Windswept Blenheim sees Gold for Stratford

Water conditions for the Blenheim Palace Junior Regatta proved to be a headache for the organisers and competitors alike as winds swept across the lake overlooked by the splendid Palace. With entries from schools across the country the competition alone was going to be fierce at best and with the wind being such an influence, the day added its own challenges.

Fighting through choppy waters, the J13 2x combination of William Clarke and Conar Aitchinson, claimed Gold, with success continuing with individual Silver for Amelie Sartain in the WJ13 1x, braving the blustering conditions in a boat weighing only 14kgs.

The WJ13 4x+ claimed more Silver. Crewed by Elisabeth Edwards, Martha Usselmann, Harriet Hodgson, Amelie Sartain, coxed by Mary Walton, they finishing gallantly ahead of crews such as Eton and Putney.

Closely out of the medal placings was the mixed J13 4x+ crew of Julia Gurden, Emma Harrison, Abbey Meggeson & Will Clarke and the WJ13 2x crew of Sienna Rawlings and Harriet Hodgson, who all showed great effort in the most challenging of conditions.

Marlow Successes for Stratford

Whilst Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Junior Squad were achieving at Blenheim Palace, Stratford’s adaptive crew were at Marlow Town regatta being represented by visually impaired athlete Mark Sanders and Joe Moore, his steersman.

Glorious sunshine and strong winds made for an entertaining and exciting days racing. Stratford was entered in two events, the assisted double sculls where one para-rower and one able bodied rower race over a 500 metre course and single sculls where the Mark was guided by walky-talky from a following launch.

The doubles final was hotly contested in extremely choppy and windy conditions between Stratford upon Avon, Marlow and Worcester. Worcester took an early lead with Stratford holding them to a length until the last 100 metres when Worcester pulled away to take the medal with Marlow coming in third.

The singles final was between Mark and an opponent from Marlow. The Marlow sculler took an early lead and looked to have the race in the bag. However, the Stratford sculler held on through the rough water keeping a steady rhythm and was able to take the lead in the last few strokes to claim his winner’s medal.

Roaring forties blunt Stratford medal hopes!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Masters descended on to the National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham at the weekend for the pinnacle of the Masters’ regatta racing season for the British Rowing National Masters Championships.

The event raced over a 1000m multilane course promised some exciting racing with the best crews from around the country and Eire in competition.

In blustery but dry conditions first off representing Stratford was the men’s Masters D coxless four crew of Richard Nelson, Simon Beard, Tim Lunel and Tom Doherty. In a tightly fought race in a strong headwind involving high quality crews from Walton, Grosvenor and City of Oxford, the finishing positions were only decided in the last few metres with a mere four seconds separating all four crews with Stratford gaining a slight edge over City of Oxford to secure a place in the final.

With an increasingly strong wind the Stratford Women’s Masters C double scull of Kjersti Woolley and Vicky Brennan had a very tough battle in their heat against some quality opposition from Warwick, Kingston and Weybridge, and increasingly rough water conditions. After a confident start, the crew put in a gutsy performance but was unable to secure a place in the final.

With the wind speed continuing to increase and the water conditions resembling coastal conditions, the Stratford Masters D coxless four men’s crew braved the elements again for their six lane final. By now conditions were so rough that it was proving impossible to start crews from the starting pontoons and a free start ensured racing was able to continue.

Following an excellent start in a race with some very high quality crews some fielding ex-internationals, Stratford stormed off at a high rating and were able to hold second place to the 250m mark. Settling into a smooth rhythm the crew was able to push hard for the whole race beating both Walton and Grosvenor to finish in a creditable fourth position just outside the medals.

With weather conditions still worsening and winds of 35 mph on the course, the Stratford Masters coxed crew of Stephen Haighton, Wallace Brown, Tim Lunel, Tim Hayer and cox Jen Carey battled their way up to the starting area. In a well fought race with quality opposition from London, Upper Thames and Reading, the crew maintained a powerful rhythm to finish in a creditable third place in their heat beating Worcester and Reading. Unfortunately this was not quite enough to qualify them for the final later in the day. By now conditions had continued to worsen with the organisers having to take the unpalatable decision to cancel further racing on safety grounds. This was a blow to the other Stratford crews who were waiting to race in the eights event and particularly to single sculler Christine Goodwin hoping to build on her run of good form going into the championships.

