Success at Local Regattas for Stratford’s Crews

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club took athletes from their J13 squad to compete in their first singles events with both the open and the girls’ events running as round robin events, culminating in the final for each event at Warwick Regatta. Grace Beason and Amalia Richardson both raced against a girl from Derwent with the Derwent sculler victorious on both occasions and when racing each other, it was Grace who edged ahead this time. On the other half of the draw, Uche Nwachkwu raced Emily Stobart where it was Uche who was ahead as they crossed the line. They both then raced against a sculler from Upton who was victorious in both races. It was the Derwent and Upton sculler who went head to head in a close final.

In the boys’ event, Charles Happell and Louie Beason both competed for Stratford Boat Club. They went head to head against each other and it was Charles who was the winner on this occasion. They both also raced against a sculler from Upton and despite two very tightly fought races, it was the Upton sculler who crossed the line first in both. Charles then went on to race again in the final against the Upton sculler and again another tight battle commenced. They were neck and neck down the course, but it was the Upton sculler that just pipped Charles to the line.

Said Abi Terry, Junior Squad Coach, “All of the J13’s showed great determination for their first singles events with some very good results which should stand them in good stead going forwards to next season.”

From the J14 squad, there were just two boys available to compete and with no double event to take part in, both boys took to the water in singles. Will Beattie and Owen Perkins had to race each other as part of the round robin and against a strong sculler from Warwick. It was Beattie who won when they went head to head but the Warwick sculler won against both of the Stratford boys. Beattie then went up against the Warwick sculler again where unfortunately the same result occurred as in the previous rounds with Warwick taking the win in home water. The junior squads now look forward to Ross Regatta next weekend.

The WJ15 girls double of Amelie Sartain and Sophie Elstone began a run of undefeated success for the J15 squad at Warwick on Saturday. Facing a strong crew from Worcester, a good start along with accurate navigation saw the girls gain an early lead as they left the castle and headed towards the cheering crowds. A mid race push from Worcester made for an exciting race to the finish with Sartain and Elstone taking the bell by a couple of lengths.

Racing up an age group in the J16 single sculls, the heat saw Will Clarke drawn against a Warwick home boat. With a steady start Clarke grew in confidence to take the lead passing under the bridge, gradually increasing the gap to gain his place in the final later in the afternoon.

Soon after, Martha Usselmann in the WJ15 single sculls event lined up against her competition from Worcester. Under the shadow of Warwick Castle, Usselmann made a positive start achieving the lead as they approached the excited cheers of the spectators at the halfway point. Urged on, the lead began to ever increase with Usselmann crossing the line to her first singles win and to an emotional welcome from her supporters.

The penultimate race of the day, the J16 singles final, saw Clarke facing a formidable looking opponent from Upton. Slightly behind at the start, Clarke maintained his composure and kept position, sensing that the race had started too fast. At the halfway point this was proved correct as Upton began to slow, allowing Clarke to take the lead, finishing strongly for a well deserved win.

Whilst the J13, J14 and J15 squads were battling it out at Warwick Regatta, the J16 squad took part in the annual Oxford City Royal Regatta which takes place on the town stretch of the Thames. A two day affair, the Stratford Boat Club Junior Squad was in action over the 1000m course on Saturday whilst the Club’s Adaptive Squad tested their skills on the 500m sprint course on Sunday.

Saturday’s racing got underway with the J16 sculler Fred Tyler taking on Nottinghamshire County Rowing Association in the Senior single sculls event. A narrow defeat by just two lengths to the England Gold medalist saw Tyler taking an early break before the afternoon’s competition. Later in the day, Tyler came out fighting in the J18 single scull event as he spoiled Evesham’s day in the semi-final and then took the event win with a blistering row leaving Ardingly in his wake.

The J16 girls started their campaign in double sculls with Alice Baines and Jasmine Mountney narrowly losing out to a quality outfit from Wallingford Rowing Club. On the other side of the draw, the combination of Maiya James and Mili Wilcock tore up the course adding insult to the injury inflicted by Tyler and putting Evesham out of the event. Sadly for James and Wilcock, it was not to be their day as Wallingford proved too much for them in the final. The J16 girls regrouped for the afternoon into the coxless quadruple scull senior event with a dominant row in the semi-final leaving Oxford Academicals working out the answer on the start line whilst the junior crew boiled the Thames up with their sculling. Once more the event win was denied however as the girls chased the ladies from Guildford Rowing Club down the course finishing just two lengths behind.

The J17 squad fielded two crews with first to go being the mighty combination of Katie Wellstead and Emily Browne racing in the J18 double sculls. The two time winners in previous years met their match in the first round as they went down to an England gold medal winning partnership from Cheltenham Ladies College and Ardingly Rowing Club. The second J17 crew down the course was the composite of Stratford’s Khloe Curnock and Evesham’s Becca Parkin racing in the senior double scull event. Their day was unfortunately cut short by an Amazonian crew from Oxford who on home water dominated the event taking the event win.

Stratford’s Adaptive Squad raced on the Oxford Sprint course on the Sunday. It proved a successful day: none of the crews were beaten by more than half length by crews from other clubs. Of the five adaptive events, Stratford won three. Ian Ward impressed all with a clear win in the Development Singles. The final of the supported pairs was an all Stratford affair. Dan Godefroy and Paul Beeson established an early lead which their opponents Jake Blatcher and Mark Brookes were just not able to claw back before the finish line. This was Mark’s first event and Dan’s first win.

