The weather could have been better but great participation from crews local and further afield from Evesham Rowing Club, Worcester Rowing Club, AB Severn Rowing Club (Tewkesbury), Cheltenham College, Dragon School Boat Club, King Edward The Sixth Boat Club, King’s School Worcester Boat Club, Magdalen College School Boat Club, Nottingham and Union Rowing Club, Ross Rowing Club and Worcester Royal Grammar School as well as major entries from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club. The regatta this year had three divisions and one hundred and sixty three separate races starting at 08.30 and running all day through until a close at 17.45hrs!
Dan Warren, Stratford Boat Club’s Regatta Secretary said, “This year we were very heartened again by the huge turn out from local and distant clubs and the interest from the public. A massive thanks to all our hard working Stratford Boat Club members, visiting crews, umpires and officials and especially the public for supporting the event. We were especially honoured to have Stratford upon Avon Town Council Mayor Gill Cleeve attend our regatta.”
Colin Davies, Regatta Water Team Lead commented. “It was a long day’s racing: our tea tent was extremely busy dispensing dozens of cakes and snacks. What a magnificent day topped by great racing! We decided to stay with the shortened 500 metre sprint course to ensure the safety of all the competitors and river users: we ran the regatta under very tight protocols. We were especially grateful for the help and tolerance of those operators who work and make their living on the river.”
Commenting on the J13’s squad’s successes at the regatta, Steve Wellstead J13 Coach and Junior Co-Ordinator said, “Our home regatta brought more high quality racing from Stratford’s J13 squad to the calm waters of the Avon.” First to take to the course was the coxed quadruple scull crew of Martha Cooke, Millie Francis, Sophie Franklin, Isla Dunn and Bryony Francis (coxswain). The girls made short work of the first round but then faced a quality crew from Nottingham & Union Rowing Club in the final. The quality of the Stratford crew shone to take the win by a solid three lengths and the first pots of the day. Next down the river was the double sculls event where Cara Berisford-Murray and Poppy Warren dispatched Evesham to face another Stratford crew of Tessa Parkin and Josephine Cooper. Great sculling from both crews wowed the Stratford crowd with Cara and Poppy the eventual winners.
In the single scull event, two J13 Stratford scullers took to the water. With a bye in the first round, Maeve Dunn had to wait whilst Bryony Francis raced. After a nail biting run down the course, Bryony was pipped to the post by just one length leaving Maeve to fly the Stratford flag. Maeve bravely faced a formidable sculler from AB Severn and made the AB athlete work hard for all of the 500m with the final margin being four lengths to AB Severn.
For the J14s it was a chance to try out some new crew combinations, starting with Alice Jones racing in the J14 single for the first time this year. After a strong start, both boats were neck and neck, with the sculler from Nottingham and Union inching away in the second half of the race to take the win by less than two lengths. Next up were the boys coxed quadruple scull crew of Theo Richter, Seth Vondrak, Xavier Sissins, Ollie Rowland and James Albrighton (cox). A powerful start put them well up on their opposition, however a boat malfunction soon after forced them to row a man down giving Magdalen College the upper hand to take the win.
Next up for the J14’s were the girls’ coxed quadruple scull of Meg Nutall, Sophie Evans, Lily Warren, Lucy Yang and Alexandra Francis (cox). In a nail biting race against a strong crew from Evesham, Stratford really showed their skill resulting in a photo finish where Evesham took the win by one foot. In the afternoon James Albrighton and Alexandra Francis took to the water in the open J14 double scull, winning their first two races against solid crews. In the final Stratford were fiercely holding off the Nottingham and Union crew until they caught a boat stopping crab where the opposition squeezed past them to take the win. In addition Sophie Evans generously stepped into a J14 double sculls on the day with a rower from Worcester, Roxie. With Sophie taking the bow seat, they comfortably won both two races to get them to the final. In the final, the Worcester/Stratford composite took the lead from the start and held it down the course to take the win.
