The Fleet Increases!

In addition to an eight, two new doubles/pairs have been added to Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s fleet. This goes someway to both remove a ‘pinch point’ in the availability of heavier hulls and gives Stratford Boat Club the flexibility to refurbish some of their lighter doubles during the year without significant detriment to the running of the club

The Club has a long standing tradition of naming Club boats after ladies, elves, sprites and spirits who appear in Shakespeare’s plays. A brief ‘internal’ naming ceremony took place on Saturday so that the boats could be put into immediate use. It is hoped that there will be a more ‘civic’ ceremony when the weather is more clement and the Club can thank the donors more personally

The new boats include:-

8+ (80-90kg): Titania

2x/2- (70kg): Hermione

2x/2- (95kg): Cordelia

The introduction of the boats into the fleet requires quite a big shuffle of racks, blades and rigging within the boathouses themselves which is already very tight for space

Said Oli Smith, Captain of Boats, “The addition of three boats, ten pairs of sculls (oars), the riggers and trestles represents a massive expenditure for the Club in the last two months on equipment alone! This is something that we could not have done without the huge support of the Town Trust and our own collective fundraising efforts in combination with the Club’s regattas and lettings

Dawson Curnock, Club Chairman, commented further, “This clearly demonstrates that Stratford Boat Club can invest in the fleet at this high level, mixing new and second hand as required but only if we continue to work hard on fundraising, sponsorship and, most importantly, look after equipment we already have!”.

Cordelia is a name already familiar to Stratford Boat Club as this is the name of the coxed pair which was found in the loft during the recent refurbishment and now adorns the ceiling of the Club Room. It is believed that Cordelia was put into the loft just after the Second World War

Dawson Curnock also gave a ‘libation to Poseidon’ pouring a small amount the champagne used for naming the boats into the river to ask for rowers’ safety and good luck!

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer p36

We Shall Remember Them

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club observed a two minutes’ silence on this Remembrance Sunday to honour those who fell in the World Wars and other conflicts. The Club’s thoughts were led by the Club’s President, Paul Stanton

Wreaths were laid at the memorial in the Club grounds by the youngest member Toby Sartain and Peter Wyatt, the oldest member: seventy six years separate their rowing experience! Peter Wyatt narrowly missed being selected of Britain’s Olympic rowing squad in 1948 and 1952 and ran with the Olympic torch into Stratford upon Avon prior to the London Olympics in 2012

All the crews and rowers came off the water during a busy Remembrance Sunday to attend the act of remembrance. Said Steve Wellstead, Stratford Boat Club’s Junior Co-ordinator, “The memorial is literally at the heart of the Club and our sporting life goes on around it: this was an opportunity to stop, reflect and remember those Stratford Boat Club members who had died so that we can live in peace and enjoy our sport.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/fitting-remembrance-at-boat-club and https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/news/honouring-those-who-served-on-remembrance-sunday-in-stratford and Stratford Herald p2

Henley and Stourport in One Weekend!

On Saturday 4th November, a large Junior contingent from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club competed over 3km in the Henley Long Distance Sculls. Raced over an extended Henley Royal regatta course, the event is attended by many of the top clubs and schools in the country. Junior athletes ranging from J14 to J18 represented Stratford over two divisions with a strong headwind early on presenting challenging conditions for competitors.

The event, a major competition on the pre-Christmas winter racing calendar attracted almost 600 entries primarily from the London and the south east areas of the country, providing very high levels of competition for Stratford crews throughout the day.

This event was a step up on anything the Junior Squad have done before especially for two Stratford J14 quadruple sculling crews who enjoyed a good row and gave a good account of themselves. The J14 girls’ crew of Elisabeth Edwards, Sienna Rawlings, Sophie Elstone, Abbey Meggeson coxed by Mary Walton finished sixth of twelve boats and in the Open category, a mixed crew of Amelie Sartain, Harriet Hodgson, Will Clarke, Conar Aitchison coxed by Julia Zampronio Gurden produced a good time to finish third against four other all boy boats.

J14 Coach Trevor Tiller said, “It’s great to see our young athletes developing their technique and stamina to the point that they are able to come to Henley and compete with the best young rowers in the United Kingdom.”

There were some strong performances across the older age groups with both J15 (Dan Cox and Max Griffiths) and J16 (Fred Tyler and Joe Hodson) boys’ double sculls achieving good results with each finishing sixth in fields of sixteen and seventeen respectively. J16 girls also produced some excellent sculling with Emily Browne, Jessica Wiesheu and Katie Wellstead finishing fourth, eighth and ninth respectively in single sculls and Molly Gill-Swift and Khloe Curnock achieving a very good time to finish fourth in large high quality field of twenty one double sculling boats.

