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