In Supported Doubles, mother and son combination Ian and Paola Ward convincingly saw off a Marlow crew in their semi-final. This again meant an all Stratford final. Their opponents, Hattie Throssell and Sofia Ward (the daughter of Paola). Paola and Ian came out on top winning a great race by six feet.

Jake Blatcher and Mark Sanders made the semi final in another doubles event narrowly missing the final being beaten half a length by a good Marlow crew. Jake has enjoyed recent success with a win in J16 singles at the recent Bewdley Regatta. Mark Sanders met his arch rival and friend Ben Marsden of Marlow in the adaptive singles. Another close race between them saw Ben just getting over the line first. The adaptive squad now move on to Worcester Regatta in a couple of weeks.

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page sixteen and and also Stratford Observer

For more great pictures of Oxford City Royal Regatta, see Stuart Baines’ excellent selection!AiW2DAyn9tg9jaoLUHwa3BezBnKSQw?e=EjbEGg

Challenging Conditions for Stratford’s Successful Crews at Stourport

The weekend weather forecast for heavy rain and strong winds had made us consider very carefully the safety aspects of taking our Stratford upon Avon Boat Club junior crews to Stourport but how happy we were to have gone!

Firstly, the weather proved to be very kind to us if you ignore the heavy blustery rain showers and secondly the J13 crews had an excellent and successful regatta.

First up was our junior J13 double crew of Charles Happel and Louie Beason provided a very promising row racing against a crew from Derwent Rowing Club. Stratford went off very powerfully and quickly holding a good lead for the first third of the course before running out of steam and eventually missing out by three boat lengths.

Next up for Stratford was the WJ13 coxed quad of Ruby Brooker Collins, Grace Beason, Uche Nwachukwa and Imo Hill admirably coxed by Emily Stobart up against Stourport Boat Club in their first heat race. The girls provided a very impressive controlled performance starting strongly and extending their position through to finishing with a very satisfying win recorded as “easily”.

The next heat was the final against a crew from Burton Leander in strong blustery wind conditions was if anything a better performance than the first heat. It was well coxed and steered by Emily with her crew providing a demonstration of well controlled sculling winning by two lengths. The crew jubilantly collected their pots in bright sunlight.

From the J14 squad, Stratford Boat Club had four athletes competing.

Owen Perkins and Ruby Howells both competed in their first singles events and were joined by Lucy Browne and Freya Watts.

Watts was first up and despite a strong effort didn’t quite manage to overcome her opposition from Derwent Rowing Club. The Derwent sculler then went on to race against Howells who again raced a brilliant race to be beaten by just two lengths.

Browne then took to the water to race against a young lady from Hollingworth Lake and Perkins raced against a strong sculler from Burton Leander. Both raced with their best technique and determination, unfortunately this wasn’t enough to progress to the next rounds.

Perkins and Howells then teamed up in the J14 double sculls to race against two boys from Derwent in the final. They steered a fantastic course and pushed right to the end, but this time it was the Derwent duo who claimed the pots.

The final race of the day for the J14’s came from the WJ14 double scull of Browne and Watts. Again, they raced brilliantly and by the halfway mark already had a substantial lead over their opposition from Hereford. The Hereford duo tried their best but the Stratford double pushed away further to claim their win.

Commenting, Abi Terry, J14 coach said, “The J14’s enjoyed a good event where a lot was learnt about coping in windy conditions and race strategies.”

Overcoming the prevailing wind and impending showers, Conar Aitchison in the single was first on the water for the J15 squad. Despite a good hard row a final’s

place became just out of reach during the finishing sprint.

Emma Harrison and Sophie Elstone in the double battled the conditions comfortably winning a place in the afternoon finals. Shortly after, Elstone took to the water again, this time in a single, easily gaining another finals place in the afternoon.

The afternoon weather improved and the timetable saw Elstone initially competing in the singles final racing against local competition from Evesham. Gaining the lead from the start, Elstone controlled the race to win confidently with much support from the river bank.

The final race of the day for Stratford juniors was Elstone and Harrison

in the double against a strong brew from Hollingworth Lake. Despite their strong and tidy rowing, fighting hard to the end, the girls were unable to close the gap during the last push to the line, finishing second by only a few lengths.

Stratford’s Masters’ sculler Kjersti Rogneflaten Woolley also raced at Stourport Sprint Regatta, this time on Sunday. Despite some downpours, the weather had improved massively from Saturday’s stormy weather.

Kjersti raced in a Women Master E Double, as a composite crew with Derwent’s Gillian Lockhart. They won their first heat against the ladies from Exeter by one length.

The semi-final against Bewdley was more exiting. Despite several warnings from the umpire, Bewdley did not move over into their own lane and thus the Derwent/ Stratford crew was forced into the lane for boats going up to the start. The composite crew registered their objection at the finish and the umpires disqualified the Bewdley crew. An unfortunate outcome of a race.

