Stratford Conquers in the North

The culmination of the regatta season for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club junior athletes saw Junior 15 and Junior 16 squads travel to the North of England Sprint Championships. Held over 500m at Hollingworth Lake Rowing Club in a multi lane format, the athletes competed against clubs spanning the country from Teesside to Merseyside.

Medals were hotly contested throughout the day with perfect conditions and the lake shore crowded with eager rowing fans. The first win of the day was recorded in an all Stratford final for the Women’s Junior 16 coxed four crew of Alice Baines, Maggie Page (HLRC), Khloe Curnock, Katie Wellstead and Daniel Cox (coxswain). This was followed by richly deserved medals for the Junior 15 coxed quadruple scull of Maiya James, Alice Baines, Nixie Brunt, Jasmine Mountney and Naomi Sergeant (cox). A third and final win came in the Junior 16 double scull event with Joe Hodson and Daniel Cox treating those at the lake to a pulsating sculling performance, winning by just a canvas.

The event marked a special day for Junior 16 squad lead coach and former club captain, Dr Graham Collier who learned to row and competed for Hollingworth Lake as boy. In the years since, Graham has coached many winning crews and to see the same repeated at his home club brought a superb end to the 2017 regatta season.

Meanwhile, Stratford’s Masters squad put in their final practice and training outings ready for their appearance at 2017 World Rowing Masters Regatta in Bled this coming week.

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer online, p30 and p31 and Stratford Herald p14

For more great photographs, see Stuart Baines’ selection!AiW2DAyn9tg9i_daCU0zuOZ95rouQg

Stratford Successes at Warwick & Oxford

Last Saturday, members of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club entered Warwick regatta. Holly Sinnett and Becky Smith took part in the Primary Women’s double sculls. They won their heats easily despite the heavy wind and bending river and then qualified for the final against Evesham. Again, Holly and Becky beat the Warwick crew with a good lead and were overall winners. The crew would like to thank Paul Hazelwood for coaching them through the last year and for the fantastic support and race training from Mark Dewdney and Helen Smith. The crew looks forward to training further with Mark and Helen and are aiming for novice head races over the winter.

Another success was Harvey Mole competing in his first regatta and despite a very close race, Harvey just lost out to the competition. Further wins included Amelie Sartain in the WJ13 1x after a hard fought race against Evesham.

The WJ13 4x+ of Abbey Meggeson, Emma Harrison, Harriet Hodgson, Sienna Rawlings coxed by Mary Walton were a close runner up in their event.

The J13 1x Conar Aitchison and WJ13 2x of Amelie Sartain and Abbey Meggeson narrowly missed places in their respective finals, however Sienna Rawlings and Harriet Hodgson gave Evesham a run for their win in the final of the WJ13 2x closing all the time to miss out by half a length.

Meanwhile at City of Oxford regatta held over 1000m on the River Thames also saw Stratford successes with Ian Ward who won in the adaptive assisted doubles beating two Oxford crews by two feet and one length respectively with Joe Moore assisting. Mark Sanders had a couple of close races. Stratford’s J15 double won by two feet. 

Masters Women A, Sian Maher and Victoria Ward, joined by Seniors Lizzy Collins and Amy Freeman took part in their first race as a combination in the W.IM.2.4+. Kindly supported by Laura Roxburgh of Bristol Ariel, who sat in to cox, the crew drew City of Bristol in the heats and held them off all of the way to the finish line, showing their individual skills, combined in to a good quality, very tidy crew.

The semi finals brought Stratford against a tall Reading Boat Club crew: Stratford kept up their show of skill but sadly Reading got to the line first on this occasion. This combination is one to watch for over the coming year.

Another first was the debut race for Emily Ascott accompanied in the IM3 Mixed double scull by Mike Hazelwood. The duo stole a march on their competition in first round pushing hard to a two length lead before finally being edged into second place by a

more experienced crew from Green Templeton College Boat Club.

Stratford Masters’ Women were also ably represented by Christine Goodwin in the W.Mas.C.1x who drew a strong Vesta sculler. Christine beat her competitor off the start and proceeded to give the spectators the opportunity to see some great side by side racing over the whole course. Vesta just managed to get to the line first by a narrow margin and was heard to say that it was a tough race. Masters Women’s Vice


Captain, Helen Smith said, “Christine continues to show her emerging skill and consistency, a great advert for masters’ rowing.”

