Wet Weekend for All Stratford’s Rowers

With Evesham Junior Head cancelled on the Saturday, it was left to the Masters to represent Stratford rowing this weekend. Unlike Evesham, the weather was set to be glorious on Sunday at Bedford Autumn Small Boats Head. Masters rowers Christine Goodwin and Tim Lunel had only raced once before in the Masters D Mixed Double category and they showed they had learned much tactically by choosing to row in the first division at 09.15hrs, so not only an early start but also an early shower in some of the heaviest rain of the day!

A good row over the 2,000m course where the highlight was the first half of the course but Stratford rowers didn’t quite have the run that brought them victory at Wallingford in September but finished in a very creditable second place where they were only beaten by a very good Cantabrigians mixed double by three seconds in actual time and sixteen seconds allowance for their Masters E handicap. Christine and Tim’s time was twenty six seconds ahead of their next nearest competition and this would have put them in second place in the Open Masters D double which puts the time put in by Cantabrigians into perspective.

Said Masters rower Tim Lunel, “An excellent second run out for the mixed double and plenty to build on for the rest of the head season.”

Elsewhere on the water were four Stratford members taking their RYA Level Two Powerboat certificate on Birmingham Edgbaston Reservoir so that they can drive Stratford Boat Club’s three safety and coaching launches. Despite the inclement weekend weather, all water sessions went ahead safely and the Club squads’ training for the head season went ahead as planned. Said Junior Coach Dr Graham Collier, “Our athletes showed real determination going out on the water and training in such wet conditions but they were kept safe by their coaches, safety launch drivers and spotters.”

For media coverage see Stratford Observer page 30 and online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/wet-weekend-for-all-stratford-rowers and Stratford Herald online http://www.stratford-herald.com/91858-wet-weekend-stratfords-rowers.html

Stratford’s Seniors Excel in Worcester

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Senior Men’s squad started off the new Head season at a very wet Worcester Small Boats Head on Saturday. Over 200 boats were competing on the 4.5 kilometre stretch of the River Severn aiming to show off their early season pace, run over two divisions.

In the morning division, Stratford’s Senior Men’s coxed four of Amie Jones , Mike Hourigan, Finn Sprackling, Ben Twiney and Patrick Hourigan had a very promising row winning their event and coming home as the quickest boat overall, beating rivals from all over the Midlands.

They were closely followed home by the Stratford coxless quad of Ed Lewry, Oli Smith, Max Marcus and Tom Coles who also won their event with something in hand, despite some slightly erratic steering.

The morning was rounded off by a win for Vice Captain, Tom Marshall, in his singles race, especially pleasing as he was returning from a long term injury.

Stratford only had one entry in the afternoon division – racing a coxless four against a strong Nottingham crew. The Stratford crew of brothers Mike and Pat Hourigan, Tom Coles and Finn Sprackling lost by fourteen seconds to the Nottingham crew after fading in the second half of the race.

Said Bill Sullivan, Senior Coach, “Overall however it was a pleasing first outing for the squad. Next up is Gloucester Head at the end of October before taking on the prestigious Fours Head held on the Tideway on the Thames in early November.”

Whilst their colleagues were battling it out on the River Severn, two Stratford Master rowers braved the worst of the weather on a rough River Thames. Sian Maher and Thomas Doherty braved the stormy conditions to take part in one of the main national head races of the year on Saturday on the famous River Thames in Central London.

An extensive logistical operation saw the two rowers arrive with their boat at a stormy Putney Embankment to join a huge field of 470 entrants from all over the UK. Conditions proved challenging from the start as the crews undertook a long row up to the starting area by Chiswick Bridge for the start of the 4.5km course in windy choppy waters and continual rain.

For Sian experiencing her first small boat event it was a baptism of fire as all crews struggled with the conditions. With the race finally underway, there was no let-up in the weather conditions, Stratford opted for a conservative race plan and settled into a steady rhythm in the swell and wind. A good push at Barnes Bridge saw them up the pace as they found themselves in a side by side race with a Cambridge crew for the whole of the second half of the race. With both crews forgetting about the conditions and focusing on each other, an exciting tussle developed with both crews level for the remainder of the race.

Finishing in a time of 17.54 whilst not fast enough to trouble the winners, it was a respectable time for an inexperienced Tideway crew.

