London Scalps for Stratford Masters

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Masters’ squad headed to London on Sunday for the penultimate race of their head calendar, the Vesta Veterans International Eights Head of the River Race on the famous Thames Tideway.

The event, held on a flood tide over the same course the week before the famous Oxford Cambridge University boat race, attracted a full field of two hundred and thirty crews of national and international competitors from as far afield as the United States making for a spectacular sight on a sunny if blustery day.

The event had been in doubt due to heavy winds and tides which resulted in the Head of The River Race for seniors being cancelled the day before and also the disruption to the schools Head event earlier in the week. The organisers Vesta Rowing Club with fingers crossed were provided with blustery but rowable conditions which although resulting in a shortened course of four kilometres meant racing could commence on time and to plan.

Stratford’s Masters, racing in their composite eight with Bridgnorth Rowing Club, were up against a strong field many of whom they had raced the previous week at the North of England Head and narrowly beat Grosvenor, York and Agecroft, all of whom were out for revenge.

Starting in sixty seventh place behind two Grosvenor crews, the Stratford rowers Simon Beard, Tim Lunel, Richard Nelson, Tom Doherty, and cox Becky Stokes joined by Bridgnorth colleagues Paul Wallace, Stuart Round, Rob Graham and Alan Champion in their Masters D age category event, powered off the start at a lively thirty four strokes per minute. It was not long before their high tempo closed down one of the Grosvenor crews who made it very difficult for Stratford/Bridgnorth to pass forcing the crew out of the stream on the wide bend at Chiswick. Finally after a number of strong pushes, the crew was clear and able to pull away but lost a significant amount of time in the process. This allowed a very strong Marlow crew, themselves being followed closely by a powerful Dutch crew, to close and challenge for the place.

The Stratford/Bridgnorth crew, ably stroked by Paul Wallace, was not going to give their position up without a fight and maintained a strong rhythm at over thirty four strokes per minute up to and past Barnes Bridge putting clear water between them and Marlow in tricky conditions. A final push saw them maintain their advantage to beat Marlow in under three seconds in the final moments.

The crew, despite the tricky conditions, were able to finish in thirty fifth place overall out of two hundred and thirty one entries, and ninth of eighteen crews in their D event in a time of fourteen minutes and twenty eight seconds claiming many high quality scalps including, Lea, Molesey, Thames, Worcester, Reading, Thames Tradesmen and Marlow clubs.

Said Simon Beard, “This was a solid row in very difficult conditions against very high quality opposition and we can all be very pleased to finish in the top fifteen percent of entries and with our overall performance.”

See also Stratford Observer p38 and online at…/london-scalps-for-stratf…/

Stratford Masters Take Northern Scalps!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Masters rowers completed their final training competition with a high quality event in the North of England on Saturday before they compete next Sunday in the International Masters’ Head Race held on the Thames.

Competing in the North of England Head race held on the picturesque river Dee in the heart of Chester, the event forms the final training opportunity for competitors heading to London and, as such, attracted a very high quality field from all over the North of England with current national Masters champions evident amongst the competition. Raced over a five kilometre course from Eccleston ferry and culminating in a finish at the meadows in front of Royal Chester Boathouse, the course on a wide river offered plenty of opportunities for exciting racing in good conditions.

Stratford rowers Richard Nelson, Simon Beard, Tim Lunel, Tom Doherty and cox Becky Stokes were joined by Bridgnorth colleagues Paul Wallis, Rob Graham, Al Champion and Stuart Round in Masters D age division eights for an early morning campaign. Racing against highly fancied crews from York and Agecroft amongst others and local favourites Grosvenor who beat the Stratford boys into second place last year by seventeen seconds, led to a highly charged encounter the whole way down the course with no crew giving any quarter.

The Stratford/Bridgnorth composite crew determined to take the race to the opposition from the start set off at high thirty four strokes per minute for the first two kilometres only settling to thirty strokes per minute for the remaining three kilometres of the race to keep the pressure on all their opponents for the whole race. In a lung bursting finale, the Stratford/Bridgnorth crew pulled away over the last five hundred metres from a determined York crew bearing down on them for the whole race.

