Stratford’s Masters’, Adaptive & Junior Squads Competing at High Level!

The Junior and Masters squads of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club were in action again over the weekend on the hallowed waters of Henley-on-Thames.  As the trailer rolled into the historic town, the conditions could not have been better and gave no indication of what lay ahead.

Henley Town and Visitors Regatta provided high quality side by side racing over 800m on the Henley Royal Regatta course. Warm up complete, the Masters’ double scull of Henley Town and Visitors Regatta took to the water and made short work of their Guildford Rowing Cub competition in the first round. Steeling themselves for the final, the Hayton/Doherty combo turned swiftly and lined up against a quality crew from Poole & Warwick clubs. Sadly, victory was denied by a tight margin with the Poole/Warwick composite taking the win.

Then, it rained: with a biblical downpour in full effect the WJ18 quadruple scull of Jasmine Mountney, Isabelle Watts, Alice Baines and Mili Wilcock fully expected Noah and his Ark to be competing! Rowing up in the Senior Women’s event, the Stratford Boat Club athletes were drawn against what can only be described as a rowing super group consisting of Irish and Estonian national team members.

Unfazed, the J18 Stratford crew took their place on the start. The flag dropped and the girls went off well and held the Twickenham Rowing Club/ Thames Rowing Club/ Neptune Rowing Club composite to no more than half a length for the first half of the race. Experience won out in the end however and the composite took the win and went on to win the event overall. Commenting, Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator and J18 Performance Squad Coach commented, “That’s racing and indeed, the luck of the draw: onwards and upwards to Stourport Boat Club Regatta next Saturday!”

The Stratford Boat Club’s every increasing adaptive (disabled) squad competed at Maidenhead Rowing Club Regatta on Saturday. Xander Van Der Poll won his debut event in his single: in the final, he defeated a sculler from Northern Ireland by a considerable margin. Xander, a former King Edward The Sixth School pupil, is in the Great Britain Paralympic pathway system and hopes to represent Great Britain in the Paris Paralympics in 2024. He is one of two such athletes being developed by the Club’s adaptive section and can be seen on the Avon early most mornings training when not at Bristol University studying for his medical degree.

Gillian Middleton also made her first competitive appearance after only a few months rowing and an impressive one it was: she and her crewmate Joe Moore were only overhauled by a strong Marlow crew in the last few strokes of the final.

Paola and Ian Ward, in their final, were similarly overtaken close to the finish line by an all male Guildford crew. Dan Godefroy and Jake Blatcher were beaten by a technically excellent City of Oxford crew.

Said Mark Dewdney, Stratford Boat Club’s Head Adaptive Coach said, “Due to many last minute changes, some Stratford rowers were put in races against much faster opposition: on this occasion, this reduced our chances of multiple wins that we have had in most regattas in the last few years. Nonetheless, well done to all the rowers and helpers! We were very pleased with the general level of performance. Xander will face tougher opposition in the future so his training and steps along the GB Paralympic pathway will continue in earnest: Gillian’s performance was the star of the day! Stratford’s adaptive section is interested in everyone rowing as well as they can and we are happy as long as everyone rows well. The squad’s next outing is at Oxford on the 21st August in an event just for adaptive/disabled rowers.”

For media coverage see Stratford Herald online and page fifty.

For more great pictures of Henley Town & Visitors Regatta, see Kathy Baines’ selection at!AgY7EiDB2lCOhMdRfeSXA-kVvsp4wA

Weekend of Sport for Stratford Juniors!

Despite holidays and Covid, a very busy weekend for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Junior Squad. The day Stratford Boat Club’s J15 scullers had been working so hard for finally arrived. The British Rowing Junior Championships one of the most prestigious events in our racing calendar attracting boat clubs from across the country. The event was run over three days and saw Stratford’s crews arrive bright and early on the Friday.

First up for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club was Charles Happel rowing a single scull in his time trial. Over a distance of 1500m, Charles sculled energetically demonstrating great technique to qualify for the D final in a time of 6:20. In his final, over 2000m, he had learned from his earlier race to deliver a performance of greater energy and race tactics to finish second behind a crew from Rob Roy in a time of 8:17, less than four seconds from first place!