Said Tom Doherty, “I was extremely pleased at how well Sian handled the race which at times was grim and scary and her performance enabled us to put in a solid performance in what was her first small boat Tideway race.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page 15 and online http://www.stratford-herald.com/91727-stratford-boat-clubs-seniors-shine-worcester.html and Stratford Observer page 31

Photographs courtesy of Lawrence Little

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club makes its mark at Wallingford

A crisp autumnal morning greeted Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Junior scullers as they arrived at Wallingford for the first head race of the winter season on Saturday 29 September. Sculled over 4,250 meters upstream on the Thames, the event attracts entries from many of the top clubs and schools who use it as a selection trial for their winter heads programme. The Great Britain coaches taking notes on the bank gave a clue to the quality of the entry.

Stratford got off to a flying start with Fred Tyler powering his way to third place out of twenty two in the Open J16 single sculls event. Fred dug deep to pull off an heroic finish posting the fastest time for the second half of the course.

Stratford entered three scullers in the Women’s Junior 17 single sculls event. Khloe Curnock and Katie Wellstead were only separated by 2.6 seconds in eighth and eleventh places respectively and Talei Dunn finished a highly creditable sixteenth. Katie recorded fifth fastest time for the second half a very encouraging performance for an endurance event.

Molly Gill-Swift and Emily Brown faced girls from the older age group in the Women’s Junior 18 double sculls. Molly and Emily sculled superbly putting in a typically gritty performance to finish in third place, less than five seconds behind Emanuel beating Wallingford on their own water in the process.

Stratford member Joe Hodson represented King Edward VI School in the Open Junior 17 single sculls event. Joe had to contend with an old injury to his arm flaring up in the second half of the race dropping him from twenty third at the half way point to finish in twenty sixth place, so not a result indicative of Joe’s potential.

Despite competing at Wallingford for the first time in a single, Mya Kenny rounded off the day’s racing with a very strong performance in the Women’s Junior 16 single sculls finishing in twelfth place beating Evesham to boot by just over a second.

Coach Sam Hill said, “Wallingford gives us a measure of where we rank against top competition at the start of the winter head season. Our Junior athletes have put down a very impressive marker this weekend. ‘Man of the Match’ definitely goes to Fred Tyler for his amazingly powerful performance!”

The Masters also had a representation at Wallingford with Christine Goodwin and Tim Lunel racing in their first Head competition as a mixed pair. Under ideal sunny and calm conditions, they had a great row really making the boat run and do the work, knowing how important that is when it gets over 4,000m! It felt like an excellent row and the times showed that in beating their two opposition crews by two minutes including a Masters C crew. Not only that their time of 19:15 bettered three of the six men’s Masters doubles!

Said Tim Lunel, Masters’ sculler, “Not a bad first time out as a mixed pair in a head!  We then made the fool-hardy choice to go out and do it all again in singles in the afternoon session: the less said about that the better, except maybe showing that neither of us was holding anything back from getting a good time for the morning session for the afternoon scull!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page 15 and Stratford Observer page 31. For great pictures of Wallingford Long Distance Sculls, see Lawrence’s great pictures at https://adobe.ly/2QjJj17

Novice rowers compete at Stratford

On Saturday, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club hosted its annual Explore Rowing Regatta for rowers who have recently taken up the sport. For many, this was their first experience of racing on the water and, despite the soggy weather later in the day, there was huge enthusiasm and a lot of friendly rivalry between the crews.

Twelve crews from five clubs across the region including Pengwern, Worcester, Upton, Bridgnorth and Stratford itself competed on a course in front of the theatre from the chain ferry to the Club grounds. Soon after lunch four semi-finalists emerged, two from the Pengwern club at Shrewsbury, one from Bridgnorth and one from the Stratford home club. The first semi-final resulted in a dramatic tie as Pengwern B just caught Stratford on the line and the race judge ordered a re-row.  Sadly, the Stratford crew paid the price for a pre-race visit to the burger stand and were not able to maintain their form a second time so Pengwern went through by a length. The second semi saw Bridgnorth comfortably beat Pengwern A and Bridgnorth went on to win the final showing an impressive style to the delight of the cheering crowd.

