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.

Winning Form Continues at Ross Regatta

SuABC Ross August 2016 Mas D 4+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 lengthsSuABC Ross August 2016 13 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 SuABC Ross August 2016 12finish 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.SuABC Ross August 2016 27

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.”

SuABC Ross August 2016 14A 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 boysSuABC Ross August 2016 9 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. SuABC Ross August 2016 5In 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 tooSuABC Ross August 2016 3 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.

SuABC Ross August 2016 4The 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.”SuABC Ross August 2016 Conrad

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

For more excellent pictures of Stratford at Ross, see Stuart Baines amazing shots!AgY7EiDB2lCOsEdDZGdIdzOPznKa

SuABC Stourport LtR August 2016 1Stourport’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 PurserSuABC Stourport LtR August 2016 2 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.

SuABC DucksThere 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.

Adaptive Rowers Triumph at Oxford

SuABC CoO para 6aStratford upon Avon Boat Club’s para-rowers attended Oxford City Royal Regatta at the weekend. Two rowers, Mark Sanders and Steve Binns, were competing in their first races. There were eight disabled rowers in the morning event from Stratford, Marlow, Peterborough and Oxford itself.

Steve Binns, a paraplegic, had a tough first round against a sculler from Marlow Rowing Club losing by two lengths. Mark Sanders however defeated a spirited sculler from the City of Oxford Rowing Club by the same margin.

In his semi-final Mark, a visually impaired rower, had a tremendous race with another sculler from Marlow. He was behind until the final few strokes, finally winning by just three feet. This put him through to the final. Here he was to face a familiar face, Kingsley Ijomoh, who until recently was a Stratford para-rower. Kingsley had moved down to South East last autumn and is now racingSuABC CoO para 5a for Marlow Rowing Club. An epic final resulted in another tight fight. After the crews crossed the line there was an agonising minute long wait for the result to be announced. Again Mark had won by just three feet, steered by Joe Moore from Stratford Boat Club.

Steve Binns competed in the afternoon Plate event. Sadly again beaten by two lengths, this time to an Oxford sculler.

Said Mark Dewdney, Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive coach,”The regatta was applying a new system to try to ensure close racing across a range of disabilities: this proved hugely successful with a large number of very close finishes. Stratford upon Avon Boat Club welcomes adaptive rowers SuABC CoO para 4awith all disabilities.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer online and p39.

After the disappointment of the cancellation of the Warwick Boat Club regatta at the weekend due to high winds and inclement weather, Stratford Boat Club are gearing up for a busy Bank Holiday weekend at the Ross Rowing Club regatta when all squads will meet local and national rivals. Closer to home, Stratford Boat Club launch drivers will be assisting Stratford upon Avon Rotary Club (Evening Group) with their charity fundraising duck race ( at 14.00hrs on Saturday at the weir by Holy Trinity Church.

Next Stop … Copenhagen!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club mixed masters E crew of Kjersti Rogneflaten Woolley and Thomas Doherty continued their ongoingSuABC World Masters Copenhagen square personal battle with Derwent Rowing Club over the weekend at Stourport Regatta. The event, held over two days provides challenging racing over 1100m on Saturday and 650m sprint racing on Sunday, attracted a high quality field including clubs from London and the North of England watched by a large vocal crowd on both days.

Stratford was again drawn against National Championship medalists Derwent on both days having raced them previously over two days at Bewdley previously. On the Saturday, racing over the long course with a tail wind and stream which produced a fast race, saw Derwent powering off the start to take a length’s lead by halfway. A strong push by Stratford saw them close the gap but just fade away at the finish to lose by just over a length.
SuABC Stourport longWith the sprint race on the Sunday, a change of tactics saw Stratford storm off the start rating 40 strokes a minute and hold a high tempo narrow lead for the majority of the race rating 37 strokes a minute throughout. In an exciting finish cheered on by the watching crowds, Derwent just made their experience tell to pinch victory by half a length.
Said Kjersti Woolley, “This was our best race yet against a quality crew which demonstrates our continued improvement as we prepare for the World Masters in Copenhagen in a month’s time.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald p16 and Stratford Observer p36.

Explore Rowers put their new skills to the test!