Stratford’s J15 ladies double of Grace Beason and Ruby Brooker Collins raced their time trial providing excellent technique to qualify for their E final in time of 6:35. Their final delivered one of the most exciting side by side racing of the day battling a crew from Queen Elizabeth High. They were chasing second place which changed hands several times but Stratford dug deep to win through in the last stroke beating QEH by 5 hundredths of a second in a time of 9:05.82.

Stratford’s J15 coxed quad of Kate Richardson, Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes, Amalia Richardson and expertly coxed by Imo Hill didn’t fail to provide an equally exciting performance. They provided an excellent time trial finishing in eighth place in a time of 5:59 to qualify for their AB Semi final, yet another 2k race! This side by side race saw them dig deep to finish fourth in a time of 7:58 to qualify for the B final a really great effort.

The heat of the day wasn’t relenting but the ladies racing in the B final blew the competition away! They sculled at an extremely high rate over the 2k course demonstrating great power and precise catches to win their final in a time of 8:00.9 beating Cantabrigian by eight seconds a truly tremendous performance. Said Sam Hill, J15 coach, “Overall a very pleasing performance on the day by all our crews making parents and coaches extremely proud!”

On Saturday at the Junior British Championships it was the turn of the J16 squad to take to the water. First up was the time trial for the open singles and taking part for Stratford was Tomi Wilcock and Toby Sartain. Both boys put in a good row to see them place seventeenth and twenty fifth  respectively, putting them into the C and E Finals later in the day.

Next up was the women’s pair of Freya Watts and Fleur Griffiths. The time trial was the first time these girls had raced in a pair or even in sweep. They had a fantastic race to place them in sixth and gaining their spot in the A Final.

The last time trial saw Griffiths step straight into the women’s four as one of the girls was ill, alongside Lucy Browne, Honour Keil, Bella Chappelhow and J14 cox Lucy Sartain. The girls put in another good performance, where they were catching the crew in front of them to also place sixth and book another A Final spot.

The finals were now taking place and first up were the boys singles. Unfortunately Sartain’s opposition pulled out and so he didn’t get to take to the water for a side by side race. Wilcock had a good race but struggled with the heat and hands slipping off the blades, taking the sixth place in the C Final.

Watts and Griffiths were up next in the A Final of the pairs and had a solid row staying in contention all the way down the 2km course to finish in sixth place.

On completion of the pairs race Griffiths just had enough time to refill her water bottle before taking to the water again in the four with Browne, Keil, Chappelhow and Lucy Sartain. They all rowed really well, expertly coxed by Sartain, in her first race as a cox, to take the sixth place on the finish.

Commenting, Abi Terry, J16 coach said, “It was great to see the crews able to race again and making A Finals was a fantastic way to end what has been a really challenging year for them all. Now to have fun in the summer events!”

The third day of Junior National Championships meant it was the turn of the J18 squad to take on the best crews in the country over the 2km course at Holme Pierrepont.  First to the water was the women’s double scull of Jasmine Moutney and Isabelle Watts. Building on the Watts’ family rowing heritage Isabelle did not disappoint in her first national regatta and teamed with the sculling prowess of Jasmine they scored a creditable twenty eighth. Next on the sun-drenched Nottinghamshire course was the WJ18 coxless quadruple sculls of Alice Baines, Amelie Sartain, Maiya James and Mili Wilcock.  The girls put in a steely row in the time trial to secure fourteenth place and a spot in the C Final, just 1.4 sec away from Semi Final contention. Nothing could have prepared the Nottingham spectators for the drama that played out in the C Final as the Stratford girls battled a quality Trafford Rowing Club crew for the length of the course, never more than a length between them for the full 2000m.  It was to be Stratford’s day in the end by the tightest of margins and a photo finish, just 0.18 seconds. Said Steve Wellstead, J17/18 Performance Squad Coach and Junior Co-ordinator, “A true testament to the grit of these young athletes!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online and page fifty one and also Stratford Observer online and back sports page

