Horrendous Conditions on Severn and Taff!

The weekend saw Stratford upon Avon Boat Club athletes from across the age ranges compete on the Severn at Stourport. The 3600m course running with the stream presented a good opportunity for all to display the fruits of their winter training over a longer distance. Conditions on the day were challenging and although the rain stayed away, the sleet and strong wind presented the competing athletes with a real test of endurance.

In Division One, first to go was the Women’s J16 coxless quadruple scull of Jasmine Mountney, Nixie Brunt, Mili Wilcock and Alice Baines. Rowing up an age group with J18 athletes, the crew set their mark on the event with a confident win. Next the J16 single sculler Fred Tyler braved the course missing out on the win by just one second to strong opposition from Trentham Boat Club. The third J16 sculler in the mix was Maiya James who despite the tricky conditions delivered a solid row and recorded third place. The J15 squad was represented in the coxed quadruple sculls event by crews consisting of Sienna Rawlings, Amelie Sartain, Julia Zampronio Gurden, Abbey Meggeson and Mary Walton (coxswain) first away and closely followed by Sophie Elstone, Harriet Hodgson, Martha Usselmann, Emma Harrison and Elisabeth Edwards (coxswain) second down the track. In the final analysis the Meggeson crew had the edge by just two seconds over their club mates despite a damaged rudder from the start.

In Division Two, the Women’s J16 coxless quadruple scull of Jasmine Mountney, Maiya James, Mili Wilcock and Alice Baines demonstrated the results of their winter training programme and recorded another win, this time in the J16 category. Said Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator, “Exciting times for this outfit as they look forward to the 2019 season.”

Fred Tyler also took the water for a second time, this time in the J17 category but once again was thwarted by the Trentham Boat Club athletes with another second place by the narrowest of margins. For the J15 squad it was an afternoon of the third place results with the double scull of Will Clarke and Conar Aitchison, the women’s double scull of Amelie Sartain and Martha Usselmann and the women’s single scull of Sophie Elstone all in the bronze medal position. In the J18 event, Dom Furey rowed the course with his typical flair ending in a solid second place. The women’s J17 double scull of Autumn Keil and Katie Phillips joined the J15 squad in the creditable third place against strong competition.

King Edward VI School’s squad competed alongside sister club Stratford at Stourport Head in testing conditions of cold and gusting wind. First to boat was the boys’ four of Joe, Cameron, Adam, Felix and Lara for a first race in this combination. The long wait to start meant the crew used the time well to warm-up and drill, letting them settle their technique for the race despite never having raced together before. Up against crews from Warwick and Stourport, they quickly left the Warwick crew behind to maintain a distance from Stourport (also a J17 crew) and were awarded joint first place.

Next to boat was Fred, a J16 sculler in his first race for this squad, in a single. He coped well with the conditions which tested all of the single scullers and raced a good line, maintaining his long stroke against other boys who included a Great Britain trial athlete. No medal for Fred on the day but he showed his potential for the squad.

Said Helen Smith, King Edward V1 School coach, “A second successful weekend for the athletes following several Northampton wins just a week ago this young squad continue to show their potential which will develop over the next few years at School.”

Meanwhile in Cardiff, the hail, rain, sleet and ferocious winds welcomed Stratford’s Woman Master Christine Goodwin back to the Head of the Taff this year. The course had to be shortened for the afternoon due to capsizes, boat collisions and other incidents in the famous railway tunnels. Sadly all the other Masters women dropped out of both divisions, leaving sole competitor Christine with no opposition for her race so a ‘time only’ result. Said Christine, “I think when my only remaining fellow Masters’ Woman opposition rowed back to the boathouse after only 250m, I realised this was going to be ‘ staying alive’ type row and it definitely was!”

For DP Photos excellent select for Stourport Head, please see https://www.dpphotos.co.uk/Stourport-Head-Div-2-Jan-2019.

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page 14

‘Comfortable’ Outing at Northampton!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club and their sister club King Edward VI School, commenced their 2019 competitive racing year with a series of head races at Northampton on Saturday. The event extremely well hosted by Northampton Rowing Club and raced upstream on the River Nene in cold but unusually dry conditions, giving all a good chance to work off any remaining post Christmas indulgences.