Stratford’s Junior Squad was represented in two events with fine examples of sculling in both. Sofia Ward competing in the J17 single scull raced a magnificent semi final leading off the start but was eventually overhauled in the second half of the race by Swindon Rowing Club. The J15 double scull of Emily Browne and Katie Wellstead showed fine form recording easy wins over Falcon Rowing Club in the opening two rounds of the event taking them through to the final. The Stratford pair then took on Oxford City and delivered a masterful performance winning by just two feet much to the spectators’ delight.  Another successful day of racing concluded with prizes presented by Zoe de Toledo, Oxford Blue and Olympic Silver Medallist.

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

Stratford ‘Explore’ Bewdley!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Explore rowers had a fun afternoon at the weekend in Bewdley in the sunshine and showers. The crew (pictured: Simon Price, Nils Purser, cox Celia Price, Rosie Stone and Paul Harrold) had a tricky encounter with an overhanging willow tree in their first race but finished a credible second place. Their second race however was a display of smooth and powerful rowing that saw Stratford overcome a fit Pengwern crew, an exhibition that made their even their coach marvel!

Said Glyn Hawkins, the Explore crew’s coach, “The regional Explore programme continues with events at Stourport, Birmingham and Upton with Stratford hosting their own mini Explore regatta on Sunday 08 October. Explore rowing has been a great success at Stratford and our current Explore squad came through previous years’ Learn to Row programmes which this year start on Monday 11 September.”

See media coverage see Stratford Observer p31, Stratford Herald p17 and online

University Members Do Stratford Proud

Due to a very successful British Universities & Colleges Sport Regatta in May, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club members Imogen North racing for University of Nottingham (gold medals in LW4-, LW4x and a silver medal in LW2x) and Franklin Hamilton racing for Reading University (gold in LM4x, bronze in LM2x and bronze in M4x) proudly qualified to race for the Great Britain university crew at the European University Sports Association Regatta (EUSA) in Subotica, Serbia recently.

Franklin racing in the Men’s lightweight quad and lightweight double and Imogen also racing in the Women’s lightweight quad and lightweight double competed in the heats on Friday, beating tough competition to secure their places in the A finals on Sunday. This gave them Saturday to recover and watch the repêchage events.

Sunday morning’s weather brought challenging racing conditions but Franklin and his partner raced a close final wining a silver medal in the LM2x just missing out on the gold by two seconds to the University of Vienna. Imogen’s LW4x then won a silver medal in another tightly contested race, gold being won by a very strong crew from the University of Amsterdam.

As the day went on, conditions gradually became more challenging with gusts of high wind making tough conditions especially for lightweights. However Franklin and his crew went on to win a gold medal convincingly in LM4x beating top crews from Poland and Germany amongst others. One of the last races of the competition was the LW2x but even with waves breaking over the riggers, Imogen and her partner battled it out to win their second silver medal for the competition, a feat made all the more impressive because they are both first year students at their respective universities.

For media coverage. see Stratford Herald p16 and Stratford Observer online…/stratford-bc-students-pa…/

Stratford Are Champs at Nat Champs!

Junior athletes from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club competed at the recent National Junior Rowing Championships held at the National Water Sports Centre.

Day one of this three day event saw the Club’s J14 group competing first in the Omnium which tests their skills in small boats. All the athletes demonstrated their tremendous skills with a standout performance from Max Griffiths and Daniel Cox who finished seventh out of forty five crews.

Then followed racing in the coxed quadruple sculling event. The boys crew of Fred Tyler, Sam McClenahan (Evesham), Max Griffiths and Daniel Cox steered by Katie Wellstead finished thirteenth out of the twenty eight crews entered. Theirs was an awesome performance recognised by the coach from the prestigious Henley Rowing Club who were beaten by half length. In another outstanding performance, the girls’ crew – Alice Baines, Nixie Brunt, Mya Kenny, Jasmine Mountney coxed by Mili Wilcock finished in twelfth place from a field of forty two crews.

