Another Busy Weekend for Stratford Juniors and KES

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s J16 squad faced a busy weekend: after a light outing and more boat loading, the J16 squad set off at the crack of dawn for Dorney Lake and The Junior Sculling Regatta. With crews from clubs and schools all over the UK and even the South African Schools Rowing Union, top competition was assured. Charles Happel sculled brilliantly over the 1900 meter time trial to finish seventh out of thirteen scullers in his event, missing out on a place in the A final by just 1.5 seconds, a splendid come back from his misfortune at Evesham. Charlotte Isbell and Grace Beason again in their double acquitted themselves well gaining a lot from the experience of competing at a high level event. Amalia Richardson, Harriet Noyes, Maddie Hall and Kate Richardson competing again in their quadruple scull faced twenty one other crews in the time trial finishing seventh, just 0.3 seconds behind Maidenhead.

Also qualifying for the B final just 0.3 sec behind Stratford and starting in the next lane were Tideway Scullers. Stratford made a sensational start leading the field by a quarter of a length after seven strokes. Tideway edged back after 500 meters and took a one length lead by 1400 meters with South Africa closing the gap: Amalia made the call to up the pressure and go for home. South Africa couldn’t answer and with a high rate burst for the last ten strokes, Stratford secured second place by just three quarters of a length to Tideway Scullers. Said Sam Hill, J16 Coach, “The J16’s showed great skill and determination this weekend proving they have what it takes to compete with the best!”

In addition, some of the J17 performance squad travelled to Dorney Lake to compete in small boats also at the National Junior Sculling Regatta. This was their first opportunity this season to compete in small boats and each learned a lot and put in some really good performances. First up were the J17 double scull of Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie. They were up against some strong opposition from some of the top rowing clubs from around the country. They managed to come in seventh place, less than three seconds from the A Final.

Next to go was Toby Sartain in the J17 single sculls. Toby sculled a good race and finished up in thirteenth place with a solid technical performance. Lastly from the J17 squad was Freya Watts in the WJ17 single sculls. Freya had never raced in a single at a national competition before and this was a good challenge for her. Finishing in a solid ninth place with just thirty five seconds separating her from first place. Commenting, Abi Terry, J17/18 Performance Squad Coach said, “This was a great event to give the squad a real test against some top opposition. Next up is National Schools Regatta at the end of May!”

Also rowing at Dorney Lake in the Ball Cup was Stratford’s sister club, King Edward The Sixth School Boat Club, this time in the Ball Cup, a competition which KES founded. KES won gold in the quad and a silver in the coxed four events.

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/j16-squad-show-they-can-compete-with-the-best-9253801 and page fifty three. See also Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-upon-avon-boat-clubs-junior-squad-enjoy-junior-sculling-regatta-challenge and back sports page https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2022/05/13&pages=024

Stratford’s Bumper Weekend at Evesham and Marlow!

This weekend saw Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Men’s masters competing in both Saturday’s 1000m event and Sunday’s 500m Sprints at Evesham Rowing Club’s Spring Regatta. On Saturday, the Master’s E 4+ crew , (Edwards, Aitchison, Cann, Skillings, cox Francis) were up against a national championship crew from Pengwern Boat Club, Shropshire.  The race started well with Pengwern showing the benefit of many years racing and getting an early lead over Stratford. Stratford did not let this affect them and held the gap until the halfway point where Stratford started gaining on their opposition. Stratford continued to gain, with cox Francis driving the crew hard in her first competitive event. However, in the final 200m Pengwern once again showed the benefit of race experience and put in an heroic push to secure a win over Stratford. After the event, Pengwern’s crew said, “You certainly gave us a good run for our money, we’ve looking forward to the next time!”

Sunday saw the Masters’ E 4+ crew, (Simkins, Charlesworth, Shepherd, Freeman, cox Ward) in the 500m event against a Masters’ F crew from Warwick. The Stratford crew had a two length handicap and after an epic sprint to the clubhouse, they lost out by just half a length! Bowman Simkins said, “Even though we lost by half a length, it was nice to be competing again!”

Also racing at Evesham Regatta were Stratford’s Mixed Masters’ double sculls of Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty and they led off the Stratford Masters’ participation in the afternoon division racing in the D/E [50 to 55] age category.

A good clean start saw Hayton and Doherty take an early racing lead against local rivals Warwick into the first of two large bends on the course. A push on the straight after the bend saw Stratford slightly increase their lead to about three lengths up to the 500 metre halfway mark. Warwick were not to be outdone however and approaching the second large bend, put in a strong push on the inside favourable side of the river to close back on Stratford reducing the lead to about a length and a half with 300 metres to go. Stratford did not panic and maintained a smooth rhythm and rating of 34 strokes per minute to extend their lead over the last two hundred meters to win by two lengths!

Stratford’s J15 squad raced in four events at the Evesham Regatta on Saturday. In the WJ15 4x+ event, Nancy Davis cox Scarlett Richardson, Megan Rowan, Jessica Long and Harriet Froom to Gold success, beating a fine Evesham crew in the final on their home waters. In J15 singles event, Jamie Wilcock sculled into the semi-final beating one of his nemeses from Evesham. In the WJ15 singles event, Eloise Cooper, Lucy Sartain and Molly Vondrak sculled very well with the latter making the final, losing by a length to a formidable opponent from Bristol. In the WJ15 doubles event, Stratford occupied two of the four semi-final slots, sadly with neither making it to the final. Commenting, Hugo Happel, J15 Coach said, “We were very pleased with the J15 performances, all round good sculling, tremendous work ethic and some well deserved outcomes. Well done to all the athletes!”

A highly successful days racing at Evesham at the weekend accumulating in Stratford Boat Club being awarded the Victor Ludorum, “the winner of the games” on Saturday. The trophy is presented to the club who have won the most events or accumulated the most points on the day. Following on from the Junior Inter Regional Regatta last weekend, Stratford’s J14’s competed in both the Saturday, 1000m event and Sunday 500m Sprints.

First up on Saturday the crew of the OP J14 coxed quadruple sculls Seth Vondrak, Xavier Sissins-Rofey, James Albrighton, Theo Richter, and Ollie Rowlands (coxswain) faced a crew from the host club Evesham in a straight final: the boys dominated the race from the start resulting in an easy win to Stratford.