Stratford Denied Podium Finish Place

Whilst Stratford upon Avon Rowing Club’s junior sections headed to their own British Rowing Junior Championships at Nottingham Holme Pierrepont over the weekend, Stratford rowers Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty headed for more exotic climes on the South Coast at Exmouth for the British Rowing Offshore Championships.
The annual British Rowing Offshore Championships attracted crews from as far afield as Runcorn, Pembrokeshire, and Jersey to this rowing fiesta on the beach. The event which usually attracts a large international field but this year the championships were unfortunately limited to British crews due to Covid restrictions.
The competition consisting of a number of differing boat and gender category events with boats all launched off the beach, with the boats stern on to the beach, requiring some athleticism to get into the boat, with the length of a four person boats meaning the bow rower is up to waist deep in the swells having to climb into the boat to start the race. This resulted in some entertaining race starts!
With all races over a 6km buoyed course, the event is classed by British Rowing as something of a contact sport with all competitors heading for the nearest buoy turn and little quarter given. However generally crews were on their best behaviour with no major incidents as they made the most of some very flat water conditions which suited the majority of competitors who were also fine boat or flat water rowers.
Stratford Boat Club rowers Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty competing in the mixed double sculls final were up against some tough competition in a non age restricted event, the Stratford crew with an average age of fifty three were competing against a number of crews of average age were twenty to thirty years younger!
The event also featured the 2019 National Masters fine boat mixed doubles champions, and experienced sea rowers Runcorn, and a very committed crew from Jersey for whom this is one of the most important race events of the year.
Following a careful and steady start, Stratford started to move through the field overtaking two of the seven crews in the event by the 1km mark. A close race then ensued with Runcorn and Jersey with little more than three boat lengths between all three crews for the next two kilometres.
At the halfway mark, Stratford were able to put in a large push to nose ahead of Runcorn but still had a determined Jersey to overcome. Another push saw Stratford nose in front of Jersey by several lengths to provide a cushion at the 4km mark. The two leading boats crewed by much younger athletes had by this stage opened a lead of several lengths and Stratford were forced to focus on keeping a determined Jersey crew behind them. With the sun making it difficult to see the course buoys both crews struggled to maintain a steady course, however Stratford were able to maintain their position and finish in third place and what they hoped would be a well deserved bronze medal, but alas, this was not to be as Stratford inadvertently went the wrong side of the final buoy and despite some contradictory umpire instructions, were eliminated after the race resulting in a frustrating end to a great performance and what would have been Heather’s first National Rowing medal.
With gold going to Carmarthen in a time of 30mins 37 sec; Silver to Teign Scullers in 30mins and 49 sec; and Bronze to Jersey in 33mins.11sec, Stratford had to console themselves with their very good adjusted time of 32mins and 45 sec, which would not only have won them a bronze medal but earned selection by British Rowing to represent Great Britain in the same event at the world Club Championships in Portugal later in this year.
Said Tom Doherty, Masters Vice Captain, “Whilst it is immensely disappointing to miss out on a medal and Great Britain selection for the World Club Championships, we are extremely pleased to have beaten some very good crews and been competitive with crews thirty years younger!”
For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty three and Stratford Observer online…/stratford-pair-denied…


Stratford Gets to Semi Final at Henley!

With no mixed events on the race card, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club was represented at this year’s Henley Masters Regatta event on 9/10th July by Tim Lunel in the Master E single sculls. The quarter final on the Friday under a glorious Henley blue sky day saw Tim race against a Grosvenor sculler and with new found pace off the start this year Tim took a length lead in the first 100m. That allowed an almost comfortable row through to the finish to win by a length and a half of clear water.
So, Stratford through to the semi finals at Henley! With the form at the earlier British Masters at Nottingham showing that there were three scullers from Commercial (Ireland), Holloway Scullers and Exeter dominating this class at the moment, it was always going to be a tough ask to progress further.
Tim went for the ‘blast off the start’ approach to give the best chance of a surprise upset. At 200m the boats were level: then a couple of rollers coming in between the open area between the booms meant that Tim had a couple of untidy finishes. The crews were level no more! David Burns from Exeter then went on to win by four lengths at the finish. The final winner, as at Nottingham, was Denis Crowley from Ireland. Said Tim, “It was good to be competing in a category won by an international athlete in a year of more limited international entries. My final reflection was that this was a very enjoyable couple of days of racing and meeting up with fellow rowers at Henley!”
For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page sixty one and Stratford Observer online…/lunel-enthused-by… and also back sports page…
For more pictures of Tim Lunel at Henley, see Ben Rodford Photography’s Open E x1 great selection…/C0000UTr6r8nzl2M

Stratford Battle Choppy Waters at Nottingham!

Last weekend, the Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s J16 double of Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie travelled to Nottingham to the National Water Sports Centre to take part in a new event, the GB J16 Summer Regatta. This event attracted the best of J16 athletes from around Great Britain.

