Saturday saw a return to competition rowing for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Masters crews following the Club’s junior squad’s successful return to racing of the previous week. The Masters’ crews took on the very significant challenge of the British Rowing Masters Championships held on the multilane course at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham. Held at a venue renowned for its blustery conditions and variable weather, this year saw a reasonably calm and hot day, an unusual occurrence remarked on by many competitors!
The competition which, due to Covid restrictions, was reduced to a one day event with all status crews competing together which led to some high quality and fiercely competitive racing throughout the day. The Stratford Boat Club’s mixed double crew of Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty in their first national competition together in their age group race found themselves in a field of four other boats, all of whom had previously won championship golds.
Faced with such a task, Stratford’s crew who were blessed with a strong headwind gave it everything off the start to stay with the field over the 1000m course. At 600 m they were still in the mix but the experience and power of the other crews saw them pull away over the last third of the race. A satisfied but shattered crew were pleased to have been able to race and to have been competitive against some of the best the best crews in the country.
Said Tom Doherty, Masters’ Vice Captain, “The weekend’s race was a real baptism of fire for Heather in her first national standard completion and multilane race and she passed with flying colours. The experience gained over the weekend will be very beneficial as we look to further races as lockdown is hopefully reduced in the future.”
Also competing at Nottingham at the weekend in the Open Masters E single sculls was Tim Lunel. Not holding out for much more than a competitive day out, Lunel was very pleasantly surprised to find himself leading at the 500m mark in the first round with the comforting knowledge that the first three go through to the final. Banter was inevitably to follow as ex-Stratford Boat Club Piers Copham “rowed through” or was allowed to exert extra wasted energy to take first place depending on the perspective of the scullers in question.
Lunel’s and Piers’ fears that the other heat contained the fastest sculler in the field was then confirmed in the A Final where those rowers took the podium positions with Denis Crowley from Commercial Rowing Club of Ireland hopping over the Irish Sea to record a cracking 4.08 as the winning time
The only race that really mattered in the final though this was of course the one between Tim Lunel (Stratford) and Piers Copham (ex-Stratford) and we are pleased to report that staying at Stratford Boat Club to enjoy the new singles (rather than relocating to the Cam as Piers has done) produced the desired result with a “winning margin” of 2.6 seconds for Stratford’s Lunel!
Commenting, Tim Lunel said, “A great day of racing after an eighteen month gap, celebrated by one of those really rare events … a sunny day with a moderate breeze rather than a howling gale at Holme Pierrepoint!”
Whilst their Masters were battling to gain honours for the Club, the Junior Squad and others were at home battling the very busy ungoverned river to achieve their weekend river outings. Sunday saw the second Stratford Boat Club Internal Young Coaches’ Assistant Course: the course consisted of technical ‘classroom’ based sessions and much appreciated outdoor practical sessions. Commenting, Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club’s President, said, “We are so grateful to Abi Terry, our very successful J16 coach, for delivering these courses. The potential coming through our Junior Squad, not only our athletes but also their talented coaches, gives us some much confident for the future. We are delighted with the local and regional response to our junior summer camps for August which are now full!”
For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/masters-settle-old-scores-9203306 and page sixty one