Stratford boats competed well in other categories including J16 Geoffrey Flambert (24th) and WJ15’s Nixie Brunt (8th) and Jasmine Mountney (10th) in single sculls and Maiya James, Mili Wilcock, Mya Kenny. Alice Baines and Naomi Sergeant in a J15 girls quadruple scull (13th) and Theo Mordaunt, Claire Teakle, Maddie Griffiths and Sofia Ward in a J18 coxless quad (10th).

Meanwhile, a change in the weather from a glorious late autumnal week of sunshine and mild temperatures to cold and continuous rain greeted Stratford’s Masters’ Squad as they also competed in the Henley Long Distance Sculls Head.

First up for the Masters Squad saw a head to head between Neville Hand and Gary Clay against Kjersti Woolley and Thomas Doherty in Masters E double sculls .With no mixed event Kjersti and Tom were rowing in the Men’s event but still gave Neville and Gary a good fight just being overtaken at the finish.

The good row by Gary and Neville saw them just fail to take the overall winner’s prize by seven seconds to Bradford on Avon in a time of thirteen minutes thirty eight seconds with Kjersti and Tom finishing in fourteen minutes and twenty eight seconds.
The afternoon division saw Tim Lunel competing in the very competitive Masters D single sculls event in a field including former Olympian Guy Pooley. Tim produced a very good row to finish in a time of thirteen mins and fifty six seconds and an overall midfield position of sixth.

It remained for Christine Goodwin to complete the Masters’ entries racing in Open Women’s second level sculls. In a strong field of eleven competitors, Christine put in a greatly improved performance from last year to finish again midfield in a time of fifteen mins fifty two seconds in seventh position.

Said Tom Doherty, Masters Vice Captain, “It was great to see Gary and Neville racing together for the first time and to also see continual improved performances from Christine and Tim”

A change of river for the Masters’ Squad on Sunday for Stourport Small Boats Head saw a much needed improvement in the weather with sunshine, higher temperatures and local competition making for a good days racing over a 4km stretch of the Severn. With a following wind and a positive stream fast times were the order of the day.

Stratford were represented by their mixed Masters’ crew of Kjersti Woolley and Thomas Doherty in Masters E division who put in a much improved race from the previous days effort at Henley to beat a number of the men’s and women’s crews. Said Kjersti Woolley, “Although no official times have been released, we were very pleased with our improved performance.”

For more great pictures of Henley Long Distance Sculls, see Stuart Baines’ selection https://1drv.ms/f/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9jIIGqT0pAxsBXLuLNA.

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald p15 on our successes and online http://bit.ly/2yOiE89 and Stratford Observer online http://bit.ly/2yhRcvd

Stratford Triumph on the Trent

While most of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Senior crews were at Gloucester, Stratford’s Masters’ squad had a successful outing at the Trent Head in Nottingham.

The day got off to good start with Tim Lunel winning the Masters D category in strong headwinds in the first division despite a “tactical” Nottingham Union sculler refusing to give the racing line to the faster crew meaning that Stratford rowers had to take a long way round the outside of the windiest bend on the course. All good for building experience!

This was followed a much better technical row in the double with Chris Straw and Tim Lunel coming second to a really good Holingworth Lake crew (National Champions earlier in the year!). Stratford were a full minute ahead of the other Masters D crew from Nottingham Union and the Masters B/C crew from Newark giving Stratford plenty to build on for the future.

Said Tim Lunel, “All round, a good day of “big river rowing” in challenging headwind conditions.”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald p16 and Stratford Observer p30.

Three Generations in One Boat!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club has been encouraging sport in the Warwickshire area since 1874 and generations and families have benefitted from the facilities, equipment and coaching over the decades

Sunday saw a special birthday treat for grandfather Robin Leach who rowed at the Club at high level in his early years. Arranged by his grandson Fred Tyler, a member of the Club’s medal winning Junior Squad, grandfather Robin was taken out for a row with his grandson, daughter Penny Tyler (nee Leach) and son in law Jules Tyler

Penny and Jules Tyler (Fred’s mother and father) had also previously rowed and had taken part the Club’s Fun Regatta and support the Junior Squad at home and away regattas and heads

Said Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator, said, “We can easily see where Fred’s determination, drive and rowing skills come from! Although it was many years since grandfather Robin rowed a boat, he quickly got into the rhythm and the boat looked synchronized early into the session.”