Following on from the boys, the WJ14 double of Lily Warren and Poppy Baines faced a crew from Bristol City: despite a close start, the girls lost out to Bristol who went on to win the overall event. In the other side of the draw were the crew of Alice Jones and Sophie Evans who were given a bye to the semi-final. Despite a delay at the start due to equipment issues with their opposition, the Stratford crew kept pace over the first quarter of the course, sadly losing out to a strong crew from AB Severn.

Joining the J13 squad on the Sunday “Sprint “were Ollie Rowlands and Alexandra Francis in their debut single sculls event. Due to the withdrawal of opposition in the semi-final, Rowlands faced a long wait for the finals of the OJ 14 singles event. Facing an old quadruple quad adversary and despite a valid attempt, Rowlands eventually lost out to the Abingdon sculler.

Francis dominated the first and semi-final rounds easily: the same could not be said of the final as Francis faced formidable opposition from AB Severn. An exciting race ensued, both crews neck and neck for most of the course receiving vocal encouragement by the spectators on the boathouse bank. In what was a nail-biting finish, Francis took advantage of the staggered finish line and eventually won by a quarter of a length.

The J18 Club Squad were also present and competing in the afternoon division. Hannah Broome and Isabella Sandland, competing in their first regatta event, rowed a strong race beating their opponents in their first heat easily with a strong start and great teamwork but losing out to the eventual winners of the event in their semi-final event. Racing continued with Elisabeth Edwards next to race in the W1x event. Competing against an experienced sculler from Exeter, Edwards put up a strong fight, keeping level with her opponent throughout but lost out at the finish by just one length.

Martha Usselmann was last to race against the Exeter sculler having had a bye to the final of the W1x category: a barge on the course led to the race being restarted but Usselmann had a strong start and kept level with her opposition. Steering a confident line down the course, Usselmann drew ahead halfway through the race and kept up her lead to the finish securing a win of two lengths for the event.

On Sunday, Day Two of the ever popular Evesham Regatta got underway with the “Sprint Edition”: half the distance of Saturday’s event but by no means any less competitive. The 500m course ran from bridge to club through the heart of Evesham’s Abbey Park to provide the spectators with an excellent view of the racing as the action unfolded.

In their debut regatta, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club was represented by the J13 squad racing in single, double and quadruple sculls.  First up, the double scull of Martha Baines and Martha Cooke sculled smoothly into the final where they met the other Stratford pairing of Tessa Parkin and Maeve Dunn.  The race did not disappoint with the crew of Marathas (plus lucky avocado) the eventual winners!

Next up were six of the young scullers competing in the J13 single sculls event. A daunting prospect for the most seasoned oarswoman, the Stratford girls demonstrated boatmanship beyond their years. Throughout the event, the scullers Martha Baines, Cara Berisford-Murray, Isla Dunn, Poppy Warren, Sophie Franklin and Martha Cooke tore up the Avon dealing with the competition in the process. Isla Dunn emerged from the fray victorious to collect the second win for Stratford Boat Club with a classy scull beating Avon County Rowing Club in the final by two lengths.

In the final event for the J13 squad, the coxed quadruple sculls event was closely fought against local rivals on the water, Evesham Rowing Club. The Stratford crew of Becca Smith, Cara Berisford-Murray, Poppy Warren, Sophie Franklin and Martha Cooke (coxswain) pushed hard in their semi-final with just two lengths separating them from victory. In the other side of the draw, the other Stratford crew of Millie Smith, Isla Dunn, Josephine Cooper, Bryony Francis and Martha Baines (coxswain) fared better to secure their place in the final by a comfortable margin. Sadly, they were unable to convert their semi-final performance into victory and lost out to a quality Evesham outfit by just one length.

Commenting on the day’s racing, Stratford’s Junior Coordinator and J13 coach Steve Wellstead said, “These young athletes showed the strength of their already tight squad with how they supported and helped one another in their first competition. The two event wins were the icing on the cake that was a great day on the water!”

The J16 squad faced a busy bank holiday weekend competing in two regattas. The first at Evesham on Saturday was held on a tight 1,000 meter course with a tricky bend after the start. Charles Happel boated first in his single scull taking a confident win to progress to the final where he met Worcester Rowing Club. Charles made a flying start only to clip a submerged log with his oar ending his race in spectacular fashion. Amalia Richardson, Harriet Noyes, Maddie Hall and Kate Richardson had no competition in the WJ16 category so they entered their quad in the women’s event. They took a convincing win in the semi final against Exeter to meet Stourport in the final. Despite a top class performance from the Stratford girls the Stourport women had the power to take the win. To round off the afternoon for the J16s Charlotte Isbell and Grace Beason, racing for the first time together in their double scull, met Royal Grammar School Worcester in the final. They sculled very well, but were beaten by a more experienced crew.

Stratford’s sister club King Edward Sixth School Boat Club also competed at Evesham Rowing Club’s Spring Regatta and made outstanding effort with their Performance Squad beating a muscular Clifton College in the final. Great preparation for next week’s Ball Cup!

Also competing on Saturday but further south at Marlow Rowing Club’s Spring Regatta were Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s ever expanding adaptive squad. With a win for Stratford sculler Lee Cairns, competing in his first competitive event, Lee won the fixed seat singles event. Fixed seat racing is a pararowing competition for individuals who due to a medical condition are not able to use legs to propel the boat. Lee’s final was the closest and most exciting race of the adaptive day. The lead changed hands more than once: in the closing stages, by maintaining good technique, Lee finally got the better of his opponent, Luke Payne from Sudbury, winning by a length.

The day was an unusual one for the Stratford adaptive squad: usually the squad comes away from an event with multiple wins. However, this time, the squad lost five out of six finals. Head Adaptive Coach Mark Dewdney commented, “That’s sport: today we rowed well but our opponents rowed better! Congratulations to them!”

Some of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s alumnae including Katie Wellstead (Oxford University), Talei Dunn (Durham University), Molly Gill-Swift (Exeter University ) and Hermione Hill (Durham University) were competing at the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Regatta 2022 at Nottingham over the weekend as well.

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty one and Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-upon-avon-boat-club-enjoy-bumper-weekend-at-evesham-and-marlow and on back sports page https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2022/05/06&pages=024

For more great pictures of Evesham regatta, see Kathy and Stuart Baines’ selections at https://1drv.ms/u/s!AgY7EiDB2lCOhY5uHPyivDC7tTkc7Q?e=F0KGmw and https://1drv.ms/f/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9j45NUoENU9m4AbAATw

Packed Schedule for Stratford’s Rowers!