The exhausted crew were forced to wait for the official race time results between the main competitors with finishing places being too close to call. With the results finally announced over two hours later, Stratford/Bridgnorth crew’s hard efforts were fully justified with a wafer thin win over Grosvenor by a margin of only two seconds! In a time of seventeen minutes and fifty five seconds to record the second fastest time of the morning division of events and victory over close competitors York and Agecroft to add to their collection of scalps.

Said Tom Doherty Stratford Boat Club Masters Vice Captain, “This was a hugely pleasing result to have made up almost twenty seconds on a high quality Grosvenor crew since last year, as well as beating arch competitors Agecroft and York. This means we can go into the London event next Sunday with the confidence of knowing another good performance will enable us to be very competitive.”

See Stratford Herald p15

Ten Medal Haul for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club

Stratford Junior crews performed exceptionally well at the West Midlands trials held at Worcester on Sunday. The winning crews in each event have been selected to represent the West Midlands at the Junior Inter-Regional Regatta at the National Water Sports Centre on the 22nd April.

Stratford’s first gold was won by Joe Hodson in the J15 single sculling event. Despite being swamped by a safety launch rushing to the rescue of another sculler before the start, Joe steered an excellent course taking advantage of the strong current to win by four seconds. Jess Wiesheu and Katie Wellstead also claimed silver in a very competitive WJ15 2x event losing out to Ross by just eleven seconds.

The WJ14 coxed quad won a bronze medal, only nine seconds off the winning time. Alice Baines, Nixie Brunt, Mya Kenny and Jasmine Mountney were coxed by Naomi Sergeant in her first competition. The J13 squad entered two quads competing in their first event. Finishing second and third only fifteen seconds apart after ten and a half minutes and 2,500 meters of highly committed sculling.

Stratford’s second gold of the day was won in emphatic style by Emily Browne in the WJ15 1x event beating strong opposition from Ross by sixteen seconds. Fred Tyler and Max Griffiths won silver in the J14 2x event.

Isobel Marsden, Eleanor Gray, Lara Davies and Madeline Winsper won Gold in the Women’s Coxless Four event beating King’s School Worcester by twenty seven seconds on their own water, a fine achievement in such a fast current. The WJ15 coxed quad of Katie Wellstead, Jess Wiesheu, Emily Browne, Gracie Mitchell and coxswain Matilda Watts came within inches of gold only to be beaten by 0.2 of a second by Shrewsbury. A fantastic performance in a very competitive event of ten crews. Particularly for Matilda in her first event.

Katie Phillips, Khloe Curnock, Molly-Gill Swift, Autumn Keil and Hermione Hill took revenge by beating Shrewsbury by nine seconds in the WJ15 coxed four to win Stratford’s fourth gold medal. Dan Cox finished the day by winning silver in the J14 1x event. Said Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator, “Stratford’s medal haul was ten which was more than any other club at the event. With four winning crews from Stratford going forward to represent the West Midlands at the Junior Inter-Regional Regatta in April, Stratford Juniors are looking in good form for the coming regatta season.”

See Stratford Herald p14 and online at…. Also Stratford Observer p38 and online at…/ten-medal-haul-for-stratf…

For more great pictures of our successes at British Rowing’s West Midlands Junior Inter Regional Trials, see David Phillips’ excellent selection…/135872444…/albums/72157679434014351

Stratford’s Masters Shine in Bad Weather

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Masters’ squad built on their previous head season run of good form with a visit to local club Gloucester on Sunday to take part in their spring head racing competition. Held on the Gloucester to Sharpness canal over five kilometres, the race was a chance to test the small boat skills and endurance of the Masters’ squad under competitive racing conditions.

The event, held over two divisions, took place in very challenging weather conditions testing the skill levels of all competitors. With high winds, rain and a mixture of sun and heavy downpours, the course proved to be very challenging with rough water evident in large sections making for some very bumpy racing with many crews struggling to cope with the conditions.

First up for Stratford was Tim Lunel in Masters’ D single sculls which is a very difficult boat to row in the choppy conditions. Tim, following on from an impressive showing at Northampton, completed the course in a very respectable time to win his event.

Next to brace the conditions for Stratford was the Women’s Novice double sculls of Kjersti Woolley and Vicky Brennan. The duo, in only their first race together, were forced to race in the high IM2 category due to the race schedule which meant the crew were up against some very experienced competitors. Notwithstanding, Kjersti and Vicky refused to be daunted and battled their way down the course in a strong field to finish only a minute behind the winners, a tremendous achievement.

