford Boat Club’s J15 scullers had been working so hard for finally arrived. The British Rowing Junior Championships one of the most prestigious events in our racing calendar attracting boat clubs from across the country. The event was run over three days and saw Stratford’s crews arrive bright and early on the Friday.

First up for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club was Charles Happel rowing a single scull in his time trial. Over a distance of 1500m, Charles sculled energetically demonstrating great technique to qualify for the D final in a time of 6:20. In his final, over 2000m, he had learned from his earlier race to deliver a performance of greater energy and race tactics to finish second behind a crew from Rob Roy in a time of 8:17, less than four seconds from first place!

Stratford’s J15 ladies double of Grace Beason and Ruby Brooker Collins raced their time trial providing excellent technique to qualify for their E final in time of 6:35. Their final delivered one of the most exciting side by side racing of the day battling a crew from Queen Elizabeth High. They were chasing second place which changed hands several times but Stratford dug deep to win through in the last stroke beating QEH by 5 hundredths of a second in a time of 9:05.82.

Stratford’s J15 coxed quad of Kate Richardson, Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes, Amalia Richardson and expertly coxed by Imo Hill didn’t fail to provide an equally exciting performance. They provided an excellent time trial finishing in eighth place in a time of 5:59 to qualify for their AB Semi final, yet another 2k race! This side by side race saw them dig deep to finish fourth in a time of 7:58 to qualify for the B final a really great effort.

The heat of the day wasn’t relenting but the ladies racing in the B final blew the competition away! They sculled at an extremely high rate over the 2k course demonstrating great power and precise catches to win their final in a time of 8:00.9 beating Cantabrigian by eight seconds a truly tremendous performance. Said Sam Hill, J15 coach, “Overall a very pleasing performance on the day by all our crews making parents and coaches extremely proud!”

On Saturday at the Junior British Championships it was the turn of the J16 squad to take to the water. First up was the time trial for the open singles and taking part for Stratford was Tomi Wilcock and Toby Sartain. Both boys put in a good row to see them place seventeenth and twenty fifth  respectively, putting them into the C and E Finals later in the day.

Next up was the women’s pair of Freya Watts and Fleur Griffiths. The time trial was the first time these girls had raced in a pair or even in sweep. They had a fantastic race to place them in sixth and gaining their spot in the A Final.

The last time trial saw Griffiths step straight into the women’s four as one of the girls was ill, alongside Lucy Browne, Honour Keil, Bella Chappelhow and J14 cox Lucy Sartain. The girls put in another good performance, where they were catching the crew in front of them to also place sixth and book another A Final spot.

The finals were now taking place and first up were the boys singles. Unfortunately Sartain’s opposition pulled out and so he didn’t get to take to the water for a side by side race. Wilcock had a good race but struggled with the heat and hands slipping off the blades, taking the sixth place in the C Final.

Watts and Griffiths were up next in the A Final of the pairs and had a solid row staying in contention all the way down the 2km course to finish in sixth place.

On completion of the pairs race Griffiths just had enough time to refill her water bottle before taking to the water again in the four with Browne, Keil, Chappelhow and Lucy Sartain. They all rowed really well, expertly coxed by Sartain, in her first race as a cox, to take the sixth place on the finish.

Commenting, Abi Terry, J16 coach said, “It was great to see the crews able to race again and making A Finals was a fantastic way to end what has been a really challenging year for them all. Now to have fun in the summer events!”

The third day of Junior National Championships meant it was the turn of the J18 squad to take on the best crews in the country over the 2km course at Holme Pierrepont.  First to the water was the women’s double scull of Jasmine Moutney and Isabelle Watts. Building on the Watts’ family rowing heritage Isabelle did not disappoint in her first national regatta and teamed with the sculling prowess of Jasmine they scored a creditable twenty eighth. Next on the sun-drenched Nottinghamshire course was the WJ18 coxless quadruple sculls of Alice Baines, Amelie Sartain, Maiya James and Mili Wilcock.  The girls put in a steely row in the time trial to secure fourteenth place and a spot in the C Final, just 1.4 sec away from Semi Final contention. Nothing could have prepared the Nottingham spectators for the drama that played out in the C Final as the Stratford girls battled a quality Trafford Rowing Club crew for the length of the course, never more than a length between them for the full 2000m.  It was to be Stratford’s day in the end by the tightest of margins and a photo finish, just 0.18 seconds. Said Steve Wellstead, J17/18 Performance Squad Coach and Junior Co-ordinator, “A true testament to the grit of these young athletes!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/busy-weekend-of-sport-for-rowers-9210210 and page fifty one and also Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/junior-squad-makes-their-mark-in-national-championships and back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2021/08/06&pages=024

