Epic Finish for Stratford at Henley Royal Regatta!

Henley Royal Regatta is always the most prestigious regatta of the whole rowing season. It takes place on a beautiful stretch of the Thames, with the races starting at Temple Island and finishing in the heart of the pretty town of Henley on Thames.  Olympians, international squad crews, the world’s best universities as well as club crews from all over the globe come to compete at Henley at the start of July to try to get their hands on the little red box handed out to winners.

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club were seeking to qualify two boats for Henley this year. The coxless four of Mike Hourigan, Patrick Hourigan, Alistair Collier and Ed Press qualified in the Wyfold Cup after some strong performances in some early season regattas.

The coxed four of Eleanor Willetts, Chris Thomas, Tom Coles, Ed Lewry and Ben Twiney had to attend a Qualifiers’ Regatta the Friday before Henley to attempt to get into the Britannia Cup at the regatta proper. They needed to finish in the top five crews, but unfortunately finished sixth, as ended as the fastest non qualifier.

After a weekend of training on the course, which is lined with wooden booms all the way along, the coxless four, only one of whom had ever rowed at Henley before, learnt they were drawn against Swan River Rowing Club from Perth in Australia. The crew from Perth were State Champions and had recently finished third in the Australian championships. They had also been selected by the Stewards of the regatta as one of the favourites for the race – so the Stratford crew knew they had their work cut out!

The race itself, on Wednesday morning, was full of incident. It began with the Swan River crew veering over from the start and drawing a small clash of blades with the Stratford boys before getting back onto their side of the river. They then edged away to a one length lead.  But the Stratford crew began to row long and powerfully and slowly started to edge back into the race. At halfway down the course they had reduced the Swan River lead to half a length when the Australian crew veered over the course again taking the Stratford crew with them and forcing them to scrape their blades on the unforgiving wooden booms. Luckily Stratford were able to keep going and moved back into the race whilst the umpire was busy shouting at Swan River to get back on course.

As they moved into the enclosures with 500 metres to go, Stratford started to move through Swan River and looked like a win was within their grasp before two small crabs cost them half a length at a critical time, meaning Swan edged over the line a third of a length up. The drama hadn’t ended though.

The umpire then held up his red flag meaning he wasn’t satisfied that it was a fair race, due to the clashes along the course and asked the coaches of both crews to join him in the Stewards Enclosure whilst he conferred with the Chairman of the Regatta – Sir Steven Redgrave, over what to do.

The solution put forward was to do it all over again – ninety minutes later! Both Stratford’s coach Bill Sullivan and his crew thought that an eminently fair solution as nobody wanted to see a crew, who had travelled half way around the world to race, be disqualified.

The second race was another humdinger. This time Stratford got off to a length lead after Swan River took their turn to scrape the booms. But slowly and surely the younger legs of the Swan crew started to assert and they moved into a half-length lead with 500 metres to go. Stratford hadn’t given up though and Mike Hourigan in the Stratford stroke seat asked his crew for one last effort as the cheers for the Stratford boys rang down from the packed enclosures. They edged back closer and closer on Swan as the line approached, but it wasn’t to be with Swan prevailing by just three feet, the closest finish of the whole day.

They were two terrific and memorable races and can be seen on the Henley highlights package posted which is on YouTube. After an exhausted Swan River crew were knocked out later in the week the two crews spent a lot of time in each other’s company reliving the race and drinking jug after jug of Pimms.

Coach Bill Sullivan said, “It was a remarkable performance by a new Stratford crew, composed of four guys who only came together in May, against such powerful opposition. It bodes well for the future of the Club that we can achieve these results. On behalf of the boys in the crew I’d like to thank everyone in the Club for all their huge support on Wednesday, as well as all their logistical help with boats and trailers over the season. We know it’s a Club effort and hopefully the boys have made them proud.”

Commenting, Club President Paul Stanton, “Not only is it great credit that the men did so well but it highlights the efforts of Bill Sullivan, their coach, who skillfully managed to get two crew into great condition for Henley. Well done Bill!”