In the afternoon division in conditions worsening from the morning: Tim Lunel proved to be a glutton for punishment and, braving the elements once again, he raced this time in a Masters’ D double scull with Tom Doherty. After a strong start in blustery choppy conditions, the double were able to overhaul their competitors and several other crews to win their event.

Said Vicky Brennan, Women’s Vice Captain, “Although we only had a small entry, it was great to see all three crews performing well with two wins and a good showing in the third event. It was very pleasing to see the Women’s section of the Club represented at this event and we look forward to a large representation at Abingdon head in the coming weeks.”

See also Stratford Herald p16 and Stratford Observer online

Stratford’s Masters Progress at Worcester

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club made the trip to local club Worcester for the long distance spring head on Saturday 18th February. The event, which is raced over one of the longest provincial courses in the country at 6km, was held in overcast but otherwise good rowing conditions.

The event, which is restricted to fours and eights, attracted a high quality field in all disciplines from across the Midlands and the South West.

Raced over two divisions, the morning division saw crews from Stratford’s sister club King Edwards School racing in the Men’s J18 coxed four and Women’s IM3 coxed four events with the men recording a very good event win in a time of 22 minutes and 31 seconds.

Stratford Masters then followed rowing in a combined crew with Bridgnorth Rowing Club in the highly contested Masters C/D age category event against seven entries from across the region and recorded a nail biting win over highly fancied Monmouth by a mere two seconds in a time of 19 minutes and 48 seconds to win the event. In the afternoon Stratford’s Masters again took to the water with two crews battling it out in Masters C/D and E/F age category events in coxed fours.

The Stratford Masters C/D crew straight from racing in the successful winning eight in the morning division kept up the winning streak with a comprehensive win over Bridgnorth Rowing club in a time of 21 minutes and 33 seconds. Despite a polished performance, the Stratford Masters E/F crew were denied a chance of making it a clean sweep of event wins by a high quality Monmouth crew ultimately finishing in third place in a time of 23 minutes and 29 seconds.

Said Tom Doherty, Masters Vice Captain, “It was great to see two masters fours in highly competitive racing, allied to a very positive result with our friends from Bridgnorth as we continue training for the national eights competition in London in March.”

See also Stratford Herald online… and p15 and Stratford Obsever p31 & online…/stratfords-masters-progre…

British Rowing ‘Volunteer of the Year’ for Stratford’s Hawkins

SuABC Hawkins VOTY 2Last weekend was a busy one for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club on and off the water. Whilst winning pots and medals at heads and regattas is very gratifying for crews, Stratford Boat Club felt enormous pride when Master’s member Glyn Hawkins was presented with British Rowing’s most prestigious honour as ‘Volunteer of the Year’

Said Annamarie Phelps CBE, Chairman of British Rowing, the sport’s governing body, “The British Rowing Volunteer of the Year Awards Lunch is one of our most important events. It celebrates all that is best about our sport of rowing.

The very many volunteers and coaches across the length and breadth of the country that give up their days, evenings and weekends to enable others to get out onto the water and take part in the gym are indispensable. Those receiving the award have been singled out amongst all these amazing volunteers, by their peers, because of the outstanding impact they have made at their club.

It is not just the time and energy – and in many cases hard-earned cash –that make rowing the amazing community that it is. In whatever region and with whatever age group or ability the volunteer works, it is the generosity, professionalism and enthusiasm that inspires those around the volunteer.”

For the West Midlands Region Regional Winner Club Administration Category Volunteer Award, Glyn Hawkins’ citation read:-

“Glyn acted as ‘The Customer’ during the planning, design and build phase of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s biggest club project over a generation, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds. His commitment and level of involvement during the entire project meant that Stratford upon Avon Boat Club now have a facility that enables the cub to grow and flourish, no longer constrained by their facilities. Also, Glyn’s design skill means that the Stratford Boat Club is now the envy of the region and is a fantastic venue for fundraising and events, ensuring a steady venue stream for the club which will help the Boat Club to further improve their rowing performance.