It has been a very busy week for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Junior Squad with multiple away heads and trials. Firstly, Stratford’s J17/18 Performance Squad competed at The Scullery event on a very, very wet Wednesday. The Junior Sculling Head was held on the Olympic course at Dorney Lake

The day started early at the Lake for the J17/18 squad and the boys’ coxless quad of Will Beattie, Tomi Wilcock, Charles Happel and Toby Sartain were the first to boat. Despite discovering some steering problems off the start, they rowed a strong race to finish tenth in the Open J17 category, beating several competitive crews.

In the Women’s J18 event, Freya Watts, Ruby Howells, Amelie Sartain and Lucy Browne raced their coxless quad to finish a respectable thirty first with the majority of the crew racing up an age group.

Also at the Junior Sculling Head at Eton Dorney were Stratford’s WJ15 Squad: this great national event provided a great showcase for Stratford’s WJ15 quads. Stratford Boat Club takes this opportunity to thank the athletes’ schools for signing off on the permission to race during school time. Both WJ15 coxed quads did a tremendous job over the 2x 1.8km course. Sadly, Stratford did not win the event and they missed out on qualifying for Inter Regionals by 1.7seconds. Nevertheless, the WJ15 squad did the Club and their schools proud: sixty five crews raced in the event, with Stratford’s WJ15’s finishing in sixteenth and thirty ninth position, beating some big names such as Bedford Girls’ School, Wallingford, Sir William Borlase’s Grammar A, Thames Scullers A, Nottingham & Union, Godolphin & Latymer as well as both Kings School Worcester crews.

Hot on the heels of the WJ15’s was the Stratford’s WJ14’s boating in torrential rain. However, this did not deter the crew of Alexandra Francis, Poppy Baines, Sophie Evans, Alice Jones, coxed by Meg Nuttall. Commenting, Colin Bell, J14 Coach, said, “A very creditable eighth place out of thirty six crews amongst some of the high achieving clubs in the country is no mean feat!”

Taking to the water in the penultimate race of the day in low visibility were the OJ14 boys’ crew of Seth Vondrak, Xavier Sissins-Rofey, Theo Richter, Oliver Rowlands coxed by Lucy Yang. Achieving a position of eighteen out of forty three was commendable considering Sissins-Rofey, Richter and Yang are new to the sport having started sculling in October of last year.

The J16 squad also faced a hard competition at the weekend with two competitions. On Saturday, Amalia Richardson, Harriet Noyes, Grace Beason and Kate Richardson and cox Imogen Hill entered the WJ16 coxed four event at Kingston Head of the River Race over 5.2k of the fast flowing river Thames starting at Hampton Court Bridge. A strong headwind for much of the course created rough conditions testing the girls’ skill and the cox’s judgment in steering the fastest course. The Stratford crew showed great determination and stamina to beat their main competition Surbiton High School by fifty one seconds to score their third victory on the trot. Said Sam Hill, J16 Coach, “As a measure their achievement, it is worth noting that they also beat six university crews and Surbiton’s Championship women’s crew!”

Sunday brought another early start for the squad to race at the West Midlands selection event at Evesham which had been postponed from Stourport the previous weekend. Switching boats to a coxless quadruple scull, Amalia Richardson, Harriet Noyes, Maddie Hall and Kate Richardson beat Stourport by one minute and eight seconds. Charles Happel put in a brilliant performance in his single scull to beat King’s School Worcester by seven seconds to win a place alongside the girls’ quad in the squad to represent the West Midlands at the Junior Inter Regional Regatta in April.

On the upstream 1.4km Evesham course, from the ferry to the rowing club, two out three Stratford J15 crews qualified to represent the West Midlands t the Inter Regionals in April: Scarlett Richardson and Molly Vondrak in the WJ15 2x event, winning by forty two seconds against their nearest competition from Worcester Rowing Club as well as Will Dalrymple-Baker in the J15 1x event.

Musing on a very busy week for Stratford Boat Club, Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club President said, “What a credit the Junior Squad is to Stratford! Adding to the Juniors’ successes, the Club is also immensely proud of two recent Stratford Boat Club and King Edward The Sixth alumna – Katie Wellstead who was stroke in the Oxford University Women’s Light Weight crew on Sunday and Esme Booth who continued her winning streak, rowing in last weekend’s Women’s Eights Head of the River Race.” Rowing at number four in the winning Leander Club’s “A” boat, the crew completed the 4.25 mile course on the River Thames in nineteen minutes and fifteen seconds, thirty four seconds ahead of the second placed Oxford Brookes “A” boat! This follows on from Esme’s victories in the November GB Trials in Boston as part of a Leander Women’s pair (W2-) and in the Fours Head of the Tideway Race (Women’s Championship event) as part of the Leander Women’s Four (W4-). Esme returned to Caversham this week, training as a member of the GB Women’s Squad.

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty seven and Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-busy-week-for-stratford-upon-avon-boat-clubs-junior-squad

Stratford and KES Triumph at Worcester!

Last Saturday saw a number of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club and their sister King Edward The Sixth School Boat Club crews brave the blustery trip to local Midlands club Worcester for one of the longest head races of the year. The event, run over two divisions, saw crews competing over a six kilometre course in challenging river and weather conditions.

The morning division saw King Edward The Sixth School boys crew out with their J17 4x (T. Wilcock, R. Macdonald, T. Beard, E. Rose) on the water. It was the first time this crew had raced and against such a decent field, there was no knowing how they would fare. The conditions were not good, a tough head wind off the start and very choppy into the final five hundred metres. The boys held a good pace throughout and coped with the conditions well. Finishing second behind a strong Llandaff crew and ahead of local school crews was a very promising result.

Division Two saw KES’ Nov 4+ (T. Wheeler, E. Craig, T. Wilcock, E. Rose, J. Mitchell) out again after their victory two weeks ago, with one change in their crew. They were up against different opposition this time. Said Hannah Crone, King Edward The Sixth Rowing Coach, “With the challenging conditions having worsened since the morning, the focus was on keeping it clean and steady. Again they coped well with the conditions and came away with their second win of the season.”

Following on behind the King Edward The Sixth School boys was Stratford’s first crew in the event. Racing in a men’s quadruple sculls event (four scullers) was a mixed male and female crew from Upton and Stratford clubs. The crew, which just missed out on a win at the prestigious fours event in London by two tenths of a second, was keen to bounce back from disappointment with a solid performance.