The final was against Hereford Rowing Club and the Stratford/Derwent composite won with two lengths. Said Kjersti,”This was our first regatta in a women’s double this year. A few tweaks with the set up of the boat and we will be ready for the Worlds Masters Regatta in Hungary in September!”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald pages 15 and 16 and online Also see Stratford Observer online

International Competition for On Form Stratford Crews

On Saturday Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s athletes young and old travelled to Henley on Thames to compete in the Town and Visitors Regatta. With athletes from Las Vegas, the East India Company, Holland and the Royal Air Force this is truly an eclectic and fabulous event.

The double scull with the Masters Neville Hand and Gary Clay on board won a very hard fought heat against Bentham Boat Club: in the final they took on Guildford Rowing Club with a crew in an older age group who were given a generous ten second advantage from the start. Stratford again piled on the pressure but by the finish failed to overhaul their opponents to lose by less than two seconds.

The 17 year old girls raced both senior and junior women’s events: Khloe Curnock and Molly Gill-Swift raced a Dutch coxless pair in the senior event. After a most grueling race the Dutch ladies finished three feet in front of the Stratford girls. Katie Wellstead and Emily Browne racing in junior double sculls were just unable to overhaul a double from Upper Thames Rowing Club. All four girls were joined by their cox Mimi Hill to race in the Senior Women’s coxed four event. After winning their heat by over three lengths, they took on Warwick Boat Club in the final. In another amazing and closely fought race, the Stratford girls won by half a length to bring home the trophy and a wodge of pewter.

The J16 squad were represented on Henley Reach by Fred Tyler, Mya Kenny and Alice Baines. First up was Alice entered in the Senior Women’s single scull event where the competition was strong and a sculler from Greenbank Falmouth Rowing Club triumphed. Next off the stake boats was Fred Tyler in the J16 single scull winning his heat in style over Henley Rowing Club. Unfortunately the final did not follow the same pattern and a miss-timed final push cost Tyler the silverware by just two feet. The space on the mantelpiece will have to wait for now. Finally Alice returned to the water undaunted with Mya in the J16 double scull. A race proven combination, the girls ran sisters from Henley Rowing Club (both National Schools Gold Medalists) hard just losing out by less than one length in a crowd pleasing race. In the last race of the day for Stratford a late entry from Sophie Elstone in the J15 single scull event delighted the spectators as the bar opened. Unfortunately, it was not to be Sophie’s day as she lost out to a young sculler from Wallingford Rowing Club.

Commenting, Steve Wellstead, Stratford Boat Club’s Junior Co-ordinator, said, “An excellent day’s racing with an international flavour and pleasing results for Stratford as we stay in form ready for our own rescheduled regatta on Saturday 21 September.”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page fifteen and online

For more great photographs from Henley Town & Visitors regatta, see Stuart Baines’ excellent selection on!AgY7EiDB2lCOg5Eg3w0rKI0UR8s1GQ

Testing Conditions at British Rowing Junior National Championships

The junior rowing season culminates each year in the British Rowing Junior National Championships held on the 2000m purpose built lake at the National Water Sports Centre, Nottingham. The event, held over three days, represents the last opportunity for junior athletes to compete on the national stage after a year of training hard.

Day One of the Championships saw the J14’s taking to the water in their first chance to compete at this prestigious event. The J14’s event is different to all of the other age groups because, in order to race the quads, they have to do the omnium event in singles or doubles. The omnium is made up of seven different skills to decide the best scullers in the country. In the WJ14 singles sculls event Stratford upon Avon Boat Club had four entries, Harriet Holmes, Fleur Griffiths, Freya Watts and Lucy Browne, who finished thirteenth, seventeenth, nineteenth and thirty first respectively from eighty seven entries. Toby Sartain competed in the equivalent open event where out of sixty three competitors, Sartain finished in a very respectable twenty fifth place.

In the WJ14 double sculls, where there were sixty seven crews, Ruby Howells teamed up with Hermione Brewster and despite an unfortunate capsize managed to get themselves back in to complete the event in twenty fourth place. Honour Keil and Bella Chappelhow also competed in the same event beating several crews to finish in fifty six place.

The boys double of Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie were the last Stratford Boat Club crew to take part in the omnium, competing in a very competitive field and even though they managed a very impressive fourth place in the 500m race, finished up in fourteenth place overall.

Then the quads then took to the water. The WJ14 crew of Watts, Browne, Griffiths and Keil expertly coxed by Toby Sartain put in a strong performance in the time trial, to finish thirteenth and take their place in the C Final. Here they went out strong and led out of the start. They settled into their rhythm and just weren’t quite quick enough to stay in front, finishing with a big push to take third place.

The mixed crew racing in the open event finished the time trial in twentieth place. The crew of Beattie, Wilcock, Chappelhow and Holmes, coxed by Amelie Sartain raced well in the D Final to push through and take the third place spot.

Said Abi Terry, J14 coach, “Some really great results for the J14’s at their first British Championships. They will look to build on these next season.”

Day Two of the Championships saw athletes from J15, J16 and J17/J18 squads take to the water. Time trial events in the morning were dogged by high winds and waves on the usually calm waters of Holme Pierrepoint. The J16 squad rose to the challenge with gritty performances from Fred Tyler in the single scull (seventh) and Alice Baines / Mya Kenny in the double scull (ninth) taking both crews forward into the multi-lane regatta format on Day Three.