Held over 1500m, this event enabled athletes to race up to three times during the day giving them vast amounts of race experience, something that has been drastically lacking over the past eighteen months.

The Stratford duo took to the rather choppy water for the time trial where they put in a great performance to finish in third place. This secured them their spot in the semi-finals: the water remained choppy due to the winds throughout the day. Wilcock and Beattie raced well in the semi-final coming into the final 200m in second, where they were just pipped on the line placing them third, enough to make the A-Final.

As they boated for the A-Final, the wind picked up even more: they paddled off to the start in preparation. They had been assigned Lane 1 out of 6 and rowed extremely well. The crews from Weybridge and Newark were out in front and took Gold and Silver respectively. The other four crews were extremely close together coming into the final 200m, it was going to come down to whoever could out sprint the rest. Beattie and Wilcock put up a good fight and on the line were officially awarded sixth place, in pretty much a photo finish of the four crews. Said Abi Terry, J16 Coach, “The result was so close that none of the coaches actually knew who had finished where. This was a great event for the boys to attend, well organised and some brilliant racing. We now look forward to the British Championships in a couple of week’s time.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald and page fifty three and also Stratford Observer and back sports page

Stratford Clean Up at Marlow and Peterborough!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s adaptive squad finally returned to competition at Marlow this weekend: Stratford were the most successful club on the day winning three of the four events entered

Hattie Throssell, supported by Sofia Ward, had a clear win in the ladies’ doubles event for those who use a wheelchair. Lissie Simpson, competing in her first event, supported by Jake Blatcher then overcame stiff opposition from Guildford to win their final by two lengths. This race was for those with some lower limb disability.

Ian Ward, supported by his mother Paola, in their final, took part in the best race of the day. All three crews crossed the line within a few seconds of each other. The event for those with a learning difficulties and was won by the Stratford crew, defeating two Marlow crews by half a length.

Dan Godefroy, supported by Nev Hands, came close to making it a clean sweep for Stratford, missing out by only a length to a strong Marlow boat.

A number of other members of Stratford’s adaptive squad attended the event to cheer their colleagues on. “It was a great sporting and social day out for everyone,” said Mark Dewdney, Stratford Boat Club’s Head Adaptive Coach. “The squad next plan to compete at Maidenhead in early August: several new adaptive squad members will be making their debut at this event.”

Meanwhile at Peterborough Junior Championships, Stratford’s J15 squad’s racing began on the Saturday in what can kindly be described as cool, cloudy with a stiff breeze: so much for blazing June! However, undaunted, their day started with a round of time trials to determine which finals race the crews would race in. Stratford’s J15 quad crew of Imogen Hill, Ruby Brooker Collins, Grace Beason, Uche Nwachukwa and coxed by Kate Richardson sculled strongly to be placed in the C final which they duly won producing a great time of 4 mins 50 seconds. Commenting, Steve Marsden, J15 Coach said, “Great sculling , fantastic audibly exuberant coxing pushing the crew across the line in what was their first competitive outing!”

Next up was Uche Nwachukwa who sculled bravely in a single through a strong head wind in her time trial and then raced again in the Plate final gaining a Silver Medal in a time of 5mins 10 seconds, only five seconds behind the winning boat from Globe.

Stratford’s final J15 squad race took place on the Sunday with Charles Happel racing in his time trial to be placed in the C final, producing an excellent performance to finish in third place behind contestants from Peterborough City and Molesey in a time of 5mins 4 seconds. Commenting further, Steve Marsden said, “A fantastic effort by all our J15 athletes yet again proving Stratford Boat Club can mix it with some of the best scullers in the land!”

Stratford’s J14 squad finally also got their opportunity to race on the wonderful rowing course at Peterborough, four lanes of side-by-side with stakeboat start racing in both the time trials and the finals. The brilliant event was designed to give most athletes two rows each per event. On Saturday in the Open J14 1x trials, Will Dalrymple-Baker finished the 1000m course in 4min 52.9sec (7th overall) and Jamie Wilcock completed it in 5min 02.9sec (9th), earning him a place in the C Final in which he came second against Doncaster and Globe, in 5min 04.1sec. In the B Final, Will D-B finished third in 4min 56.7src, against strong competition from Windsor Boys School, Newark and Bewl Bridge.