SuABC Bewdley Explore 2016 2aStratford upon Avon Boat Club new Explore Rowing squad competed with two crews on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Bewdley: Rosie’s crew, with Jackie, Rory and Celia, and Rona’s crew, with Nils and the two Clares. Nine crews took part in the Explore Rowing regatta, plus a lot of support and hospitality, especially from the crowds leaning out from the pubs on the town bank at Bewdley. A hugely enjoyable event for all!

Cruelly, Stratford’s two crews were drawn together in the first race. Rona’s crew came through as the close winner. In their next two races, Rosie’s crew won one race and very narrowly lost oneSuABC Bewdley Explore 2016 3a race, whilst Rona’s crew won both races, finishing top of the table with Bewdley A. There was a showdown race at five o’clock, with Stratford sadly losing by a canvas to a good crew.

Said Nils Purser, squad organiser, “We all enjoyed an exhilarating experience and would like to thank Glyn and the several other coaches and coxes who helped us in what we now realise was essential preparation. This kind of fun is a big step up from our Wednesday morning fun paddles. SuABC Bewdley Explore 2016 1aWe have several more events this summer, culminating in Stratford hosting the final event on Sunday 30 October!”

Explore Rowing Learn to Row scheme is a British Rowing initiative to introduce rowing to adults: Stratford upon Avon Boat Club still has some places available on its Explore Rowing Learn to Row courses starting in September.

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online and Stratford Observer

Henley Town & Visitors’ Regatta

Saturday saw many from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club compete in the Henley Town & Visitors’ Regatta. The regatta provides anSuABC HT&V North unique opportunity for scullers and rowers to compete in three-lane racing on the Henley Reach. Races were run over 800m of the famous Henley Royal Regatta course, much of which was also used for the 1908 and 1948 Olympic Games.

From Stratford Boat Club’s Junior Squad, Geoffrey Flambert and Joe Hodson executed their race plan perfectly to beat Wallingford in the semi-final of the J14 Doubles. In one of the closest races of the day, Wallingford led for most of the race by half a length until Geoffrey made the call to pick up the rating with 250 metres to go and the Stratford crew powered through to take the win by a canvas. They came second to Henley in the final. Joe rowed a strong race in the final of the J14 singles again coming second to Henley.

In the Intermediate Single Scullers’ category, Imogen North won her division by beating a sculler from Upper Thames Rowing Club by a length and a half in a time of 3 minutes 49 seconds. Imogen and Ed Lewry also got through to the final of the senior mixed double scull: their opposition included Louisa Reeve a two times Olympian who represented GB at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics only narrowing missing out on selection for Rio. Following an explosive start the Stratford boat lead the way for the first 300 metres but the power of the Olympians came through and they went on to win by two lengths. It was a valiant effort by the Stratford crew and a race of which to be proud.

Stratford’s senior men had formed two quadruple sculls for the event and ended up head to head in the final along with Quintin Boat Club. Not being used to the larger vessels on the Thames, the wash from a passing river cruiser outdid the Stratford scullers and the Quintin boat won out over both crews.

SuABC HT&V DiscoveryA special thanks must go to Jaguar Land Rover’s CSR team who managed to provide the club with a tow vehicle at the last minute following an unfortunate shortage at the club. Said Will Bird, who towed on the day, “The Discovery 4 is such a capable vehicle, it effortlessly towed our fully loaded 2.6 tonne trailer even with the car full of rowers and kit. A big thanks to JLR for the letting us borrow the Discovery: it’s great to see a big business supporting local community groups. Without the car lent to us, we wouldn’t have been able to get the club to the event at all!”

Many of Stratford’s Junior Squad also spent the week improving their rowing and sculling techniques at the 2012 Eton Dorney Olympic Rowing Lake with accommodation at Eton College. Stratford’s own weekly Summer Camps for juniors started 01 August for the whole month of August: there are still places available 22/26 August.

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald p16.

Beautiful Bewdley Successes!

SuABC Bewdley July 2016 Bridgenorth composite 1Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Masters’ Squad descended on the beautiful Worcestershire town of Bewdley this weekend for their two day summer regatta. The event which attracts crews from all over the country is held on the Severn finishing in the town itself watched by large crowds.

