On Thursday 17 March, a Stratford upon Avon Boat Club WJ18 girls quad were one of three hundred and fifty boats competing in the Schools’ Head of the River Race on the River Thames. The event is the United Kingdom’s premier and largest school-age processional race for crews aged between fourteen and eighteen years old. The race is held annually on the River Thames over the four and a quarter mile (6.8 km) Championship Course from the University Stone in Mortlake to Westminster School Boat Club flagpole in Putney. It is rowed with the tide and is in the opposite direction to the Oxford versus Cambridge Boat Race. Crews from Hungary, Italy and the USA all took part.
Commenting coach Mark Holden said, “Stratford’s crew (Imogen North, Lucy Weston, Cassie Bird and Phoebe Winter) completed the course in twenty two minutes and forty three seconds finishing in twenty second place in their event, WJ18 girls’ coxless quads.”
Meanwhile on Friday, The Junior Sculling Head was held on the Olympic lake at Dorney. Over four hundred and eighty crews, schools and clubs, from all over the country competed in a full day’s racing. Stratford was represented by three of its quality young ladies crews who raced over the 3.8k course.
WJ16 coxless quad finished in twenty sixth place in their division. The WJ15 coxed quad had to complete the race out of their division but rowed well to finish in a time of sixteen minutes and forty six seconds.
Said coach Dr Graham Collier, “The WJ14 coxed quad of Katie Wellstead, Gracie Mitchell, Katie Philips, Emily Browne and Mimi Hill (cox) had an excellent race to finish joint fifth out of a fleet of forty five boats: they completed the course in the same time as an Italian crew and overwhelmed crews for some of the major rowing schools and clubs.”
Not to be outdone by the Club’s Junior Squad, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club rowers Richard Nelson, Simon Beard, and Thomas Doherty continued their fine run of form in their composite crew with Bridgnorth Rowing Club at the Vesta Veterans’ Head of the River Race in London on Sunday. The race which marks the high point of the Masters’ eights competition head racing season is raced over the Boat Race course, attracted a full field of two hundred and twenty crews from United Kingdom and European rowing clubs to provide high quality racing.
Stratford competing in Masters’ E division came an excellent fifth out of thirty one crews and finished thirty fourth overall out of two hundred and twenty entries in a time of twenty minutes and nine seconds, beating a significant number of Masters’ A,B,C, and D crews in the process.
Said Tom Doherty, “We were really pleased with the quality of our row having made a big step up from last week’s North of England Head where we felt we underperformed. We were coxed expertly by a quality former Oxford Blue Boat cox which made a huge difference. Given that two of the crews who beat us in our division were crewed by former internationals this was an excellent result. Our focus now turns to smaller boats and the impending regatta season!”
For media coverage, see Stratford Herald p17