Three Day Weekend of Glorious Rowing!

Over the weekend, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club went in force to the Ross regatta. The Ross regatta setting is perhaps one of the best in Stratford’s event calendar and it was further enhanced by the weather being very sunny and very hot.

The J13 crews raced in the morning and first on the course was the 2x double of Louis Beason and Charles Happel who had progressed through to the semi final race courtesy of a bye. They provided a first class demonstration of sculling and steering, the course bend proved to be the downfall of many during the day, winning against Queen Park High school easily.

Their final saw them up against Nottingham & Union Rowing Club, Louie and Charles got off to a great start but were pegged back by the power of the Nottingham crew who registered the win – easily.

The next up for Stratford was Grace Beason again rowing against Nottingham & Union Rowing Club in the WJ13 1x. The race proved not to be Grace’s best unfortunately capsizing shortly after the start.

Stratford’s  WJ13 4X+ Crew of Amalia Richardson, Maddie Hall, Uche Nwachukwa, Grace Beason and Emily Stobart (cox) were up against Ross Rowing Club. The ladies competed very well after losing ground at the start, picking up in middle of the course to be on the tail of Ross before running out of steam at the sprint finish missing out by only one length – a great effort by the ladies. Said Steve Marsden, J13 coach, “A great day and great experience for our young crews.”

On Sunday, the J14’s were out in force again. The J14 double of Toby Sartain and Owen Perkins were first up racing against a strong duo from the home club, Ross. The Stratford boys pushed hard but on this occasion it wasn’t to be and it was the Ross crew that progressed to the next round. The other double of Bella Chappelhow and Will Beattie also completed in the same event and were drawn up against a very strong boys’ crew from City of Bristol and despite a battle all of the way down the course, the Bristol crew were victorious by just two lengths.

Next it was the time of the J14 girls’ singles. Ruby Howells competed in only her second event in a single against a very neat sculler from Exeter Rowing Club. Ruby sculled beautifully down the course but the Exeter sculler was just too strong to be beaten.

Fleur Griffiths and Freya Watts both took to the water to race their first rounds against scullers from Queens Park High School. The Stratford pair were comfortable winners in this round and progress to the semi-finals. Here Griffiths met Harriet Holmes and in a very close race and it was Griffiths who took the spot in the final by just half a length over Holmes. Watts then took on another sculler from Queens Park High School which again was dominated by the Stratford sculler. Watts then took on Griffiths in the final and in another close race in which Stratford was guaranteed a win. On this occasion it was Watts that was victorious and picked up the tankard.

Beattie was up next in the J14 singles where he faced an extremely big sculler from Warrington. Beattie came down in the lead and took the win in the heat, his first in a single. Next he faced one of the boys from the Bristol double from earlier in the day. Unfortunately it was the Bristol sculler who took the place in the final.

The J14 girls doubles of Griffiths and Honour Keil and Howells and Chappelhow were both dealt challenging draws in their first rounds and despite pushing hard they were defeated. Holmes and Watts made it through the first round with a comprehensive win but unfortunately they were beaten in the semi-final by Exeter.

On Monday, it was Chapplehow’s turn to race in a single for the first time and despite a sterling effort, she was unable to overcome her opponent from Bristol. The WJ14 coxed quad of Keil, Howells, Griffiths, Watts and cox Toby Sartain powered to a five length victory against Ross in the semi final. Then in the final, they raced Bristol and with some expert coxing from Toby taking the fastest water, they finished two lengths ahead of their opposition.

The doubles of Griffiths and Watts and Howells and Keil again came up against crews that they couldn’t quite overcome as did Perkins in the J14s single. Said Abi Terry, J14 coach, “The squad now look forward to the new season as they move up to be J15’s.”

Bringing the season to a close, the J15 squad’s winning weekend began on Sunday morning with finals places for Amélie Sartain in the singles event and also in the doubles event with Abbey Meggeson later that afternoon.