Said Nils Purser, Explore Regatta Secretary, “This was a very enjoyable day’s racing, well supported by the excellent hospitality of the Stratford club whose industrious volunteers managed a slick regatta and entertained everyone to a delicious range of hospitality served from their iconic clubhouse. Above all, this was a superb advertisement for those thinking of taking up this sport. If this might be you, please look out for the next Learn to Row courses which are run on a regular basis at Stratford.”For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/novice-rowers-compete-at-stratford and Stratford Herald

Stratford Successes for Final Season Ross Regatta

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Junior 15, 16 and 18 year old squads were out in force over the weekend to enjoy their last regatta of the season in the beautiful setting of Ross on Wye. Run over a 750 meter downstream course with a deceptive bend and fast current, Ross rewards a high degree of skill in addition to strength.

Stratford seized the day by winning three events before lunch. Fred Tyler and Joe Hodson won the Open Junior 16 Double Scull final controlling the race from the start and winning by one length.

Alice Baines followed dominating the Women’s Junior 15 Single Scull event, beating Queens Park by over two lengths in the final to bag her first victory in a single. Competing in the same event Mili Wilcock won her first round by five lengths and only lost to Queens Park by a third of a length in spite of running aground due to the low water levels. A fine effort for her first event in a single scull.

The third victory of the morning was delivered by the Women’s Junior 15 Quadruple Scull of Jasmine Mountney, Nixie Brunt, Maiya James and Mya Kenny, coxed by Matilda Watts.  They beat City of Oxford in the final by two lengths.

The Women’s Junior 16 Quadruple Scull crew of Hermione Hill, Emma Little, Jess Wiesheu, Khloe Curnock sculled brilliantly to comfortably win their semi-final by over a length, only to forfeit the race on a technicality.

Katie Wellstead finished the morning racing with a superb display of sculling in the Women’s Junior 16 Single Scull semi-final. In one of the closest races of the day Katie lost by just one foot to the City of Bristol sculler, who went on to win the final easily.

A total of three wins, and very close to two more – all before lunch.

In the afternoon, most of the athletes switched boats to enter their second event, but winner’s trophies proved elusive. Joe Hodson came close, reaching the final of the Open Junior 16 Single Scull event, this time representing King Edward VI School, as did Fred Tyler in the Open Junior 15 event for Stratford, but neither could repeat their win in the double scull.

Stratford entered two crews in the Open Junior 18 double sculls event. Dominic Furey and Harvey Mole put up a spirited performance to finish two lengths adrift of a very strong crew from Wycliffe who went on to beat the second Stratford crew, Howard Gould-Yates and Geoffrey Flambert, by a similar distance in the final.

In their final row as Junior members of Stratford before moving to university Claire Teakle and Sofia Ward produced two excellent rows in the Womens’ Junior 18 double sculls event winning by a comfortable margin of three lengths against a crew from City of Bristol to make the final, where a home combination from Ross on Wye proved just too strong winning by two lengths.

Coach Sam Hill summed up by saying “We have seen high quality sculling across the whole squad over the weekend and a great set of results against tough competition. It is very encouraging for the athletes to finish the season on such a high, as winter training approaches”.

The J13’s also travelled to Ross with the J14’s on the Sunday of the weekend. It was a pretty wet day with the rain finally stopping at about 3pm. The J13’s didn’t let this stop them though. First up was the J13 doubles. Toby Sartain and Harry Trueman raced against a very strong duo from City of Bristol, followed by Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie racing against Royal Chester. Despite both pairs putting in strong technical performances, neither were quick enough to beat their opposition.

Next up was the J13 girls’ quad of Anne Mynors, Charlotte Syson, Fleur Griffiths, Freya Watts and Cox Harriet Holmes. Again another strong performance, leading when watching from the bank, were unfortunately beaten by another crew from City of Bristol, on the stagger at the finish.

Honour Keil raced in a single for the first time against yet another City of Bristol sculler and fell to the same fate as the rest of her squad mates, losing by three and a half lengths.

Having dried out and warmed up in cars, the afternoon was more promising. First up were the WJ13 doubles. Harriet Holmes and Freya Watts teamed up together and in an extremely close race, were just pipped to the line by a canvas by a strong City of Bristol pair.