On day two, the older age groups took to the water competing first in a time trial over 1500 metres. The WJ15 double scull of Talei Dunn (very new to rowing) and Khloe Curnock missed their final by only six seconds, a great outcome at this stage of their rowing careers.

Joseph Hodson competing in the J15 single sculls navigated the time trial successfully and finished fourth in the D Final rowed over 2000 metres.

The WJ15 coxed quadruple sculling crew of Katie Wellstead, Katie Philips, Molly Gill-Swift and Jessica Wiesheu coxed by Mimi Hill, The WJ16 coxed four – Izzie Marsden, Autumn Keil, Lara Davies, Maddie Winsper and cox Matilda Watts and the WJ18 coxless quadruple scull of Sofia Ward, Lauren Willis, Maddie Griffiths and Theo Mordaunt all qualified for the semi-finals.

After some exciting racing on day three, the WJ15s finished in tenth place and both the WJ16s and 18s seventh in their respective events. Said coach Dr Graham Collier’ “These great results keep the Boat Club well and truly present on the national stage.”

Whilst the Junior Squad were excelling at Nottingham, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Masters’ crews descended upon the picturesque market town of Bewdley at the weekend for the famous and well attended Bewdley regatta held over two days on the river Seven.

Saturday saw Stratford Women’s Masters crew of Kjersti Woolley and Vicky Brennan flying the flag in Women’s Novice double sculls over the long course. In a very close race against a much younger crew from Bristol Ariel, Stratford pushed them close but were just beaten on the finish by a length.

Sunday saw the Stratford Masters men descend on Bewdley for the shorter sprints course, with the crew of Sarah Trowton (cox), Stephen Haighton, Tim Lunel, Simon Skillings and Wallace Brown in Masters D coxed fours. Their first race in the 50 to 55 age group event saw them take on a determined Stourport crew in a close fought race which saw Stratford pulling away to win by a length. A semi final soon followed against a Loughborough crew who again pushed Stratford hard but again failed to prevent another win by Stratford and a place in the final. The final saw Stratford up against the crew of the Monmouth double winners on the Saturday. After a close start Monmouth’s high quality crew were able to pull away and lead Stratford by a length to record their third win of the weekend.

Next up was Stratford Masters E crew is Lucy Breakwell (cox), Richard Shepherd, Simon Beard, Richard Nelson and Tom Doherty. Racing against another high quality Monmouth crew, Stratford got off to a shaky start which saw them half a length down which despite some strong pushes, they could not pull back and Monmouth were able to extend their lead to a length at the finish.

The next race saw a scratch crew of Tom Doherty and Tim Lunel competing in the Masters D double sculls event against Stourport. With a crew change due to injury only two days before, the Stratford crew had no practice going into the event against a good quality Stourport crew. In a neck and neck race with the lead changing, the crowd were treated to a knife edge finish with only one foot separating a successful Stourport crew from Stratford.

Stratford Tim Lunel was not finished and took part in his third event in Masters D single sculls against an experienced Stourport sculler. Another close race saw Tim pipped at the finish by a length.

With no wins to record from the men, it took Kjersti Woolley, competing in her first single sculling race and fresh from her Saturday doubles race, to give herself a birthday treat with a final win over Helen Helliwell by a length and a half in an all Stratford final.

Said Tom Doherty, Men’s Masters Vice Captain, “A good weekend’s competitive racing and congratulations to Kjersti for a first singles win on her birthday. Also thanks to Sarah and Lucy from Bridgnorth Rowing Club who provided some excellent assistance to enable our crews to race.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald p15 and Stratford Observer online…/stratford-secure-victorie…

For more great pictures from National Junior Rowing Championships, see David Philip’s albums…/1358…/albums/with/72157673320881076 and…/135872444…/albums/72157686497999085

Stratford Win in Style at Molesey

Christine Goodwin made her debut, rowing on the Thames, at the prestigious Molesey Rowing Club Regatta on Saturday.

Her heat in Women’s Masters C 1x was against a much younger sculler from Oxford Academicals: however Christine showed her skill and strength in beating the sculler (whom she had previously beaten), by winning comfortably by five lengths.