Northampton Head of the Nene was divided into four divisions with individual events competed over all divisions during the day. This also gave the majority of competitors the chance to enter several events.

The course, being reasonably straight and only 1800 metres long, attracts beginners’ crews and those seeking to expand their racing experience for tougher tests later in the year and as such both Stratford and King Edward VI School brought a number of novice crews seeking their first experience of competitive racing.

An early start saw crews rowing off at 08.00hrs for the first division of racing. The first event for Stratford saw two crews competing in the Masters’ coxless quad sculls. First off in division one was Richard Nelson, Wallace Brown, Kjersti Woolley and Tom Doherty. Kjersti racing in a men’s event as a late minute substitute put in a sterling performance to help the crew finish in a creditable time of 6mins 22 sec, twenty seconds behind a high quality Oundle all men’s crew in the same race and faster than a

Milton Keynes men’s crew. Later in the day Stratford’s second crew of Gary Clay, Wallace Brown, Neville Hand and Tom Doherty put in an improved effort to record a time of 5 mins 56 sec to earn a very creditable second place to a high quality crew from Hollowell Scullers.

Stratford Men’s Masters were in action again later in the day with Gary Clay and Neville Hand in the double sculls event against crews from Oundle and Cantabrian boat clubs and were able to record a well deserved victory recording a creditable time of 7.05 seconds.

Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated event for Stratford was the debut of their new Women’s Masters crew of Naomi Knowles, Ruth “Kings Heath” Poulton, Dee Wevill, and Heather Hayton. This crew which had been training hard over the previous autumn were racing in a quad coxless sculling race requiring good race management and steering ability. Racing more experience opponents from Oundle Rowing Club, the crew put in an excellent performance finishing just under six seconds behind the winners in a time of 7mins and 29 seconds.

It was then the turn of the small boats crews next with a Mixed Masters all Stratford showdown between Helen Helliwell and Hugo Happel taking on the more experienced crew of Christine Goodwin and Tim Lunel. A very competent performance by Helen and Hugo in their first race saw them post a creditable time of 8 mins and 17 secs but it was not sadly enough to beat the experience of Christine and Tim.

Kjersti Woolly in addition to her Men’s quad race earlier in the day raced for Derwent Rowing Club recording a win in their Mixed Masters quad four and a good performance in their Women’s Masters coxed four.

This left the small boat racers of Gina Fusco and Tim Lunel competing in single sculls. Gina who is in her first season of competitive racing recorded two very good times of 8 mins 34 secs, and 8 mins 48 secs displaying some very consistent sculling and is sure to be closing on her first competitive win. Tim Lunel competing in his third event of the day in Masters single sculls was unable to match his success in the double but put in a good solid performance.

The King Edward VI School squad joined the Masters rowers at Northampton. Of the thirteen athletes taking part, six had never raced or coxed in a race before. Said Helen Smith King Edward VI School coach, “Lack of junior opposition meant several races for these sixteen to eighteen year olds were against seniors, However the athletes gave their best efforts to achieve a good clutch of medals.”

George, Adam, Felix, Sam and Emerald raced 4+ in Division 1 making the bronze medal position whilst the girls crew of Lara, Ellie, Maddie, Gina and Leah also came first in their event.  Division 3 saw the other boys’ 4+ of Joe, Cameron, Fred, Felix and Emerald also achieve gold whilst being the fastest coxed four of the day. The 2x crew of Jess and Talei also achieved two golds for the squad in the J17 girls’ and women’s’ doubles over two divisions.

Said Tom Doherty, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Masters Vice Caption, “This was an excellent day’s racing for both clubs with creditable performances across all crews. The event was well organised and ran to time providing a good experience both on and off the water. Our collective thanks to John Vedy for organising the boat transport without which we could not have enjoyed the day. My overriding memory of the event however will be removing a selection of hot water bottles, hand warmers, food hampers and a selection of soft furnishings from our Masters Women’s crew’s boat about to embark on their first ever race!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/comfortable-outing-at-northampton and Midweek page 24

For official photographs of Northampton Head of the Nene, photos can now be found online at: https://photocall.instaproofs.com/gallery/#events/1642506. To view the gallery, use your own email address with nene as the password. The results are available at: https://northamptonrc.org.uk/head/head.aspx.