Fred’s double partner Dan Cox helped out by coxing the family outing

Stratford Shows Early National Form at Evesham and on The Tideway

Success on the water for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Junior squads continued at the Evesham Junior Head on Saturday.

A magnificent win by Fred Tyler and Dan Cox in their J15 double scull, gaining two minutes from their closest opposition over the 1900m course, was later followed by a further medal win for Fred in the single sculls event with Dan a very close third.

The J14 ‘mixed’ quad crewed by Martha Usselmann, Elisabeth Edwards, William Clarke and Abbey Meggeson valiantly coxed by Conar Aitchison fought hard for an impressive against the odds victory. Overcoming the loss of their rudder shortly after the start, Conar showed admirable composure controlling his winning crew over the awkwardly bending course against strong opposition.

Said coach Trevor Tiller, “Racing throughout the day saw some very close racing producing promising performances from the Stratford squads in preparation for the forthcoming season.”

‘Head’ races are time trials with boats starting individually at fifteen second intervals, originally started with winter ‘off season’ training in mind, they are competed for over various distances and are now a regular feature in the winter rowing calendar.

Also competing but on the Thames were Stratford Masters who showed early national form when they represented Stratford upon Avon Boat Club at this year’s Pairs Head of the River on the Tideway in London with the Club’s Masters E pair of Simon Beard and Richard Nelson.

The Pairs Head is the premier national long distance race held annually for crews of two competitors, raced over 4500m of the Championship Boat Race course on the Thames. The first major national event of the winter season, the Pairs Head is unique combining all age categories from sixteen year old Juniors to eighty plus year old Masters. The crews were blessed with ideal weather and water conditions on the day with almost five hundred crews racing up the Thames in a festival of quality rowing. 

Pairs Head 2017

Competing in the Open Championship category for combined Masters D and E age groups and racing against a field of fourteen top crews from around the country, Simon and Richard finished in fourth place overall in fifteen minutes and forty eight seconds, improving on their starting position in the draw by almost two hundred places and overtaking numerous other crews. This puts down a strong marker for Stratford Boat Club’s prospects of success at this early point in the season particularly as this event was the first to be held under new British Rowing rules pitting older against younger men without any handicap advantage.

Said Richard Nelson (stroke), “We kept our pace under control and had a good row. It was a great early success to build on as the season progresses.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online http://www.stratford-herald.com/77167-stratford-boat-club-get-head-start-impressive-performances.html  and p15, Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratford-show-good-early-national-form-at-evesham-and-on-the-tideway and p31.

Explore Rowing Final Regatta at Stratford

Sunday saw the final of British Rowing’s West Midland Explore Rowing series of regattas with crews from Ross and Stourport winning mixed categories and Pengwern winning the women’s category

Seven visiting clubs from throughout the West Midlands took part in the final afternoon regatta together with five Stratford crews: the regatta series has been running from May through October and draws rowers from the Learn to Row Explore Rowing programme which introduces adults to recreational rowing and is the culmination of the organisation’s programme to bring adults into rowing, sport and exercise: Stratford Boat Club ran ‘Learn to Row’ Explore Rowing courses throughout 2017 and will be running more courses in spring 2018

Said Nils Purser, Stratford Boat Club’s Explore Rowing squad organiser, “Stratford was honoured to be chosen to run the final Explore Rowing regatta of the season once again: it was a pity that we didn’t replicate the winning streak from last year’s final and this season so far! However, as a recreational event, it was great fun! Credit goes not only to Stratford’s Explore Rowing crews but especially to the coaches who taught us to row and have helped us with the improvement we have made since our initial Learn to Row courses. We’re sad to be losing our main lead Explore coach Glyn Hawkins who is returning to full time studies and we cannot thank him enough for all the hard work he has put into coaching our Explore crews and weekday rowers: we will miss him!”

Stratford’s Explore Rowing crews were not the only crews to be on the water over the weekend: the Club’s Senior Squad represented Stratford at Worcester Small Boats’ Head of the River Race and Junior Squads were hard training for Evesham Junior Head on Saturday

Stratford Start The Head Season in Style

The weekend saw the opening head race of the new season on the Thames in Oxfordshire. Wallingford Long Distance Sculls, held over 4.25km, attracts top level scullers from around the region with Stratford fielding crews across the age range.

The event saw the J15 double scull of Alice Baines and Mya Kenny deliver a masterful sculling performance to win their event. During the competition there were further superb performances from Amelie Sartain in the J14 single scull event who battled hard to take second place, well ahead the rest of the field.

