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 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 and Stratford Herald page 19

For more great pictures, see Stuart Baines’ excellent selection at!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 For more great pictures, see David Williams’ selection

Ninety Years Well Spent!


Stratford upon Avon Boat Club celebrated the ninetieth birthday of local Stratford man Bill Collins with a surprise party at the Club with many former rowers and friends who had trained and competed with Bill over the years

Bill had taught for many years at Henley in Arden High School, now Henley in Arden School, is an expert in heraldry and also local history and lived in Loxley Road and Sanctus Drive with his wife Gwen and moved to Lincolnshire to be close to his large family, daughter Kate and son Giles and four great grandchildren, soon to be five great grandchildren!

Over his many years at Stratford Boat Club, Bill served as Captain, Honorary Secretary in the 80’s and was President in the early 90’s and


coxed, competed and coached to a high standard at the Club for many years

One of Bill’s many legacies is a history of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club from its inception in 1874 through until 1974, a copy of which is lodged with the River and Rowing Museum at Henley on Thames. Bill was also


instrumental in the organisation of the Ball Cup South, encouraging local schools’ entries

Said Paul Stanton, the Club’s current President, “We celebrate almost weekly the successes of today’s Club athletes: it is a useful lesson to remind ourselves that such success is built on the hard work not only of the current coaches and the athletes themselves but also the efforts of

those more senior Club members who paved the way to the Club’s early and continued dominance and gave us an example of sportsmanship and camaraderie. Their example is still very much alive today”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online Great pictures from Jon at

Better Training Conditions Put Senior Men in Great Place

The Senior Men’s squad from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club couldn’t have picked a better week to head off to a weeklong training camp in the south of France in preparation for the forthcoming regatta season.

Whilst the rain poured steadily down in Warwickshire and their colleagues scurried around readying the boathouse for the Avon flood, the squad was able to get in three training sessions a day on the beautiful River Lot at Temple-Sur-Lot, seventy miles inland from Bordeaux.

The La Base centre at Temple-Sur-Lot plays host to a number of rowing and canoeing squads from around the world. Stratford rubbed shoulders with the German and Danish canoeing teams as well as some UK squads from Bristol University and Wallingford.

Bill Sullivan, the Senior Men’s Coach said, “With miles and miles of wide flowing river to row on, the twelve athletes and two coaches covered nearly two hundred kilometers over the week’s training, slowly but surely building a common technique and rowing style ready for the upcoming regatta season.”

Said Oliver Smith, Captain of Boats, “Although the athletes put in major effort over the week, our coaches Bill Sullivan and Colin Bell did all the work arranging our training programme and schedule and spent weeks planning our stay.”

Dr Ben Twiney, Senior Men’s Vice Captain commented, “It is so good to be part a squad with so much dedication and determination. We’re also most grateful to Oli for towing our huge trailer to and back from our training camp. Our special thanks also go to our cox Amie Jones who put up with fourteen blokes for more than a week!”

For media coverage, please Stratford Observer online and Stratford Herald page 16 and online

Quieter Waters for Successful Junior Sculling Head and West Midlands Trials

Following the excitement of Schools’ Head, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s younger squads took on competition from around the United Kingdom at the Junior Sculling Head held over 3600m on the Olympic Lake at Eton Dorney. Fortune smiled on all competitors with conditions much improved over the previous day on the Tideway.

First to race was the women’s J15 coxed quadruple scull of Jasmine Mountney, Maiya James, Mili Wilcock, Mya Kenny and Naomi Sergeant (coxswain).  Powering up the course the crew started well and held their rhythm through the first leg of the event. Continuing the push through the second leg the crew battled hard earning themselves 29th place of the 62 crews entered.

Next up was the women’s J14 coxed quadruple scull of Abbey Meggeson, Martha Usselmann, Sienna Rawlings, Elizabeth Edwards and Julia Zampronio Gurden (coxswain). Said Steve Wellstead, Stratford’s Junior Co-ordinator, “The crew showed tremendous grit and composure in their first outing on the national stage despite last minute crew changes due to illness. A solid row over both legs of the course was enough to secure them 27th of the 48 crews entered.”