Stratford J14’s and J15’s Kings of the Day!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club were invited for the first time to join Royal Grammar School Worcester and Worcester Rowing Club as guests of Kings School Worcester at their annual indoor rowing competition.

First up was the WJ14 individual four minute event. Freya Watts, Lucy Browne, Fleur Griffiths and Anne Mynors all competed in this event. Griffiths set out hard and led for over two minutes, when a very strong girl from Kings pushed on past. In the last minute Watts, having maintained a steady pace throughout managed to finish in the Silver medal position having made it to 988 metre. Browne taking the Bronze from Griffiths in the very last stroke of the race with a distance of 968m. Griffiths finished up fourth having completed 965m and Mynors finished in a very respectable eighth place out of fifteen competitors with 910m.

The individual timed events continued with the WJ15 five minute race that saw Emma Harrison, Martha Usselmann and Sophie Elstone racing side by side. The bank of claret tops saw a determined start by Elstone that put her in a commanding position with Usselmann and Harrison following her lead. Elstone settled nicely during the middle of the race with Usselmann constantly jostling between third and fourth place with Harrison closing. The final minute of determined pushing to the finish saw Elstone finish in Gold position a clear 80m ahead of her closest rival with Usselmann and Harrison both gaining fresh personal bests in a close fourth, and seventh positions respectively from a field of thirteen competitors.

Representing the Stratford Boat Club participation group was Charlotte Johnson competing in the WJ16 individual six minute event. Charlotte was up against a field including five rowers from the hosts – Kings School. Despite limited preparation leading up to the event, Charlotte finished in fifth position with a personal best of 1400 metres – missing out on a podium finish by a mere 38 metres.

Then was the turn of Bella Chappelhow and Honour Keil in the WJ14 individual 500m event. This was strongly contested between the two Stratford girls, with the three Kings girls making up the other three places. Both girls had an extremely good row with Chappelhow taking the Gold medal in a time of 1:48.9 with Keil just 0.8 of a second behind taking the Silver. The bronze medal was won in a time 10 seconds slower than Keil.

Harriet Hodgson took the flag for the J15s in the Y10 500m event. A fast and furious race from the off with tough competition from the hosts saw Hodgson at her finest. Maintaining a strong position throughout, the final pushes saw her finishing in a time of 1:48 ensuring a place on the podium in Silver medal position.

Then it was the time for the relay races. First up were the WJ14 relays raced over 2000m. Chappelhow, Keil and Griffiths teamed up to form one relay team with Mynors, Watts and Browne teaming up to make the other. Both teams raced hard with some fantastic quick changeovers. It was Chappelhow, Keil and Griffiths that managed to pick up the Gold medals on this occasion in a time of 7:30.1 with Mynors, Watts and Browne fighting it out with another strong team from Kings beating them by just 0.3 of a second to take the Silver medal in a time of 7:44.2.

The WJ15 2km relay brought together Elstone, Harrison, Hodgson and Usselmann for their final race of the day. Establishing a 30m lead after the first few changeovers proved that their practicing had paid off, as they seamlessly held their position over the opposition. Maintaining their lead, the girls finished in Gold medal position in a time of 7:12.6.

Said Abi Terry J14 coach, “A brilliant day’s racing was had by all and this was shown by all of the WJ14’s and WJ15’s that competed coming away with at least one medal each.”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratford-j14s-and-j15s-are-kings-of-the-day and Stratford Herald online http://www.stratford-herald.com/94999-stratfords-j14s-j15s-shine-annual-rowing-competition.html

A Well Deserved Celebration in a Brewery!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club had two reasons to celebrate at the prestigious Fours Head prize giving held at Fuller’s Brewery in Chiswick, London. As well as picking up the award for the Men’s Coxed Four Challenge event, the Club was also named as the inaugural winners of the Davison Award – given to the ‘standout performance’ from a small club.

There were many clubs from around the country represented at the event which met the criteria of the Davison Award all of which were reviewed by the Fours Head Committee. After much deliberation, the conclusion was that performance of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Senior Men and Junior Women made them the worthy winners.