Honour Keil and Fleur Griffiths were up next and managed a fantastic performance to finally take a win against City of Bristol by four boat lengths. Their next race was against another Bristol crew where again the Stratford duo were victorious winning by one and a half lengths. In the final they came up against a crew from Queens Park High School. This was a race too far for the Stratford boat and with Keil carrying an injury they were beaten by the better crew on the day.

Trueman, Beattie, Wilcock, Sartain and Cox Holmes joined forces to race in the J13 coxed quad. Again it was Bristol that they faced and the opposition were too much for the Stratford crew, despite putting up a strong fight they couldn’t get back on terms with another very strong Bristol crew.

Said coach Abi Terry, “Despite not winning any events overall at Ross, there were some very encouraging performances and the J13’s look to build on these over the coming months as they move into their J14 year.”

A wet wind and unfamiliar cold greeted the J14 squad at the Ross Juniors & Masters Sprint on Sunday. First on the water for the J14s was Conar Aitchison & William Clarke in the double event against Bristol. An excitingly close fought race in worsening rain eventually saw Bristol over the line first by a mere third of a length.

Next to race were Amelie Sartain, Elisabeth Edwards and Sophie Elstone in the WJ14 singles. All three confidently won their heats and went through to the semi-finals with Amelie ultimately winning through to the final. Up against strong competition from Runcorn, Amelie controlled the race throughout to win the event and Stratford’s first ‘pot’ of the weekend.

The morning’s racing continued with the WJ14 quad, consisting of Emma Harrison, Julia Zampronio Gurden, Martha Usselmann and Sienna Rawlings, coxed by Mary Walton, up against Royal Chester. A hard race in terrible weather conditions saw all the crew rowing bravely, losing out at the line by only two lengths.

The afternoon started to see the rain ease off with the sun making an occasional appearance. This welcomed onto the water the two Stratford J14 girls’ doubles of Martha Usselmann and Sienna Rawlings and Amelie Sartain and Sophie Elstone. With nine crews in the event, both Stratford crews comfortably won through their heats before meeting in the final.

At the line, tensions were high: a fast & furious start saw Amelie and Sophie take a slight lead into the bridge bend. Both crews through safely, a determined push from Martha and Sienna wasn’t quite enough to close the building gap in the sprint to the finish, with Amelie & Sophie crossing the line a couple of lengths ahead to win two more ‘pots’.

Stratford’s Kjersti Rogneflaten Woolley raced in composite crews with Derwent Rowing Club over the weekend. Saturday in Gloucester started with Women’s Master E double scull against Upton Rowing Club. Kjersti and her partner Gillian Lockhart from Derwent had to give the Upton ladies a four second head start on the 600m course. A very exiting race, but with a great finish – split time of 1.59/500m – they won with half a boat length.

Then Kjersti was up against a lady from Exeter RC in Women’s’ Masters F 1x. A mistake at the beginning of the race put Kjersti a boat length behind, which also was the finishing verdict. It was an exciting race for the spectators. 

On Sunday at Ross on Wye the Stratford/Derwent Women’s’ Masters D coxed four took on Minerva Bath. It was another exciting close race, but with help from the excellent cox, Amie Jones from Stratford, Stratford was first over the finishing line.

Christine Goodwin from the Senior Squad took part in the Great Ouse marathon 21.5km in the Women’s Masters D.1x category and finished in a time of two hours, eight minutes and six seconds.

Reflecting on the past rowing and regatta season, Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator said, “The summer has passed all too quickly and the Junior Squad has had an excellent regatta season with wins and pots galore! Throughout August we had nearly 100 young people through our Summer Camps and we are looking forward to welcoming some of them into the 2018/19 Junior Squad. We have had a record number of juniors staying with us and moving up to the next squad which speaks volumes for the massive effort that the athletes, coaches, parents and helpers have put into the 2018 season. Onwards and upwards to the autumn and winter head season!” For media coverage see Stratford Observer page 38: for more pictures, see Stuart Baines’ great selection at https://1drv.ms/f/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9jM8KqNJ4Alyz7qjNTA

Stourport, Oxford and Warwick Wins for Stratford

The last two weekends have been busy ones for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club with the J13 and J14 squads travelling to some of our local West Midlands rivals for Stourport’s annual two day regatta. Stourport Boat Club had very kindly leant Stratford boats enabling the crews to compete and all of the Stratford upon Avon athletes had two great days racing.