The first J15 representatives on Saturday to face the choppy open lake were Abbey Meggeson and Emma Harrison in a double, who despite a valiant row against the clock in most hostile conditions, were unable to gain a finals place in one of the largest fields of the day.

The remaining J15 time trial events for the squad were all singles. In boats weighing less than 15kgs, the athletes faced the increasingly windy and choppy conditions. First up were Conar Aitchison and Will Clarke who despite not being quick enough to gain finals places, finished not too far out of the running.

The girls’ singles were next with Amelie Sartain, Elisabeth Edwards, Harriet Hodgson and Sophie Elstone taking to the water. Following the 2km row to the start, the conditions began to worsen. After a slight halt to proceedings, racing eventually continued in terrible conditions that saw Hodgson’s boat being swamped by the waves after 500m, filling the boat with so much water she was unable to continue.

At times it appeared as if the remaining girls were rowing backwards due to the winds however perseverance saw them cross the finish line soaked and exhausted with Edwards and Elstone both less than a minute from a finals place. Sartain meanwhile, gained a place in the C Final to take place in the afternoon, missing out on an A/B Semi Finals place on the Sunday by only twelve seconds.

The early evening saw Sartain lining up for the C Final against girls from Maidenhead, Reading, Runcorn, St Andrews and local rivals, Ross on Wye. A good start had Sartain pushing for an initial lead from the Maidenhead boat and once settled the two boats began drawing steadily away from the others. Maidenhead gained a slight lead by halfway and a late push from Reading in the closing quarter made for an exciting finish resulting in Sartain second to Maidenhead and eighth overall for the event.

On Day Three, the top twelve crews nationally in each event gathered at the lake once more to do battle. Conditions were significantly improved and excellent racing from all ensued. A fifth place in the semi-final saw Fred Tyler well placed for the B Final in his single scull. What followed was one of the closest races of the day as Fred led the B Final from the start but was tested to the maximum by Tideway Scullers School in the last 500m. A win for Stratford resulted by just 0.4 seconds. Mya Kenny and Alice Baines also progressed to the B Final in the J16 double sculls event. Said Steve Wellstead, J16 coach and Junior Co-ordinator, “Racing hard to the end, the girls ended the day at tenth overall. A great result from the J16 squad on the national stage.”

The Junior National Rowing Championships are the culmination of nine months of hard training. It was thus for the Junior 17 girls; Katie Wellstead, Khloe Curnock, Emily Browne and Molly Gill-Swift rowing competitively in a coxless four for the first time, displayed skill and determination as they took on some of the best crews in the UK two of which go on to represent England and Scotland this weekend. Finishing seventh in the time trials put them into the semi-finals against five other crews. After racing over 2000 metres they missed qualification to the A final by four seconds. Their performance in the B Final was outstanding. They and the heavier Henley Rowing Club raced neck and neck over the first 1200 metres leaving the rest of the field in their wake. The race ended with Stratford coming second and three lengths behind the Henley winning crew.

The double scull partnership of Jessica Wiesheu and Talei Dunn raced in another highly competitive event. By the time of their time trial the weather had deteriorated and the girls were left to race into a strong headwind and a substantial swell. Jessica and Talei finished just thirty seconds behind the winner and secured a place in the C Final. Due to the bad weather their race was very delayed and not rowed out.

Dr Graham Collier, J1718 coach commented, “Now it is time for the group to have fun at local regattas before they embark on their final year of Junior Rowing and our own rescheduled regatta on Saturday 21 September.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifteen and online at Also see Stratford Observer online at

For more great pictures of British Rowing Junior National Championships, see Stuart Baines’ selection at!AiW2DAyn9tg9jaY_DZJoQf4drWNFgg

Monster Day of Fun!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Fun Regatta took place on Saturday amidst good humoured rivalry. While crowds from Birmingham, Coventry, Warwickshire and further afield came in great numbers, the weather was ideal and thus the demand for the barbecue, tea tent and bar was continuous, many celebrating or drowning their sorrows! Cheers from crew supporters and visitors spurred on some twenty four crews to their fleeting place in history – winning, surviving, completing the course or being the best well dressed crew on the river!
Said Chris Belcher, Stratford Boat Club’s Joint Fun Regatta Secretary, “This year’s Fun Regatta, our seventeenth, was another great one in terms of number of local crews from companies and organisations. This year we also had crews from parents of our young rowers: fierce competition and rivalry  – especially from the mums of rowers from King Edward The Sixth School – maxiMUM Mayhem!”
Simon Price, Joint Fun Regatta Secretary added, “The ingenuity and effort put into the fancy dress was amazing – Lightning Vikings, Fun Lovin’ Criminals and The Redbacks –  brought a smile to everybody’s face! Already we’ve seen several competitors sign up for Stratford Boat Club’s adult Learn to Row courses next year for those wanting to try rowing even more seriously or just for recreational exercise.”
“We enjoyed hosting so many visitors and local residents at the Fun Regatta,” said Paul Stanton, the Club’s President. “This year the Fun Regatta came at just the right time to lift our spirits after the disappointment for having to cancel our fine boat regatta in June on safety grounds: we are delighted that most of the sponsors and suppliers to our main regatta have continued to support us and we are on track for running our re-scheduled fine boat regatta on Saturday 21 September. We have had a very exciting year having done so well in local and national regattas. The Fun Regatta helps us to show that rowing isn’t just about serious competition and that there is also the fun and recreational aspect to our sport. We are a community club and the support of local companies and organisations is crucial to us and will help to increase our outreach to local and area schools and will increased our ability to provide sport for all especially those looking for weekday recreation and exercise.”
The winners of the Fun Regatta were The Redbacks with the fastest time and the Lightning Vikings with the most innovative fancy dress!
On Sunday, whilst most of the Club were recovering from a very busy Fun Regatta, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Junior Girls’ coxless four of Katie Wellstead, Talei Dunn, Emily Brown and Molly Gill-Swift travelled to the Royal Albert Dock in London’s East End to race over a 1.5k course in the trials to represent England in the Home International Regatta. The girls put in a superb performance but having only had one hour’s training together, they were ten seconds from selection.
Two other Stratford athletes rowing for University of Nottingham were also on show. Peter Boyes raced in a coxless four and Imogen North in a double scull and after an exceptional race qualified to represent England.
For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald pages seven and sixteen
For more great pictures of the Fun Regatta, please see DP Photography’s selection at

