Stratford Masters Excel at Evesham

SuABC Evesham November 2016Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Masters’ squads descended on local club Evesham for one of the last head races of the pre Christmas season on Saturday for Masters of the Avon & Evesham Senior Head.

Held on a cold but otherwise perfect day for rowing, the event was run over two divisions with the morning division of four kilometer length of the River Avon attracting a Masters D/E (average age 55), coxed four of Jen Cary (cox), Simon Skillings, Glyn Hawkins, Tim Lunel, and Wallace Brown. After a steady start the crew, marshalled expertly by Jen Cary, powered away from their local opponents Evesham to win their event in a time of 18 minutes and 34 seconds, beating Evesham by 45 seconds.SuABC Evesham November 2016 Explore 2

Following them closely down the course was the Mixed masters E (average age 55 years) double scull of Kjersti Woolley and Thomas Doherty. Competing against a high quality Derwent crew, they completed the course in a creditable 19 minutes and 47 seconds but had to settle for second place.

In the afternoon division, raced over a shorter two kilometer course, the masters F/G (average age 60 to 65 years) Men’s double scull was an all family affair with the Moore brothers, Joe and Simon, taking on local crews from Evesham and Bewdley. Rowing a tidy race the brothers completed the course in 11 minutes and 3 seconds to finish in second place.

SuABC Evesham November 2016 Explore 1The next Stratford racing crews saw a head to head between single scullers Mike Atkins and Chris Straw in Masters E/G division ( average age 55 to 65). In a competitive field Mike Atkins came a well deserved second in a time of 11minutes and 15 seconds just beating training partner Chris Straw by only three seconds to secure bragging rights!

Hot on their heels and not to be outdone by the men, came Kjersti Woolley having recovered from her morning exploits and now in a single scull to record a very good time of 12 minutes and 11 seconds.

Said Tom Doherty, Masters’ Vice Captain, “It was great to see so many of the Masters’ squad competing across a range of events: with more crews in training we hope to have additional crews competing across the region at events in the New Year.”

Following on their amazing season’s success and having only been rowing for slightly over a year, Stratford’s Explore rowing section was invited to enter a crew into the Women’s Primary 4+ event in Division 2 to provide some friendly competition for a Bewdley crew. Definitely up for the challenge but last of the day to set off, the Stratford crew of Rosie Stone, Clare Booth, Rona Fitzpatrick and Becky Smith nevertheless strode out well over the start line and increased their rating to catch up and overtake the Bewdley crew by the half way mark, maintaining a good lead for the rest of the course and finishing just under two minutes ahead. Said Rosie Stone, the Explore section organiser, “The Stratford Explore crew gave a stylish performance throughout much aided and encouraged by cox Esme Booth who did a sterling job of motivating and keeping the crew together! Thanks as always go to our great coaches who provided enthusiastic support and advice whilst training and on the day.”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald p16 and online… and Stratford Observer p30 and online…/stratford-masters-excel-a…

Stratford take the glory in the final West Midlands Explore Series event

SuABC Explore BRStratford upon Avon Boat Club take the win on home waters in the final West Midlands Explore Series of the summer.

The final event of the West Midlands Explore Series went out with a bang on Sunday (30 October), and not just when one of the crews rowed into a barge on the Avon!

The event, held at Stratford upon Avon Boat Club, saw beginner crews from around the West Midlands competing for the overall honours and the end of the seven event series and it was the home club who came out on top!

Stratford’s A and C crews claimed four wins to finish ahead of Bewdley in the overall standings in the series which started back in May.SuABC Explore Rowing logo Twitter

“All that hard work pulled off! We put on a really good event and everyone who attended seemed to be enjoying themselves – which is what it’s all about after all! Great stuff and a fitting finale to the Explore Regatta 2016 season,” said Rosie Stone of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club.

It wasn’t all plain sailing on the water, however, with one of the Ironbridge Rowing Club boats going a bit off course and into the path of another vessel, but even that mishap wasn’t enough to diminish the smiles on the faces of those taking part throughout the day.