Said coach Helen Smith, “The crews that raced acquitted themselves very well in testing conditions against some very good opposition, but we are all very sad for those that missed out on a chance to compete today. Let’s hope for better weather at our own regatta this coming Saturday 17 June!”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online

Stratford’s Juniors in Good Form at National Schools’ Regatta

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club junior members travelled to the Olympic Lake at Eton Dorney over the weekend to compete in one of the premier events in the rowing calendar, the National Schools’ Regatta.

On Friday three crews raced in coxed quadruple sculls over a 1000m course in tricky conditions. Racing into a strong headwind, the crews’ technical ability and endurance were well tested. The J14 girls’ crew of Jasmine Mountney, Mya Kenny, Nixie Brunt, Alice Baines and Naomi Sergeant (cox) battled hard to achieve fourteenth place overall amongst a field of forty five clubs and schools from across the country. The J15 girls’ crew of Molly Gill-Swift, Katie Wellstead, Khloe Curnock, Emily Browne and Mimi Hill (cox) also achieved fourteenth place overall in their event after a nail biting battle with Sir William Perkins’ School in their final race. Of particular note was the J15 boys’ crew comprising Joe Hodson and three J14 athletes (Max Griffiths, Daniel Cox and Fred Tyler) coxed admirably by Katie Phillips.  After delivering a confident row in the time trial the boys ended in twenty sixth place of forty seven crews entered with a superb time sufficient to place them high in the J14 competition.

On Sunday the club returned to Eton Dorney with the girls’ J16 coxed four of Issy Marsden, Ellie Gray, Lara Davies, Maddy Winsper and Robin Connolly (cox) and the girls’ J18 coxless quadruple scull of Theo Mordaunt, Lauren Willis, Claire Teakle and Sofia Ward.  Competing in the higher age groups, the competition was of an extremely high level with crews in preparation for Henley Royal Regatta. The coxed four had a tremendous tussle with Cheltenham Ladies’ College eventually finishing in sixth place in their C Final. The coxless quadruple scull put on a great display in their D final to lead through half way, eventually finishing fifth with only a length or two separating the first five boats.

Commenting on the crews’ performance at the event, Stratford Boat Club’s Junior Coordinator Steve Wellstead said, “We are extremely proud of all our athletes and it is great to see their hard work paying off with some fine results on the national stage. Their achievements bode well for our own Stratford Boat Club Rosconn Group regatta on Saturday 17 June.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer p31 and online and Stratford Herald p15 and online

New Appointments and Presentations at AGM

At last Wednesday’s Annual General Meeting, Stratford upon Avon Boat 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 Dawson Curnock who has put in hours and hours of unpaid time for the Club sorting out the Club’s Fun Regatta which this year is Sunday 09 July. This entails organizing training for the novice crews from local companies and organisations, running the event and arranging sponsorship. In addition, Dawson also supports the Junior Squad with coaching supervision

The Junior Felix Award went to Molly Gill-Swift for her all round contribution on and off the water. Molly, on her own initiative, arranged fundraising events to add to Club’s efforts to raise much needed money for the Club’s aging fleet of boats

The AGM was very lively with passionate debate on all aspects of the Club’s governance and an example of democracy in action. During the evening, there were several elections and Dawson Curnock was elected as the Club’s Chairman: the Chairman acts as ‘business manager’ for the Club and heads up the committee overseeing the Club’s financial affairs and general management

Also elected onto the committee was Dr Graham Collier as Members’ Representative ensuring that the members’ opinions and voice is put forward at all meetings. Graham is a past Captain of the Club, former Junior Co-ordinator and a lead coach the Junior Squad

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online

Stratford’s Ladies Show The Way!

After a positive Easter camp and some good early season performances at Wallingford Regatta, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Senior Men squad travelled up to Nottingham City Regatta in their ongoing quest to qualify for Henley at the end of June. Two crews took to the water – the Men’s coxed and coxless four.  In tough headwind conditions that saw one novice four overturn their boat, the coxless boat were first into action winning their morning heat of Intermediate 2. Unfortunately they couldn’t replicate that result in the final, coming in fifth after struggling in the worsening conditions. They raced again later in the day coming 4th in their heat of IM1 coxless fours but just missed out on the final.

The highlight of the day was the performance of the coxed four who built on their very solid third place at Wallingford Regatta by taking the win at Nottingham City in the final of the IM1. The crew pulled away from their competitors in the last 1000 metres winning comprehensively by some nine seconds in the end. The crew, Chris Thomas, Ben Twiney, Tom Coles, Ed Lewry, and expertly coxed by Eleanor Willets always looked in control.