For media coverage see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/epic-finish-for-stratford-at-henley-royal-regatta and Stratford Herald online http://www.stratford-herald.com/88761-video-stratford-rowers-involved-thrilling-finish-henley-royal-regatta.html

Medals Keep Coming at Peterborough and Ironbridge!

The regatta season continued with the Peterborough Junior Championships held over 1000m on the purpose built Cambridgeshire lake. Always a competitive event this year did not break the mould with clubs travelling from around the United Kingdom stretching from Teeside to Kent and many in between.  Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s junior 14 and junior 15 squads made trip to Fenland to taste the competition.

The J14 event began with Elisabeth Edwards missing out on a semi-final place in the single sculls by just one foot. Another competing for the first time in a single scull was Sophie Elstone who after getting through her heat fought hard in her semifinal just missing a finals place. For their first time racing in a single both girls showed promise for the future. Staying with the girls’ singles, Amelie Sartain paced herself well in the heats leading up to her final and came home to win Silver medal place, a great achievement over the blustery 1000m course. William Clarke in his single, faced both strong competition and the windy conditions missing out by only six seconds for a semifinal place. The girls’ double of Martha Usselmann and Sienna Rawlings sculled well on their way into the semifinal, but after a closely contested race were pipped at the post for the remaining final positions. The coxed quadruple scull of Mary Walton (cox), Abbey Meggeson, Emma Harrison, Harriet Hodgson and Julia Zampronio-Gurden confidently won their first heat, however during the semifinal unfortunately suffered an equipment breakage. While positioned nicely ready for the final push, one of the gates holding an oar gave way slowing the boat and ending their race.

Meanwhile in the J15 events, the action was also red hot. In the girls’ single sculls event Alice Baines, Mya Kenny and Maiya James were relieved to be drawn in separate heats. The strong headwinds caused issues for all with Alice progressing to the semifinal stage then missing a place in the final by just two seconds. In the girls’ coxed quadruple sculls the crew of Jasmine Mountney, Nixie Brunt, Mili Wilcock, Alice Baines and Naomi Sergeant (coxswain) exited the competition early against strong crews from Northwich and Bedford Modern School in the toughest of the three heats. Onwards to the girls’ double sculls where both Stratford crews of Mili Wilcock and Jasmine Mountney plus Mya Kenny and Maiya James won their heats convincingly.  Ecstasy turned to agony however in the semi-finals where the journey ended for both boats. Not to be outdone, the junior 15 boys’ squad stepped up with the double scull of Dan Cox and Fred Tyler swept aside their competition in the heats only to be undone in the final. Last but by no means least, in the J15 single sculls Fred Tyler rowed a tactical first heat conserving energy. After waltzing through the repechage to book his place in the final things got spicy with a superb row in the final delivering the second silver medal of the day.

Meanwhile at Ironbridge set amongst a fantastic wooded hillside which means that even on the hottest sunniest days, competitors and spectators alike can enjoy the refreshing shade and gentle breeze rustling the trees all around the boating area. Ironbridge is also traditionally a happy hunting ground for Stratford crews and this year was no exception!

Kjersti Rogneflaten led the way with pots in both the Women’s Masters E double with her rowing partner from Derwent with a very big margin over Evesham in the final. Kjersti then followed up with winning Women’s Masters E in the afternoon with what ended up being a straight final, ideal for avoiding what had been scheduled as a very late finish! Two pots in one day!

Christine Goodwin and Tim Lunel had a first race entry more in preparation for the head season than ambitions for winning an open mixed competition. They surprised themselves by how hard they pushed the eventual winners Oxford City despite an interesting start provided by the starts in cross wind conditions. Goodwin and Lunel kept pushing back showing that Masters rowing can provide the stamina the younger competitors lack at times: they eventually finishing just a couple of length down over the line.