Fred Tyler fought hard in the J14 single scull event but was eventually displaced into second place by a quality sculler from Lea Rowing Club. The double scull of Max Griffiths and Dan Cox was also worthy of note whilst coming third in their event recorded the 6th fastest time of the day in the shorter 1500m course thus demonstrating the quality of competition at the season opener.

Taking a rest from their exertions on Friday, Richard Shepherd (Army) and Nathan Elton (RAF) both raced in the Joint Services Regatta. Nathan won in a senior eight and also won his heat and then came second in the final of the Novice singles to a very experienced opponent.

Last weekend saw Christine Goodwin compete in the Senior Women’s 1x at Monmouth Head as one of eleven women racing in this boat category over three categories. Christine gained on the category one rower who started ahead of her and succeeded in winning her category two with a very credible time of 8:53 minutes over the 2500m course. Said coach Helen Smith, “Another great start to the head racing season.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratford-start-the-head-season-in-style and p31, Stratford Herald p15 and online http://www.stratford-herald.com/76573-excellent-start-head-season-stratford-river-thames.html

For more great photographs, see Stuart Baines’ selection at https://1drv.ms/f/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9i_1TL1MpSvYJgs9kZA

Stratford Come Fifth in World Rowing Masters Regatta

Early September saw Stratford upon Avon Rowing Club Masters undertake the Club’s most ambitious overseas regatta competition with a 1,500 mile trip to Bled in Slovenia for the 2017 World Rowing Masters Regatta. The event, the biggest rowing regatta ever held, attracted 4,588 competitors from 862 clubs worldwide. Event entries were huge with over 1,200 entries each in men’s single sculls and double sculls age categories.

The large entry meant the organisers added an extra days racing to the competition which ran from Wednesday 6th through to Sunday 10th September. Great Britain lead the list of competing athletes with 852, closely followed by Germany with 800 and the USA, Italy, following closely behind: 46 countries were represented at the event.

The event demanded a large logistical operation to plan equipment requirements, transport and protect boats and associated equipment, and organise accommodation for the 1,500 miles journey through Germany and France to the regatta course in Slovenia. The journey was planned over several months between Stratford and Bridgnorth rowing clubs, and included transporting boats from Worcester, Ironbridge, Hollowell Scullers, and Pengwern Rowing Clubs. Towing duties were ably led and planned by Shan Stokes, Safety Advisor from Stratford Boat Club who along with daughter Becky and colleagues from Bridgnorth undertook the three day journey.

A fantastic sight of fields of boats greeted the competitors on arrival at the stunning lake Bled venue in Slovenia, overlooked by the imposing Bled Castle and picturesque church topped Bled Island and the international regatta course.

Tuesday saw frantic last minute training by multitudes of club crews on the warm up course which was not without incident with a number of boats heavily damaged in collisions.

Day One (Wednesday) saw the start of competition racing proper in hot conditions with races on a packed schedule on the 1000 metre course setting off at 500 metre intervals which meant three races using the course at any one time all day. First to race for Stratford was Tim Lunel and Tom Doherty in Mas D double sculls in a borrowed boat seventh in their heat in a time of three minutes and fifty eight seconds placing 127th overall out of 145 competitors. Rebecca Stokes was next to compete coxing a Bridgnorth eight to a fine fifth finish position in a time of three minutes and twenty eight seconds in Masters B eights.

A bright Day Two (Thursday) saw an increase in Stratford competitors with Tim Lunel in the heavily competitive Men’s single sculls Masters D event. Rowing in a borrowed boat, Tim nevertheless put in an excellent row to finish fourth in a time of four minutes and eight seconds in his heat and 122nd of 180 competitors overall. Later in the day saw the composite eights crew from Stratford and Bridgnorth clubs featuring Stratford rowers, Simon Beard, Richard Shepherd, Tim Lunel ,Tom Doherty, and cox Becky Stokes finish in fifth place in their heat in a time of three minutes and fourteen seconds in Masters D eights and 37th of 47th overall.