The heats were aptly named as the sun beat down making for some demanding racing with both girls fighting through deservedly winning their finals places. In both the single and doubles events, the finals went right down to the line with victory escaping by only by the shortest of margins on both occasions.

Monday saw the course increase in length for the main regatta. Sartain, again in the single faced a local Ross girl for the heat and after a fast start comfortably won by four lengths for a place in the semi final. A tougher semi final race against Evesham, winning by less than a boat length had Sartain against Queens Park High School in the final. An inspired row from both saw the girls side by side as they passed the cheering crowds yet it was Sartain that dug deepest to take the win by two and a half boat lengths.

The afternoon doubles event saw Meggeson and Sartain back together to face a Wycliffe crew. Despite Sartain having raced eight previous races during the weekend and Meggeson three, the race was extremely close and hard fought all the way, coming a very commendable second by only three quarters of a length (eight metres). This demonstrated the sheer determination and drive of the girls throughout this race and the whole weekend

Commenting, Trevor Tiller, J15 coach said, “A wonderful conclusion to a successful season for the J15 squad: the determination and passion shown by the squad throughout the season, during both training and racing, has made for some great times and as a byproduct, great results.”

As the regatta continued into its second day and the temperatures continued to soar, Stratford’s J16 girls took to the water. Just two athletes took a break from summer holidays to light up the Wye in their single sculls. On opposite sides of the draw, the competition began with both Jasmine Mountney and Alice Baines sailing through the first round each with a win against Dart Totnes and Evesham respectively. In the semi finals Alice again took a win against City of Bristol however unfortunately Jasmine met her match and was edged out on the line. Alice went on to the final and duly avenged Stratford’s semi final defeat vanquishing Nottingham Union thus taking her second win is successive years in this event. Said Steve Wellstead, J16 coach and Junior Co-ordinator, “Top sculling by both ladies and a fitting end to the day’s racing!”

Also on day two of the regatta, Khloe Curnock and Molly Gill-Swift racing in the Senior Women’s double sculling event proceeded through the heats in magnificent style to reach the final and race against Upton Rowing Club. An amazing final: the first attempt ended in a dead heat with the two crews returning without rest to the start to do it all over again. Despite a combative performance, Upton just took the event.

Katie Wellstead sculling vigorously in a single in the Women’s Junior event was overhauled by less than ten feet at the finish by an Exeter sculler. The afternoon saw Mimi Hill, normally a coxswain, join the three girls (all only 17 years old) to take on the Senior Women’s quadruple sculls. More top class sculling by the girls enabled them to destroy the ladies from Ross and then Worcester Rowing Clubs. The final against an Evesham crew composed from university students was a brutal affair in which Evesham finished less than two lengths ahead of Stratford.

A composite Stratford/Derwent Master Women squad also travelled to Ross and showed endurance over the weekend. They were entered in a Women Master F single, Women Master E double, Women Master D Pair and Women’s Master E and Women’s Senior Coxed Four. Altogether they were on the river nine times over the weekend, where they won five races and lost two by small margins.

Commenting, Kjersti Rogneflaten, Stratford’s Masters sculler, “In my Women’s Masters F single, I won my semi-final and lost by a quarter of a length in the final, where I had to give my opponent five seconds head start over the course of 600m.  We also had a win in Women’s Masters D Pair and also in our Women’s Masters E coxed four. We were pleased to have got through one heat in the Women’s Senior coxed Four beating young women from City of Bristol Rowing Club.”

The composite Stratford/Derwent crew are grateful for being able to use Stratford Boat Club’s four and the help and support during the days at Ross. Now the composite Stratford/Derwent squad are looking forward to the World’s Masters Regatta in Hungary in September.

As the school term starts, all the squads move up one division. Said Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator,”There has been no ‘fall out’ this year again with all the squad members continuing rowing in the next category. We will be joined in September by a new J13 squad who have come through the August summer camps which saw nearly one hundred young athletes learn rowing as a sport: we would love to have taken many more on the new J13 intake but space, equipment and coaching availability are all at a premium at Stratford.”