The award was given by Eleanor Davison, in memory of her husband Noel who was a stalwart supporter of rowing and a long term Honorary Secretary of the Fours Head event.

Dr Graham Collier who has been coaching at Stratford for over fifteen years and is a former Captain of the Club said,”Winning this award continues to keep our small club at the forefront of British rowing. It was the tremendous performance by the Junior Women’s coxed four of Katie Wellstead, Talei Dunn, Khloe Curnock and Molly-Gill-Swift expertly coxed by Mimi Hill that provided the support to the outstanding men’s coxed four that enabled the Club to collect this supreme award.”

As well as the decorated blade the men’s coxed four of Amie Jones, Mike Hourigan, Tom Coles, Finn Sprackling and Patrick Hourigan also picked-up prestigious Fours Head medals to recognise their victory in the Challenge Fours event.

Paul Stanton, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club President commented, “Our sincere thanks from our members, athletes, supporters, coaches and helpers to the Fuller’s Head of the River Fours Committee and especially to Eleanor Davison and her family for their commitment to our small club and honouring us by presenting this inaugural award to the Club in person. Our thanks also to Fuller’s Brewery for their magnificent hospitality.”

Senior Men’s Coach Bill Sullivan said, “It was a great evening and a fitting reward for all the hard work the guys put in over the autumn. It was good to see them let their hair down and take full advantage of the free beer kindly poured out by Fuller’s, the very generous sponsor. Our Stratford boys showed a fitting determination to enjoy a ‘celebration’ in a brewery!”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page sixteen and online http://www.stratford-herald.com/94881-stratford-boat-club-named-inaugural-winners-davison-award.html and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/a-well-deserved-celebration-in-a-brewery

Christmas Excess Blown Away!

Courtesy of DP Photos

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s annual Scratch Regatta took place early on Boxing Day morning and over fifty members managed to leave their beds after the overindulgence of the Christmas festivities. The crews were supported by friends and relatives who came down to the river to watch the spectacle and cheer

Twenty six competitors, including four former junior members and visiting rowers took part. A nice mix of mature and younger members

Courtesy of DP Photos

from all sections of the Club came with their families. Some of the athletes have been rowing for less than a year.

Six crews raced in a knockout competition. The final was won by a masters and juniors mixed crew of Simon Beard, Nixie Brunt, Khloe Curnock, Richard Shepherd and coxed by Katie Wellstead. Club tankards were awarded to the winning crew. The conditions were mild with little wind or current and the crews were supported by club volunteers

Commented coach Helen Smith, joint organiser. “All races were over a short sprint course from the Ferry to the Club grounds on the Town stretch of the River Avon”

The racing provided great interest to early morning sightseers and visitors watching from the Recreation Ground, The Royal Shakespeare Theatre Terrace, Bancroft Gardens and The Tramway Bridge. Said Dawson Curnock, Chairman for Stratford Boat Club, “The scratch regatta caught the imagination of all who came down to the river and gave us added impetus to move further ahead for fundraising in 2019 to achieve the funds to refurbish and replace our fleet and equipment”  

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club will be back on the river this week and after the New Year training hard for the 2019 head season, the Senior squad’s entry at Henley Royal Regatta and their own regatta in June

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online http://www.stratford-herald.com/94254-stratford-boat-clubs-boxing-day-scratch-regatta-hailed-success.html and page fifteen

For more great Boxing Day Scratch Regatta pictures, see David Phillip’s selection https://www.dpphotos.co.uk/Boxing-Day-Regatta-2018/ and Stuart Baines’ pictures https://1drv.ms/f/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9jOluK1P6Ae2IgUtZMA

Farewell Jo!

Stratford Boat Club said goodbye to Jo Wyles who has been an active club member for a number of years.

Until the end of last season, Jo was the Club’s Club Honorary Secretary, a post she covered as a volunteer for over six years and Jo has also acted as Launch Driver, plus Regatta Secretary and other voluntary positions in recent times. One of the main tasks that Jo will be remembered for is most ably supervising of the setting-up of the Club’s marquees for the regatta season and Jo was seen each year with her partner Tony manning the Race Control station and radio allocations at the Club’s own regatta events.