Both Stratford J14 boys then competed in the Open J14 2x event after lunch and posted a credible time trial time of 4min 29.8secs (10th overall), which got them into the C Final and winning it in a time of 4min 27.9sec, beating the boys from Peterborough City, Bewl Bridge and Globe. Said J14 Club Coach Hugo Happel: “Both boys did superbly well in their inaugural race, against established schools, in tricky windy conditions. Lots more to come from these two!”

On Sunday, it was the J14 girls’ turn to step into the sculling arena. Starting off in the WJ14 1x category, in similarly windy conditions, Aimee Appleton finished her time trial in 5min 55.1sec (5th overall), which got her into the B Final which she won in 5min 42.1sec. Lucy Sartain did her time trial in 5min 51.1sec (4th overall) which got her into the A Final! She finished fourth in a terrific time of 5min 32.4sec, with Newark Rowing Club winning Gold in 4min 44.2sec.

Shortly after lunch Scarlett Richardson (stroke) and Nancy Davis (bow) set a time of 4min 56.6s in the WJ14 2x time trial (4th overall). Lucy Sartain (stroke) and Molly Vondrak (bow) set an equally impressive time of 4min 54.0s in their race (3rd overall). Both Stratford crews made it to the A Final, against Peterborough City and St Ives. Sartain/Vondrak finished fourth, whilst Richardson/Davis finished second in 5min 11.9s, a superb achievement to be winning Silver medals in their first ever race.

Finally, the WJ14 4x+ entry made up of Eloise Cooper (stroke), Jessica Long, Esmerelda Elfwood, Harriet Froom (bow), expertly coxed by Aimee Appleton, posted a 5min 06.2s time trial (6th overall), securing them a place in the B Final. Against strong competition from Kingston Girls’ School and Norwich School, Stratford’s girls finished third in 5min 07.8sec. Commenting further, Hugo Happel said, “The WJ14 athletes did incredibly well in their first ever competition, they stuck to the game plan of keeping strokes long and powerful, which they did brilliantly. They took to the side-by-side format really well, whereas four weeks ago, it all seemed a bit daunting to quite a number of them. Just like the boys the day before, they really got into the mindset and delivered in spades. They all did the Stratford Boat Club proud. I look forward to seeing more from these spirited J14 boys and girls!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online and page fifty two: see also Stratford Observer online and back sports page

For more great pictures from Marlow, see Bruce Lynn’s selection

Stratford Masters Settle Some Old Scores!

Saturday saw a return to competition rowing for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Masters crews following the Club’s junior squad’s successful return to racing of the previous week. The Masters’ crews took on the very significant challenge of the British Rowing Masters Championships held on the multilane course at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham. Held at a venue renowned for its blustery conditions and variable weather, this year saw a reasonably calm and hot day, an unusual occurrence remarked on by many competitors!

The competition which, due to Covid restrictions, was reduced to a one day event with all status crews competing together which led to some high quality and fiercely competitive racing throughout the day. The Stratford Boat Club’s mixed double crew of Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty in their first national competition together in their age group race found themselves in a field of four other boats, all of whom had previously won championship golds.

Faced with such a task, Stratford’s crew who were blessed with a strong headwind gave it everything off the start to stay with the field over the 1000m course. At 600 m they were still in the mix but the experience and power of the other crews saw them pull away over the last third of the race. A satisfied but shattered crew were pleased to have been able to race and to have been competitive against some of the best the best crews in the country.

Said Tom Doherty, Masters’ Vice Captain, “The weekend’s race was a real baptism of fire for Heather in her first national standard completion and multilane race and she passed with flying colours. The experience gained over the weekend will be very beneficial as we look to further races as lockdown is hopefully reduced in the future.”

Also competing at Nottingham at the weekend in the Open Masters E single sculls was Tim Lunel. Not holding out for much more than a competitive day out, Lunel was very pleasantly surprised to find himself leading at the 500m mark in the first round with the comforting knowledge that the first three go through to the final. Banter was inevitably to follow as ex-Stratford Boat Club Piers Copham “rowed through” or was allowed to exert extra wasted energy to take first place depending on the perspective of the scullers in question.