Then Christine faced a formidable and technical sculler in the final from Tideway Scullers: her opposition was just two years older but gained a nine second start advantage by virtue of racing up an age group at Women’s Masters D category. Christine pushed hard off the start but, on this occasion, was beaten by a worthy and more experienced opponent.

Christine’s own personal achievement was to race in a new boat against experienced London crews with an effective and capable rows in strong current conditions.

Said Helen Smith, Masters’ Women’s Vice Captain and Christine’s coach, “We are so proud of Christine’s journey over the last two years, arriving at where she is today where she has shown her potential against very competent opposition.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald p15.

Colourful Fun Regatta!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Fun Regatta took place on Sunday amidst good humoured rivalry. Although the crowds hoped for from Birmingham, Coventry, Warwickshire and further afield didn’t appear in great numbers, the weather helped by being not too hot. Cheers from crew supporters and visitors spurred on some twenty two crews to their fleeting place in history – winning, surviving, completing the course or being the best well dressed crew on the river!

Said Dawson Curnock, Stratford Boat Club’s Fun Regatta Organiser and Chairman elect: “This year’s Fun Regatta, our fifteenth, was another great one in terms of number of local crews from companies and organisations such as Robert Welch from Chipping Camden and Paxford Cricket Club to name just a few. This year we also had several crews from parents of our young rowers: fierce competition – Mums against Dads!”

Dawson said. “The ingenuity and effort put into the fancy dress was amazing – Flower Power, Jim’s Privates, The Mummies, Riversvoir Dogs, Pie & Lattes and Marooned Pirates –  brought a smile to everybody’s face! Already we’ve seen several competitors sign up for Stratford Boat Club’s autumn Learn to Row courses 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 we were so pleased to have NFU Mutual’s Stratford agent sponsor the Fun Regatta: this was only the second time for us and it proved a great success to have local companies support us in this very exciting year when we have done so well in local and national regattas and Henley Royal Regatta. 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 NFU Mutual’s Stratford agent’s support will help us to pay for our increase in facilities and increased our ability to provide sport for all especially those looking for weekday recreation and exercise.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer online and also Stratford Herald p16

For more great pictures of the Fun Regatta, see David Phillips’ selection and Trevor Tiller’s stream!Ajo1zADNwhQAhlZXIFqbtZbLGbmJ

Stratford Proud of Henley Progress

Henley Royal Regatta is the pinnacle of the UK rowing season as well as being one of the places to be seen over the summer. Famous for its Pimms, its blazers and riverside picnics, Henley also boasts a tough 2112 metre stretch of river marked off with unforgiving log booms on either side. 2017 saw two crews from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club aiming to bring back some rowing glory to the West Midlands.

First up was the Wyfold Cup coxless four entry of Club Captain Oli Smith, Ben Smith, Alastair Collier and Harpreet Mander who were asked to go through Henley Qualifiers held the Friday before the Henley Royal Regatta start. The aim of the qualifiers was to whittle down the sixty strong entry to thirty two. Unfortunately despite rowing strongly, the crew fell just ten seconds short of qualifying.

The second crew targeted the Britannia Cup for coxed fours. The crew of Chris Thomas, Ben Twiney, Tom Coles and Ed Lewry were coxed by Eleanor Willetts. Only sixteen crews were allowed entry and due to their early season form the crew was automatically qualified into the main draw where they were pitched against Riverside Club from the River Charles in Boston, America. In all, eight crews had flown in from around the world to take on Britain’s best club rowers and the Riverside Club crew were strongly fancied by many to make progress through the draw.

The race took place on Thursday morning and the Stratford crew who had trained extensively over the course, managed to nail their start giving them a quick half-length lead. However, Riverside had other ideas and over 1500 metres they whittled Stratford’s advantage away until the two crews reached the grandstand enclosures, about 500 metres from the finish, dead level. Stratford weren’t to be denied and in an epic sprint to the line, stroke man Chris Thomas raised the rate again with ten strokes to go to cross the finish line just four feet ahead.