Each year the weeks preceding Easter see selection trials for the West Midlands Junior rowing squad. The ‘Beast from the East’ thwarted the main event in Stourport and selection trials were rescheduled to run at Worcester in a two leg time trial format racing ran both with and against the significant Severn stream making the event a real test of boatmanship. Stratford’s young athletes coped admirably and put in some terrific performances across the board. In the end the margins were close and steering on the upstream leg proved crucial.

The Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Junior Squad came away with two wins on the day from Fred Tyler and Amelie Sartain which when combined with prior selection events gives Stratford five crews representing the West Midlands. Steve Wellstead said again,”This makes Stratford the most successful club at the West Midlands Trials, a superb achievement and one of which we are all very proud.”

The following athletes will wear West Midlands’ colours at the Junior Inter-Regional Regatta in April: Amelie Sartain, Fred Tyler, Katie Wellstead, Molly Gill Swift, Khloe Curnock, Jessica Weisheu, Maiya James, Nixie Brunt, Mya Kenny, Alice Baines, Naomi Sergeant, Abbey Meggeson, Martha Usselmann, Elizabeth Edwards, Sienna Rawlings and Julia Zampronio Gurden.

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online at and Stratford Herald page 17

Stratford impress at Schools’ Head of the River Race

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club entered two Girls Junior 16 year old crews in The Schools’ Head of the River Race on 12th March. The prestigious annual event is run over the Oxford and Cambridge boat races course in reverse from Mortlake to Putney with the stream.

This was the first experience of racing on the Tideway for both crews and it was particularly challenging for the coxswains steering the coxed four Mimi Hill and Talei Dunn steering the coxless quad from the bow seat. They both did a sterling job by staying in the stream and resisting challenges from other coxes trying to gain advantage by pushing them into slower water.

In the coxless quad regular J16 squad members Jess Weisheu, Autumn Keil and Talei Dunn were joined by J15 Alice Bains rowing up a year, who sculled with great skill and determination. The crew’s superb technique and powerful rhythm resulted in a highly creditable 7th place out of 18.

The coxed four of Katie Wellstead, Molly Gill-Swift, Khloe Curnock, Emily Browne and coxswain Mimi Hill got off to a flying start overtaking the crew in front by Barnes Bridge. They dug in for the long haul to Hammersmith Bridge holding off a challenge from Kingston and Emanuel. The girls held their composure in a superb display of sweep rowing to a strong finish as Kingston just edged past in the final 500 meters to take the win on time ahead of Emanuel in second and Stratford in third place.

Said Stratford’s coach Sam Hill, “The Schools’ Head is the first national event of the 2018 season and both crews measured exceptionally well against strong opposition crews, many rowing on their home water. Clearly the long winter training is paying off and the J16 squad has the potential to perform very well in 2018.”

Stratford’s sister squad King Edward the Sixth Grammar School also took part with both girls’ and boys’ crews.

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer online at and Stratford Herald online at and p15.

For more great pictures of The Schools’ Head of the River Race, see Stuart Baines’ selection!AgY7EiDB2lCOgo9bT5xJEeDFGKNveQ

Juniors go the distance

Indoor training for Stratford Boat Club’s J14 squad reached a milestone with the presentation of Concept 2 100,000m Distance Awards.

During the winter months, the squad’s indoor training on the club’s Concept 2 ergometers (indoor rowing machines)increases as weekday land training complements the weekend water-based activities.

In the last six months, squad members have individually rowed in excess of 100,000m and the Distance Awards acknowledge the training they have undertaken.

J14 coach Trevor Tiller said: “Building up fitness and strength on the ergometer, whilst also perfecting their technique, ensures the squad is well prepared for the forthcoming regatta season.”

In addition to club training, the squad has successfully raced at events such as the British Rowing Indoor Championships at the Olympic velodrome and most recently the South of England Indoor Rowing Championships in Abingdon.

For media coverage please see Stratford Observer online at…/juniors-go-the-distance and Stratford Herald online at… and page 15

Capital gains for determined Stratford’s men’s eight

FOR the first time in many years Stratford Boat Club entered a men’s eight into the prestigious Head of the River race and the crew exceeded their pre-race target of a top 100 finish by clinching 70th place.