Chasing down a fast men’s Minerva crew, the Upton/Stratford crew found themselves in a tussle with a good Warwick men’s crew. The whole race became a consolidated effort to hold off the Warwick men’s crew and prevent them getting any closer. The very blustery headwind combined with a strong stream leading to choppy conditions increased the pressure on the more lightweight Upton/Stratford crew.

Digging deep, the Upton/Stratford crew worked extremely hard to give little away over the six kilometre course and crossed the line with only a few seconds lost to the Warwick crew over the twenty one minute race. Commenting, Tom Doherty, crew captain, said, “Finishing fourth of six in a men’s event and only ten seconds separating the top four crews including Upton/Stratford was a very good achievement of which the crew can be pleased!”

Also taking part in Worcester Rowing Club Main Head on Saturday were Stratford Boat Club’s Daytime/Off-Peak Rowerssquad. Not only do crews have to race over a distance of six kilometres but the crews also have to row upstream four kilometres to the start, complete the six kilometre downstream race and then row back upstream for an additional two kilometres to return to the boating area!

Conditions were extremely challenging for all crews. High river flow together with an opposing wind which caused rough water conditions in all exposed areas of the river. The last two kilometres of the race, downstream of the clubhouse, were particularly challenging with an additional high swell. During the afternoon division, rain added to the already difficult conditions whilst the crews awaited the start of the race in the marshaling area, exposed to the elements.

The women’s crew of Daytime/Off-Peak rowers – Ruth Poulten (bow), Paola Ward, Clare Booth and Rona Fitzpatrick (stroke) – competed in their first race as a crew in the Women’s Masters Coxless Quad (W4x-) category. Having mastered the high river flow for the first part of the course, the crew passed the clubhouse spectator area at the four kilometre race distance. The crew were rowing very smoothly and efficiently, making good of the atrocious conditions, unaware of the challenging conditions that lay ahead of them for the remaining two kilometres! The crew completed the race and their time resulted in a first ever race win for the crew!  Commenting on what was a fantastic result for the crew, Alfie Nash, squad coach said, “The crew are very deserving of their win in what were very challenging conditions. The crew maintained good position on the river and demonstrated a high level of resilience and skill.”

Also competing for Stratford Boat Club on this very cold day with blustery strong winds was Stratford’s WJ16 squad yet again proving their skill and power to beat the conditions and competition over the six kilometre downstream course on the river Severn.

The coxed four of Amalia Richardson, Harriet Noyes, Grace Beason, Kate Richardson coxed and steered expertly by Imogen Hill beat the novice crew from Birmingham by almost eight minutes recording a time of 22:38 minutes! Conditions for the final one kilometre could only be described as horrendous with strong winds creating waves cascading over the wave breaker on the four but Stratford battled on through to the finish.

The crew celebrated adding to their collection of “pots” by receiving a very attractive china tankard as reward for rowing four kilometres up to the start, freezing for over an hour waiting for the start then racing six kilometres at pace before rounding off with a two kilometre row back to the club to unload.

Commenting, Steve Marsden, J16 Coach, said, “Such are the joys of winter head racing! It was a particularly pleasing result as Grace had stepped in at very short notice in place of Maddie Hall who was unfortunately ill.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/rowers-succeed-at-worcester-9240226 and page fifty two and Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-upon-avon-boat-club-triumph-at-worcester

Stratford out in force at Stourport!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club went in force to Stourport Boat Club’s Small Boats Winter Head on Sunday. The J18 Club squad was racing in the afternoon, with Martha Usselmann, Isabella Sandland, Hannah Broome, and Elisabeth Edwards competing in the WJ18 coxless quads. This was the first race for half of the crew and it started off well with Stratford putting a good distance between them and the next crew. Passing the Stourport clubhouse, Stratford overtook an eight and in the last few metres of the race were overtaken by another quad in a dramatic race to the finish. Although finishing fourth, the girls greatly enjoyed the race and hope to be back again soon at the same venue.

For the J16 squad, it was the first event of 2022 which saw a very bright and sunny mid winter’s day for the J16 girls’ crew of Amalia Richardson, Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes, Kate Richardson and coxed by Imogen Hill. Competing for the first time in a coxed sweep boat, they literally swept away their completion from Trentham Boat Club, winning their event by fifty nine seconds in a fantastic time of 14:08 minutes. Commenting, Steve Marsden, J16 Coach, said, “The girls provided a great demonstration of sweep rowing at pace, guided expertly by the cox to accelerate across the finish line in front of a large group of spectators. Unfortunately, the girls’ coxless quad were unable to compete and this slightly dampened the day.”

Both Stratford Boat Club WJ15 4x+ crews performed extremely well on the 3.8km Stourport course downstream, narrowly missing out on Gold against Trentham Boat Club, who finished in a winning time of 14.07. The WJ15x+ squad did beat crews from Evesham, AB Severn and Stourport. After a long wait in the marshaling area, they sustained their technique for the complete distance, rating at up to 35spm. The girls were very pleased with their performance, surprised not to have won, but that is the nature of the great sport of rowing: sometimes an unexpected entrant comes along and takes the spoils! J15 Coach Hugo Happel said, “The girls did Stratford proud with some very fine technique sustained over 3.8km: they should reflect on their achievement and celebrate until Tuesday at least, when some more character-building land training awaits once more!”

For some of Stratford’s J14 athletes, this was their first ever head race, and at a lengthy 3.8km, it was a baptism of fire! Due to logistical challenges, the J14’s had one crew race up an age category in Open J15 coxed quad facing challenging competition. Despite this, the crew of James Albrighton (cox), Alexandra Francis, Seth Vondrak, Xavier Sissins and Poppy Baines got off to a flying start, holding their own against the older boys’ crews the whole way down the course, not making it easy for their competition right the way to the final stroke. They were shortly followed by the WJ14 coxed quad of Sophie Evans (cox), Alice Jones, Meg Nuttall, Lily Warren and Lucy Yang for which it was their first outing in the combination. It was a gutsy row, going hard off the start and showing off their technical skill even at the tail end of the course when their competition were faltering. In the second division with the cold creeping in, the open J14 coxed quad of Alexandra Francis (cox), James Albrighton, Ollie Rowlands, Theo Richter and Sophie Evans proved they were made of tough stuff, holding off a strong crew for over half the course and powering through to the finish with their heads held high.