 Said Paul Stanton, Club President, “Jo and Tony are relocating to their ‘home region’ of Kent and we will certainly miss them both, as well as the enthusiastic and willing support they have given our club over the years. Volunteering is the heart of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club and Jo and Tony have certainly exemplified this ethos.”

Jo was presented with a leaving gift and token of the Club’s appreciation – at ravel bag with a specially engraved “Bon Voyage Jo Wyles – from your friends at SuABC”

Farewell Jo and Tony – enjoy being beside the sea and start of a new chapter in Whitstable in Kent!

For media coverage, please see StratfordObserver online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/boxing-day-fun-on-the-water

Stratford Juniors Win Gold and More at British Rowing Indoor Championships

Stratford Juniors shine once more at the BritishRowing Indoor Championships on Saturday. Held at the Velodrome in the iconic Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the annual event sees athletes aged from 11 to 80 years plus competing alongside individual entrants, club rowers, Team GB and Olympians.

First into the arena was Nixie Brunt in the Year 11 Girls’ six minute event. A very strong field, taken from some of the best known clubs in the country, made for good racing with Nixie starting off confidently to lead the race. Relentless opposition as the finish neared saw her finally place thirteenth from a field of fifty nine contestants with a distance of 1,573m.

The next race saw Sophie Elstone competing in the Year 10 Girls’ five minute event, with a field of ninety four rowers including the current U16 World Indoor Champion. With so many entrants the race was held in three heats, Sophie being in the first. Keeping calmly to her plan she kept a commanding and clear lead throughout to win her heat with little opposition. With the distances tallied at the completion of the third heat, Sophie finished in seventh position overall with a distance of 1326m, only 24m from the medals.

The velodrome crowd had now increased to maximum and next to walk up the ramp to be greeted by the collective cheers, were Harriet Noyes and Millie Hodgson, competing in the Year 8 Girls’ 500m event. Both started strongly with Harriet advancing up the field to establish an early lead, with Millie pushing through settling in the top third. Showing exceptional control in her first competitive rowing event, Harriet held on against strong competition from well established clubs, finishing a clear five seconds from her closest opposition to win the Gold medal in a time of 1:48. Millie maintained her position to finish ninth in the group of twenty four in 1:57, only two seconds from a medal place. 

A three hour break between events allowed Harriet to recover and prepare for the Year 8 Girls’ three minute event. More exciting racing was to come. Facing the current World Record holder, Noyes once again kept control and showing great physical and mental strength held her own during a tough three minutes to finish in a well deserved Bronze medal position with 787m.

The Stratford Juniors’ final events saw Nixie in the Year 11 Girls’ 500m event, with Sophie Elstone and Harriet Hodgson in the Year 10 Girls’ 500m. Taking to their machines on the floor at the same time, in different areas of the arena, the girls faced determined opposition in a sprint event that drains energy in a most extraordinarily short time. Support from all sections of the crowd for every rower was deafening as the large screens constantly displayed their ever changing positions. The races were quickly over and the drained and exhausted athletes awaited their placings, the heats having to be taken into account. Finally the results were announced, with Nixie finishing in Bronze medal position in 1:39, amazingly only 0.9 of a second behind the winner. In the Year 10 event, Sophie finished fourth in 1:44, one second behind Bronze place, with Harriet H in seventeenth place with a time of 1:49, six seconds from the medals.

Said coach Trevor Tiller, “Another great day for the Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Juniors at the world’s biggest indoor rowing event and Britain’s biggest mass-participation indoor sporting event. For Harriet Noyes to win Gold and Bronze medals and become a British Champion at her first competitive eventis an amazing achievement and shows great promise for the future. The fantastic results from each of our rowers and the performances overall showthat Stratford Boat Club remains a club to keep an eye on.”

Meanwhile, in the senior events, Sophie’s grandfather Andrew Elstone raced in the first event of the day, the Masters 65-69 2000m, finishing fifth in his age group, fourteen seconds from the medals with a time of 7:26. Later, Harriet’s father Ed Hodgson, competing against members of the GB Rowing Team in the Open Men’s 2000m, finished only sixty two seconds from the medals in a time of 6:49. Commented Trevor Tiller, “Great performances from both, now to get them on thewater!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratford-juniors-shine-once-more-at-british-rowing-indoor-championships and Stratford Herald page 18 and 17

Stratford Juniors Take On and Beat Seniors!