In the afternoon, Tim teamed up with coach and mentor Chris Straw to see if they could go one better than their final place of last year. A really good row in the semi-final saw them taking an early lead which they sat on for the length of the race and winning by a comfortable three length margin. This lead to a final against their well-known Stourport opposition who beat them last year in two finals by half a length and a canvas respectively. Unfortunately that was not to be and now having one of their best rows, the Stourport crew maintained their winning streak. Said Tim Lunel, “So a clear goal for next regatta season then – a few more training sessions to ensure a win in 2019!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer online at https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/medals-keep-coming-at-peterborough-and-ironbridge

SUABC at Henley Royal Regatta: LIVE at 10:45am today (Weds)

Today the SUABC will be back at Henley Royal Regatta for the fourth year in a row!
The senior men’s coxless four (Mike Hourigan (str), Pat Hourigan, Alastair Collier and Ed Press(bow, steers)) coached by Bill Sullivan and Colin Bell, are racing at the premiere summer regatta today. Good luck to them from the whole Club!
 
Their race is a heat of the Wyfold Challenge for club coxless fours and they face stiff competition going against Swan River from Australia.
The race starts at 10:45 and will be shown live on the HRR YouTube channel and will be viewable again shortly afterwards.
Unfortunately, after three years of being quarter finalists in the Britannia Challenge, the men’s club coxed four just missed out on qualifying this year, despite all improving on and off the water.

Rosconn Stratford Boat Club Regatta: Another Great Success!

© Iain Duck, Stratford Herald

A memorable day! Excellent racing: great participation from crews as far afield as Abingdon Rowing Club, Cardiff & Vale Schools Rowing Association, Evesham Rowing Club, Royal Grammar School Worcester, Warwick Boat Club, Monmouth Comprehensive School Boat Club, Northwich and sister club King Edward The Sixth School Boat Club as well as major entries from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club itself. The regatta this year had three divisions, thirty five events and one hundred and thirty five separate races starting at 08.00 and running all day through until a prompt close at 17.30hrs!

© Iain Duck, Stratford Herald

Stephen Rose, Stratford Boat Club’s Regatta Secretary said, “This year we were so pleased to have Mencap Heart of England and St Basil’s as our nominated charities: Stratford Boat Club have an outreach in teaching customers of Mencap and other adaptive athletes how to scull and this was a natural extension for this outreach. We were very heartened by the huge turn out from local and distant clubs and the interest from the public. A massive thanks to all our sponsors especially the Rosconn Group, hard working Stratford Boat Club members, visiting crews, umpires and officials and especially the public for supporting the event.”

© Iain Duck, Stratford Herald

Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club’s President commented. “It was a long day’s racing from 08.30 to 18.30hrs: 550 beefburgers, 45lbs of sausages, 25lbs of bacon, 20kg of sliced onions and 650 buns all from local suppliers were consumed as well as dozens of cakes and snacks: what a magnificent day topped by great racing! Based on our success last couple of years, we decided to stay with the shortened 650 metre course to ensure the safety of all the competitors

© Iain Duck, Stratford Herald

and river users. We were especially grateful for the help and tolerance of those operators who work and make their living on the river.”

Said Paul Hazelwood, the Club’s Treasurer, “Stratford Boat Club’s next event is the Fun Regatta on Saturday14 July: this is a much more ‘relaxed’ event with scratch teams from local Stratford, Warwickshire and area companies and organisations. We give them three hours coaching, a boat and cox and organise a regatta for them! There are

© Iain Duck, Stratford Herald

bound to be thrills and spills! Come and see the ‘other side’ of rowing!”