Gold for Stratford Juniors at Peterborough!

A splendid summer Saturday saw Stratford’s junior squads sweltering under a beating sun at the Peterborough Junior Championships last weekend in the penultimate major event of the season.

The thousand metre four laned course looked splendidly still as the J15 double of Harriet Hodgson and Julia Zampronio Gurden took to the water for their doubles race. Despite a strong row against opposition who ultimately finished first and second in the event, they just missed a placing in the semi-finals.

Advancement through the heats for the J15 squad then fell on the singles events. Elisabeth Edwards was next to take her lane, yet despite finishing in a respectable third missed out on the further heats and meanwhile Conar Aitchison and Will Clarke, in separate heats, couldn’t break through the heat stages despite some hard racing along the course. Hopes then rested with Sophie Elstone, whose race plan saw her establish first position early and able to control the race to win her heat for a place in the final later in the day.

The first races of the afternoon saw Aitchison and Clarke together in the double. With a good start and the first 500 metres looking promising they settled nicely ready for the final push. As the finish approached the race noticeably upped a pace and despite a fight to the finish the boys once more closely missed a finals place. As the Sun continued to beat down, the girls’ quad crewed by Edwards, Elstone, Hodgson and Zampronio Gurden, coxed by Toby Sartain, started well but were again unable to advance to the finals.

Closing the racing for the J15s, Sophie Elstone’s final in the singles event saw her line up under the relentless Sun for her fourth race of the day. Another good start looked promising and pushing strongly through the first half made for some good racing, the last two hundred metres forced each competitor to the limit with Elstone finishing in Bronze medal position at the end of a very demanding day.

The J14 squad began their day’s racing with the boys singles of Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie, in separate heats, both ‘easily’ gaining places through to the next round. Racing next to each other for the one remaining place in the final, both boys setting off well with Wilcock able to maintain the lead throughout and win the remaining place in the final, to be run later in the day.

The girls’ double of Bella Chappelhow and Honour Keil were next and another hard fought and confident race saw them miss a finals place by only seven seconds against the eventual event winners. The J14 girls’ singles event followed with Freya Watts, and Harriet Holmes comfortably winning places through to the next rounds, however both were just pushed out of places for the final.

Chappelhow, Holmes, Keil and Watts with cox Toby Sartain joined forces in the girls’ quad for the start of their afternoon racing. An exciting opening race with only 1.2 seconds separating them from first place, saw the girls into the semi-final where accurate bladework and synchronicity quickly led them into the final for what turned out to be the most exciting racing of the day.

With not the best of starts, the girls found themselves in fourth position, however they calmly focused on the task ahead maintaining rhythm and control settling nicely. At the halfway point and still in fourth position the girls could be seen to find a second wind; with three hundred metres to go the encouragement from Sartain saw the boat accelerate to push convincingly into third position and then further boosted from the ever increasing cheering from the crowd, into second place finally finishing only four seconds behind the winners, a great race showing fantastic strength.

Following their initial singles races, Beattie and Wilcock then came together in the double and maintained the J14 run by easily qualifying for the final. Yet more close racing from was to follow from the boys and the day’s excitement was far from over as from the start the opposition from Maidstone put up the fight in what was to finish as the closest race of the day.

Another steady start found the Stratford crew slightly behind by the halfway point. Sheer determination mixed with skilled sculling saw the double break away from the bronze position pushing ever closer towards the Gold. A neck to neck final hundred metres had the crowd mesmerised as the finish bell rang twice in such quick succession it was impossible to know, until the announcement, that Beattie and Wilcock had won the Gold medal by 0.4 of a second, a much deserved win.

The day’s racing wasn’t yet over for Wilcock, who shortly after winning Gold in the double had to race the singles final with little rest allowed. After a short recovery period, he once again took to the water, however the effort given to win the double event proved the singles a race too far, with Tomi finishing out of the medals by only a few lengths.