Conditions at Wycliffe on Saturday were challenging for all the Stratford upon Avon Boat Club junior crews with a head and cross wind gusting as the athletes in all age groups raced down the 2.5k course on the Sharpness Canal.

Autumn Keil, Matilda Watts, Molly Gill-Swift and Katie Phillips put in a strong performance to finish sixth in the WJ18 coxless quad event. Considering they had not sculled together as a crew before the event it was a very good result.

Joe Hodson representing King Edward The Sixth School in his single scull demolished his opposition to take the Gold Medal. The Women’s Junior 18 coxed four, Katie Wellstead,  Emily Browne, Khloe Curnock and Molly Gill-Swift coxed tremendously by Mimi Hill and also racing in the Women’s Senior event left all the completion in their wake to win Gold Medals in both events. Racing over the course for a third time was Katie Wellstead partnered by Emily Browne in the Senior Women’s Double Sculling event: a great race developed with Wycliffe College with Stratford coming over the finish eight seconds ahead of the opposition to take another Gold Medal.

The morning division saw the four J15 girls’ singles of Amelie Sartain, Elisabeth Edwards, Harriet Hodgson and Sophie Elstone race strongly against a constant headwind and competitive opposition over the 2,500m course. Just over two minutes divided the race’s fourteen competitors with Elstone gaining Bronze position, closely followed by Sartain, Hodgson and Edwards.

The J14’s had a fantastic start to the day with the WJ14 coxed quad of Harriet Holmes, Freya Watts, Fleur Griffiths, Honour Keil and cox Toby Sartain finishing in third place and gaining themselves the bronze medal out of ten crews and less than thirty seconds behind the winners.

Next up was the J14 double racing against five all boys’ crews: Will Beattie and Lucy Browne had a fantastic row again finishing less than thirty seconds behind the winner and just 1.2 seconds behind Ross to pick up the bronze medals.

The weather for Division Two maintained its constant headwind with bouts of sun and drizzle now thrown into the mix. Not put off  by this, the boys’ double of Conar Aitchison and William Clarke firmly pressed on into sixth place against a large field of stiff competition.

The WJ14 doubles raced against a strong field of six crews to finish in a very respectable fourth place for Lucy Browne and Fleur Griffiths and fifth place for Harriet Holmes and Anne Mynors.

Thefinal division’s racing saw the squad’s four girls’ doubles compete in an eighteen boat field with the headwind still playing its energy sapping part. Due to a last minute illness in the squad, J14 sculler Lucy Browne despite already having competed twice in the day, bravely stepped in to row up an age group in the bow seat and partnered Sophie Elstone. The remaining boats in the day’s final division being crewed by Amelie Sartain and Harriet Hodgson, Abbey Meggeson and Julia Zampronio Gurden and Elisabeth Edwards and Emma Harrison.

As the light began to fade, the remaining headwind failed to diminish the crews’ resolve as they vigorously made their way down the course. Sartain and Hodgson finishing in bronze medal place, Browne (J14) and Elstone only sixteen seconds behind them in an outstanding fifth place. Slightly further down the field, Meggeson and Zampronio Gurden, Edwards and Harrison finishing less than two minutes from the medals.

SaidJ14 coach Abi Terry, “Given the conditions, the WJ14 singles did a fantastic job to complete the course let alone to finish so well in the field of eleven scullers. Freya Watts and Honour Keil both out in amazing performances to finish in fourth and sixth respectively.

The J14 coxed quad raced against three all boys’ crews. The crew of Will Beattie, Bella Chappelhow, Anne Mynors, Toby Sartain and cox Harriet Holmes finished just 6.3 seconds behind the winners to bring home the silver medals. This was a fantastic way to end the day for the J14 squad at only their second head raceever.

Commented J15 coach Trevor Tiller, “Good performances all round from all on a very demanding day.”

For media coverage, please see StratfordObserver online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratford-juniors-take-on-and-beat-seniorsand Stratford Herald page 23 and online http://www.stratford-herald.com/93720-stratford-youngsters-enjoy-medal-winning-performances.html

Hampton, Evesham and Chester in One Weekend!