Whilst Stratford crews were competing hard at their own regatta, last weekend saw Senior crews go to 2018 British Rowing Masters’ Championship with Christine Goodwin winning silver in her category whilst the Men’s Senior Squad continued their training for Henley Royal Regatta

Also at the National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham for the British Rowing Masters’ Championship was Stratford’s Kjersti Rogneflåten Woolley. The British Rowing Masters Championship is raced over a 1000m multi lane course and attracts the best crews from around the country

Kjersti was entered in Mixed Masters D/E 4x in a composite crew with Derwent Rowing Club. After a good start, they were in the lead at 500m and kept this up until the end. They finished at a very good time of 04.03.95, beating Champion of the Thames (Cambridge) by 3.03 seconds

Said Kjersti, “It was great to win with the Derwent composite crew especially as we had only raced together once before the Masters’ Championships. I am also very grateful to my coach, Andrew Roe, who has taken me through a tough training programme this winter. Next year, we hope to bring more crews from Stratford Boat Club

For great pictures from the regatta, please see and buy David Phillips’ (dpphotos@davenjen.plus.com) magnificent professional pictures: the photos are now available at dpphotos.co.uk

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page 15 and online at http://www.stratford-herald.com/87970-picture-gallery-boat-clubs-regatta-proves-huge-success.html and also Stratford Observer back page and online at https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratford-regatta-is-another-great-success

Stratford J13’s Battle of Blenheim

On Saturday 9th June, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s J13 squad travelled to Blenheim Palace to take part in their regatta organised by Hinksey Sculling School. The event which takes place over 500m uses three lanes for racing and is for athletes aged fourteen and under only so always has good competition.

First up for Stratford was the double of William Beattie and Harry Trueman: they managed to win their heat despite the poor steering from their opposition which nearly resulted in a crash. They headed back up the lake for their final where they met two crews with very tall boys in them. Beattie and Trueman raced well but the other two crews muscled their way down the course leaving the Stratford duo to pick up the bronze medal.

Next was the turn of the girls’ quad which due to sickness had a last minute substitution: the crew comprised of Harriet Holmes, Lucy Browne, Honour Keil, Freya Watts and cox Fleur Griffiths. The girls put in a massive effort in their heat to lose to a strong Headington School crew by less than a foot. This put them into the repechage where they faced another Headington crew. This time the Stratford girls were even more determined and lead from the start to ensure their place in the final. The quad made their way straight back to the start only to find the third crew into the final was yet another Headington crew. The Stratford crew had no chance for a rest and raced back, to be beaten by a boat length by the crew they had raced in the heat but Stratford picked up the silver medal.

The boys’ singles raced next with both Toby Sartain and Tomi Wilcock in action. Both had just one opponent in their heats. Sartain went first and raced down neck and neck most of the way with his opposition. As he reached the crowd that were all shouting, he put in a push to see his boat go into the lead to take his spot in the final. Wilcock was unfortunately not so lucky with his opposition: he came up against a very neat sculler who led from start to finish to knock out Wilcock.

Sartain went into the final to race the boy who had beaten Wilcock and another even taller boy. As they came down the course, Sartain did all he could but it was not enough and finished up with a well-deserved bronze medal.

Keil and Griffiths fresh from the success in the quad now went on to race in the double. They sailed through their heat to book their spot in the final. Again racing two crews from Headington School, the Stratford girls knew the race would be tough. With 100m left to go, they put in a massive push to take them from third to second and were moving closer to the first place crew. They didn’t quite manage to get there and the girls were elated to receive their silver medals.

Finally it was the time for Anne Mynors in the girls’ singles race. She raced another girl from Headington in her heat which was really close until her opposition had a problem with her boat and subsequently capsized, meaning Mynors had her place in the final. She rowed straight back to the start and raced back down the course fighting her way into second place and finishing Stratford’s day with another silver to add to the total.