Said Trevor Tiller, J15 coach, “A fantastic day’s racing for the Stratford Juniors with all showing great promise leading into the highlight of the season later in July, the British Rowing Junior Championships at Nottingham!”

On Sunday there was no let up for Stratford Juniors as they raced the preliminary heats of the Club’s internal President’s Sculls. Said the Club’s President Paul Stanton, “The President’s Sculls was introduced to encourage not only the junior squad but all age groups to improve their skills and competitiveness in sculling. We are certain that this emphasis will help our athletes excel in our own rescheduled regatta on Saturday 21 September. We have been heartened by the response of most of our regatta sponsors who have stuck with us over the cancellation of our June regatta and carried their support over to September: it’s going to be a great day!”

For media coverage of J14 and J15 successes at Peterborough Junior Championships, please see Stratford Herald page fifteen and online at and Stratford Observer online at

Good Placings at Henley Women’s Regatta for Stratford’s Juniors

Competing at the splendid Henley Women’s Regatta, the Junior Coxed Four of Katie Wellstead, Talei Dunn, Emily Brown and Khloe Curnock coxed once more by Mimi Hill were one of twenty one crews from the UK and the USA. Only sixteen crews could qualify from the time trial to join the side by side racing. Of the sixteen crews, the fastest eight are seeded: the Stratford girls qualified and were only five seconds from joining the seeded group.

In their heat, the girls were drawn to race against the number one seed, a crew made up of athletes from three Scottish schools. Stratford got off to a tremendous start as the crews began to race over the 1500 metre course. As the crews approached the halfway stage, the Scots had begun to edge in front: the pace was frenetic. At the finish, the exhausted Stratford crew were only three lengths behind the winners who were in fact representing Scotland and reached the final of the event. Commented Dr Graham Collier, J17/18 coach, “This was gutsy performance by the young Stratford crew and tees up the squad nicely for their races at the National Championships in July!”

Also in action were the under 16 coxless quadruple scull of Jasmine Mountney, Alice Baines, Mya Kenny and Mili Wilcock.  Their time trial took place in the evening sun on Friday with nineteen crews entered hailing from around the UK and Australia. The girls delivered their race plan to the letter and produced a first class row over the Henley course to be placed tenth. Sadly only the top eight progressed to the next round but with just two seconds between them and the qualifying crews, they can be justifiably proud of their performance.

Junior Coordinator and J16 coach, Steve Wellstead said, “The Club is extremely proud to be able to field two junior crews at such a prestigious event and we are delighted with their performance against some of the finest rowing schools and clubs in the country.”

For media coverage please see Stratford Herald online and page 15 and Stratford Observer online

For more great pictures of Henley Women’s Regatta, see Stuart Baines’ excellent selection!AiW2DAyn9tg9jaAkATrY2VThi05yB

Stratford Boat Club Regatta: Down But Not Out!

Saturday 15 June was a sad day for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club as they mopped and cleared up after their cancelled regatta. Over the weekend, marquees were jet washed and put out to dry, marquee poles were sorted and bent straight and the whole area was tidied up after the storm of Tuesday night. The river remained challenging and high and the flow was still very fast with only the senior and more experienced crews allowed out: no crews went upstream through Clopton Bridge were the stream ran fast

Said Shân Stokes, Stratford Boat Club’s Safety Advisor, “Cancelling the regatta on Thursday morning with the river conditions running high and fast and the forecast showing rising levels and more rain was the correct decision. Many of the competitors are comparatively young and inexperienced and have to travel to considerable distance to our regatta: safety is paramount and in our culture at Stratford Boat Club and the conditions on the day justified our considered judgement prior to the event which was also borne out by several experienced authorities’ comments”

Paul Hazelwood, Stratford Boat Club’s Treasurer commented, “The Club has taken a considerable financial hit because of the cancellation of the regatta: as well  being a regional and national showpiece event for our athletes’ prowess and capability and Stratford’s reputation, the regatta is also a major fundraising opportunity for the Club. All the income from the bar, tent tea, barbecue and entry fees is ploughed back into the Club to be spent on the ever increasing costs of equipment, utilities, insurance, property and boat maintenance and subsidising membership fees wherever possible. Onwards and upwards to our very full and actioned packed Fun Regatta on Saturday 13 July!”

Commenting, Paul Stanton, the Club’s President said, “We have been very cheered by the understanding and sympathy of our sponsors who have rallied round and supported us: we are most grateful for their help and staying with us during a challenging time. We hope to re-run the regatta in September and we are currently sounding out the authorities and suppliers to see if they are available in September: it also depends on whether British Rowing can squeeze in another regional event in the very crowded regatta programme. The initial support from sister clubs in the area has been very encouraging”

The last time a Stratford upon Avon Boat Club regatta was cancelled was in June 2007

Meanwhile, Stratford’s WJ17/18 crew were still training hard for this Friday’s three day Henley Women’s Regatta and will be out most evenings this week to finalise their training. Said Dr Graham Collier, J17/18 coach, “Henley Women’s Regatta is the pinnacle of achievement for women’s rowing in the United Kingdom: we are so proud of our young athletes who have trained so hard to be at the peak of fitness and technique. This time of year is also very busy time in their lives with exams and other conflicting commitments: their handling of all these pressures shows maturity beyond their years. They are a great credit to Stratford and the Club!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer online and Stratford Herald online and hard copy Thursday 20 June

Stratford Battle Storm Miguel at Blenheim and Bridgnorth!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s J13 squad travelled on Saturday to the Blenheim Palace Junior Regatta which was threatened with severe disruption due to storm Miguel being forecast to bring with it heavy rain and gusting strong winds which is not the best conditions for junior scullers. However, Stratford’s J13 squad rose to the challenge admirably.