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

For more great pictures of Ross Regatta, see Stuart Baines’ excellent selection!AiW2DAyn9tg9japp4IR8hhRWg3RN-w?e=ouWvWN

Kitchens by Dexter, Regatta by Dexter!

Preparations for the rescheduled Stratford upon Avon Boat Club regatta on Saturday 21 September 2019 have been saved by local kitchen design and installation company, Kitchens by Dexter

Picture courtesy of Stratford Observer

“A lot of hard work goes into planning a regatta and the lifeline that Kitchens by Dexter have thrown us has meant that Stratford Boat Club’s regatta can finally be rescheduled for Saturday 21 September”, says Dawson Curnock, Stratford Boat Club Chairman

The Club’s June regatta had to be cancelled for safety reasons as the River Avon was high and fast flowing after continuous heavy rain. As well as Stratford’s own crews, the rescheduled regatta already has entries from local, regional and national clubs such as Abingdon Rowing Club, Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School Rowing Club, Cardiff & Vale Schools Rowing Academy, Evesham Rowing Club, Hereford Cathedral School, King Edward The Sixth School Boat Club, King’s School Worcester Boat Club, Ross Rowing Club and Royal Grammar School Worcester Boat Club.

Jamie Hall, Director at Kitchens by Dexter said, “We had already pledged to be a Gold Sponsor for Stratford’s June regatta and shared the Club’s disappointment when it had to be cancelled. Stepping up to be the Headline Sponsor is, we feel, the right thing to do to help a local club. Our philosophy, which has developed over twenty years of business, is the same as the Boat Club’s – to have happy and contented clients and members.

Paul Stanton, the Club’s President said, “Stratford upon Avon Boat Club is most grateful to Kitchens by Dexter for stepping in as Headline Sponsor making our rescheduled regatta viable again so that we can continue to encourage and provide sport for those in the Warwickshire area. We also look forward to welcoming competing crews, VIPs and guests and especially Stratford and Warwickshire residents and visitors to the town down to the river on Saturday 21 September to watch and enjoy what will be an action-packed day.”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online and Stratford Herald page sixteen and online

Felix Awards Presentation for Fred

At Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Annual General Meeting, the Club recognised the great contribution that some of their members made to the Club by awarding the special Felix Awards, a legacy from the Club’s past President Felix Badcock who gave so much to the club: the tankard trophies were won by Felix Badcock during his long rowing career and are over engraved with the winner’s name and award. There were awards for the Junior and the Senior Personality of the Year

The Senior Felix Award went to Phil Marshall and his team who have strived over the last year to ensure that the Club’s fleet of boats are always in good repair and that all the Club’s equipment is safe to use. Over the years, Phil as Stratford Boat Club’s Boatman and his team have saved the Club many thousands of pounds: there has also been a very pleasing link with the Duke of Edinburgh’s award in that many of the Club’s junior members have worked under Phil’s guidance to help repair and maintain equipment for the good of the Club and the community

The Junior Felix Award this went to Fred Tyler for his all round contribution on and off the water: Fred was put forward for the award because of his cheerfulness and help that he gives to all at the Club

The award to Fred was given on Saturday during a farewell J16 breakfast for Fred to mark his departure from the Club as Fred has won a rowing scholarship to Shrewsbury School: Shrewsbury School is nationally recognised as one of the leading rowing schools in the country and boasts an impressive fourteen Henley Royal Regatta wins to its name. Said Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator and J16 coach, “The Club is very proud of Fred’s achievements which have been gained through his own determination and support from his parents. His scholarship also says much for the standard of coaching at Stratford.” The awards were presented by Dawson Curnock, the Club’s Chairman

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club also highlighted the recent awards of other high achieving past Juniors:-

Imogen North: represented Great Britain at the Home International Regatta

Peter Boyes: represented Great Britain at the Home International Regatta

Mya Kenny: awarded place at Hartpury College

Esme Booth: represented Great Britain in the Under 23 Squad

Maddie Gardner: represented Great Britain at the Home International Regatta

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

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