On Saturday, Stratford upon Avon Junior Squad travelled south to the spiritual home of rowing, Henley on Thames, to compete in the annual Long Distance Sculls event. Contested over three kilometers on Henley Reach, the event attracts top clubs and schools from around the country. Athletes from J14 up to J17 represented Stratford over two divisions.
As the sun blessed the course, division one got underway. First to go was the women’s J16 double scull of Mili Wilcock and Alice Baines enjoying the conditions and making their mark with a solid seventh place. Next up, Masters Women sculler Kjersti Woolley tackled course but a lack of competition meant her row over the course formed part of her training for later in the season as opposed to a competitive measure.
The J15 squad began their season strongly in the morning division with a mixed quad of Martha Usselmann, Sienna Rawlings, William Clarke and Conar Aitchison, coxed by Mary Walton, finishing a respectable seventh place against strong competition from the boy crews of Henley and Wallingford. Later in the division, the two WJ15 double scull boats of Amelie Sartain and Sophie Elstone and Emma Harrison and Abbey Meggeson raced well, with Sartain and Elstone winning third place with Harrison and Meggeson in seventeenth place.
The action continued in the afternoon, however conditions deteriorated significantly as the skies opened. All athletes contended with hail, rain and a strong head wind as they lined up to race. The women’s J16 single sculls of Nixie Brunt and Jasmine Mountney battled hard to make it back to the boating rafts in eighteenth and twentieth place respectively.
The WJ15 quad of Rawlings, Sartain, Elstone, Usselmann and cox Walton, all rowing the distance a second time, fought hard through the worsening conditions to finish a commendable sixth place. The squad’s final race of the day saw Harriet Hodgson and Will Clarke in their double scull up against not only the hail and wind, but strong competition from the boys of Henley and Shanklin, to finish in an admirable fifth place.
For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page 22 and online http://www.stratford-herald.com/92849-stratford-juniors-battle-rivals-tough-conditions.html and also Stratford Observer back page and online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/saturday-successes-at-henley-long-distance-sculls.For more great pictures, see Stuart Baines’ selection at https://1drv.ms/f/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9jNwbwkhAYDUUu3-dLw