Stratford Denied Podium Finish Place

Whilst Stratford upon Avon Rowing Club’s junior sections headed to their own British Rowing Junior Championships at Nottingham Holme Pierrepont over the weekend, Stratford rowers Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty headed for more exotic climes on the South Coast at Exmouth for the British Rowing Offshore Championships.
The annual British Rowing Offshore Championships attracted crews from as far afield as Runcorn, Pembrokeshire, and Jersey to this rowing fiesta on the beach. The event which usually attracts a large international field but this year the championships were unfortunately limited to British crews due to Covid restrictions.
The competition consisting of a number of differing boat and gender category events with boats all launched off the beach, with the boats stern on to the beach, requiring some athleticism to get into the boat, with the length of a four person boats meaning the bow rower is up to waist deep in the swells having to climb into the boat to start the race. This resulted in some entertaining race starts!
With all races over a 6km buoyed course, the event is classed by British Rowing as something of a contact sport with all competitors heading for the nearest buoy turn and little quarter given. However generally crews were on their best behaviour with no major incidents as they made the most of some very flat water conditions which suited the majority of competitors who were also fine boat or flat water rowers.
Stratford Boat Club rowers Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty competing in the mixed double sculls final were up against some tough competition in a non age restricted event, the Stratford crew with an average age of fifty three were competing against a number of crews of average age were twenty to thirty years younger!
The event also featured the 2019 National Masters fine boat mixed doubles champions, and experienced sea rowers Runcorn, and a very committed crew from Jersey for whom this is one of the most important race events of the year.
Following a careful and steady start, Stratford started to move through the field overtaking two of the seven crews in the event by the 1km mark. A close race then ensued with Runcorn and Jersey with little more than three boat lengths between all three crews for the next two kilometres.
At the halfway mark, Stratford were able to put in a large push to nose ahead of Runcorn but still had a determined Jersey to overcome. Another push saw Stratford nose in front of Jersey by several lengths to provide a cushion at the 4km mark. The two leading boats crewed by much younger athletes had by this stage opened a lead of several lengths and Stratford were forced to focus on keeping a determined Jersey crew behind them. With the sun making it difficult to see the course buoys both crews struggled to maintain a steady course, however Stratford were able to maintain their position and finish in third place and what they hoped would be a well deserved bronze medal, but alas, this was not to be as Stratford inadvertently went the wrong side of the final buoy and despite some contradictory umpire instructions, were eliminated after the race resulting in a frustrating end to a great performance and what would have been Heather’s first National Rowing medal.
With gold going to Carmarthen in a time of 30mins 37 sec; Silver to Teign Scullers in 30mins and 49 sec; and Bronze to Jersey in 33mins.11sec, Stratford had to console themselves with their very good adjusted time of 32mins and 45 sec, which would not only have won them a bronze medal but earned selection by British Rowing to represent Great Britain in the same event at the world Club Championships in Portugal later in this year.
Said Tom Doherty, Masters Vice Captain, “Whilst it is immensely disappointing to miss out on a medal and Great Britain selection for the World Club Championships, we are extremely pleased to have beaten some very good crews and been competitive with crews thirty years younger!”
For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty three and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/…/stratford-pair-denied…

 

Stratford Gets to Semi Final at Henley!

With no mixed events on the race card, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club was represented at this year’s Henley Masters Regatta event on 9/10th July by Tim Lunel in the Master E single sculls. The quarter final on the Friday under a glorious Henley blue sky day saw Tim race against a Grosvenor sculler and with new found pace off the start this year Tim took a length lead in the first 100m. That allowed an almost comfortable row through to the finish to win by a length and a half of clear water.
So, Stratford through to the semi finals at Henley! With the form at the earlier British Masters at Nottingham showing that there were three scullers from Commercial (Ireland), Holloway Scullers and Exeter dominating this class at the moment, it was always going to be a tough ask to progress further.
Tim went for the ‘blast off the start’ approach to give the best chance of a surprise upset. At 200m the boats were level: then a couple of rollers coming in between the open area between the booms meant that Tim had a couple of untidy finishes. The crews were level no more! David Burns from Exeter then went on to win by four lengths at the finish. The final winner, as at Nottingham, was Denis Crowley from Ireland. Said Tim, “It was good to be competing in a category won by an international athlete in a year of more limited international entries. My final reflection was that this was a very enjoyable couple of days of racing and meeting up with fellow rowers at Henley!”
For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page sixty one and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/…/lunel-enthused-by… and also back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/…
For more pictures of Tim Lunel at Henley, see Ben Rodford Photography’s Open E x1 great selection https://benrodford.photoshelter.com/…/C0000UTr6r8nzl2M