Stourport Winter Head marked the first race also for King Edward The Sixth School Boat Club for twenty three months. Not only this but the crew were now with an entirely new squad and it was the first race for the boys in the coxed four (J. Mitchell, T. Wheeler, E. Craig, R. Macdonald, E. Rose), three of whom only started learning to row last September. With some excitement and a bit of nerves, the crew took everything in their stride: they were the third crew off in their category so had two targets ahead of them. Half way down the course, they successfully picked off the first of their opposition putting in a push to power past the crew from Hereford which left them with our friends from Stratford Boat Club to chase down! They didn’t have enough water to catch Stratford but the squad finished in an impressive time winning their category by just over one minute.

Not to be outdone, Stratford’s Masters were also at Stourport competing in a coxed four. Commenting, Dave Edwards, Masters’ Vice Captain said. “In fairness, we beat the other masters in that group by over a minute, so not too bad a row even though we were beaten by a very much younger crew!”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page sixty one and also Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-upon-avon-boat-club-impress-at-stourport-boat-clubs-small-boats-winter-head.

For more great pictures of Stourport Head, see Kathy Baines’ selection https://1drv.ms/u/s!AgY7EiDB2lCOhPwCJoS_zRzcEKRK3g?e=6t7Ryt

Stratford Juniors Do Themselves Proud at Wallingford

The J17/18 performance squad fielded a strong entry at Wallingford Long Distance Sculls  at the weekend. In the first division, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club had three crews, two girls’ quads and a boys’ double. The first girls’ quad consisted of Freya Watts, Ruby Howells, Amelie Sartain and Fleur Griffiths. Griffiths steered the perfect line and the crew raced a good race to finish in third place, behind two crews from Lady Eleanor Holles School, some of which were fresh from their win at Henley Royal Regatta, a great start to the season. The second quad of Honour Keil, Bella Chappelhow, Grace Beason (racing up an age group) and Lucy Browne had been hit by illness and a late substitution, didn’t provide them with the perfect build up to the race, however the girls finished in seventh place. The boys’ double of Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie also finished in third place behind two strong doubles from Pangbourne College and Westminster School respectively.

In the second division, Stratford Boat Club had a girls’ double and three boys’ singles. The girls’ double saw Watts and Griffiths team up again. The morning’s quad, although the previous race had taken the energy out of their legs, still put in a very respectable performance to finish in fifth place.

The boys’ singles of Beattie, Wilcock and Toby Sartain all raced hard in the J17 category. Beattie was top of the bunch finishing in second place, after a tussle with Wilcock coming into the finish. Wilcock finished in third and Sartain seventeenth out of a large field. Said Abi Terry, J17/18 coach, “It was a good test for them all against strong opposition from the best schools and clubs around the country.”

Charles Happel was the first J16 to race in his single scull in the morning division. Facing local opposition from Wallingford and a strong squad from Guildford Rowing Club, Charles sculled with great skill to dominate the race winning by thirty seven seconds, his first winner’s medal of the head racing season.

In the afternoon division, Amalia Richardson and Kate Richardson competed against fellow squad members Harriet Noyes and Maddie Hall in the Women’s Junior 16 double sculls event. After nineteen minutes of top class sculling, Kate and Amalia finished second beating Harriet and Maddie by just 3.6 seconds! Commenting, Sam Hill, J16 coach said, “A very successful day for the J16 squad beating so many competitors from top Thames rowing clubs.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page seventy five and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/happel-savours-first-winners-medal-of-season-9219318 and also Stratford Observer back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2021/10/08&pages=024 and https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/charles-takes-first-win-as-stratford-youngsters-star

Stratford’s Juniors Take Home The Pots From Ross!

The August Bank Holiday weekend is synonymous with the Ross on Wye Regatta for the athletes of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club. The event marks the close of the 2020/2021 racing season and made a much welcome return this year following a two year hiatus.  Always a superb event – this year was as expected with crews from across the club competing for victory on the Wye over 500m and 750m courses across two days.

For the Sunday sprints, conditions were perfect.  The Herefordshire sunshine split the mist over the Wye heralding the commencement of racing. Representing the Masters squad the dream team of Tom Doherty and Heather Hayton met their double sculls nemesis from Dart-Totnes and whilst closer were unable to avenge prior defeats.

Ross was only the J13’s second regatta. They demonstrated excellent steering skills by negotiating the long bend and its current without a hitch. Sophie in her 1x was pitted against girls a year older in the J14 category, finishing second, but with a very credible and solid performance. The 4x+ of Meg, Poppy, Alex, Sophie and Lily kept up well with their City of Bristol competitors, finishing a couple of lengths behind. Ollie Seth sailed through their semi-final, kept a very good line around the centre buoys on each race and galloped to victory against QPH in the final. Last but not least, both the W2x of Meg and Alex and W2x of Poppy and Alice won their semi-finals and raced in all Stratford final, which Meg and Alex carried to victory – a credit to both crews. Said Richard Nelson, J13 Coach, “The J13s have come a long way in a short time and their form at Ross Regatta is a tribute to their athletic dedication and strong team spirit throughout this turbulent year.”

Sunday 29 August was a great day for the Stratford Boat Club J14 scullers. For some, it was their first ever competition. The J14 boys did brilliantly against tough competition from Queens Park High, Upton and Evesham, in the 1x and 2x categories. The J14 girls did equally well against their opposition from Bristol, Evesham, QPH and Staines. In the WJ14 2x Final, SuABC (Appleton/Rowan) had a strong last 200m and were beaten by a canvas. In the WJ14 1x Final, Stratford’s (Vondrak) was ahead of her Evesham opposition after 300m but clipped a buoy and capsized. She stood up and gave a thespian bow which gained her the biggest round of applause from the bank. The J14 athletes ended an adrenaline fuelled day by splashing each other in the river Wye!

For the Monday 750m event, the sunshine stayed away but still conditions continued for another day of racing. Undeterred by the prior day, Stratford Boat Club’s Masters squad stalwart Heather Hayton was again disappointed as her opposition from Bedford rowing club withdrew from the event to avoid certain defeat. Representing the Adaptive squad, Jake Blatcher in the single scull performed well but narrowly missed out on a place in the final. In their final regatta as Juniors (for some), the J17/J18 athletes of Mili Wilcock, Amélie Sartain, Maiya James and Alice Baines represented the club in coxless quadruple sculls, double sculls and single sculls throughout the day. Commenting, Steve Welstead, J17/18 Performance Squad Coach and Junior Co-ordinator said, “The J17/18 squad swept the board in what can only be described in a “pot-tastic” set of races with all crews winning their events!”