On the Saturday Stratford claimed two wins. First up the J14 double of Will Clarke and Conar Aitchison had a very close exciting race against a double from Burton Leander. It came right down to the wire and despite an appeal from the opposition the result stood and the Stratford boys were awarded the win by just two feet.

The WJ14 single sculler, Sophie Elstone, stormed through her round against a strong sculler from Evesham gaining a verdict of easily and her place in the final. Here she met another strong sculler, this time from Loughborough Boat Club who had also beaten her opposition in her heat with an ‘easily’ verdict. Sophie kept a cool head and did exactly what she needed to in order to get in front fast and stay in front. Sophie pushed away from the Loughborough sculler and won the event with a very impressive verdict of four lengths. 

The J13 quad of Lucy Browne, Anne Mynors, Honour Keil, Will Beattie and cox Conar Aitchison raced in the open category and came up against a strong crew from Derwent comprising of three boys and one girl. They put up a good fight and gave the Derwent crew their best race of the weekend. Unfortunately, the Stratford crew weren’t quite strong enough and Derwent went on to take the win. 

On the Sunday held over the 600m course Stratford had a number of athletes competing in singles for the first time. Lucy Browne, Anne Mynors and Will Beattie all competed in their respective J13 single events. They all raced hard and showed how all of their hard work on technique this year had paid off. 

Lucy and Will then teamed up to race in a J13 double again against Derwent. This was against two boys and the Stratford crew showed great determination however, the Derwent boys had the better of them and won by and a half lengths.

Meanwhile, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club continued its summer regatta campaign last weekend at Oxford City Royal Regatta. Held over 1000m on the River Thames in Oxford, the club fielded crews from across the age ranges with Junior, Senior and Masters’ squads in action.

First to go was the Mixed Double Scull of Ed Lewry and Imogen North, a pairing likely to cause trouble for any opposition and the competition from Oxford and Fulham Reach clubs felt the might of their combination as they collected the first club victory for the day.

Next up the Men’s Double Scull of Ed Lewry and Tom Coles, another fearsome duo who dispatched Putney Town and Christchurch clubs in the heats and semi-final. It wasn’t to be their day however as Gloucester Rowing Club ruined the party just piping Lewry and Coles to take the win in the final.

Moving on and the action continued with the Men’s Coxless Quadruple Scull of Oliver Smith, Tim Henry and Finn Sprackling and Max Marcus taking to the water and beating London Otters to reach the final. The Stratford men continued their domination of the event as Globe Rowing club disappeared from view and Stratford racked up their second win of the day.

The Junior section was represented in the Women’s J16 double sculls with Katie Wellstead and Emily Browne. Keen to repeat their win from last year’s event they made short work of a home club double in the semi-final. Turning the heat up further in the final, Wellstead and Browne took the victory comfortably to retain their crown.  Said Stratford’s Captain of Boats, Oli Smith, “More performances like this and Oxford will be naming a stretch of the Thames after the duo!”

Then things got spicy in the Women’s Masters single sculls as Christine Goodwin picked up the Stratford standard and stepped forward. Gladiatorial in nature, single sculls events always promise a spectacle for the assembled crowd and Christine delivered in bucket loads with a win in the first round. The Thames, still simmering from Christine’s semi-final, reached boiling point in the last race of the day as she took an early lead in the final. The crowd took to their feet in support as with each stroke she propelled her boat forward with increasing vigour. In a final frenzy, her opposition from Cambridge 99’s fought back but Christine remained in control and stretched out to take the win, her first regatta victory but with her fine sculling on display most certainly not the last!

Whilst their colleagues were at City of Oxford regatta, the J13 squad had another great day in the beautifully set Warwick Regatta. With the start being overlooked by Warwick Castle, this is one of the most picturesque settings for a regatta. Racing was held over 500m in a round robin format for J14 and under, giving all of the crews a minimum of two races.

First up was the J13 singles. Harry Trueman competed for the first time in a single and despite some steering issues kept his head up and completed the course.  Will Beattie also competed in the singles and put in two really strong performances in his rounds. He was joint second on results so had to take part in a race off. He fought hard against a strong sculler from Derwent but unfortunately Will couldn’t quite beat him.