Said coach Bill Sullivan, “Both crews will now head to Dorney Lake, scene of the rowing finals during the 2012 Olympics, for Metropolitan Regatta in early June. Until then the two crews are looking forward to even more intensive training and our own Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Regatta on Saturday 17 June.”

Sunday saw day two of the major Nottingham Masters and Club regatta held at the multi-lane National Water sports Centre at Holme Pierrepoint and a chance for the Masters’ crews from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club to emulate the previous successful days racing by the Seniors’ crews on Saturday.

After heavy overnight rain the weather cleared to provide a glorious Sunny, albeit windy day for a full calendar of racing.

For Stratford Masters’ squad it was an opportunity to give some of their developing crews a first taste of multi lane racing and Nottingham’s notorious windy conditions! The day as always started early with a chance for the single scullers to brave the conditions.

Leading the charge for Stratford was Jane Connolly in Women’s Category F singles against strong opposition from Eton Excelsior and Exeter. A strong and steady row from Jane saw her in her first multi-lane race and choppy waters record a very creditable third position behind some quality opposition.

With no Masters’ men brave enough to take on the conditions in a single scull, it was left to another women Christine Goodwin to fly the flag again for Stratford in Women’s Masters Novice Category C singles. In a field of five rowers, and again with choppy conditions making starting from the pontoons too difficult for some competitors, the race saw Christine after a steady start begin to power down on her opponents. With her strength beginning to tell in the conditions, she overtook three of her competitors and put in a great finish to push the eventual winner from Eton Excelsior very close for an excellent second place. Her best result in her short racing career to date and a sign of good things to come.

A well earned break saw the double sculls races lead off the midday racing division with Stratford again represented by their Women’s double sculling crews. With sunny but still challenging conditions for the small boats, Vicky Ward and Sian Maher in a full field of six boats in Women’s IM3 doubles, in a combination only recently put together, delivered a high quality performance of technical skill and power to overcome the majority of their opponents to finish a close second to an experienced Exeter crew.

Following hot on the heels of this successful performance, the double scull of Kjersti Woolley and Vicky Brennan in Women’s Novice doubles saw the crew up against much younger opposition from across the country. Although beaten into fourth place the crew put in a gutsy performance in the conditions.

With the midday division now completed, it was time for the men’s crews after their early morning lie in to get down to some work, and this saw the Club’s developing Men’s Masters Novice four of Richard Field ,Graham Cann, Dave Edwards ,and Richard Anderson, and newbie cox Jane Connolly take on all comers in the Men’s Novice coxed fours. This was by far their toughest event having completed only a couple of local regattas beforehand, and their first experience of multi-lane racing, so expectations were heightened throughout the squad. With Jane expertly taking them off from a tricky start, the crew although significantly older than some of their more youthful and fitter opposition, were able to utilise their greater strength to stay in touch with the leading crews. By the 750 metre mark with only 250 metres to go, the crew was nicely positioned to threaten second place. With two of their opponents well beaten, a crew member unfortunately had his blade caught in the water. Despite this, a prompt recovery enabled the crew to hold onto their well earned third place to record their best ever regatta result of their short racing careers.

With some excellent performance s throughout the day, it was left to the most experience Masters’ crew to finish proceedings. Racing in Masters’ Category C/D coxless fours, the crew of Richard Nelson, Tom Doherty, Richard Shepherd and Simon Beard saw a rematch with a very high quality Grosvenor crew. Having raced the crew in eights earlier in the season with both crews having recorded very close wins over the others, the stage was set for a very close quarter race and so it proved to be. With conditions more benign than earlier in the day, a good start by Stratford saw them lead by the halfway mark by two and a half lengths. Grosvenor under rating Stratford put in a strong push which saw them close the gap over the second half of the race to a length approaching the final 250 metres .Stratford did not panic and were able to take the rating up to 36 strokes per minute and maintain a comfortable lead to finish a length ahead to record the win.

Said Tom Doherty, Men’s Masters Vice Captain, “It was very pleasing to see so many developing crews put in such good performances, clearly having the experience of this type of event will give them encouragement for the rest of the season. Great thanks also go from all the squad to Shan Stokes who gave up her Sunday morning for a very early start to transport all our boats to Nottingham.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online at and p16 and Stratford Observer online at

Ready to row to another success!