First to test the conditions was a double boat of Charles Happel and Louis Beason recording a very competitive time of two minutes thirteen seconds finishing in sixth place. The next race for Stratford saw our first success: the girls’ quad crew of Amalia Richardson, Maddie Hall, Millie

Hodgson, Ciara Wilson and coxed by Imogen Hill winning a bronze medal and only nine seconds behind the winning Marlow crew.

The next success saw the girls’ quad of Grace Beason, Ruby Brooker- Collins, Uche Nwachukwa, Kate Richardson and coxed by Emily Stobart also win a bronze again only eight seconds away from first place. Next up was the mixed quad crew of Charles Happel, Louie Beason, Uche Nwachukwa, Grace Beason with Ciara Wilson finishing in joint second place with Marlow only three seconds behind the winning Radnor House crew who won in one minute fifty six seconds: a stunning row by Stratford.

Conditions were deteriorating and the double crew of Amalia Richardson and Millie Hodgson battled on to finish in fifth place but only two seconds from a medal place. Maddie Hall and Emily Stobart finished in fifth place in their double again in very difficult conditions an admirable effort.

The day concluded with the delayed singles races with Imogen Hill and Ruby Brooker – Collins struggling through the wind to complete their races.

Said Steve Marsden, J13 coach, “Even after really poor weather conditions all the athletes had at least one medal and some two medals creating very smiley faces and a great amount of parental pride having faced up to some of the most successful rowing clubs in England!”

Also out in the foul weather was Heather Hayton taking part in her first singles race at Bridgnorth Regatta. Coping well with a strong stream, Heather put in two good races against opponents from Birmingham University and Bewdley in a round-robin event.  Said Helen Smith, Women’s Vice Captain, “A good start to Heather’s single racing career.”

Last weekend, Mark Sanders from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Adaptive Squad took part in racing at Hereford Rowing Club regatta. The squad’s aim was to support Hereford’s first steps into adaptive racing and compete in supported doubles against Brendon, a student from Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford.

The squad undertook two 500 metre sprint races, the second using the club level adaptive time handicap system. Both competitors won a race each and were presented their pots by the Mayor of Hereford.

Mark Dewdney, coach to Stratford Boat Club’s Adaptive squad commented, “Thanks to Hereford Rowing Club for their hospitality and for the Stratford Juniors for cheering us on!”

Also at Hereford last weekend were Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty racing in Mixed Masters’ Double Sculls category where they attempted to emulate the very good junior performances on Saturday. Racing an older but very competent Upton crew, Heather and Tom had to contend with chasing down a sixteen second head start over the 1000m course. A good start saw them make steady progress drawing to within three lengths of Upton by the 500m mark. A big push saw them close on Upton with 250 metres to go with a final push taking the win by two lengths.

Said Tom Doherty, Masters’ Vice Captain, “This was Heather’s first regatta win since taking up rowing eighteen months ago and she was given the traditional ‘first win’ river dunking by the junior crews!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online and page 15 and Stratford Observer online

Stratford Battle It Out At The Olympic Lake and Hereford

Last Saturday a Stratford upon Avon Boat Club coxed four of 16/17 year girls returned to the Olympic lake for the internationally renowned Metropolitan Regatta organised by London Rowing Club to take on university crews from all over the UK and Ireland. Katie Wellstead, Khloe Curnock, Emily Browne and Molly Gill-Swift once more expertly coxed by Mimi Hill rowed well in their heat to finish in second place and qualify for the final. In a most exciting race the Stratford girls got off to a blistering start and at 1200 metres were in a medal contention. Some of the opposition edged away over the final 800 metres leaving the girls just six seconds off the win and in fifth place.

Said coach Dr Graham Collier, “This was a bold performance against quality student opposition. Now it’s onwards to Henley Women’s Regatta later this month!”

Stratford Boat Club’s Elite Senior Men’s coxless four had some hard racing on the last day of Metropolitan Regatta, held at Dorney Eton. The crew are aiming to qualify for the Wyfold Cup at Henley Royal Regatta, held in early July each year and Metropolitan Regatta is a pathway to automatic qualification.

After coming fifth and being knocked out in the semi-final of the Championship Four in the morning, they raced again in the afternoon. This time they successfully navigated the semi-final and reached the final of the Horton Cup.

The final was very blustery with a cross wind pushing all the crews out of their lanes. However, being on the far side of the course, the Stratford men were significantly affected. Eventually after a number of warnings from the umpire regarding their steering and consistently needing to reset the boat after being blown onto the buoys, they finished fifth being in contention right until the last few hundred metres.

Bill Sullivan, the Elite Senior Men’s’ coach commented, “In the circumstances, the crew of Michael Hourigan, Patrick Hourigan, Finn Sprackling and Tom Coles performed well and showed the benefit of the last few weeks of hard training. Whilst we haven’t done enough to qualify for Henley just yet, the crew can move forward with confidence to the British Championships and Marlow Regatta later this month.”