Lunel’s and Piers’  fears that the other heat contained the fastest sculler in the field was then confirmed in the A Final where those rowers took the podium positions with Denis Crowley from Commercial Rowing Club of Ireland hopping over the Irish Sea to record a cracking 4.08 as the winning time

The only race that really mattered in the final though this was of course the one between Tim Lunel (Stratford) and Piers Copham (ex-Stratford) and we are pleased to report that staying at Stratford Boat Club to enjoy the new singles (rather than relocating to the Cam as Piers has done) produced the desired result with a “winning margin” of 2.6 seconds for Stratford’s Lunel!

Commenting, Tim Lunel said, “A great day of racing after an eighteen month gap, celebrated by one of those really rare events … a sunny day with a moderate breeze rather than a howling gale at Holme Pierrepoint!”

Whilst their Masters were battling to gain honours for the Club, the Junior Squad and others were at home battling the very busy ungoverned river to achieve their weekend river outings. Sunday saw the second Stratford Boat Club Internal Young Coaches’ Assistant Course: the course consisted of technical ‘classroom’ based sessions and much appreciated outdoor practical sessions. Commenting, Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club’s President, said, “We are so grateful to Abi Terry, our very successful J16 coach, for delivering these courses. The potential coming through our Junior Squad, not only our athletes but also their talented coaches, gives us some much confident for the future. We are delighted with the local and regional response to our junior summer camps for August which are now full!”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald and page sixty one

Bumper Weekend for Stratford’s Junior Squad!

After many long months training in isolation and a precious few weeks back on the water, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Junior Squad were at last back racing at the weekend.  It was to be a baptism of fire for our older athletes with the first event back being the National Schools’ Regatta held over 2000m on the Olympic course at Eton Dorney.  Running as a “Behind Closed Doors” event, the venue was eerily quiet without the usual marquees, trade stands and spectators.  The competition on the water however remained fierce as the top rowing schools and clubs from across the country turned out in force eager to show the fruits of the lockdown labour.  Just two crews from Stratford Boat Club’s J17/18 squad competed under the limited entries permitted. Alice Baines and Amelie Sartain flew the flag in the Championship Double Sculls and recorded a creditable twenty second place ahead of some of the premier rowing outfits nationally.

On Sunday Stratford Boat Club’s J16 Junior Squad also travelled to Dorney Lake for the National Schools Regatta where they took a WJ16 coxless quad. The squad rowed really well in the time trial and fought hard, but came up against some strong schools that had been able to train throughout lockdown and ended up finishing in a very respectable twenty sixth place.

On Monday the rest of the J16 squad also travelled down to Dorney Lake, to race at the Junior Sculling Regatta. First up, very early, was the J16 double of Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie. They raced hard in their time trial to place eight and gain their place in the B Final. The next time trial was Toby Sartain in the J16 single sculls. He sculled with finesse to put him into fifteenth place and safely into the C Final. The last time trial for the J16’s was for the WJ16 double scull of Honour Keil and Harriet Holmes. They put in a great effort to take seventeenth place and again a place in the C Final.

Later in the day the finals happened in the same order as the time trials. Wilcock and Beattie were first in their B Final of the doubles where they raced hard, coming off the start in first, by halfway they had dropped to third. During the second half they pulled their way back through into second place and were catching up first, but ran out of lake, finishing in second place. Next up was Toby Sartain’s C final in the singles. He raced really well, quickly slotting himself into fourth place, which is also where he finished. He was catching third towards the end but had just too much to do. The last J16 final was the C Final of Keil and Holmes in the double. They went off the start fast but quickly slotted into sixth place. They fought all the way down the 2km track to catch fifth and were catching up quickly on fourth, but didn’t quite have enough left to take them so finished in fifth place. Said Abi Terry, J16 coach, “It was great to see the J16’s racing again after a year and half without any recent racing, we can’t wait for the next event!”

For Stratford’s J15 squad it was also back to sculling regattas at long last and what a way to start the season! Whilst some fifteen year olds might have chosen to spend their half term holiday weekend relaxing at the pool or beach, Stratford’s J15’s chose to test themselves over the 2012 Olympic course at Dorney Lake not once but sometimes twice on the hottest day of the year so far!

Time trials to select crews to proceed to A, B or C finals were the first challenges over 1900m. Up first was Grace Beason and Ruby Brooker Collins double sculls returning a time of 9:29 which was an excellent effort placing them in the C final. They raced just as enthusiastically in their final finishing sixth in a time of 10:42 over the full 2000m.

