Stratford upon Avon Boat Club took athletes from their J13 squad to compete in their first singles events with both the open and the girls’ events running as round robin events, culminating in the final for each event at Warwick Regatta. Grace Beason and Amalia Richardson both raced against a girl from Derwent with the Derwent sculler victorious on both occasions and when racing each other, it was Grace who edged ahead this time. On the other half of the draw, Uche Nwachkwu raced Emily Stobart where it was Uche who was ahead as they crossed the line. They both then raced against a sculler from Upton who was victorious in both races. It was the Derwent and Upton sculler who went head to head in a close final.
In the boys’ event, Charles Happell and Louie Beason both competed for Stratford Boat Club. They went head to head against each other and it was Charles who was the winner on this occasion. They both also raced against a sculler from Upton and despite two very tightly fought races, it was the Upton sculler who crossed the line first in both. Charles then went on to race again in the final against the Upton sculler and again another tight battle commenced. They were neck and neck down the course, but it was the Upton sculler that just pipped Charles to the line.
Said Abi Terry, Junior Squad Coach, “All of the J13’s showed great determination for their first singles events with some very good results which should stand them in good stead going forwards to next season.”
From the J14 squad, there were just two boys available to compete and with no double event to take part in, both boys took to the water in singles. Will Beattie and Owen Perkins had to race each other as part of the round robin and against a strong sculler from Warwick. It was Beattie who won when they went head to head but the Warwick sculler won against both of the Stratford boys. Beattie then went up against the Warwick sculler again where unfortunately the same result occurred as in the previous rounds with Warwick taking the win in home water. The junior squads now look forward to Ross Regatta next weekend.
The WJ15 girls double of Amelie Sartain and Sophie Elstone began a run of undefeated success for the J15 squad at Warwick on Saturday. Facing a strong crew from Worcester, a good start along with accurate navigation saw the girls gain an early lead as they left the castle and headed towards the cheering crowds. A mid race push from Worcester made for an exciting race to the finish with Sartain and Elstone taking the bell by a couple of lengths.
Racing up an age group in the J16 single sculls, the heat saw Will Clarke drawn against a Warwick home boat. With a steady start Clarke grew in confidence to take the lead passing under the bridge, gradually increasing the gap to gain his place in the final later in the afternoon.
Soon after, Martha Usselmann in the WJ15 single sculls event lined up against her competition from Worcester. Under the shadow of Warwick Castle, Usselmann made a positive start achieving the lead as they approached the excited cheers of the spectators at the halfway point. Urged on, the lead began to ever increase with Usselmann crossing the line to her first singles win and to an emotional welcome from her supporters.
The penultimate race of the day, the J16 singles final, saw Clarke facing a formidable looking opponent from Upton. Slightly behind at the start, Clarke maintained his composure and kept position, sensing that the race had started too fast. At the halfway point this was proved correct as Upton began to slow, allowing Clarke to take the lead, finishing strongly for a well deserved win.
Whilst the J13, J14 and J15 squads were battling it out at Warwick Regatta, the J16 squad took part in the annual Oxford City Royal Regatta which takes place on the town stretch of the Thames. A two day affair, the Stratford Boat Club Junior Squad was in action over the 1000m course on Saturday whilst the Club’s Adaptive Squad tested their skills on the 500m sprint course on Sunday.
Saturday’s racing got underway with the J16 sculler Fred Tyler taking on Nottinghamshire County Rowing Association in the Senior single sculls event. A narrow defeat by just two lengths to the England Gold medalist saw Tyler taking an early break before the afternoon’s competition. Later in the day, Tyler came out fighting in the J18 single scull event as he spoiled Evesham’s day in the semi-final and then took the event win with a blistering row leaving Ardingly in his wake.
The J16 girls started their campaign in double sculls with Alice Baines and Jasmine Mountney narrowly losing out to a quality outfit from Wallingford Rowing Club. On the other side of the draw, the combination of Maiya James and Mili Wilcock tore up the course adding insult to the injury inflicted by Tyler and putting Evesham out of the event. Sadly for James and Wilcock, it was not to be their day as Wallingford proved too much for them in the final. The J16 girls regrouped for the afternoon into the coxless quadruple scull senior event with a dominant row in the semi-final leaving Oxford Academicals working out the answer on the start line whilst the junior crew boiled the Thames up with their sculling. Once more the event win was denied however as the girls chased the ladies from Guildford Rowing Club down the course finishing just two lengths behind.
The J17 squad fielded two crews with first to go being the mighty combination of Katie Wellstead and Emily Browne racing in the J18 double sculls. The two time winners in previous years met their match in the first round as they went down to an England gold medal winning partnership from Cheltenham Ladies College and Ardingly Rowing Club. The second J17 crew down the course was the composite of Stratford’s Khloe Curnock and Evesham’s Becca Parkin racing in the senior double scull event. Their day was unfortunately cut short by an Amazonian crew from Oxford who on home water dominated the event taking the event win.
Stratford’s Adaptive Squad raced on the Oxford Sprint course on the Sunday. It proved a successful day: none of the crews were beaten by more than half length by crews from other clubs. Of the five adaptive events, Stratford won three. Ian Ward impressed all with a clear win in the Development Singles. The final of the supported pairs was an all Stratford affair. Dan Godefroy and Paul Beeson established an early lead which their opponents Jake Blatcher and Mark Brookes were just not able to claw back before the finish line. This was Mark’s first event and Dan’s first win.
In Supported Doubles, mother and son combination Ian and Paola Ward convincingly saw off a Marlow crew in their semi-final. This again meant an all Stratford final. Their opponents, Hattie Throssell and Sofia Ward (the daughter of Paola). Paola and Ian came out on top winning a great race by six feet.
Jake Blatcher and Mark Sanders made the semi final in another doubles event narrowly missing the final being beaten half a length by a good Marlow crew. Jake has enjoyed recent success with a win in J16 singles at the recent Bewdley Regatta. Mark Sanders met his arch rival and friend Ben Marsden of Marlow in the adaptive singles. Another close race between them saw Ben just getting over the line first. The adaptive squad now move on to Worcester Regatta in a couple of weeks.
For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page sixteen and http://www.stratford-herald.com/101335-success-stratford-youngsters-local-regattas.html and also Stratford Observer https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/success-at-local-regattas-for-stratford
For more great pictures of Oxford City Royal Regatta, see Stuart Baines’ excellent selection https://1drv.ms/u/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9jaoLUHwa3BezBnKSQw?e=EjbEGg