This annual event is rowed over four-and-a-half miles on the Tideway in London from Chiswick to Putney – effectively the reverse of the Oxford versus Cambridge Boat Race.

Some 330 crews from all over the UK and Europe descend on the River Thames to finish the head racing season in style. Raced against the clock, each crew sets off in turn, being chased by the crew behind whilst trying to catch those in front, often leading to much blade-clashing and frank exchanges of views.

Stratford’s men’s eight have trained hard and gelled well over the last eight weeks and, after some decent performances at Worcester Head and Head of the Trent, the crew were hoping to break into the top 100 in the capital.

The squad, made up of cox El Willets, stroke man Alastair Collier, Tom Coles, Ben Twiney, Mike Hourigan, Ed Lewry, Ed Press, Edwyn Brighty and Stuart Lyons, bettered those expectations by finishing 70th.

Starting off number 131, the crew got off to a strong start and hit their racing rhythm soon after Barnes Bridge. By the time the crew had reached Hammersmith Bridge, they had caught up with three of the crews in front of them.

Cox Willets took a tight line on the inside of bend to sweep the Stratford men through the competition and then stroke Collier wound up the rate at Craven Cottage (Fulham FC) to bring the crew home in style.

Their coach Bill Sullivan said: “It’s a terrific performance by the whole crew. Breaking into the top 100 at the Head of The River is a key target for any serious rowing club and breaking into the top 70 exceeds expectations.

“At a small club like Stratford, we don’t always have the resources that others clubs are lucky enough to have, so this result is an indication of the commitment and focus of a group of full-time working men and women who are also exceptional part-time athletes.”

The squad now head off to the south of France for a training camp at the end of March before targeting some of the major summer regattas including Henley Royal Regatta.

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online at…/capital-gains-for-determi… and Stratford Herald online… and page 15

The Battle of Worcester!

After five months of a grueling winter training programme (six days each week on and off the water), the WJ16 (15 going on 16 year olds) squad last Saturday raced over 6k at the Worcester Head of the River on the River Seven in difficult conditions. Their work rate and skill was impressive with the coxless quadruple sculling boat of Mimi Hill, Talei Dunn, Autumn Keil and Molly Gill-Swift finishing in second place in their age category and only twenty seconds behind the winner.

The coxed four of Katie Wellstead, Jessica Wiesheu, Khloe Curnock, Emily Browne coxed by Matilda Watts competed in an adult category: they came out winners and on the day were the fastest ladies coxed four – an outstanding result for these young athletes.

Said J16 coach Dr Graham Collier, “After the upcoming West Midlands Junior Inter-regional Regatta trials, the crews head off to the Schools Head of The River Race which is over the Boat Race Course on the River Thames. The Worcester results have set them up nicely to compete strongly in this national event that attracts schools and clubs from all over the country.”

Stratford’s sister club from King Edward The Sixth Grammar School won in the IM3.4+ category and also competed in the W.IM2.4+ event.

The Senior Men’s Squad also had their first opportunity of the year to put all the hard work in training into practice. Said Senior Men’s coach Bill Sullivan, “The Senior Men’s Eight are targeting a top 80 finish in the prestigious Head of The River held on the Tideway in London in March. They kicked off the day at Worcester with a good second place in the Senior Eights with the potential to build a lot more speed over the coming weeks. They continue their build-up at The Head of the Trent in Nottingham this coming weekend. Meanwhile the IM 4+ had an encouraging first race of the season and will build their competitiveness over the coming weeks in Nottingham.”

The Senior Men’s coxed four raced well in the Elite 4+ category in the second division. They were engaged in a tight tussle with a good crew from Exeter Rowing Club all the way down the river. Unfortunately, a crash with a creaky Worcester Vets quad, who were unable to understand the simple premise that two boats don’t fit into one narrow arch, meant the four had to stop rowing and untangle themselves, costing them the win.

Meanwhile the Senior Men’s IM 4+ had an encouraging first race of the season and will build their competitiveness over the coming weeks.

Stratford’s Masters’ Squad had a win with a Bridgnorth Rowing Club composite Masters D.4+ and also competed in the C/D/E.4- and C/D/E.8+ categories.

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