Last Saturday, several young athletes travelled to Hampton Court to compete in the Hampton Small Boats Head, a processional time trial over three thousand metres. This race is recognised as the highest quality winter event for small boats: it attracts over seven hundred crews from famous and highly successful rowing schools and clubs. 

In this extremely competitive cauldron of racing, the J17 athletes competed in two events. Joe Hodson representing Stratford in the J17 singles and King Edward Sixth School in the schools event finished ninth and sixteenthwith Molly Gill-Swift competing magnificently in the comparable but very challenging girls’ races. Emily Browne, Katie Wellstead and Talei Dunn all sculling with great skill and determination finished their singles’ race in thirteenth, twenty seventh and twenty eightieth place respectively. Then followed the partnerships of Talei Dunn with Katie Wellstead and Khloe Curnock with Emily Browne tackling the girls’ J17 double sculling race. They finished within three seconds of each other and only forty five seconds behind the winners to take thirteenth and fourteenth place. These are all tremendous performances by a small club in this most demanding sculling theatre.

The morning division saw the J15 doubles partnership of Amelie Sartain and Sophie Elstone finishing an outstanding fifth from a strong field of thirty three and within only five seconds from a medal winning position. The second double crewed by Harriet Hodgson and Sienna Rawlings followed closely with an equally respectable fourteenth, against very tough competition from the country’s top clubs.

The afternoon saw the OJ15.2x of Conar Aitchison & Will Clarke placed twenty seventh in a close division of forty, sculling confidently against fierce competition.

Spread over the morning and afternoon divisions the WJ15.4x+ event saw the crews of Sienna Rawlings, Amelie Sartain, Sophie Elstone and Martha Usselmann coxed by Elisabeth Edwards: along with the boat crewed by Abbey Meggeson, Elisabeth Edwards, Emma Harrison and Julia Zampronio Gurden, coxed by Conar Aitchison, placed twenty seventh and thirty ninth respectively from a strong and large tightfield of forty three.

Stratford Masters were in attendance at Evesham on Saturday supporting the Senior crews with a number of development crews and scullers looking to commence their winter racing season.

After their success at the prestigious Fours Head, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Senior Men’s squad was at Evesham for the annual Masters of the Avon head races. Racing against the stream over four thousand and five hundred meters, the top boat a coxed four of Mike Hourigan, Patrick Hourigan, Finn Sprackling and Max Marcus, with local coxswain Amie Jones steering, set off first against competition from Evesham, Trafford and Worcester. 
A powerful steady row allied to Jones’s local knowledge of the stream quickly enabled them to pull clear of the pack – ending up with a  comprehensive forty five second win.

The morning division also featured the first outing in a Head race for the youngest member of the squad, Harvey Mole. Harvey was up against ten other singles – all from Stowe School and got out of the blocks quickly, catching two of the Stowe scullers just after halfway and had nearly caught two more by the end of the course. He ended up finishing a very promising third.

 The afternoon division featured the Hourigan brothers racing a pair for the first time, where they finished a very respectable second behind an experienced pair from Worcester Rowing Club.

Seniors’ Coach Bill Sullivan said, “The squad have trained hard since September and been rewarded with some good wins at Worcester, London and now Evesham. It’s a promising start to the season and bodes well for 2019”

Racing in the morning division first off were the Men’s’ Masters F age group quad in their first race outing of the season. The crew, Gary Clay, Neville Hand, Wallace Brown and Tom Doherty in a borrowed boat took on local crews from Worcester, Warwick and event hosts Evesham.

On a demanding four kilometre course with a number of tight bends requiring significant steering input, the crew settled into a solid row rating thirty one strokes per minute for the whole course to finish in a time of seventeen minutes and nine seconds to finish seconds behind a much fancied and very experienced Evesham crew who finished in a time of sixteen minutes and forty four seconds but ahead of crews from Worcester and Warwick finishing overall tenth fastest crew of the day.

Masters rowers were further represented by Gina Fusco taking part in her first single sculling event. Gina, up against a very experienced sculler from Exmouth Rowing Club, produced a very creditable racing and steering performance to finish in a time of twenty three minutes and twenty nine seconds, behind the Exmouth sculler winning in twenty one minutes and three seconds.

