Stratford upon Avon Boat Club masters squad competed in the 50th Anniversary Head of the Dart last weekend which is held on a fifteen kilometre course on the River Dart from Totnes to Dartmouth. The river offers stunning countryside views and is the home of thriller writer Agatha Christie. The tidal river can be remote and challenging with conditions ranging from calm and ideal to a significant swell which can prove difficult to a fine rowing boat.
Competition was strong this year with over one hundred boats entered and the event ran over two days. On Saturday fours and eights were raced from Totnes to Dartmouth: on Sunday, singles, doubles and pairs were run from Dartmouth to Totnes.
This year the Saturday boats rowed on a ebb tide with near ideal conditions: the tricky middle section which has sunk boats before now proved to be fairly benign with only a few waves breaking over the boats.
The Men’s Masters-E Coxed Four crew of David Edwards, Richard Aitchison, Graham Cann and Simon Skillings were coxed by Jen Cary. Jen’s excellent steering and cool nerves while being bounced around led the crew to a solid third place, beating crews from Dart Totnes Club and Plymouth Amateur Rowing Club with a time of 58:05
Graham Cann, crew member, said, “What a fantastic opportunity in great weather and company to represent Stratford Boat Club and to have rowed the River Dart in under an hour. We should thank each other for our commitments and the early starts in all types of weather and circumstances! A special thanks to our cox Jen for guiding us down through the Dart and our wonderful wives for their support, patience and assistance not only on the day but providing us with the opportunity to row!”
Tom Doherty and Heather Hayton also competed and entered a composite Mixed 4x- boat with Upton upon Severn Club and recorded an excellent time of 51:05, leading to a solid win over Tees Rowing Club, Dart Totnes and Der Club Germania.
Sunday saw the event run in the reverse direction with Tom and Heather entering a mixed double. Conditions were less favourable, with stronger winds and a faster tide. Despite these conditions, they recorded a time of 56:29 coming fourth in their class and twentieth overall.
For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty three and Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-upon-avon-boat-club-masters-conquer-the-50th-anniversary-head-of-the-dart and also on back sports page. Also now on back sports page Stratford Observer’s Friday edition: https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2022/04/22&pages=024