Stratford’s J15 athletes attended the last regatta of the season before the new rowing season as J16. A very full day of racing but proving to be very successful as yet again our junior athletes performed over and above expectations.

First up for Stratford was Uche Nwachuckwa who sculled very powerfully to overcome competition from Evesham and Ross rowing club setting up a semi final race with her colleague, Grace Beason before meeting Saunders of Evesham in the final. Again demonstrating great power and style, she eventually lost by three lengths. Grace Beason had earlier powerfully steered a great course to win against Ross rowing club easily before losing out to Uche.

Next up was a double boat of Charles Happel and Elliot Baird, competing for the first time, against a crew from Queens Park School Rowing Club but despite a strong performance, they missed out by a distance of “very close”. The girls quad of Kate Richardson, Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes, Ruby Brooker Collins and coxed by Imogen Hill came up against  a crew from Queens Park High School firstly winning by one length before having to dig deeper in their final to beat City of Bristol in a very exciting race by three quarters of a length showing great determination and sculling precision to get over that winning line to win their very well deserved pots.

Charles Happel won his first singles race against Queens park High School by one and a half lengths and then against another competitor from Queens Park school by one foot and in so doing provided the comic moment. The race had been so close and tough he celebrated very enthusiastically raising one hand and in so doing struck a tree stump with one blade and very gently capsized  – comical for spectators but he had still won the race. He then raced an opponent from previous regattas, Woodfin of Evesham in the final but try as he might, missed out by one length, in his words, -“until the next time”!

The WJ15 double’s crew of Maddie Hall and Harriet Noyes sculled extremely powerfully to beat a crew from Queens Park School by four lengths to set up a final with Grace Beason and Ruby Brooker Collins who had earlier beaten another Queens Park school by only a canvas after another exciting demonstration of sculling technique. The final was again competitive but was won by Maddie and Harriet having just that little more power on the day to win by four lengths. Said Steve Marsden, J15 Coach, “A great day, great performances by all to bring home those treasured “pots” – real china Ross Rowing Club mugs- for those winners.”

The J16 squad were lucky enough to row both days at Ross Regatta. Starting on the Sunday in the Junior and Masters Sprint over 550m, Stratford had the J16 doubles of Tomi Wilcock and Owen Perkins. They started the day against Evesham with a convincing lead to put them into the final. There they met fellow Stratford duo Will Beattie and Toby Sartain who had also had a comfortable win in the semi final, this time against Liverpool Victoria. It was the Wilcock and Perkins duo who were victorious in the closely contested final against their team mates.

Next up was the turn of the girls where Freya Watts, Ruby Howells and Harriet Holmes were joined by colleague Amelie Sartain, racing up in the WJ18 coxless quads. They also raced against Liverpool Victoria in the semi final beating them by an impressive margin of five lengths. In the final they faced a strong crew from Exeter, but managed to come away victorious with a fantastic performance.

The afternoon saw Beattie and Wilcock in the J16 singles. Wilcock was up first against a strong sculler from Royal Chester who proved to be just too quick for Wilcock beating him over the line. Beattie faced a home club Ross sculler. Despite the Ross sculler knowing the course, Beattie pushed ahead to take a verdict of three lengths. He then met the Royal Chester lad in the final and despite his best efforts lost by just 1 length in a fantastic race.

The WJ18 4+ was up next of Amelie Sartain, Watts, Howells and Holmes, this time joined by expert cox Toby Sartain. In one of the closest races of the day their straight final was a spectacle for the spectators. Toby Sartain steered an amazing course and this put them over the line just in front of their opposition with the verdict a canvas.

Monday’s longer 750m course saw the J16 squad in action again. Tomi Wilcock joined up again with Owen Perkins in the J16 doubles event and faced two of the same crews from the day before. They raced Evesham first with an easy win and then faced Liverpool Victoria in the final. The Stratford duo won with a comfortable verdict of three lengths.

The afternoon saw the J16 singles of Owen Perkins and Toby Sartain. Both Stratford scullers were up against athletes from Evesham in the semi finals and both won booking their places in the final to face each other. On this occasion Perkins was victorious taking his third win of the weekend. The girls double of Freya Watts and Harriet Holmes had a good battle against Exeter, however this time it was Exeter who took the win by just 1 and half lengths.

Said Abi Terry, J16 Coach, “It was great to see all of the juniors racing and enjoying their rowing. The J16 squad are looking forward to starting their J17 year with a bang at our own regatta in a couple of week’s time!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/juniors-make-a-splash-at-regatta-9214157

Stratford’s Juniors and Masters Clean Up at Stourport

This weekend saw Stratford upon Avon Boat Club attend one of their local regattas in Stourport upon Severn: this regatta takes place every year in August and has done since the late 1800’s! It is the premier sporting event in Stourport and the surrounding area and attracts around six hundred crews from across the UK with an age range from thirteen years right up to veteran rowers in their seventies and eighties!

First off representing the Women’s Junior 17/18 Performance squad was Amelie Sartain. Having not competed in a single scull for two years, it was time to brush of the cobwebs and in her first heat took a commanding lead from the onset, maintaining her lead saw her crossing the finish line two boat lengths against opposition from Nottingham. After a brief rest, Sartain was pitched against a crew from our nearest neighbour Evesham: Sartain took advantage of a quick start and dominated the race winning comfortably by three lengths. Before too long her final against a sculler from Ross on Wye was upon her: the Ross sculler had a bye to her final and having been more rested, the Ross sculler maintained a short lead until the final 200 meters. Undeterred, Sartain steered a perfect racing line, dug deep and crossed the line first winning by three quarters of a length.

Next up for the Junior 18’s were Milena Wilcox and the less experienced Isabelle Watts competing in the Women’s Junior 18 doubles: given this was only the third time Watts had competed but being in the safe hands of Wilcox saw a win against Pengwern by one and a half lengths. After a short interlude next they were pitched against their fellow squad members of Maiya James and Alice Baines, the more experienced crew went on to win by one and a half lengths, James and Baines went on to win the final of the Women’s Junior 18 doubles by half a length saving their energy for the looming quad event.

Finally hot footing from their doubles event Maiya James and Alice Baines were joined by Milena Wilcox and Amelie Sartain in the Women’s School Junior quad winning by one length. With only ten minutes rest, it was time to boat for the last race of the day, their opposition from Ross had been given a bye to the final and took advantage of this rest period to take an early lead. Commenting, Colin Bell, J17/18 Performance Squad Coach said, “Not fazed by the early lead, Wilcox, James, Sartain and Baines put all of their training post their return to rowing from the outage caused by the current pandemic into practice and eventually won by one a half lengths!”