BR Twitter logoBritish Rowing’s Explore Rowing Programme started as part of the 2009-2013 Whole Sport Plan since when more than 10,000 people have tried the sport. Explore Rowing clubs are making new links with their local communities with rowers finding fun and more flexible ways to enjoy rowing.

If any clubs are interested in attending or hosting a round of the West Midlands Explore Series next year, email British Rowing’s area manager Jo Atkinson (, contact her on Twitter (@JoAtkinsonBR) or call 07818 576147.

Article courtesy of British Rowing:…/stratford-take-the-glory-in…

Stratford Juniors Triumph on the Thames

SuABC logoFollowing Stratford upon Avon Boat Junior 15 Squad’s performance at Hampton Small Boats Head, the reputation of the Club amongst the big rowing schools and clubs continues to ascend. Over 750 crews and scullers raced in procession over three kilometers on the River Thames close by Hampton Court downstream from Sunbury Lock.

Katie Philips in her single scull raced well to claim fourteenth position in her event. This followed an outstandingSuABC Hampton logo effort by Joe Hodson in his single scull as he finished in eleventh place from a fleet of twenty six boats. The quadruple sculls girls’ crew of Gracie Mitchell, Molly Gill-Swift, Khloe Curnock and Katie Wellstead expertly coxed by Mimi Hill also finished eleventh in a fleet of thirty one boats and only forty seconds behind the winner.

The phenomenal Stratford performance of the day was Jessica Wiesheu and Emily Browne who took the bronze medal in the girls’ double sculls finishing thirteen seconds behind the winners and beating crews from many famous girls’ rowing schools including those who row regularly on the River Thames.

See also Stratford Herald p20 and Stratford Observer p37.

Success and Disappointment on the Tideway

SuABC remembrance 2015 SH MJ PW 3Stratford upon Avon Boat Club senior crews took the long road to London last weekend for the Fullers Head of the River Fours held on Saturday. The national event, which attracts the best crews from all over the UK, is raced over the University Boat Race course in reverse, starting at Chiswick and finishing at Putney, a distance of over six kilometers on the river Thames (The Tideway) through London.

The event, which is only open to crews of a certain standard, requires a minimum of four sculling points and six sweep points at IM2 senior level for each crew. This ensures a very high standard of competition across all events. The weather for the race was continual rain which made for a damp but otherwise flat course, a somewhat unusual condition for Tideway racing which is known for its choppy conditions.SuABC Remembrance Sunday 2016 memorial PS general 1

Stratford upon Avon’s attempt to field four racing crews at this weekend’s event found efforts struck down by illness which saw their much fancied quad four withdraw before the race. This was followed on the day by their number two coxed four crew having to abandon the race on arrival in London due to another outbreak of crew illness. With two crews withdrawn, the remaining crews focused on their race preparations only to suffer another crew member having to withdraw just before the race due to a family incident. Fortunately a ready substitute was on hand in the person of Ed Lewry who was able to jump into the boat and save the day.
With fifty percent of their entries gone before the race, the remaining Stratford crews took to the water in a great visual spectacle of rowing with some four hundred boats on the Thames in wet but SuABC Remembrance Sunday 2016 memorial PS general 2otherwise good rowing conditions. Stratford’s first boat, the remaining coxed four of Alistair Collier, Ben Twiney, Tom Coles and substitute Ed Lewry, racing in IM1 coxed four put in an extremely powerful performance to finish in a time of twenty minutes and forty seconds and an overall finish position of two hundred and two. This strong mid position finish in their event meant that they beat a number of local experienced Tideway clubs in the process. Said Dr Ben Twiney, Senior Men’s Vice Captain, “This was a very pleasing performance from the crew considering the disruption just before the race. Credit must go to Ed Lewry who jumped into the crew at the last minute and put in a superb row.“

Stratford’s remaining crew racing in IM1 coxless fours had, unusually for them, less stressful day getting to the race. Competing in aSuABC Remembrance Sunday 2016 memorial flag 2 large field of thirty six crews in their event, the crew of Richard Nelson, Tim Lunel, Charlie Evans, and Tom Doherty, had originally been due to race in the Masters’ event on Sunday but were unable to secure an entry.