Rosconn Group Stratford Boat Club Regatta to support Heart of England Mencap

HUNDREDS of spectators are expected to gather by the banks of the river next month, to watch competitors from far and wide compete in the annual Rosconn Group Stratford Boat Club Regatta.

The event takes place on Saturday June 17th and is organised by Stratford-upon-Avon Boat Club.

The regatta has been taking place in Stratford since 1879. As well as Stratford’s own crews, the event draws competitors, able-bodied and adaptive, and their supporters from clubs such as Bewdley Rowing Club, Cardiff & Vale Schools Rowing Association, Evesham Rowing Club, Nottingham & Union Rowing Club, Royal Grammar School Worcester, Stowe Sculling Club, Warwick Boat Club, Becket School Rowing Club, Cotswold Rowing Club, Holloway Scullers, Leicester Rowing Club, Merton College, Monkton Combe School, Monmouth Comprehensive School and Northwich Rowing Club.

Racing is on the town stretch of the river from Holy Trinity Church to the Club grounds by The Tramway Bridge. As well as the rowing contingent, the regatta attracts a lot of interest from visitors to the town who come down to the Bancroft Gardens and the Recreation Ground to enjoy the racing, barbecue and the beer and tea tent in the Club grounds, which are open to all.

Racing starts around 8.30am and finishes around 6.30pm with 162 entries last year.

Paul Hazelwood, Stratford Boat Club’s Treasurer, says: “The regatta and also the Fun Regatta in July are very weather dependent events and without our sponsor Rosconn Group, we couldn’t risk holding the regatta. We are also amazingly lucky to have help from other river organisations such as the Avon Navigation Trust, the Sea Cadets, Avon Boating, the Environment Agency, Bancroft Cruisers, Canal & River Tours, the Countess of Evesham, and also the co-operation of those who make their living on the river.”

Heart of England Mencap – supporting local people with learning disabilities – has been chosen as this year’s nominated charity.

The charity already benefits from close links with Stratford Boat Club; Mencap customers enjoying rowing sessions in adapted boats, as Cath Errington, Fundraising Manager for Heart of England Mencap, explains:

“It’s a real privilege to be part of this year’s regatta and we owe a big thanks to Stratford Boat Club and to Rosconn Group too, both brilliant supporters of our charity.

“Getting out on the water and trying their hand at rowing is something our customers have gained a huge amount of pleasure out of.”

“Anyone can get involved in rowing, regardless of physical disability, sensory or learning impairment,” says Mark Dewdney, Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive coach.

“Adaptive rowing means that equipment and training can be modified to meet the rower’s needs and abilities as closely as possible. We will listen and learn to help the participant to get the most out of the sport. There are many benefits to being involved in rowing; the sense of freedom, making life-long friends, and learning new skills whilst keeping fit and healthy. All this can be done on the water or indoors, just for fun or to compete in races.”

A group of Heart of England Mencap customers will be at the regatta on the day and it is hoped that there may be an opportunity for them to participate in a row-past

There will be plenty of fundraising fun and games riverside as well, from hook-a-duck to a raffle and tombola, all organised on Heart of England Mencap’s stand at the event.

Paul Stanton, President of Stratford Boat Club, says: “Stratford upon Avon Boat Club looks forward to welcoming competing crews, VIPs and guests and especially Stratford and Warwickshire residents and visitors to the town down to watch and enjoy what is going to be an action-packed day. Having Heart of England Mencap as the regatta’s nominated charity emphasises the importance that Rosconn Group and Stratford Boat Club attaches to being a working part of the local community.”

Daniel O’Donnell, Managing Director of Rosconn Group, says: “We are delighted that Heart of England Mencap has been chosen as the designated charity for this year’s regatta.  We are proud to sponsor the event, it’s such an important local sporting occasion and it’s wonderful to support such a friendly club that encourages people of all abilities to take up rowing as a sport or just for fun.”

Other Gold Sponsors for the regatta include Burgis & Bullock, Bancroft Cruisers, The Rigby Foundation, Stratford Self Store, GroupComms, Macdonald Alveston Manor, Crowne Plaza Stratford, AMW Site Services Ltd and HL Barnes & Sons as a Bronze Sponsor. If you would like to become a sponsor, please contact

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online at

Stratford Juniors Win at Shrewsbury

Last Saturday (06 May) a small contingent from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club travelled to Shropshire to compete in Pengwern Boat Club’s annual Shrewsbury Regatta. Racing on the River Severn over 1000 metres Emily Barratt and Christine Goodwin competing in Women’s Novice Double Sculls raced well and smoothly but were just overhauled by a crew from North Staffordshire Rowing Club. Jane Connolly, rowing at the Masters level in her single scull, demonstrated super sculling skills but in the end was narrowly defeated by a lady from Burton Leander Rowing Club.