This weekend the Junior 14 and 15 squads, along with the mixed Masters’ double scull, travelled to Hereford for their annual two day regatta. Saturday saw the athletes compete over the 1km straight course.

First up was the WJ14 doubles where Honour Keil and Bella Chappelhow competed together alongside Fleur Griffiths and Harriet Holmes. Both crews faced tough opposition from City of Bristol and the races came right down to the line. Unfortunately both crews were just edged out and it was the Bristol crews that went on to the semifinals.

In the afternoon Lucy Browne and Tomi Wilcock took to the water in the own respective J14 singles events. Lucy was again drawn against a strong sculler from City of Bristol and despite some brilliant sculling just missed out on her place in the semifinals. Tomi faced two scullers from Hereford in the first round and in the semifinal, he beat both convincingly to take his place in the final. Here Tomi faced a sculler from Stourport who despite his best efforts was not strong enough to get close to Tomi as he cruised to his first win in the single scull.

The WJ14 quad was the last boat of the day for the J14’s, comprising of Harriet Holmes, Bella Chappelhow, Ruby Howells, Honour Keil and cox Toby Sartain. They were drawn to have a bye to the final and there they faced the crew from Bristol who last week finished fourth at the National Schools Regatta. The Stratford crew tried their best but it wasn’t enough to overhaul the strong Bristol crew.

Sunday saw the shorter 500m course where again the day started with the WJ14 double sculls. This time Harriet Holmes teamed up with Honour Keil and Fleur Griffiths with Lucy Browne. Both doubles again found themselves against two very strong Bristol crews and despite the Stratford girls putting in some very good performances, they were not strong enough to beat the Bristol crews. Tomi Wilcock and Bella Chappelhow also teamed up in the J14 doubles to race again against Bristol and despite having held the lead the all-male Bristol crew pushed through in the last few meters to take the win.

In the afternoon, the J14 coxed quad of Bella Chappelhow, Ruby Howells, Anne Mynors and Toby Sartain, coxed by Honour Keil raced against an all-boys crew from Hereford Cathedral School where, despite a big push towards the line, they were pipped into second place.

Lucy Browne, Harriet Holmes, Fleur Griffiths and Tomi Wilcock took to the water in their singles. Lucy put in a fantastic performance and was just edged out as she approached the line by a strong Bristol sculler. Harriet raced against another sculler from Bristol but this time it was the Stratford sculler who won her heat. In the semifinal she was met by Fleur who had faced a girl from Hereford Cathedral School who unfortunately capsized, with Fleur sculling down to take the win. Fleur and Harriet both sculled brilliantly in a tight race with Fleur just taking the lead and her place in the final. Here she met the sculler that Lucy had raced earlier in the afternoon and she knew this would be tough. Fleur held her nerve and had belief in her sculling to push ahead over the line by just two feet to take the event win.

Tomi, for the second day running, made his way to the final, beating scullers from Bristol and Hereford to take his final spot where he faced another sculler from Bristol. This was close to the bridge where the Bristol sculler had to stop because he had moved too close to the bridge to be able to pass through, meaning that Tomi could relax over the last part of the course on his way to victory.

Said Abi Terry, J14 coach, “A brilliant weekend’s racing in a very relaxed environment with some fantastic sculling: the squad are looking promising and forward to our next event, the Lodders Stratford upon Avon Boat Club home regatta on Saturday15th June.

For the J15 squad, the weekend began with Amelie Sartain in the single sculls event. In an exciting thousand metre bow ball to bow ball race, Sartain pushed ahead in the closing stages to win by one and a half lengths.

The afternoon saw Sartain on the water again this time in the double with Fleur Griffiths (J14). Winning their semifinal easily, the girls met strong fresh competition for the final. After a fast start, both boats were level at the halfway point as they approached the bridge. Keeping their line and settling into their rhythm, Griffiths and Sartain appeared in control when suddenly the opposition drifted out of their lane resulting in a blade clash. The girls recovered well but were now a length behind with only 250m to go. Passing under the bridge the cheers could now be heard along the final straight. Inspired by the support and with true determination from within, the boat accelerated past the opposition to take the win by three quarters of a length, a truly remarkable finish.

Sunday was the shortened 500m course for the sprint events with Martha Usselmann beginning the morning’s racing for the squad. With a fast start and maintaining her strong technique throughout, Usselmann was in good position as they passed the bridge however the more experienced opposition slowly drew clear to win.

Following on, confident heat racing found Sartain again in the singles final however despite a good start and powerful sprint, she was pipped in the closing strokes to finish second.

The final event for the J15s had Sartain and Usselmann competing in the doubles event. Through their heat after a close race against strong local competition, the girls faced familiar adversaries in the final. Another strong performance led to an exciting finish as the boats passed under the bridge keeping pace with each other however the finishing line came too soon as they crossed in a close second place after a well fought race throughout. Commenting, Trevor Tiller J15 coach, said, “The high level of competition over the weekend has been of great benefit especially as the British Rowing Junior Championships in July is just over the horizon!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page 15 and

Interested in your son or daughter learning to row? See Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Summer Camps at