Day Three (Friday) saw an early start in changeable conditions for Stratford masters D coxed four of Simon Beard, Richard Shepherd, Tim Lunel, Tom Doherty, and cox Becky Stokes. A solid row produced a fifth finish in a time of three minutes and thirty eight seconds for an overall position of 21 of 36 competitors. Stratford women entered the competition next with Kjersti Woolley racing in a composite crew with Bridgnorth in Women’s Masters E double sculls finishing fifth in a time of four minutes and thirty two seconds, 68 out of 77 overall. Becky Stokes continued her coxing during the day with a fourth place in a heat of Masters A coxed four in a time of three minutes and twenty five seconds with Bridgnorth to finish 12 of 17 overall. The final Stratford race of the day saw Simon Beard and Richard Shepherd in Masters D pairs finish fifth in their heat in a time of three minutes and fifty four seconds for an overall position of 37 of 48 entries. Tim Lunel however not content with his two previous races took to the water again in an international Masters E coxless four with a combined crew from Gorge Narrows in Canada and Bridgnorth to record a time of three minutes and forty eight seconds.

Day Four (Saturday) saw the penultimate day of racing in much changed conditions with increasing wind and rain. First up for Stratford was a combined International Masters’ E eighth featuring Stratford rowers Simon Beard, Richard Shepherd, Tim Lunel ,Tom Doherty, and cox Becky Stokes, assisted by Bridgnorth rowers and Egyptian rower and Bled medal winner Hany Anwar to record a time of three minutes and twenty one seconds with an overall finish position of 21 of 37 entries. Worsening conditions saw Stratford Masters’ D coxless four of Simon Beard, Richard Shepherd, Tim Lunel and Tom Doherty record another fifth place finish in a time of three minutes and thirty three seconds for an overall event position of 40 of 59 entries. The women were next to take to the water in by now choppy conditions in Masters C double sculls with Kjersti Woolley and Victoria Brennan recording a creditable time of four minutes and forty three seconds in challenging conditions. The final Stratford race saw a combined Bridgnorth /Stratford crew of Paul Wallis and Tom Doherty competing in by now rough conditions in Masters’ E double sculls to record a time of three minutes and fifty three seconds and an overall finish position of 106 of 156 competitors.

Day Five (Sunday) saw a rapid deterioration of the weather with heavy winds and rain forcing a number of withdraws from the scheduled competitions. Stratford braved a mixed Masters’ E double sculls race with Tom Doherty and Kjersti Woolley who were forced to battle the elements down the course for a seventh place finish.

Although the weather was unkind towards the end of the competition, the event was an outstanding success enjoyed by all who took part in the competition, credit being given to the organisers who ensured despite the large numbers of competitors that there were no queues or hold ups.

Said Tom Doherty Men’s Masters Vice Captain, “This was an huge undertaking to organise and safely transport boats across Europe and huge credit and thanks must go to Shan and Becky Stokes for their organisation and efforts in achieving this. It was also great to have a number of Stratford crews competing at such a high standard regatta packed with former international rowers in such a stunning location.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/…/stratford-impress-at-worl… and Stratford Herald p15

For more great pictures of Bled and rowing, see Shân Stokes selection https://drive.google.com/…/fo…/0BxUSbfbK2ReqaTVBcTNUakZnUDg…

Stratford Conquers in the North

The culmination of the regatta season for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club junior athletes saw Junior 15 and Junior 16 squads travel to the North of England Sprint Championships. Held over 500m at Hollingworth Lake Rowing Club in a multi lane format, the athletes competed against clubs spanning the country from Teesside to Merseyside.

Medals were hotly contested throughout the day with perfect conditions and the lake shore crowded with eager rowing fans. The first win of the day was recorded in an all Stratford final for the Women’s Junior 16 coxed four crew of Alice Baines, Maggie Page (HLRC), Khloe Curnock, Katie Wellstead and Daniel Cox (coxswain). This was followed by richly deserved medals for the Junior 15 coxed quadruple scull of Maiya James, Alice Baines, Nixie Brunt, Jasmine Mountney and Naomi Sergeant (cox). A third and final win came in the Junior 16 double scull event with Joe Hodson and Daniel Cox treating those at the lake to a pulsating sculling performance, winning by just a canvas.

The event marked a special day for Junior 16 squad lead coach and former club captain, Dr Graham Collier who learned to row and competed for Hollingworth Lake as boy. In the years since, Graham has coached many winning crews and to see the same repeated at his home club brought a superb end to the 2017 regatta season.

Meanwhile, Stratford’s Masters squad put in their final practice and training outings ready for their appearance at 2017 World Rowing Masters Regatta in Bled this coming week.

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratford-junior-squads-star-as-regatta-season-draws-to-a-close, p30 and p31 and Stratford Herald p14

For more great photographs, see Stuart Baines’ selection https://1drv.ms/f/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9i_daCU0zuOZ95rouQg