Next up was the WJ13 singles. This was an all Stratford affair with Harriet Holmes and Lucy Browne fighting it out to decide who took home the win. They raced each other twice and although it was close on both occasions Harriet took the win each time and the overall title.

Then Beattie teamed up with Toby Sartain to compete in the J13 doubles. Holmes and Browne also joined up to compete in the same event. Both crews raced against another crew from Derwent and against each other. All of the Stratford athletes showed huge amounts of determination but it was Holmes and Browne that made it into the final to face Derwent for the second time. The girls put in another strong performance, unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough to overhaul the two boys from Derwent this time.

The J14 events began again with an all Stratford affair in the girls’ doubles. All three crews racing each other with good close racing, ultimately Amelie Sartain and Elisabeth Edwards claimed victory after a good finals race against Martha Usselmann and Sienna Rawlings with Emma Harrison and Julia Zampronio Gurden only just missing out by a point.

Coach Trevor Tiller commented, “Despite the ‘all Stratford’ crew races during the day, there is a saying; “If two people compete, their destinies remain intertwined, they’ll remain a part of each other’s life no matter what.” These races will no doubt enhance both squads’ bonding as we go into the new rowing season.”

In the J15/14 girls double, Mary Walton and Emma Harrison performed brilliantly against a strong Derwent crew unfortunately to be beaten by just a couple of lengths. This was Mary’s first competitive race as a sculler and with such a performance we look forward for more to come.

The days racing concluded with Amelie Sartain racing up an age group in the J15 single event and winning her heat by eight lengths saw her into the final. After four previous races she was up against a fresh Derwent sculler and after a neck to neck race was pipped at the post by a mere three quarters of a length, an outstanding performance in an older age group.

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer back page and online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/a-helping-hand-goes-a-long-way-for-rowers and Stratford herald online http://www.stratford-herald.com/90178-two-wins-stratford-boat-club-stourport-regatta.html

Stratford Test Their Mettle at Henley Town and Visitors’ Regatta

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club arrived at Henley Town and Visitors’ Regatta with three untested Senior Men’s’ crews. However they had every confidence that they could get good results

The first race was the eights. The lack of preparation showed early and Stratford were left behind at the start by a strong Vesta crew. Coxed by Amie Jones, the Stratford crew picked up the rate as they came towards the finish line and managed to save the race and force a re-row. The result was better on the second race and Stratford set up an exciting final against local rivals Warwick. The extra race had cost Stratford dear and they were easily beaten by a well-practiced Warwick crew

Next up was the Senior Men’s quad. The crew comprised of Alastair Collier, Max Marcus, Tom Marshall and Edward Press. The race was close run and the Stratford crew fought hard to finish second: again, the crew was happy with the result as this was their first race together

The final race was the coxed fours. The crew was stroked by Mike Hourigan, followed by Ben Twiney, Patrick Hourigan and Oli Smith. After a scrappy start, the crew found themselves in contention but soon after a technical issue caused the crew to lose ground. Another second place finish was all they could manage. The squad now look forward to racing at City of Oxford Rowing Club Regatta and will be better prepared next time out

Meanwhile, back on the course, the Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Junior Squad picked up the baton with Mya Kenny and Nixie Brunt racing in the J15 single scull event. Nixie put on a superb show remaining level with her opposition from Maidenhead Rowing Club until the halfway point when a major push from the Maidenhead sculler edged her ahead to victory. Mya also sculled well making a strong start but energy reserves already depleted from a week long training camp on the Tideway ran short and her opposition took the win and the event trophy. Stratford’s WJ four was also in action

Stratford Boat Club is looking forward to another couple of busy weeks with the third of their Junior Summer Camps. Said Junior Co-ordinator Steve Wellstead, “We have now had sixty juniors through our massively popular summer camps and the potential that we have seen has been amazing: this bodes well for our new junior intake in September”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratford-test-their-mettle-at-henley-town-visitors-regatta and back page and Stratford Herald page 14