This meant Stratford’s next opponents on Friday were St Andrews, an Edinburgh University alumni crew, containing a number of ex-GB and Canadian internationals. After a sustained battle along the course, the St Andrews crew won by just over a length. St Andrews went on to contest the final as well – losing by only a length to a crew from Norway.

Stratford Senior squad coach Bill Sullivan commented, “Both crews can be very proud of their achievements this week. Stratford were one of only three British crews left in the Britannia cup at the quarter final stage and we gave the eventual finalists a real fright. It gets progressively harder for smaller, provincial clubs to make a mark at this level but this is the third year that Stratford upon Avon Boat Club have made the last eight places at Henley Royal Regatta. Well done to our Wyfold crew who worked so hard and showed huge commitment through all those cold winter mornings. Success has been built with this squad as well as the juniors and veterans squads by terrific volunteers giving up their time to nurture athletes of all abilities and encouraging them to make the most of their talents and I’d like to thank everyone who makes a contribution. Onwards and upwards to 2018″.

Added Dawson Curnock, incoming Chairman and Fun Regatta organiser, “That is going to be a hard act to follow! This coming Sunday 09 July we have our Fun Regatta at Stratford. We have taken crews from Stratford and Warwickshire companies and organisations, given them three hours of training, a boat, an experienced cox and have organised a regatta for them! It may not be Henley but it’s going to be fun: there’ll be thrills and spills, fancy dress and serious rivalry! Our tea rent, barbecue and bar will be open for all, competitors and visitors!”

For media coverage, see the Stratford Herald p18, Stratford Herald online and Stratford Observer online…/stratford-bc-delighted-wi…

Gold Olympian at Fun Regatta

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club is delighted to announce that Olympic Gold Medallist Matt Gotrel as their guest of honour at this year’s Fun Regatta on Sunday 09 July.

Now in its fifteenth year, the Fun Regatta attracts competitors from local companies, village and groups of friends.  Around twenty six crews, with just three hours’ training compete in a number of ‘side by side’ races in the Club’s ‘learn-to-row’ boats, often in wacky fancy dress.

Fun Regatta organiser Dawson Curnock says, “We’d like to encourage people to come down to the Boat Club or the river to support the crews.  It is great to watch there’s lots of splashing; some crazy outfits and plenty of competitive banter.  Plus, we have a barbeque with Stratford’s Barry The Butcher burgers, a bar and tea tent running all day.”

He adds “It is a fabulous ‘fun’ day for the family, and it also helps the club raise vital funds to buy boats for future athletes like Matt.  We’re very grateful to the support of our local NFU branch Wheaton, Lamb and Burrows for sponsoring the event both this year and last.”

Matt won gold in Rio in 2016 in the men’s eight.  He had hoped to compete at the club’s Fun Regatta, with his sponsor Robert Welch Designs but has had to withdraw from rowing due to shoulder surgery.  Robert Welch Designs, a local family-run company designing and manufacturing cutlery, kitchen knives and tableware from their base in Chipping Campden, are entering two crews this year.  Matt will be at the Fun Regatta all day and will be presenting the winning crews with their medals. Racing starts at 10.00hrs, the victors will hopefully be crowned by 17.30hrs, other water traffic permitting.

The Fun Regatta, originally called the ‘Pubs and Clubs’ Regatta, started on the Sunday following the main regatta.  As the event grew in size, and popularity, it was moved to July as a standalone event.

Entry requirements are simple: a crew of four people (with a basic swimming ability).  Each team or ‘crew’ are given three one hour training sessions ahead of the race day with one the boat club’s volunteer coaches.  On the day of the Fun Regatta, each crew are given a cox and compete in a minimum of three side-by-side races.  The fastest crews qualify for the semi-finals and the finals.

Fancy dress has become quite a major part of the day, with separate prizes for the best dressed and named crews. Over the years they have seen Ghostbusters, (complete with back-pack zappers), totally blue Smurfs, Abba, Wizard of Oz (Tinman, Scarecrow, Dorothy and Lion named Follow The Yellow Brick ‘Rowed’), Top Gun, pop group Kiss, several pirate crews including one which mounted a cannon on their boat which pumped out coloured smoke as they raced as well as Leprechauns, fairies and the like!