Without Glyn’s full-time dedication and expertise, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club would not have been able to undertake a project on such a scale, let alone to the standard and cost he has achieved. Without the extension, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club would not be able to grow membership. Without the refurbishment, the Boat Club would not have been able to keep their tenancy. Glyn’s involvement has secured the future of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club.”

Said Jen Cary, British Rowing’s West Midlands Region Council representative and captain emeritus of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club, “Although Glyn has been honoured by the Club for his outstanding service and has been presented with life membership, being awarded the very prestigious British Rowing Volunteer of the Year award is a very fitting and well deserved accolade and perfectly reflects Glyn’s dedication.”

Glyn’s award was presented by Dame Katherine Jane Grainger DBE who is the British rower with five Olympic medals and is Great Britain’s most decorated female Olympian. Katherine is a 2012 Summer Olympics gold medallist, four-time Olympic silver medallist and six-time World Champion. The presentation luncheon was at the Henley River & Rowing Museum.

See also Stratford Observer on line:…/triumphs-to-savour-on-and…

Masters Score at Wycliffe

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Masters coxed four crew won the Open Coxed Fours event at Wycliffe Big Head of the River Race on lastSuABC Wycliffe February 2017 Saturday

The Masters crew of Simon Skillings (stroke), Tim Lunel (3), Tim Hayter (2), Wallace Brown (bow), coxed by Jen Cary completed the four and a half kilometre course in eighteen minutes and thirty two seconds

Said Jen Cary, “It was a promising start to the season and particularly pleasing to beat so many good younger crews from rival regional clubs!”

Also see Stratford Observer…/triumphs-to-savour-on-and… and Stratford Herald…

Triumph at Northampton!

SuABC Northampton January 2017 mens coxed 4Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Masters squad sent a strong team to Northampton to start off 2017 racing season including a large number of development rowers experiencing their first taste of competition rowing.

Early starters in Division One battling with a very cold and foggy course saw good competition in a number of events.SuABC Northampton January 2017 Kjersti Tom

First off on the day for Stratford Boat Club was the Men’s Masters squad of Charlie Evans, Tom Doherty, Richard Shepphard and Simon Beard, rowing up status at IM1 level in a coxless four. After a frenetic start, the crew settled into a high tempo race at 37 strokes per minute which they maintained for the whole race to finish in a time of 6 minutes 32 seconds. This would have been significantly faster except for an unfortunate collision close to the end of the course which cost the crew some time forcing them to settle for second place to Northampton University who finished 40 seconds clear in the fastest time of the day.

SuABC Northampron January 2017 WJ14 4X+aAlso braving the cold conditions in the morning division was Mike Adkins who resumed his competition with fellow club member and training partner Chris Straw who was racing later in the day in Masters F single sculls. Unfortunately both Stratford scullers had to settle for minor places behind Granta and Hollywell clubs with Mike taking club bragging rights from Chris in a time of 9 minutes 14 seconds.

The morning division also saw the debut of a mixed Masters’ novice four with Richard Anderson, Richard Field, Linn Hanson and Dave Edwards. On their first ever race, the crew which has been training for several months, put in a sterling performance against a strong field from Northampton and sister club King Edward Sixth Grammar School to finish in a time of 7 minutes and 53 seconds.SuABC Northampton January 2017 KES four

Also debuting in his first sculling race was Tim Lunel in Masters D single sculls. Racing in a high quality field, Tim was not overawed by some quality opposition to finish a creditable third in 7 minutes 24 seconds, only 6 seconds behind high quality Rudkin of Hollowell Scullers.

Stratford ladies were not to be outdone despite the conditions with club mates Lucy Rouse and Christine Goodwin going head to head in Women’s novice sculls. With Swindon Rowing Club playing a supporting role Christine recorded her first ever win for Stratford in a time of 8 minutes and 33 second and her first win over her club mate Lucy. Christine said, SuABC Northampton January 2017 Goodwin 1“A massive credit to Helen Smith as my coach – I am only here due to her encouragement and help all the way!”

With weather conditions improving and the fog lifting racing became more competitive in the midday divisions with Stratford Masters’ D coxed four of Charlie Evans, Tom Doherty, Richard Sheppherd and Simon Beard, expertly coxed by Becky Stokes recording an event win over Derwent in a time of 6 minutes and 33 seconds.