Stratford take Silver Medal at Junior National Rowing 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 saw the Stratford J14 squad competing in the Omnium event, a test of their skills and boatmanship. The day began with an initial time trial over 1000m in coxed quadruple sculls to determine placings for the finals later in the day. This was then followed by the Omnium in single and double sculls. In the individual event, Amelie Sartain secured right place from ninety one competitors followed by Elisabeth Edwards. Martha Usselmann and Sienna Rawlings took twenty seventh place in the doubles event, closely followed by the pairings of Harriet Hodgson and Sophie Elstone and Abbey Meggeson and Emma Harrison. The morning time trails resulted in the coxed quadruple scull of Amelie Sartain, Harriet Hodgson, Sienna Rawlings, Sophie Elstone and Mary Walton (coxswain) being placed in the C final whilst the crew of Abbey Meggeson, Elisabeth Edwards, Emma Harrison, Martha Usselmann and Rebecca Parkin (coxswain, on loan from Evesham Rowing Club) unfortunately missed a finals place by only 0.7 of a second, approximately 25cm over a distance of 1000m. After a long, hot, tiring, yet very enjoyable day, the races resulted in an overall position nationally of eighteenth place for the finals squad.

Days Two and Day Three followed the more usual regatta format where J15 and upwards crews raced side by side over the full 2000m course. First to go where the J15 coxed quadruple scull of Jasmine Mountney, Nixie Brunt, Mili Wilcock, Maiya James and Naomi Sergeant (coxswain) recording twenty third in the time trial of over forty crews competing and twenty fourth overall at the close of the regatta. Next up was Fred Tyler in the J15 single scull with a strong showing in the time trial finishing sixteenth. In the regatta format competition Tyler went on to improve his ranking to fourteenth overall from the forty scullers competing, a great performance and one that shows promise for next season. The final J15 crew competing was the women’s double scull of Mya Kenny and Alice Baines. Highly motivated from training the pairing opened well with eighth in the time trial with a time sufficient to put them in the top three at J16. Then on to the regatta format finishing the day second in the B Final and eighth overall. A highly creditable result.

Last but by no means least, the Stratford J16 squad took to the water. The recently formed coxless quadruple scull of Jessica Wiesheu, Autumn Keil, Emma Little and Talei Dunn put in an exemplary performance in the time trial. The crew’s aggressive racing style in an exciting and demanding semi-final earned them a place in the final of six crews. Still exhausted from their previous race, the crew sculled well but could not get amongst the medals. Joe Hodson (King Edward The Sixth Grammar School rowing captain) was one of thirty eight single scullers contesting the J16 event. He finished twenty fifth in the time trial and after racing strongly over 2000 metres was less than nine seconds from making the top twelve who qualify for the semi-finals. His day ended with a superlative piece of sculling to give him third place in the minor final. Said Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator, “The crowning moment for the club then came with the crew of Katie Wellstead, Emily Browne, Khloe Curnock and Molly Gill-Swift coxed magnificently by Mimi Hill taking to the water in the coxed four ev

Photo : Angus Thomas (werow.co.uk)

ent. After coming second in the time trial, first in the semi-final the crew raced superbly and skillfully in a most exciting final to finish just behind one of this season’s main adversary, Lea Rowing Club. As a result the girls took the Silver Medal in the event and a just reward for ten months of very hard work in the gym and on the water whilst studying for and completing GCSE examinations.  2019 promises to be another exciting rowing year for them all.”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online at https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratford-youngsters-excel-to-seal-silver-medal-at-nationals

Another Colourful Fun Regatta!

©DP Photography

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 hot and thus the demand for the barbecue was diminished and many move to the tea tent and bar for sustenance! Cheers from crew supporters and visitors spurred on some seventeen crews to their fleeting place in history – winning, surviving, completing the course or being the best well dressed crew on the river!

©DP Photography

Said Wallace Brown, Stratford Boat Club’s Fun Regatta Secretary, “This year’s Fun Regatta, our sixteenth, was another great one in terms of number of local crews from companies and organisations. This year we also had several crews from parents of our young rowers: fierce competition – Mums against Dads!”

Wallace added, “The ingenuity and effort put into the fancy dress was

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amazing – Boat Full of Sunshine, Row Britannia and Lightning Vikings – 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

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pleased to have Deeley Group sponsor the Fun Regatta: this was only the third time we have had the Fun Regatta sponsored 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 Deeley Group’s support will help us to pay for our increase in facilities and has increased our ability to provide sport for all especially those looking for weekday recreation and exercise.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page 15 and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/another-colourful-fun-regatta. For more great photographs, see https://www.dpphotos.co.uk

Epic Finish for Stratford at Henley Royal Regatta!