Said Abi Terry, J13 coach, “A great day’s racing in the beautiful surroundings of Blenheim Palace. A very good start to some promising careers in rowing.”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratfords-under-13s-enjoy-a-battle-at-blenheim and Stratford Herald online   http://www.stratford-herald.com/87687-stratford-rowers-shine-blenheim-palace-junior-regatta.html and page 20

Felix Awards Presentations at AGM

At Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Annual General Meeting, the Club recognised the great contribution that some of their members made to the Club by awarding the special Felix Awards, a legacy from the Club’s past President Felix Badcock who gave so much to the club: the tankard trophies were won by Felix Badcock during his long career rowing and over engraved with the winner’s name and award. There were awards for the Junior and the Senior Personality of the Year

The Senior Felix Award went to Colin Bell who has put in hours and hours of unpaid time for the Club coaching both Juniors and Masters squads, launch driving and general maintenance around the Club

The Junior Felix Award went to Katie Welstead for her all round contribution on and off the water: Katie was put forward for the award because of her cheerfulness and help that she gives to all at the Club

The awards were presented by Dawson Curnock, the Club’s Chairman

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald p15 and Stratford Observer p39

STRATFORD SCORE AT LOCAL REGATTAS

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club had a very busy Bank Holiday weekend at home and also at local away regattas

Continuing the 2018 regatta season, the action moved to Evesham where the traditional Bank Holiday weekend two day event took place over 1000m of the Avon on Saturday and 500m on Sunday. The sun shone on the event for both days however heavy rainfall earlier in the week made conditions tricky with a strong stream on the river against the racing crews.

The Stratford Masters coxed four crew of Richard Field, Richard Anderson, Graham Cann and Dave Edwards opened proceedings with a win over the host club to put them through to the semi-final. In what turned out to be one of the most memorable events of the day, the Masters lined up against a schoolboy crew some forty years their junior from Royal Grammar School Worcester. Battling hard the Stratford crew lost out by just one length with their years of experience eclipsed by the exuberance of youth!

Next up was the Junior 15 double sculls events where the boys’ crew of Fred Tyler and Max Griffiths met their match early on losing out to the eventual winners City of Oxford by just half a length. The girls’ crew of Mya Kenny and Alice Baines then stepped up to win their first heat easily but then went out in the semi-final to a strong Stourport crew, again by half a length.

The women’s Junior 14 coxed quadruple sculls event saw Sienna Rawlings, Martha Usselmann, Abbey Meggeson, Elisabeth Edwards and Mary Walton on the water. Unfortunately, the luck of the draw was against them as they went out in the first round to the eventual winners Stourport.

The men’s Junior 14 double sculls action continued the flow with the crew of Will Clarke and Conar Aitchison spoiling the day of two Pangbourne College boats on their way to the final. A great battle in the final saw them eventually succumb to City of Oxford.

Then came the women’s coxed quadruple scull of Jasmine Mountney, Nixie Brunt, Mili Wilcock, Maiya James and Naomi Sergeant. The drama unfolded with a straightforward dispatch of Abingdon in the first round and then Stourport in the semi-final. Onwards to the final and the previous races took their toll and the crew eventually lost out to Evesham.

The women’s Junior 18 double scull event proved another crowd pleaser with the crew of Issy Marsden and Issy Clarke making short work of Royal Grammar School Worcester in the semi-final. The fairy tale ending eluded them in the final when the Evesham crew pipped them to the post by just one boat length.

Said Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator, “One of the joys of regional regattas is both senior and junior crews competing at the same event. The senior squad was represented by Victoria Ward and Sian Maher in the double scull, Oliver Smith in the single scull and also a Stratford coxless pair of Harry Tarrant and Stuart Lyons. All rowed hard but lost out in the semi-finals of their respective events, no doubt taking an extra lift from the assembled club supporters on the bank.”

Closing the days racing was the women’s junior 14 double scull event with Sophie Elstone and Harriet Hodgson flying the flag for Stratford. The pair put on a dominant show winning their heats easily and then the final giving Stratford a win to round the day off with another display of superb sculling!

Stratford’s WJ14.1x (Amelie Sartain) missed out on a final place by one length and Stratford’s WJ14.8x+ had a great time with some good racing and lost out by only one and a half lengths behind City of Oxford J15 boys boat and had  two wins out of three races.

The J13 squad had a great day on Sunday at Evesham Regatta in their first ever river race. They competed in various crews in all of the boat types available to them – Octuple, Quads and Doubles.