Next up was Charles Happel rowing a single scull. He demonstrated great technique and great effort recording a time of 8:37 which placed him in the B final. Similar enthusiasm, grit and determination saw him finish an admirable fourth in the final in a time of 9:32, only five seconds behind third place.

Our lady single sculler was Uche Nwachukwa who sculled with great determination, against very strong competition, to finish seventh in her time trial missing a place in the final by just six seconds. A truly great effort.

Finally Stratford’s WJ15 quad of Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes, Kate Richardson, Amalia Richardson and expertly coxed by Imogen Hill sculled with great precision and energy to record a time of 8:02 in their time trial, just missing a place in the A final by 1.8 seconds. Determined to make amends, they set off at a blistering pace to lead the B final by a length at the 500m mark. Guilford tried to hang on, but broke at half distance leaving Latymer to take up the chase. Stratford saw them coming and opened the taps leaving them for dead in the last 500m to win by three lengths. It was a perfectly executed race in a winning time of 8:47, quicker than both Hinksey and Maidenhead in the A final!

Commenting, Steve Marsden, J15 coach said, “A great performance from all our crews who, as always, performed above and beyond all expectations against the “top” boat clubs. Well done all – they now know the pain and pleasure of competition over a grueling 2km regatta course!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty three and and also Stratford Observer back sports page, and

2020 President’s Sculls Men’s Trophy Finally Awarded!


No, the date is correct! With the recurring lockdowns and Covid restrictions, it has taken until May 2021 to finish and award the Men’s Trophy for the 2020 President’s Sculls competition! The frustration of not being able to get onto the river for water sessions has continued until very recently curtailing training and competition heats

The original trophy was initially presented by Ian Cartwright, the then Captain, to Derek Eardley in 2004 during his tenure as President of Stratford Boat Club to mark his many years of service to the Club and was to be raced for annually in coxed fours

Over the years, the competition faded from the annual calendar and was reinstated comparatively recently as an annual sculling competition in three categories – women, men and juniors

Paul Stanton, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club President commented, “We hope that the President’s Sculls award will continue to inspire all members to continue with sculling at a high level and further contribute to all sections of the Club mixing and communicating with each other. Our congratulations go to Tim Lunel who won the Men’s Final in a closely fought race with Rory Nicol. Our thanks go to all those who supervised this final by marshalling and safety spotting on the bank. We are looking forwards to running the Junior Heats for the competition very shortly”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty five and online

Back on the Water and Feeling Good!

This Easter weekend was a bumper one for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club as members got back onto the river under the easing of Covid restrictions for organised outdoor sport. The extra ‘feel good factor’ was added by The Rotary Club of Stratford upon Avon who presented Stratford Boat Club with a much welcome donation to the Boat Club’s funds in what has been a very challenging time

Said Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator and J17/J18 Performance squad coach, “Seeing our young athletes back on the water this week has been immensely heartening. The squad athletes have followed their coaches’ home training exercise plans during the lockdown periods: Stratford Boat Club also lent out our ergos (static rowers) to Club members so that they could their keep up and exceed their physical fitness targets. Seeing the athletes’ performance to date, athletes have kept themselves trim! Getting back to sport has also contributed much to all our mental wellbeing”

©Mark Williamson, Stratford Herald

Paul Stanton, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s President commented, “The substantial donation to our Club’s funds from The Rotary Club of Stratford upon Avon is most welcome. Financially and mentally this has been a very challenging year for Stratford Boat Club and its members: however, we are very aware how lucky we are compared to so many other people and organisations. The Rotary Club’s donation to Stratford Boat Club is part of Rotary’s far reaching charitable outreach to Stratford’s and Warwickshire’s communities: our donation came from the entry monies from the last two cancelled Shakespeare Rotary Marathons which runners had left with Stratford Rotary to distribute as they felt fit rather than ask for a refund. We are so grateful for the participants’ and Rotary’s generosity”

Stratford Boat Club looks forward to working closely with The Rotary Club of Stratford upon Avon for their plans for 2022 and another successful Shakespeare Rotary Marathon and Half Marathon: Stratford Boat Club is also hoping to stage its own regatta in 2021, most likely in September 2012

For media coverage, see Stratford herald online and page fifty six and Stratford Observer online and back sports page