The crew with an average age over fifty and one of the oldest crew entrants in the whole event found themselves up against crews of almost half their age. However not to be outdone by the opposition, the crew put in a hard race for the whole of the event racing neck and neck with a City of Oxford crew for two kilometers to finish in a time of twenty one minutes and thirty six seconds for an overall finish position of two hundred and sixty three out of four hundred and thirty racing crews. Said Tom Doherty, Masters’ Vice Captain, “We were always going to be up against stiff opposition racing much younger and fitter crews but we were determined to put in a good show despite limited practice beforehand and are pleased to have beaten some of our IM1 event opposition and a large number of IM2 crews. Credit is also due to the sterling support team of Shan Stokes ,Becky Stokes and Ben Smith who, despite the disappointment of notSuABC Remembrance Sunday 2016 memorial flag 1 competing, gave the racing crews immense support on the day without which we couldn’t have raced.“

Meanwhile, back at Stratford, the Club observed a two minutes’ silence on Remembrance Sunday to honour those who fell in the World Wars and other conflicts. Nineteen names on the Club’s memorial who died in the Battle of the Somme were read out and the Club’s thoughts were led by the Club’s President, Paul Stanton. Wreaths were laid by the Club’s youngest member William Clarke and Peter Wyatt, the oldest member: seventy five years separate their rowing experience!

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald p16 and p14 and Stratford Observer p38 and online…/success-and-disappointmen…

Stratford Wins at Henley and Stourport

SuABC Henley November 2Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s head racing season campaign continued on Saturday with Henley Long Distance Sculls Head of the River Race. Held over three kilometers on the River Thames, this head race is always a high quality and popular event: this year being no different with a record six hundred strong entry list and high profile competitors such as Olympian James Cracknell OBE joining the fray

Stratford’s entries came from Senior, Masters and Junior sections with strong sculling performances inSuABC Henley November 1 plentiful supply across the board. Notable highlights were second place for the Women’s Junior 15 double scull of Emily Browne and Katie Wellstead (recording a faster time than most of the Junior 16 crews on the day) and Fred Tyler in the Junior 14 single scull category with a commanding performance to achieve an excellent third place

Elsewhere amongst the Stratford athletes, the Junior 15 single scullers of Joe Hodson, Jess Wiesheu and Khloe Curnock battled hard in a competitive class. The Junior 15 coxed quadruple scull (Molly Gill-Swift, Gracie Mitchell, Autumn Keil, Katie Phillips and Mimi Hill) and Junior 14 coxed quadruple scull (Mya Kenny, Mili Wilcock, Maiya James, Alice Baines and Sophie Neville) pushed hard and there were plucky performances from Lucy Rouse (Novice single scull) and Christine Goodwin (Masters single scull) against tough competition showing promise for future events

SuABC Stourport KW TD November 2016Meanwhile, on Sunday, Stratford upon Avon’s Seniors continued their winter head racing season with a trip to local Midlands club Stourport for their small boats head race. The event, raced over two four kilometer divisions in windy but otherwise good conditions, offered some challenging racing throughout the day. First off in the morning division in cold but beautiful conditions for Stratford upon Avon was Kjersti Woolley and Thomas Doherty in Mixed Masters E double sculls. In their first event since competing at the World Masters Club Championships in Copenhagen in September, they rowed down the four kilometer course rating a powerful thirty strokes per minute in a tough encounter with IM2 double scullers from Loughborough, managing to keep them at bay for the whole course to record a time of 15 minutes and 20 seconds which proved fast enough to win their event giving Kjersti Woolley her first victory for StratfordSuABC Stourport Explore November 2016