For the J16 squad, first up were the J16 singles where Toby Sartain sailed through his first two rounds and found himself in the final against a sculler from Warwick. The Warwick sculler had beaten Stratford sculler Owen Perkins in a close heat to get his place in the final. Sartain put in a good effort but sadly it wasn’t to be and he had to settle for second place, still a fantastic result.

Next was the turn of the WJ16 doubles, where Stratford again had two crews entered. Honour Keil and Fleur Griffiths were up first and took on a duo from Worcester first beating them by two lengths. Next they took on a strong double from Nottingham where they were just beaten to the line putting Nottingham into the final. The other Stratford double of Lucy Browne and Harriet Holmes took on a Ross crew in their first round where they had a comfortable win. That win booked their place in the final where despite a good battle down the course, the Nottingham boat was just too quick for the Stratford duo.

Griffiths, Browne and Holmes then teamed up with Ruby Howells and cox Lucy Sartain in the open women’s fours event. Here the J16 Stratford crew faced a ladies crew from Stourport in the final and the girls put up a good fight with fantastic steering from J14 Lucy Sartain, losing by just two boat lengths, a great result given the ladies racing them were at least four years their senior!

Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie took to the water next in the J18 doubles event. Racing up two years, they took on a local derby, facing Evesham in the heat. In one of the closest races of the day, they lost by just a canvas. Another brilliant result, showing how strong this duo are.

Wilcock then teamed up with Toby Sartain in the J16 event. First up for them was Nottingham where the Stratford crew put on a show in front of the crowd to take the win. In the semi-final they took on Warwick who proved to be too strong for the Stratford double.

In the same J16 double event Beattie joined Perkins in the semi-final to take on a crew from Becket. This proved to be another good race which went right down to the wire with the Becket crew just edging out the Stratford crew on the line.

The WJ16 quad raced next in a straight final against Worcester. The Stratford crew of Freya Watts, Howells, Keil and Griffiths started well giving them the early lead. This continued all the way down the course where they took a fabulous win. Freya Watts also raced in the WJ16 singles event, facing a sculler from Derwent in the first round taking a comfortable win. She then went through to the final facing a sculler from Nottingham. Watts again lead from the start and pushed on in the last 200m to take her second event win of the day.

Said Abi Terry, J16 Coach, “It was great to be back racing at a local event where supporters were allowed and with some brilliant racing. We’re all now looking forward to Ross over the Bank Holiday weekend!”

Next were the J15 crews who competed admirably over a 650m sprint course at Stourport Regatta. A very early start for Uche Nwachukwa racing her single scull saw her row strongly but losing out to Evesham, the eventual final winner, by three lengths. Charles Happel was next up racing in gusty conditions against Evesham. Unfortunately the conditions didn’t help but a spirited sprint finish saw him closing rapidly but finishing one length behind Evesham.

The first of the J15 ladies’ doubles of Ruby Brooker Collins and Imogen Hill battled strongly against A B Severn showing great technique but losing eventually by three lengths. Next up was the doubles boat of Kate Richardson and Harriet Noyes who having benefited from a bye came up against Trent Rowing in the next round and demonstrated a really strong expert scull to win by four lengths. In their final, they were up against AB Severn crossing the line ahead of them but suffering the anguish of a disqualification having been judged to have steered across their opposition – a tough call but it had been a truly strong scull perhaps deserving a better result. Said Steve Marsden, J15 Coach, “Overall perhaps not the results to reward lots of effort by the crews but great experience ready for our next test at Ross in two weeks time.”

Joining the rest of the Junior Squad were the J13’s spreading their wings in the first regatta of their lives! Displaying tremendous grit and maturity, they handled the river circulation and the bends with apparent ease and gave Stourport crews a good run for their money. Ollie, who only a few weeks ago was climbing into a single scull for the first time, steered brilliantly for the whole course.

The 2x of Alex and Poppy kept the pressure on their counterparts, catching up to within two lengths at the finish. The coxed, mixed quad of Poppy, Alice, Alex, Seth and Meg contested Stourport’s home advantage neck and neck for the length of the course and with a surge at the end looked the stronger crew. To the roar of the crowd and the passionate shouting of their cox, Stratford’s J13’s finished within three feet of the winning crew. Said Richard Nelson. J13 Coach, “The fledgling J13 athletes thoroughly enjoyed the event and left with a smile and great motivation for their next contest at Ross Regatta.”

Stratford Masters’ Squad was represented at Stourport Regatta by Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty. The Masters’ double of Hayton and Doherty won their race by three lengths over Warwick Boat Club and Hayton lost her single’s race by half a length, her first race in a ‘new’ boat!

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page fifty one

Weekend of Sport for Stratford Juniors!

Despite holidays and Covid, a very busy weekend for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Junior Squad. The day Stratford Boat Club’s J15 scullers had been working so hard for finally arrived. The British Rowing Junior Championships one of the most prestigious events in our racing calendar attracting boat clubs from across the country. The event was run over three days and saw Stratford’s crews arrive bright and early on the Friday.

First up for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club was Charles Happel rowing a single scull in his time trial. Over a distance of 1500m, Charles sculled energetically demonstrating great technique to qualify for the D final in a time of 6:20. In his final, over 2000m, he had learned from his earlier race to deliver a performance of greater energy and race tactics to finish second behind a crew from Rob Roy in a time of 8:17, less than four seconds from first place!

Stratford’s J15 ladies double of Grace Beason and Ruby Brooker Collins raced their time trial providing excellent technique to qualify for their E final in time of 6:35. Their final delivered one of the most exciting side by side racing of the day battling a crew from Queen Elizabeth High. They were chasing second place which changed hands several times but Stratford dug deep to win through in the last stroke beating QEH by 5 hundredths of a second in a time of 9:05.82.

Stratford’s J15 coxed quad of Kate Richardson, Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes, Amalia Richardson and expertly coxed by Imo Hill didn’t fail to provide an equally exciting performance. They provided an excellent time trial finishing in eighth place in a time of 5:59 to qualify for their AB Semi final, yet another 2k race! This side by side race saw them dig deep to finish fourth in a time of 7:58 to qualify for the B final a really great effort.