Stratford’s Masters Women’s daytime rowing squad of Rona Fitzpatrick, Jackie Joesbury, Rosie Stone and Clare Nash, coxed by husband Alfie Nash, not to be out done, also competed in the Women’s open coxed quad event and finished in a good time of 21.33 twenty one minutes and thirty three seconds, behind a significantly younger Evesham winning crew in twenty minutes and sixteen seconds

In the afternoon division, Stratford Masters rowers Gary Clay and Tom Doherty teamed up with their old friends from Bridgnorth to continue their success in a composite Men’s Masters E coxed four to record their third straight win following previous success at Grosvenor and Stourport against crews from Worcester, Warwick, and Evesham in a time of seventeen minutes and fifteen seconds. Said coach Helen Smith, “It was great to see so many development crews getting some good quality race experience.”

On Sunday, the Masters’ men continued to build up their season race experience with a trip up to Chester to take part in Chester Long Distance Sculls. Held on the picturesque River Dee in glorious winter sunshine over a five kilometre course, the day produced some good quality racing against strong opposition which saw Stratford’s Masters’ Men’s quad of Simon Beard, Richard Shepherd, Richard Nelson and Tom Doherty taking on crews from Grosvenor, Runcorn and Kings Chester in the Masters D event.

After a steady start and hitting some debris in the middle of the river which caused a few steering issues, Stratford were unable to hang on to a good quality Grosvenor crew racing on their own water, rowing at three/four strokes per minute above the Stratford crews rating of thirty two strokes per minute, and found themselves instead in a side by side battle for two and a half kilometres with a very experienced Runcorn crew who despite closing on Stratford could not overtake and towards the finish Stratford’s better fitness meant they were able to pull away from them until the end of the race to finish third in a time of twenty minutes and twenty three seconds.

For media coverage, pleasesee Stratford Herald page fifteen and online http://www.stratford-herald.com/93380-youngsters-take-best-hampton-head.htmland Stratford Observer page twenty three and online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/excellent-performances-against-top-opposition. For more pictures of Hampton Small Boats Head,please see David Phillips’ great selection https://1drv.ms/f/s!AgY7EiDB2lCOgsx7iw3lkzfVJQfNlA

Lessons Learnt By Masters on the Soar!

It is said that competing is more about what you learn than where you finish: Stratford uponAvon Boat Club Masters Squad Christine Goodwin, Tim Lunel and Chris Strawlearnt a lot whilst they competed at the Soar Head in Loughborough on Saturday!

Loughborough have a saying, “You race the straights and you steer the bends”.  Stratford’s Masters learnt there is good reason for this as the green weed at the side of the bends may look friendly but however many times the steersman says, “let’s go”, it doesn’t let go of your blade until you hack your way back out into clear water!

The hare and the tortoise also applies to rowing – when you overtake two other scullers and then if you then row so far into the reeds that you have to back out of the reeds then the tortoises just effortlessly pass by!

The final lesson that Stratford’s Masters learnt was to have a steersman that knows the course and then you can stay rowing on the water rather than examining the wildlife!

 Said Tim Lunel,Masters competitor, “All said, it was a really enjoyable day made by better by the fact that this is a head race run by rowers for rowers, none of the endless waiting about at the start. Marshalls with a sense of humour who don’t feel any need to shout and free tea and coffee for everyone there – we’ll be back next year now that we know the course.”

Later on in the day, Chris Straw and Tim Lunel put in a very creditable performance in the double coming second out of three crews in the Masters E category and third out of seven crews in the overall combined D/E categories. On the straights, Christine Goodwin and Tim Lunel did a great job of matching the boat speed of the very competitive Derwent mixed double that Stratford competitors know all too well.  They did find that bouncing from bank to bank round the tight bends seemed to reduce the boat speed, a lesson learnt earlier, and so came second best on this occasion. But being only twenty seconds behind having watched the Derwent crew steer a perfect course behind them means they are looking forward to their next encounter on a straighter course! Christine had an excellent first two thirds of her race overtaking to other scullers and is looking forward to returning to the Soar Head next year to complete unfinishedbusiness.

For media coverage, pleases see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/lessons-learned-by-masters-on-the-soar and page 31 and Stratford Herald page 17