Not to be outdone, Stratford’s Explore rowing section comprising Nils Purser, Rona Fitzpatrick, Andrea Duxbury and Rosie Stone took on local club Stourport over the full four kilometer course in their first taste of fully competition racing after their wins at the British Rowing’s West Midland Explore Regatta at Stratford last weekend. Getting off to a fast start, the crew strode out to gradually to overhaul Stourport and by the three quarter mark at the Stourport boathouse had established a lead of some five lengths. Despite fatigue creeping SuABC Stourport Explore KW TD November 2016in, the crew kept their technique to maintain their lead all the way to the finish in a very good time of 19 minutes

Said a delighted Nils Purser, Stratford’s Explore crew organiser, “This was our first foray into full long distance head racing in our Explore class boats and, despite it being a big challenge, we were exceptionally pleased to be able to maintain our discipline and record a first win at this level. We have now got the racing bug and are looking forward to many more exciting races!”

See also Stratford Herald online and p17 and Stratford Obsever online and p30

See also David Phillip’s great pictures of Henley Long Distance Sculls Head of the River Race…/sets/721576747293…/with/30165774314 and…/135872444@N…/sets/72157674729386951

Stratford Wins Explore Rowing Final Regatta

SuABC Explore October 2016 2Sunday saw the final of British Rowing’s West Midland Explore Rowing series of regattas with Stratford upon Boat Club winning the overall series with four wins for Stratford A and Stratford C crews with Bewdley A coming second

Eleven clubs from throughout the West Midlands took part in the final afternoon regatta: 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’sSuABC Explore October 2016 1 programme to bring adults into rowing, sport and exercise: Stratford Boat Club ran ‘Learn to Row’ Explore Rowing courses throughout 2016 and will be running more courses in spring 2017

Said Nils Purser, Stratford Boat Club’s Explore Rowing squad organiser, “Stratford was honoured to be chosen to run the final Explore Rowing regatta: we were even more delighted to have won the day. 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 SuABC Explore October 2016 1Learn to Row courses

Stratford’s Explore Rowing crews were not the only crews to be on the water this last Sunday: the Club’s Senior Squad represented Stratford at Gloucester Rowing Club’s Long Distance Autumn Head of the River Race and Junior and Master’s Squads took part in the Club’s upstream time trials on the Avon

To see Stratfor Herald online coverage… and hard copy p19. For Stratford Observer, see p31

Evesham Junior & Pairs Heads

SuABC Evesham Junior Head October 2016 WJ16.2xSaturday saw Stratford upon Avon Boat Club and their sister club, King Edward VI Boat Club, compete at nearby Evesham Junior Head. Racing over 1900 metres, the racing was truly pulsating.
The KES boys won a great victory in the J18 coxed fours; KES girls’ performance was tremendous finishing just in front of the Stratford WJ16 4+.

Lara Davies, sculling in the WJ16 event for Stratford Boat Club, was outstanding and secure first place in the event of fifteen competitors: Lara then secured a second victory sculling in a double with Lauren Willis.

The WJ15 double of Molly Gill-Swift and Gracie Mitchell finished a creditable fourth whilst Katie Philips and Emily Browne rowing up an age group would in time have dominated the event.

Many of the athletes raced in two events and after racing already, the girls’ J15 quad scull lost by five seconds to Headington. Said Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator, “Headington is a high quality girls’ rowing school from Oxford: we’re coming up on them fast! Headington, look out for the future!”

Many of the fourteen and fifteen year olds also rowed in single sculls: a great performance by all but topped by Joe Hodson outstanding win in the boys’ event.

But the day was to be given over to the thirteen year olds, a mixture of two boys (Fred Tyler and Max Griffiths) and two girls (Nixie Brunt and Maiya James) coxed by Sophie Neville who won the boys’ event, a truly tremendous achievement. Two crews of girls in double sculls also gave an impressive performance.

Stratford upon Avon rowers also took part in the first national rowing event of the new rowing year, The Pairs Head of the River Race held annually on the River Thames in the middle of London .

The event raced over 4.8 kilometers attracted a full field of over 430 crews competing in a range of two person crews raced over a slightly shortened Varsity Boat Race course.