On Saturday on a hot summer’s day, it was the turn of the mixed Masters’ crew of Kjersti Woolley and Tom Doherty on the 800 metre course. In their semi- final, they recorded a comfortable win over the local Bewdley crew. In the final, they faced much tougher opposition from Derwent who were fresh from winning a bronze medal at the National Masters Championships a few weeks beforehand. In a close race with the lead changing several times, Derwent just squeezed through on the finish to win by half a length.

Another hot Sunday saw Stratford crews arrive in force for the 500 metres sprint races with first competitors being the Men’s Masters D coxed four of Stephen Haighton, Tim Lunel, Glyn Hawkins, and Wallace Brown. In a close race against a high quality Monmouth crew, Stratford was narrowly beaten by half a length.

Next up saw Mike Atkins racing in a single scull in the Masters G category, after the first win of the day with a fine victory over a younger Monmouth sculler by one length. In a close final later in the day in which the lead changed several times, Mike was just beaten by a length by the local Bewdley sculler.SuABC Bewdley July 2016 Nelson Beard 2

The mixed Masters crew of Kjersti Woolley and Tom Doherty then had a repeat of their Saturday final against Derwent in their semi- final which saw another very close race, with Stratford again being pipped at the line by half a length.

The Masters’ D coxless pair of Richard Nelson and Simon Beard restored Stratford’s pride with an excellent semi- final win against a quality Stourport pair by a third of a length, and then went on later in the day to record a comfortable event win over Loughborough.

Not to be content with his efforts in the single, Mike Atkins was joined by Chris Straw in Masters’ Men’s F double sculls. In an incident packed race with local rivals Evesham, the race ended in a mid- course crash between both crews fighting for the centre of the river which saw the Stratford men unfortunately disqualified.

SuABC Bewdley July 2016 Nelson Beard 1Stratford finished off the day’s racing with Richard Nelson, Simon Beard, and Tom Doherty in a composite eight with Bridgnorth. The crew which had a very successful winter’s head season was on their first regatta outing and not withstanding no pre-race practice, powered off the start at 45 strokes a minute settling to 40 strokes a minute to pull away from Monmouth down the course to win the event by three lengths. Beating the Monmouth eight crew containing the rowers who had beaten Stratford earlier in the day in the coxed fours proved a fitting end to a well run regatta.

Said Tom Doherty, Masters’ Men’s Vice Captain, “It was fantastic to see six Masters’ squad crews competing here which shows the continuing growth in strength of the Masters’ squad at Stratford, ably assisted by the great support and encouragement from Stratford’s Helen Smith and Christine Goodwin throughout the day.”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald p16 and online at and Stratford Observer p37

Champs on the Water!

SuABC Junior National Rowing Championships WJ14.4x+ July 2016 1Last weekend crews from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club competed at the Junior National Rowing Championships which were held at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham.

The J14 (13 to 14 years of age) had to compete is a skills event on the day before the regatta if they wished to race.

All the Stratford J14 girls squad competed in windy and sometimes rainy conditions; everyone inSuABC Junior National Rowing Championships WJ14.4x+ July 2016 2 either single or double sculls completed the course successfully even though our lightest athletes (50kg) were blown about somewhat. Autumn Keil was the most successful athlete in a single finishing twelfth out of a field of sixty five. Khloe Curnock with Gracie Mitchell and Molly Gill-Swift with Katie Philips finished fifteenth and seventeenth from a fleet of forty five boats.

Two WJ14 crews raced in the time trial on Saturday: Molly Gill-Swift, Katie Philips and Autumn Keil SuABC Junior National Rowing Championships July 2016 Stratford Evesham compositeformed a composite crew with Evesham and finished fifteenth. The Stratford crew of Khloe Curnock, Jessica Wiesheu, Emily Browne, Katie Wellstead and cox Mimi Hill finished fourth to take them into the semi-final. From there they progressed to the final where they sculled supremely in the most exciting 2000m race to finish fifth and only seven seconds from the bronze medal position.SuABC Junior National Rowing Championships July 2016 Stratford Evesham composite.JPG 2

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer p38, online at and Stratford Herald p16.

For excellent pictures of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club at the Junior National Rowing Championships, see David Phillip’s stream…/135872444@N…/sets/72157671079402246