The debutant Novice four were back in action in the midday divisions with Lin Hanson making way for Mike Cordner making his racing debut with Richard Anderson, Richard Field, and Dave Edwards racing up status in IM3 coxed fours finishing second to an experienced Oundle crew in a time of 8 minutes and 15 seconds.

Stratford’s Mixed Masters E double scull of Kjersti Woolley and Tom Doherty were unable to do the double over a much fanciedSuABC Northampron January 2017 Marshall + Derwent crew and were pipped to second place by 3 seconds by Milton Keynes. In the same event the Stratford second boat of Phil Marshall and Gina Fusco put in a very creditable performance for Gina’s first competitive race for the club.

Next it was the turn of Helen Smith to make her racing debut, this time as a cox in the mixed coxed four event with Charlie Edwards, Mike Cordiner, Harriet Smith, and Sian Maher. The crew racing for the first time with event debutant Mike Cordner in the engine room recorded a well deserved win over fancied Oundle Town in a time of 7 minutes and 16 seconds.

SuABC Northampton January 2017 StrawFinally the Masters’ squad rounded off an excellent days racing with Tim Lunell and Tom Doherty winning the Masters’ E double sculls event in a time of 6 minutes and.50 seconds over crews from Oundle, Derwent, and Hollowell.

Said Tom Doherty Masters Vice Captain, “What was so pleasing was to see so many debutants racing in Stratford colours for the first time, acquitting themselves so well and really enjoying the experience.”

Stratford’s Women’s Masters also did well in their E/F category sculling race.

Said Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator, “Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s junior section braved the cold weather to compete at theSuABC Northampton January 2017 J14 2X GRIFFITHS Head of the Nene held over 1800m in Northampton. Race wins were in plentiful supply across the age groups.”

The Junior 17/18 squad of Libby Dwyer, Lara Davies, Maddie Griffiths, Lauren Willis, Theodora Mordaunt, Claire Teakle, Sofia Ward, Isobel Marsden, Eleanor Gray, Madeline Winsper and Robin Connolly triumphed in Novice, IM3, J16 and J18 categories in their coxless quadruple scull and coxed fours.

In the J15 age group Joe Hodson sculled masterfully to a win in his single scull and then went on to notch up a further victory in the double sculls event with Fred Tyler.

SuABC Northampton January 2017 girl quadThe J14 squad added to the trophy haul with wins for Mili Wilcock and Daniel Cox in their singleSuABC Northampton January 2017 Victor 1 sculls. The coxed quadruple scull of Jasmine Mountney, Mya Kenny, Nixie Brunt, Alice Baines and Simran Gill (cox) produced a superb performance to not only win their event but also beat all crews in the next age group. Victory in the double sculls category went to Max Griffiths and Dan Cox in the boy’s event and Jasmine Mountney and Alice Baines in the women’s event to round off a fantastic day’s racing.

With outstanding performances across the board in Junior, Senior and Master’s events the club also secured the Victor Ludorum trophy as the most successful club at the event. A truly marvellous way to start the year’s competition!”

See also Stratford Herald p17 and Stratford Observer online For more pictures, please click onto!AgY7EiDB2lCOy0NtDQSaZZ7A2l0t

Best Ever Boxing Day Scratch Regatta

P1070376Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s annual Scratch Regatta took place early on Boxing Day morning in the best possible conditions: over seventy members managed to leave their beds after the overindulgence of the Christmas festivities, supported by friends and relatives who came down to the river to watch the spectacle

“There were seven races in all over a short sprint course from the Ferry to the Club grounds on the Town stretch of the River Avon. The crews was selected to ensure close and exciting racing”,P1070356 said coach Alfie Noakes

The racing provided great interest to early morning sightseers and visitors watching from the Recreation Ground, The Royal Shakespeare Terrace, Bancroft Gardens and The Tramway Bridge. Said Emma Wellstead, fundraiser for Stratford Boat Club, “The scratch regatta caught the imagination of all who came down to the river and we hope that it will give added impetus to P1070328fundraising in 2017 to achieve funds to bring sport to all in the area”

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club will be back on the river this week and after the New Year training hard for the 2017 head season and their own regatta in June

See also Stratford Herald p21 and online at…