One of the first crews competing over the course was Stratford’s IM2 double scullers Ed Lewry and Ben Gittus Smith who started fifth in the large field. In difficult conditions with high winds and choppy water they recorded an impressive finishing time of 15 minutes 33 seconds to finish third in their event.

Stratford upon Avon’s Mixed Masters C double scullers of Fiona Carmichael and Thomas Doherty were next off in the middle of the field. The pair who hadn’t raced for several months together were faced with a stiff task against a high quality field but still recorded aSuABC Explore regatta poster October 2016 creditable time of 17 minutes and 21 seconds.

Stratford’s final crew entry in Masters D pairs of Richard Nelson and Simon Beard had to contend with a last minute boat substitution due to equipment damage, but still managed a fast time of 16 minutes and 58 seconds in a highly contested division.

Said Tom Doherty, Masters’ Vice Captain, “This is the first time for some years we have had so many crews in a diverse range of classes in such a prestigious event and we hope to build on this performance for next year.”

Stratford can now also look forward to hosting the final Explore regatta of the season which will take place on Sunday 30 October.

See also Stratford Herald p20

For more great pictures of Evesham Head, see David Phillip’s stream…/135872444@N…/sets/72157671741014063

Copenhagen, Wallingford and Birmingham!

SuABC World Masters K&T 1Stratford upon Avon Masters’ rowers completed their final regatta of the summer in style with a trip to the 2016 World Rowing Masters Regatta. The event which is held on the international course at the beautiful Lake Bagsvaerd just outside Copenhagen attracts a high quality field from all over the globe with many ex Olympians from London 2012 and former Internationals among the competitors.

Amongst the best performing competitors were crews from as far afield as Argentina, Russia and Australia. With almost 10,000 rowers competing over four days, racing was thick and fast, every three minutes throughout the day, with up to three races on the 1000m course at any time.

The Stratford upon Avon crew of Kjersti Woolley (stroke) and Tomas Doherty (bow) competing in the mixed masters E double sculls had their work cut out in a race against crews from The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Russia, Switzerland, and France. Despite getting off to a shaky start which saw them a length down over the first 250 metres, the crew settled into a good rhythm and fought back to overtake several crews finishing in a time of 4 minutes and 25 seconds in a race won by an excellent former champion Netherlands double .

Said Kjersti Woolley, “It was a great experience to take part in such a high profile event and, as a Norwegian, to beat a crew from Norway was an added bonus!” Next year Stratford will be hoping to take a larger contingent to the event which takes place at Lake Bled in Slovenia.

Closer to home, Stratford’s Junior squad were in action at the weekend on the Thames at the opening head race of the new season.SuABC Wallingford September 2016 J14.4x+ Finish Wallingford Long Distance Sculls, held over 4.25km, attracts top level scullers from around the region with Stratford fielding crews across the age range. Of particular note were third placings for the J15 double scull of Khloe Curnock and Autumn Keil, J16 double scull of Ellie Gray and Lauren Willis and the J16 coxless quad of Amy Neville, Lara Davies, Issy Marsden and Maddie Winsper.

On the shorter 1.5km course, Stratford J14 crews triumphed with all three boats winning their events. The mixed coxed quadruple scull of Max Griffiths, Daniel Cox, Nixie Brunt, Mya Kenny and Mimi Hill recorded the fastest time of the coxed quadruple sculls entered whilst the Women’s crew of Jasmine Mountney, Mili Wilcock, Maiya James, Alice Baines and Sophie Neville overhauled Maidenhead to win their event. To close the day, a gutsy performance from Fred Tyler in the single scull saw him take the victory in the J14 category. Said Steve Wellstead, SuABC Wallingford September 2016 J14.1x FinishJunior Co-ordinator, “All in all, a solid performance for the club and great promise shown for the season ahead.”