Autumn Keil raced an athlete from Trent Rowing Club in the WJ15 Single Sculls. After a fascinating and very brave tussle over most of the course, Trent only just defeated Stratford. The WJ15 coxed quadruple sculling crew of Katie Philips, Katie Wellstead, Khloe Curnock and Emily Browne expertly coxed by Matilda Watts sculled superbly over three races beating convincingly The Grange School (Northwich), Stourport Boat Club and then Monmouth Comprehensive School to win the event.

For media coverage, see The Stratford Herald p15 and online also see Stratford Observer back page and online

To see more great pictures from Shrewsbury, see David Phillips’ excellent selection at

Move Over While Stratford Juniors Take Over!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Juniors competed over the weekend 29th and 30th April at near neighbours Evesham Rowing Club’s regatta. On Saturday, over a one kilometre course against the stream, crews competed from dawn till dusk with Stratford enjoying another successful day. Stratford’s WJ18 coxless quad followed up recent success at Abingdon with another winners’ pot following two closely fought rows against hosts Evesham in the semi final and Bryanston School from Dorset in the final. The Stratford crew members were Theo Mordaunt, Maddie Griffiths, Claire Teakle and Sofia Ward. 

Stratford’s J14 squad was also out in force with some tough competition in both double sculls and coxed quadruple scull events. In double sculls, Mili Wilcock and Maiya James performed well but eventually lost out to City Of Oxford whilst Jasmine Mountney and Alice Baines progressed through to the semifinals losing out to the eventual winners. In the open double sculls event, Fred Tyler and Max Griffiths also progressed to the semifinals but were overhauled by a heavier crew from City of Bristol. In coxed quadruple sculls, the women’s crew of Jasmine Mountney, Mya Kenny, Nixie Brunt, Alice Baines and Naomi Sergeant (cox) dominated the first round against Hinksey Sculling School but after a superb race, went out to the finalists in the next round.

Sunday saw Stratford competing again in the Sprint Regatta over a shorter five hundred metre course, this time with the stream. Fred Tyler collected a well earned pot winning the J14 open sculling event. After comfortable wins in his first round race and semi final against Llandaff and City of Bristol scullers respectively, Fred then produced a row of the highest quality in the final against his opponent from Stourport, winning by just half of one length. Alice Baines came up against stiff competition from City of Oxford in the WJ14 single scull category losing out by just half a length in a close finish and Sarah Wells, rowing in her first competitive regatta, gave a good account in the same event against another strong opponent from Ross on Wye.

Said Junior Co-ordinator Steve Wellstead, “Making their regatta debut at this event were the youngest members of Stratford Boat Club, the J13 squad. In the morning division two coxed quadruple sculls produced spirited rows both losing out by just a few lengths to Evesham and City of Bristol respectively. We are very proud of the progress they have made in such a short rowing career.” Stratford’s boats were crewed by Elisabeth Edwards, Julia Gurden, Emma Harrison, Abbey Meggeson and cox Conar Aitchison and Amelie Sartain, Martha Usselmann, Harriet Hodgson, Sienna Rawlings and cox Mary Walton.

In the afternoon division, a mixed crew of Harriet Hodgson and William Clarke tasted success in their first race against Ross on Wye in the open J13 double sculls event before being eliminated in the semi final by a crew from Hereford. Martha Usselmann and Mary Walton, rowing up an age group, produced a good row in the WJ14 double sculls category losing out to Evesham and Amelie Sartain and Sienna Rawlings narrowly lost out to a crew from Ross on Wye in the WJ13 double sculls.