Crews use stable ‘Learn to Row’ boats.  These are also used all year round for those taking part in the Boat Club’s courses and help beginners gain confidence and skills as they take up and progress within the sport and, kindly, part funded by a grant from the Town Trust.

Rosconn Stratford Boat Club Regatta: Great Hot Success!

A memorable day! Excellent racing: great participation from crews as far afield as Bewdley Rowing Club, Cardiff & Vale Schools Rowing Association, Evesham Rowing Club, Royal Grammar School Worcester, Stowe Sculling Club, Warwick Boat Club, Holloway Scullers, Monkton Combe School, Monmouth Comprehensive School and newcomers from AB Severn Boat Club, Bridgnorth Rowing Club and Bedford Rowing Club. The regatta this year had four divisions, thirty four events and one hundred and thirty five separate races starting at 08.00 and running all day through until 18.30hrs!

Stephen Rose, Stratford Boat Club’s Regatta Secretary said, “This year we were so pleased to have Mencap Heart of England as our nominated charity: Stratford Boat Club have an outreach in teaching customers of Mencap and other adaptive athletes how to scull and this was a natural extension for this outreach. We were very heartened by the huge turn out from local and distant clubs and the interest from the public. A massive thanks to all our sponsors especially the Rosconn Group, hard working Stratford Boat Club members, visiting crews, umpires and officials and especially the public for supporting the event.”

Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club’s President commented. “It was a long day’s racing from 08.30 to 18.30hrs: 400 beefburgers, 45lbs of sausages, 25lbs of bacon, 20kg of sliced onions and 750 buns all from local suppliers were consumed as well as dozens of cakes and snacks: what a magnificent day topped by great racing! We had to ‘phone Barry The Butchers for extra supplies at lunchtime and raid the local shops for extra buns! Based on our success last year, we decided to stay with the shortened 650 metre course to ensure the safety of all the competitors and river users. We were especially grateful for the help and tolerance of those operators who work and make their living on the river.”

Said Paul Hazelwood, the Club’s Treasurer, “Stratford Boat Club’s next event is the Fun Regatta on Sunday 09 July: this is a much more ‘relaxed’ event with scratch teams from local Stratford, Warwickshire and area companies and organisations. We give them three hours coaching, a boat and cox and organise a regatta for them! There are bound to be thrills and spills! Come and see the ‘other side’ of rowing!”

Whilst Stratford crews were competing hard at their own regatta, last weekend saw two Senior crews go to Marlow Regatta on Dorney Lake in their quest to qualify for Henley Royal Regatta which starts on the 28th June.

Rowing in Championship Coxed Fours against many of the top London clubs and universities from around the country, the top Stratford boat qualified for the B final where they finished in fifth position. This the third year that Stratford have been represented at Royal Henley regatta. The crew made up of Eleanor Willetts, Chris Thomas, Dr Ben Twiney, Tom Coles and Ed Lewry finished as the fourth fastest club crew of the day and did enough to satisfy the Henley Stewards and so have been pre-qualified for Henley Royal Regatta. They are now looking forward to training hard on the course, famous both for its beauty as well as its toughness. Their progress can be followed live on YouTube.

The second Stratford boat, the coxless four, found the going a little tougher, not helped by an equipment failure to a rigger half way through their first race and finished fifth in their D final. They will now be required to attend Henley Qualifiers this coming Friday where they will race off against forty one other crews for just fourteen places in the main draw. Said Bill Sullivan, Seniors’ Coach, “Racing at Royal Henley Regatta is the pinnacle of the rowing season: every competitive rower wants to be there competing at the highest level! For Stratford to have one crew that has qualified and another crew with great potential for entry says a lot for their determination, training and focus! Crews come from worldwide to compete: it’s not going to be an easy couple of weeks training!”

For additional media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online…/crowds-flock-to-sizzling-… and Stratford Herald p15 and p4 and Midweek p28

For more photographs, please see David Phillip’s photographs at, Stuart Baines’ at!AgY7EiDB2lCO-FccfaMZXpYiKQRI and Hugo Happel’s at…/55l1xc…/AADwssBwIC_ufoBzbCVeWd3sa…. All excellent: many thanks!