Stratford upon Avon Boat Club went in force over the Bank Holiday weekend to Ross Regatta. Stratford Masters’ squad endeavored to follow up the quality performance of Stratford’s Junior squad, firstly with the Masters F double sculls. Stroked by Simon Beard and expertly steered by Mike Atkins, the doyen of the Masters’ squad, a mix of power and style saw them take on the brute strength of a Runcorn crew determined to dominate from the start. Drawn on the outside of an unfavourable long bend, Stratford found themselves down coming into the regatta enclosure where they were unable to pull back the lead of two lengths established by Runcorn.
Determined to bounce back, Simon Beard joined by Wallace Brown, Richard Nelson, and Thomas Doherty and expertly coxed by the outstanding Sophie Neville, belying her tender years, took on a powerful heavyweight Evesham crew in Masters’ D coxed fours. In a nail biting race with neither crew giving an inch, Stratford driven on by lung bursting commands from Sophie, managed to gain a half length advantage and hold it to the finish for a memorable event win.
With the afternoon’s racing truncated by monsoon rain showers, Stratford’s Mixed Masters’ E double scull of Kjersti Woolley and Thomas Doherty yet again found themselves up against their old nemesis from Derwent, but despite a good row and having being drawn on the unfavourable outside of the bend, they were unable to break their stranglehold over recent races loosing by two lengths.
Said Thomas Doherty, Masters’ Squad Vice Captain, “It was great to see competitors of all ages from thirteen to seventy two racing here today: all put in excellent performances to do Stratford proud.”
A pulsating day of racing at Ross regatta also saw the WJ14 girls coxed quadruple sculls overcome adversity as a crew member responded badly to a wasp sting. Medical issues permit a crew replacement and Autumn Keil, Khloe Curnock Jessica Wiesheu, Katie Wellstead with coxswain Mimi Hill raced on to win the event. Interestingly, Joseph Hodson with Autumn Keil raced in the boys’ J14 double sculls and was a phenomenal combination beating several total boys’ crews only to be overcome by a strong all boys crew from Staines.
The WJ14 girls’ double sculls event included two Stratford crews. Autumn Keil and Khloe Curnock resisted well in their first round heat but were beaten – just – both being exhausted from their vigorous efforts in the earlier events. Not quite so for the superlative combination of Jessica Wiesheu and Katie Wellstead who fought their way to the semi final only to be beaten by a Ross crew who were still fresh from their two previous races. The Stratford crew on the other hand was competing in their sixth race of the day: tiredness for these young 14 year olds took over and they were simply out of energy. Joe Hodson in the J14 single sculls also delivered a gritty performance dispatching a couple of opponents before losing in the semi-final. Said coach Dr Graham Collier, “A great day much enjoyed by all the participants. In a few hours time they move into the J15 category. We wish them well!”
Meanwhile, Stratford’s J13 squad was also in action. High quality sculling was in plentiful supply to bring to a close their first year of racing. The WJ13 single scull event opened proceedings with a thrilling race between Sophie Neville and Staines Boat Club. Neville steered a precise course and led the race until a caught blade in choppy water upset her rhythm and Staines gained the advantage. Recovering well, the gap proved just too great for Sophie to close.
In the WJ13 double sculls, Jasmine Mountney and Alice Baines kept the Stratford supporters on their feet with two solid wins against Evesham and City of Bristol before narrowly missing out of the top prize to Liverpool Victoria in the final.
The coxed quadruple sculls fared less well with tough opposition from the outset. The mixed crew of Sophie Neville, Maiya James, Mili Wilcock, Nixie Brunt, Dan Cox, Alice Baines and Jasmine Mountney being drawn against City of Bristol who went on to win both open and women’s categories. Said Steve Wellstead, Stratford Boat Club’s Junior Co-ordinator, “The event proved a great day to close the season and set the scene well for the year ahead.”
Also at Ross, Conrad Bird raced a semi final against Penarth winning easily and then went on race against Swansea where he won by a length in a thrilling final: a very special day as he won his Novice status. The W.J18A.4x narrowly missed out on a pot in the final at Ross beaten 1.5 lengths by a very strong Warrington quad (current National Champions). Said coach Mark Holden, “A very positive way to conclude their junior rowing years with Stratford and there were smiles all round.”
For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online http://www.stratford-herald.com/58050-stratford-boat-clubs-winning-form-continues-ross-regatta.html
For more excellent pictures of Stratford at Ross, see Stuart Baines amazing shots https://1drv.ms/f/s!AgY7EiDB2lCOsEdDZGdIdzOPznKa
Stourport’s ‘Learn to Row’ event the previous Sunday was another successful day for the Stratford boat in this summer’s ‘Learn to Row’ competition. Travelling to Stourport to face five other crews from Bewdley, Ironbridge (two), Dudley and Birmingham, Stratford won three races, lost one and tied one to maintain their joint position at the top of the points table with rivals Bewdley. Rowing upstream into a strong flow and against the backdrop of the funfair in its full Sunday afternoon glory, Stratford’s best wins came against Birmingham and Ironbridge A. The Stratford’s crew of Clare Jervis, Clare Sperrey, Rory Nicol and Nils Purser had a great afternoon, encouraged by a good gathering of supporters and some excellent hospitality from the home club. The next event is at Upton on 11 September and the programme reaches its finale at Stratford on Sunday 30 October.
There was action too at Stratford on Bank Holiday Saturday with Stratford Boat Club’s launches helping out with Stratford upon Avon Rotary Club (Evening Group) Duck Race. Over one thousand plastic ducks were launched into the foaming water at the weir below Holy Trinity Church opposite Lucy’s Mill. The event raised in the region of five thousand pounds for Shakespeare Hospice’s new Children and Young People’s services and was sponsored by Care UK who run over one hundred care homes across the county including Priors House in Leamington Spa and Ambleside in Stratford-upon-Avon and provide a range of care services from respite to residential care for older people.