Coach Mark Holden commented, “Meanwhile, former Stratford juniors were enjoying success on the water at the BUCS (British Universities & Colleges Sport) regatta held over the same weekend in Nottingham. Franklin Hamilton, representing Reading University, collected bronze in the Men’s Lightweight double sculls and gold in the Men’s Lightweight quad. Peter Boyes, representing Nottingham University, finished fifth overall in the Men’s coxless four event. Imogen North, also representing Nottingham University, enjoyed success across all three days of the event winning a silver medal in the Women’s Lightweight double sculls on Saturday, gold in the Women’s Lightweight coxless Four on Sunday and a second gold medal in the Women’s Lightweight quad on Monday. Franklin and Imogen will be hoping to go on to compete at the European Universities Championships in Subotica, Serbia in July.”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald p15 and online at and Stratford Observer back page and

For more photographs of Evesham Rowing Club’s regatta, please see Stuart Baines’ excellent selection at!AgY7EiDB2lCO7iHWyLvl_BXI80-G

Stratford Represent West Midlands with Pride

Following selection trials several weeks ago, Saturday last saw four Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Junior crews representing the West Midlands Region at the Junior Inter-Regional Regatta which was held at the National Water Sports Centre at Nottingham.

Racing over 1500 metres at Holme Pierrepont, Stratford’s athletes put in great performances in the heats and the finals.

First to go was Joe Hodson in his single scull in the Junior 15 age group: following a brave performance in his heat and against strong competition, he finished in fifth in his final with a controlled and well managed racing plan. A crew of girls in the fifteen age group competed in the coxed fours’ event. Although new to sweep rowing (one oar per athlete), Autumn Keil, Molly Gill-Swift, Khloe Curnock and Katie Philips, coxed impeccably by Mimi Hill, qualified on time for the A final. A super performance against formidable opposition from Henley Rowing Club, Latymer Upper School and Becket School saw them come home in fourth place – a tremendous achievement and contribution of points to the West Midland Team. Equally outstanding was the girls coxless four rowing in the Junior 16 category. The WJ16 coxless four comprised of Isobel Marsden, Eleanor Gray, Lara Davies and Madeline Winsper had the most exciting race in their final overhauling all their opposition to gain seventh place overall in their event.

The most outstanding performance of the day went to Emily Browne in her single scull in the girls Junior 15 event: having finished fourth fastest in the heats, she put in a blistering performance in the final only to be pipped close to line to earn the Bronze Medal finishing 1.6 seconds behind the Gold Medal winner.

Said coach Dr Graham Collier, “Once again, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club punched well above its weight keeping the Club’s reputation at the forefront of West Midland’s rowing and nationally.”

For media cover, please see Stratford Observer online at…/stratford-rowers-represen… and back page and also Stratford Herald p20 and online at…

Stratford Win in Style at Abingdon


Stratford upon Avon Boat Club went in force to Abingdon’s Spring Head with two very full trailers and athletes from all squads: together, with their sister club King Edward The Sixth School (KES), there were over thirty crews to one of the last head races of the year prior to the start of the regatta season. The conditions were very warm and sunny with a variable wind on a wide stretch of the Thames. Stratford and KES came away with nine race wins and fastest times in many categories. The racing was of the highest standard with Stratford and KES crews racing against many of the local based clubs and experienced Thames rowers

A stand out performance was delivered by Stratford’s WJ 17 coxless quad comprising Theo Mordaunt, Claire Teakle, Lauren Willis and Sofia Ward. They were the fastest boat in a competitive event beating City of Oxford and Evesham by four and seven seconds respectively. Stratford’s J13 entries, a girls’ coxed quad (Julia Gurden, Elizabeth Edwards, Emma Harrison, Abbey Meggeson and cox Mary Walton) and double scull (Martha Usselmann and Sienna Rawlings) competed for only the second time having been rowing for just six months. Both crews gave it their all over the two kilometre course against the stream and coped very well with the notorious ‘Abingdon Bend’. Lara Davies had a good row to finish runner up in the W16 single scull category

Junior highlight of the day was Stratford rower Esme Booth, rowing in King Edward The Sixth School colours in the Junior Women’s single scull event where she won her event and achieved the fastest female junior sculler of the day also winning the RF Wilson trophy

KES went on to win three events out of four races: KES 1st Junior Boys’ Coxed Four consisting of Pieter Skuse, Alex del Principe, Kit Gallagher, Joe del Principe with cox Charlie Waters finished a creditable third place in the Men’s Band Three event whilst the KES 2nd Junior Boys’ Four of Kit Gallagher, Robert Cadden, Keiran Pope, Alex del Principe and cox Charlie Waters finished in first position for a win in the Men’s Band Four event. Not to be outdone, the KES Junior Women’s coxed four of Africa Jones, Esme Booth, Liv Hansen, Caitlin Britt and cox Simran Gil, competing in the Open Women’s event, took another fantastic win against senior opposition

Four of Stratford’s Senior Men’s Squad raced in a coxless four as well as a quad, winning both events and ending with some of the quickest times of the day. Ed Lewry and Harpreet Mander from the four also took their singles out coming in second in Band Two and second in Band Three respectively. Said the Senior Men’s Squad coach Bill Sullivan, “This was a promising way to prepare for their upcoming Easter training camp!”