In the Octuple, the J13 squad were beaten by the Stratford’s WJ14 squad by just two lengths and Evesham WJ14’s squads by only one and a half lengths which were fantastic results given that the J13 squad are a year younger.

Said Stratford’s J13 coach Abi Terry, “We are very proud of the way the J13 squad raced and showed immense maturity in the way they conducted themselves both on and off the river”

Meanwhile at Wallingford Regatta, Stratford’s Senior Men’s 4- had a good row and finished fourteenth quickest out of about thirty six crews but missed out on the semi-finals. Stratford’s 4+ also competed at Wallingford. Sadly the regatta at Marlow scheduled for Bank Holiday Monday had to be cancelled due to flooded car parks.

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online http://www.stratford-herald.com/86065-stratfords-masters-pipped-post-juniors.html and page 15 and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/hectic-holiday-schedule

For more great pictures of Evesham Regatta, please see Stuart Baines’ selection at https://1drv.ms/f/s!AgY7EiDB2lCOgppjjrEB4868Z8WPMw

STRATFORD WIN ON AIR AS WELL AS THE WATER!

Whilst Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Junior Squad were undergoing time trials for their places in crews for this coming summer’s regatta season in muddy and cold conditions, Stratford Boat Club Life Member Camilla Hadland was limbering up vocally for a very busy season commentating at major United Kingdom and world rowing events

Camilla, who started rowing at Stratford and went on to be President of Durham University Boat Club, was educated at Stratford School and currently lives and works in Edinburgh. Against strong entries from all over the world and because of her clear diction, clarity, enthusiasm and rowing knowledge, Camilla has been selected as a rowing commentator in a competition launched by World Rowing

Amongst other regattas, Camilla will be commentating at the World Rowing Cup in June in Belgrade in Serbia. Camilla also won a gold medal at the 2010 World Rowing Junior Championships and a further gold medal in the 8th European Universities Rowing Championship in 2013 with her Durham University crew and was selected as a torch bearer for the 2012 Olympic torch relay into Stratford

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/news/boat-member-swapping-oars-for-microphone and Stratford Herald page 14

West Midlands Points Earned by Stratford Juniors

Spring arrived just in time to welcome the first regatta of the season held at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham. Previously host to World Rowing Championships last weekend, the 2000m lake played host to the Junior Inter Regional Regatta where crews representing twelve regions across the country came together vying for the coveted Victor Ludorum title. Stratford upon Avon Boat Club junior members formed five of the crews in the West Midlands squad following successful performances at the Regional Championships

As the spring sunshine fell on the lake the athletes began their preparations. First to the stake boat was Fred Tyler in the J15 single scull and a strong performance in the heats secured him a place in the A Final. Sculling well he continued to achieve fifth place overall

Next to step up was Amelie Sartain in the WJ14 single scull. A composed performance in the heats saw her miss the A Final by just a tenth of a second, such was the ferocity of competition. Amelie then dominated the B Final with a fine sculling demonstration and showed the rest of the field the way, winning by ten seconds

No sooner had the single scull action subsided, the Stratford crews were back in action with the WJ15 coxed four of Alice Baines, Mya Kenny, Nixie Brunt, Maiya James and Naomi Sergeant. In their first season of sweep rowing, the crew delivered a performance sufficient to secure a place in the A Final despite entanglement with the stake boat at the start. Regrouping, the four delivered a great row in the final and achieved sixth place overall

Onwards to the WJ14 coxed quadruple scull where Abbey Meggeson, Martha Usselmann, Elizabeth Edwards, Sienna Rawlings and Julia Gurden battled hard for their place in the finals. In the end, a stronger row second time around gave them fifth place in the B Final and provided a platform for them to work from in the events ahead

Last to race but by no means least mighty in spirit was the WJ16 coxless four of Katie Wellstead, Molly Gill-Swift, Khloe Curnock and Jess Wiesheu. Third in their heat and a faster time in the A Final, they delivered sixth place overall