Not to outdone, Stratford’s Explore Rowing squad travelled to Birmingham reservoir where Birmingham Rowing Club played host to the penultimate Explore regatta on Sunday with eight crews taking part. Once again two crews from Stratford attended joined by assorted crews from Birmingham, Bewdley and Upton. The odd intense shower, gust of wind and slight bloom of blue-green algae added to the novelty of racing on a reservoir for the first time not to mention getting in and out of the boats on the shoreline whilst trying to juggle with wellies and shoes and plenty of inboard water! The somewhat limiting racing distance of just over 200m also provided some exciting close finishes!SuABC Birmingham Explore September 2016

The Stratford mixed crew of Becs, Lucy, Rona and Rory managed to pull ahead of Birmingham to notch up a race win. The Stratford ladies crew of Andrea, Jackie, Maria and Rosie proved to be on great form and, thanks to some good starts, managed to keep the pressure on and won their first three races. Their last race was drawn against a mixed crew from Bewdley, who unsurprisingly proved the stronger crew in the end but only by just by a canvas! Had the ladies also won this final race of the day, they would have shared first place with Upton who were the undefeated winners of the afternoon’s racing.

Stratford can now look forward to hosting the final Explore regatta of the season, which will take place on 30 October.

See also Stratford Herald online and Stratford Observer online

Stratford Take The Plate at Upton

SuABC Upton September 2016 3Stratford upon Avon Boat Club entered two crews among the twelve entries for this year’s beginners’ regatta at Upton Rowing Club

The event was well organised and very well supported in the sunshine. In the second event, Stratford A were theSuABC Upton September 2016 2 winners of the Upton Plate, beating Upton themselves in the final. Stratford B also put up a good show, narrowly losing in the quarter final.  Altogether, a credit to the eight Stratford beginners and their coxes

SuABC Upton September 2016All eight rowers have come to the sport through the very popular British Rowing’s ‘Explore Rowing’ course at Stratford. This year’s autumn courses are well underway and more courses are planned for the spring

See Stratford Herald p23 and online

Success at Wet Worcester Regatta

SuABC Worcester September 2016 Goodwin RouseSaturday saw Stratford upon Avon Boat Club compete at Worcester Rowing Club’s Autumn Regatta: despite a mostly wet day, all of the crews and supporters had a good event and Stratford showed its presence in small boat racing.

A scratch crew of Christine Goodwin and Lucy Rouse raced a technically competent women’s Novice 2x, never having rowed together before. Although they were beaten by tall Worcester seventeen year olds, Christine and Lucy proved their ability under race pressure and both showed their future promise. Their opposition went on to win the event.

Victoria Ward beat a very competent Nottingham University woman who raced in Gloucester colours in W.IM3.1x category. SuABC Worcester September 2016 Ed ImVictoria fought in the next heat against a tall Minerva Bath athlete, losing only to her opponent’s greater size. Said Victoria “They were both hard races and I was pleased I kept the pressure on the Gloucester athlete to cross the finish first”. Coach Helen Smith added, “Victoria continues to show her promise having had a few months of injury and we look forward to her continuing to develop her ability”.

Lucy Rouse competed in her first ever W.Nov.1x category race against the same Gloucester athlete who Victoria held off in the morning.  Lucy showed how far she has come in less than a year of rowing, keeping her cool and maintaining good technique.  Her opponent went on to win the event. Lucy’s coach Mark Dewdney said, “It was good to be there to see her put all the teaching in to action and I was very pleased with her efforts.”

P1060013The big successes of the day were Ed Lewry and Imogen North, ably racing against a quality crew from AB Severn in the Mx.Sen.2x category, taking Stratford over the finish easily. It was their last race together this season following their win at Ross Regatta a couple of weeks ago and the exciting final at Henley Town & Visitors’ Regatta a few weeks prior to that.

The crews were assisted by Dave and Lynne Rouse, great supporters of daughter Lucy and the Club and also Jen Carey who loaned her towing vehicle – without which no boat transport would have been available.

Back at Stratford, the Club was very busy during Sunday as the venue for the very successful Shakespeare Hospice Dragon Boat event raising money for running the Hospice.

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page 16.