Stratford’s Masters’ E4+ also won convincingly over Evesham in eight minutes and six seconds and Stratford Masters C/D/E 2- also won in eight minutes and twenty two seconds (handicapped from an actual time of eight minutes and forty eight second) by a narrow margin of three seconds over City of Oxford who they will be meeting again in the upcoming regatta season

Stratford’s W2x saw another convincing win in their Band 2 race and the Club’s MX4+ managed a time of eight minutes and thirty eight second and have great potential for the mixed events in the summer coxed or coxless

Said Steve Wellstead, Stratford Boat Club’s Junior Co-ordinator, “Very much worth a mention is our J14.2x (Fred Tyler and Dan Cox) for their commanding win over five crews from Henley, Reading and Wallingford with a time fast enough to beat six of the nine J15.2x crews”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald p14, online at and Stratford Observer online at

For more excellent photographs from Abingdon, see Stuart Baines’ selection at!AgY7EiDB2lCO5i1GtEihKRQAxfme

Challenging Conditions for Stratford Junior Crews

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Junior crews were back on the water this last week for the pinnacle events of the head racing season, the Junior Sculling Head at Dorney Lake and the Schools Head of the River on the Thames in London.

On the Olympic course at Dorney Lake the J14 and J15 squads took on competition from around the UK in addition to some crews travelling from Italy to compete at this high profile Junior Sculling Head. Conditions were windy and challenged rowers and coxswains alike.

The J15 squad fielded two women’s coxed quadruple sculls and demonstrated strength in depth with both crews finishing in the top twenty. The crew of Gracie Mitchell, Molly Gill-Swift, Khloe Curnock, Katie Phillips and Matilda Watts (cox) finally overhauling the crew of Autumn Keil, Emily Browne, Jessica Weisheu, Katie Wellstead and Mimi Hill (cox). In the open event, the J15 crew of Max Griffiths, Geoffrey Flambert, Fred Tyler, Joe Hodson and Naomi Sergeant (cox) rowing for the first time together put in a respectable performance to finish half way up the field.

The result of the day however came from the J14 women’s coxed quadruple scull of Jasmine Mountney, Mya Kenny, Nixie Brunt, Alice Baines and Naomi Sergeant (cox) who mastered the tricky conditions to finish ninth of the 58 crews entered. Said Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator, “This places Stratford juniors amongst the top crews in the country and makes for an exciting summer regatta season ahead.”

Meanwhile on Thursday at the School’s Head of the River Race in London, attracting three hundred and fifty crews from around the country, two crews from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club were there to battle it out in grueling conditions.

Strong squalls and rough water – with breaking waves in places – forced the organisers of the UK’s largest annual school-age head race (where crews aged between fourteen and eighteen years old row against the clock) to shorten the course which traditionally follows the reverse of the University Boat Race from Chiswick Bridge to Putney.

“At times it felt like we were rowing on the sea,” said Issy Marsden, stroke of the Stratford WJ16 coxed four. Along with crew members Ellie Gray, Lara Davies, Maddy Winsper and Robin Connolly (their cox), the girls put in an impressive time to finish seventh out of fourteen, beating tough competition from Kingston Girls School, Kings School Worcester and Idroscalo Club from Italy. Their time of 6:26.3 would also have secured them seventh place in the older WJ18 category.

Also representing Stratford, Maddie Griffiths, Theo Mordaunt, Claire Teakle and Sophia Ward put in a spirited performance in their WJ17 coxless quad with a time of 7:02.6.

“It is tremendous to see our juniors from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club competing with the best crews in the country – and some from abroad – on arguably the toughest stretch of water to be found anywhere in the UK,” said coach Mark Holden. “The weather conditions were extremely challenging and both Stratford crews acquitted themselves extremely well.”

See also Stratford Herald online… and p20 and Stratford Observer p38 and online…/tough-tests-for-junior-ro…

See also Will Gray’s photos at…/5ddf2cd06d1ab4010f4a5c5590e…/71c1d7 and David Phillip’s photos at…/13587…/albums/with/7215767846312699