Said Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator, “Such performances, and with more speed to come, bode extremely well for the Stratford crews for the regatta season ahead. Thanks to the performance of Stratford’s junior rowers and the others representing the region, the West Midlands took third place in the Victor Ludorum. A performance to be justifiable proud of and shows the strength of junior rowing across the region. Stratford Boat Club were responsible for 30 of the 189 points for the West Midlands”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/west-midlands-points-are-earned-by-stratford-juniors and Stratford Herald page 19

For more great pictures, see Stuart Baines’ excellent selection at https://1drv.ms/f/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9jLJen0dgZqk5OZXN8g

Tough Conditions at Head of the Dart 2018

Five senior crews from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club travelled down to Dartmouth in Devon to compete in the annual Head of the Dart river race. The race is a processional time trial, this year running upstream from Dartmouth to Totnes over a distance of 15 km. The race attracts entries from all over the United Kingdom and some entries from Europe. Crews compete in a very varied range of coastal and river boats including pilot gigs, canoes and fine boats. Stratford Boat Club crews rowed in fine boats, more suited to calm inland river conditions.

The launching of boats was from the Higher Car Ferry slipway in Dartmouth – requiring prompt and exact timing by each crew to ensure launching between the very regular ferry crossings. Once afloat, boats travelled downstream before turning and waiting in the marshalling area in the very busy and choppy harbour for the race to start. Crews had to contend with other river craft and passenger ferries – often generating waves which breached the open top boats. This required prompt bailing out by the crews.

Once underway the race itself required a high level of skill in negotiating the numerous moored boats, navigation buoys, mud flats, river traffic as well as other competing crews. More open sections of the course were very choppy due to the wind conditions on the day. As the race progressed upstream, the river conditions became a little calmer as the river narrowed. Crews then had to negotiate a number of sharp and twisting bends before finally straightening for the last 1000m – the finish line at the Dart Totnes Amateur Rowing Club coming into view.

Top performers on the day were the Stratford/Mayflower Rowing Club Mixed Masters crew (coxless quad) of Tom Doherty, Victoria Ward, Sian Maher and a guest Mayflower Rowing Club member – winning their category in an actual time of 53 minutes and 21 seconds.

Other Stratford crews were the Men’s Masters crew (coxed four) of Richard Field, Graham Cann, Dave Edwards, Richard Anderson and Jessica Cann (cox) – actual race time of 01:00:17: the Mixed Masters crew (double scull) of Phil Marshall and Gina Fusco – actual race time of 1:01:35 got swamped before the start by a rib which went past at full speed only 20 feet away. The whole rear deck went under the waves, the footwells were full and the water was up to the slides. Luckily the crew had packed two plastic jugs, so they started bailing and after ten minutes got rid of eighty percent of the water but couldn’t get the rest out. They therefore started the race with two inches of water sloshing in the bottom, which was added to by wash from a second boat during the race, so they duly completed the course with approx 20kgs of water onboard, which had to be emptied before we could lift the boat out at the finish. Another impressive result was the Women’s Masters (single scull) of Christine Goodwin – actual race time of 1.06.59.

The women’s senior off-peak members of Rosie Stone, Andrea Duxbury, Rona Fitzpatrick, Clare Nash and Alfie Nash (cox), rowed in the Women’s Masters (coxed quad) category, competing in only their second fine boat event. Rowing without competition (time only), they recorded an actual time of 01:04:36.

Said coach Alfie Nash, “Although the event was a logistical challenge – the transportation of boats to and from the start and finish locations – it proved to be a very interesting and enjoyable challenge to all crews taking part. Those crews stopped over in Dartmouth and Totnes were able to appreciate fully the hospitality of both host clubs as well as their fellow competitors.”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/tough-conditions-at-head-of-the-dart. For more great pictures, see David Williams’ selection https://www.flickr.com/photos/togs42/sets/72157667867353668/with/41456226252/