The WJ15 1x event saw Aimee Appleton rowing a fantastic first race against her formidable Nottingham & Union opposition and beating her by three lengths with fine technique. Sadly, Lucy Sartain lost her first race against the eventual winner from AB Severn and Eloise Cooper had a capsize shortly after the start.
In the WJ15 2x event, Jessica Long and Nancy Davis showed great technique over the sprint course but lost by three lengths to a very powerful AB Severn crew who would take the overall win later on. In the OJ15 2x event, Jamie Wilcock and Will Dalrymple-Baker were drawn against their nemesis from Evesham Rowing Club. They rowed well and came half a length short.
Following this, the WJ15 4x+ semi-final event saw Scarlett Richardson, Molly Vondrak, Megan Rowan and Esmerelda Elfwood, coxed by Lucy Sartain having a poor start followed by catching a bad crab from which they recovered well and then showed grit and determination but ended up losing by two lengths to the winning finalists from AB Severn.
Stratford’s J16 competition started with Charles Happel competing against a single sculler from Magdalen College: Charles sculled energetically with stroke precision to cruise home with a four length advantage. His next race proved to be more of a challenge against another sculler from Magdalen. Charles sculled a valiant race but lost out by two lengths. In the afternoon it was the turn of the WJ16 double crew of Grace Beason and Charlotte Isbel who, after a lengthy delay, rowed against a very experienced Evesham doubles crew in their doubles finals race having benefitted from a bye to the final: success eluded Stratford this time despite a spirited and technically good performance losing just by four lengths.
The day started early for the J17/18 squad with Will Beattie and Tomi Wilcock competing in the Open J18 doubles event, one of the first races to set off. They beat crews from Magdalen College and Worcester Rowing Club comfortably in the heats and finished two lengths ahead of the anticipated King Edward The Sixth Boat Club crew in the final to bring home the win. Bella Chappelhow and Honour Keil raced in the Women’s J18 doubles just missing out on the final in their heat against Worcester Grammar School, a crew that went on to win the event. The story was the same for the other girls double of Fleur Griffiths and Harriet Holmes who, despite steering an expert line, also finished just short of the final. The girls’ quad of Freya Watts, Ruby Howells, Amelie Sartain and Lucy Browne raced a straight final against Worcester Grammar School in the Women’s J18 coxless quads event, rowing to a mid-afternoon victory. The final effort of the day came from Toby Sartain in the Open J18 singles event where his competitor’s dubious steering contributed to him just missing out on the final. Alongside racing, J17/18 squad each helped the umpires in their role throughout the day where their assistance was much appreciated.
Meanwhile away at Henley Women’s Regatta, Stratford’s WJ16 four of Amalia Richardson, Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes, Kate Richardson and coxswain Imogen Hill entered The West End Cup. Stratford rowed with great skill to finished ninth out of twenty crews in the time trial just missing the top eight to progress to the knockout stage of the regatta. J16 coach Sam Hill said, “Henley Women’s Regatta attracts the best crews from clubs and schools across the UK, so to finish in the top half of the time trial is an excellent result!”
Also on the river at Henley Women’s Regatta were some of Stratford Boat Club’s alumna – Talei Dunn and Hermione Hill (Durham), Molly Gill-Swift (Exeter) and Katie Wellstead (Oxford) competing for their respective universities.
Saturday’s busy regatta will be followed by the Club’s Fun Regatta on Saturday 09 July where the Club give crews from local companies, clubs and organisations three hours training, a boat and an experienced cox.
Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club’s President said, “Although we weren’t blessed with good weather for the regatta, there were still crowds watching the racing adding much to Stratford’s atmosphere and vitality: we were glad to showcase our sport and demonstrate our part in the success of our town! The support of our sponsors is much appreciated especially from our headline sponsor Stratford Self Store as is the tolerance and help from the other river users and colleagues.”