Henley Royal Regatta is always the most prestigious regatta of the whole rowing season. It takes place on a beautiful stretch of the Thames, with the races starting at Temple Island and finishing in the heart of the pretty town of Henley on Thames.  Olympians, international squad crews, the world’s best universities as well as club crews from all over the globe come to compete at Henley at the start of July to try to get their hands on the little red box handed out to winners.

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club were seeking to qualify two boats for Henley this year. The coxless four of Mike Hourigan, Patrick Hourigan, Alistair Collier and Ed Press qualified in the Wyfold Cup after some strong performances in some early season regattas.

The coxed four of Eleanor Willetts, Chris Thomas, Tom Coles, Ed Lewry and Ben Twiney had to attend a Qualifiers’ Regatta the Friday before Henley to attempt to get into the Britannia Cup at the regatta proper. They needed to finish in the top five crews, but unfortunately finished sixth, as ended as the fastest non qualifier.

After a weekend of training on the course, which is lined with wooden booms all the way along, the coxless four, only one of whom had ever rowed at Henley before, learnt they were drawn against Swan River Rowing Club from Perth in Australia. The crew from Perth were State Champions and had recently finished third in the Australian championships. They had also been selected by the Stewards of the regatta as one of the favourites for the race – so the Stratford crew knew they had their work cut out!

The race itself, on Wednesday morning, was full of incident. It began with the Swan River crew veering over from the start and drawing a small clash of blades with the Stratford boys before getting back onto their side of the river. They then edged away to a one length lead.  But the Stratford crew began to row long and powerfully and slowly started to edge back into the race. At halfway down the course they had reduced the Swan River lead to half a length when the Australian crew veered over the course again taking the Stratford crew with them and forcing them to scrape their blades on the unforgiving wooden booms. Luckily Stratford were able to keep going and moved back into the race whilst the umpire was busy shouting at Swan River to get back on course.

As they moved into the enclosures with 500 metres to go, Stratford started to move through Swan River and looked like a win was within their grasp before two small crabs cost them half a length at a critical time, meaning Swan edged over the line a third of a length up. The drama hadn’t ended though.

The umpire then held up his red flag meaning he wasn’t satisfied that it was a fair race, due to the clashes along the course and asked the coaches of both crews to join him in the Stewards Enclosure whilst he conferred with the Chairman of the Regatta – Sir Steven Redgrave, over what to do.

The solution put forward was to do it all over again – ninety minutes later! Both Stratford’s coach Bill Sullivan and his crew thought that an eminently fair solution as nobody wanted to see a crew, who had travelled half way around the world to race, be disqualified.

The second race was another humdinger. This time Stratford got off to a length lead after Swan River took their turn to scrape the booms. But slowly and surely the younger legs of the Swan crew started to assert and they moved into a half-length lead with 500 metres to go. Stratford hadn’t given up though and Mike Hourigan in the Stratford stroke seat asked his crew for one last effort as the cheers for the Stratford boys rang down from the packed enclosures. They edged back closer and closer on Swan as the line approached, but it wasn’t to be with Swan prevailing by just three feet, the closest finish of the whole day.

They were two terrific and memorable races and can be seen on the Henley highlights package posted which is on YouTube. After an exhausted Swan River crew were knocked out later in the week the two crews spent a lot of time in each other’s company reliving the race and drinking jug after jug of Pimms.

Coach Bill Sullivan said, “It was a remarkable performance by a new Stratford crew, composed of four guys who only came together in May, against such powerful opposition. It bodes well for the future of the Club that we can achieve these results. On behalf of the boys in the crew I’d like to thank everyone in the Club for all their huge support on Wednesday, as well as all their logistical help with boats and trailers over the season. We know it’s a Club effort and hopefully the boys have made them proud.”

Commenting, Club President Paul Stanton, “Not only is it great credit that the men did so well but it highlights the efforts of Bill Sullivan, their coach, who skillfully managed to get two crew into great condition for Henley. Well done Bill!”

For media coverage see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/epic-finish-for-stratford-at-henley-royal-regatta and Stratford Herald online http://www.stratford-herald.com/88761-video-stratford-rowers-involved-thrilling-finish-henley-royal-regatta.html