The heat of the day wasn’t relenting but the ladies racing in the B final blew the competition away! They sculled at an extremely high rate over the 2k course demonstrating great power and precise catches to win their final in a time of 8:00.9 beating Cantabrigian by eight seconds a truly tremendous performance. Said Sam Hill, J15 coach, “Overall a very pleasing performance on the day by all our crews making parents and coaches extremely proud!”

On Saturday at the Junior British Championships it was the turn of the J16 squad to take to the water. First up was the time trial for the open singles and taking part for Stratford was Tomi Wilcock and Toby Sartain. Both boys put in a good row to see them place seventeenth and twenty fifth  respectively, putting them into the C and E Finals later in the day.

Next up was the women’s pair of Freya Watts and Fleur Griffiths. The time trial was the first time these girls had raced in a pair or even in sweep. They had a fantastic race to place them in sixth and gaining their spot in the A Final.

The last time trial saw Griffiths step straight into the women’s four as one of the girls was ill, alongside Lucy Browne, Honour Keil, Bella Chappelhow and J14 cox Lucy Sartain. The girls put in another good performance, where they were catching the crew in front of them to also place sixth and book another A Final spot.

The finals were now taking place and first up were the boys singles. Unfortunately Sartain’s opposition pulled out and so he didn’t get to take to the water for a side by side race. Wilcock had a good race but struggled with the heat and hands slipping off the blades, taking the sixth place in the C Final.

Watts and Griffiths were up next in the A Final of the pairs and had a solid row staying in contention all the way down the 2km course to finish in sixth place.

On completion of the pairs race Griffiths just had enough time to refill her water bottle before taking to the water again in the four with Browne, Keil, Chappelhow and Lucy Sartain. They all rowed really well, expertly coxed by Sartain, in her first race as a cox, to take the sixth place on the finish.

Commenting, Abi Terry, J16 coach said, “It was great to see the crews able to race again and making A Finals was a fantastic way to end what has been a really challenging year for them all. Now to have fun in the summer events!”

The third day of Junior National Championships meant it was the turn of the J18 squad to take on the best crews in the country over the 2km course at Holme Pierrepont.  First to the water was the women’s double scull of Jasmine Moutney and Isabelle Watts. Building on the Watts’ family rowing heritage Isabelle did not disappoint in her first national regatta and teamed with the sculling prowess of Jasmine they scored a creditable twenty eighth. Next on the sun-drenched Nottinghamshire course was the WJ18 coxless quadruple sculls of Alice Baines, Amelie Sartain, Maiya James and Mili Wilcock.  The girls put in a steely row in the time trial to secure fourteenth place and a spot in the C Final, just 1.4 sec away from Semi Final contention. Nothing could have prepared the Nottingham spectators for the drama that played out in the C Final as the Stratford girls battled a quality Trafford Rowing Club crew for the length of the course, never more than a length between them for the full 2000m.  It was to be Stratford’s day in the end by the tightest of margins and a photo finish, just 0.18 seconds. Said Steve Wellstead, J17/18 Performance Squad Coach and Junior Co-ordinator, “A true testament to the grit of these young athletes!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/busy-weekend-of-sport-for-rowers-9210210 and page fifty one and also Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/junior-squad-makes-their-mark-in-national-championships and back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2021/08/06&pages=024

Bumper Weekend for Stratford’s Junior Squad!

After many long months training in isolation and a precious few weeks back on the water, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Junior Squad were at last back racing at the weekend.  It was to be a baptism of fire for our older athletes with the first event back being the National Schools’ Regatta held over 2000m on the Olympic course at Eton Dorney.  Running as a “Behind Closed Doors” event, the venue was eerily quiet without the usual marquees, trade stands and spectators.  The competition on the water however remained fierce as the top rowing schools and clubs from across the country turned out in force eager to show the fruits of the lockdown labour.  Just two crews from Stratford Boat Club’s J17/18 squad competed under the limited entries permitted. Alice Baines and Amelie Sartain flew the flag in the Championship Double Sculls and recorded a creditable twenty second place ahead of some of the premier rowing outfits nationally.

On Sunday Stratford Boat Club’s J16 Junior Squad also travelled to Dorney Lake for the National Schools Regatta where they took a WJ16 coxless quad. The squad rowed really well in the time trial and fought hard, but came up against some strong schools that had been able to train throughout lockdown and ended up finishing in a very respectable twenty sixth place.

On Monday the rest of the J16 squad also travelled down to Dorney Lake, to race at the Junior Sculling Regatta. First up, very early, was the J16 double of Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie. They raced hard in their time trial to place eight and gain their place in the B Final. The next time trial was Toby Sartain in the J16 single sculls. He sculled with finesse to put him into fifteenth place and safely into the C Final. The last time trial for the J16’s was for the WJ16 double scull of Honour Keil and Harriet Holmes. They put in a great effort to take seventeenth place and again a place in the C Final.

Later in the day the finals happened in the same order as the time trials. Wilcock and Beattie were first in their B Final of the doubles where they raced hard, coming off the start in first, by halfway they had dropped to third. During the second half they pulled their way back through into second place and were catching up first, but ran out of lake, finishing in second place. Next up was Toby Sartain’s C final in the singles. He raced really well, quickly slotting himself into fourth place, which is also where he finished. He was catching third towards the end but had just too much to do. The last J16 final was the C Final of Keil and Holmes in the double. They went off the start fast but quickly slotted into sixth place. They fought all the way down the 2km track to catch fifth and were catching up quickly on fourth, but didn’t quite have enough left to take them so finished in fifth place. Said Abi Terry, J16 coach, “It was great to see the J16’s racing again after a year and half without any recent racing, we can’t wait for the next event!”

For Stratford’s J15 squad it was also back to sculling regattas at long last and what a way to start the season! Whilst some fifteen year olds might have chosen to spend their half term holiday weekend relaxing at the pool or beach, Stratford’s J15’s chose to test themselves over the 2012 Olympic course at Dorney Lake not once but sometimes twice on the hottest day of the year so far!

Time trials to select crews to proceed to A, B or C finals were the first challenges over 1900m. Up first was Grace Beason and Ruby Brooker Collins double sculls returning a time of 9:29 which was an excellent effort placing them in the C final. They raced just as enthusiastically in their final finishing sixth in a time of 10:42 over the full 2000m.

Next up was Charles Happel rowing a single scull. He demonstrated great technique and great effort recording a time of 8:37 which placed him in the B final. Similar enthusiasm, grit and determination saw him finish an admirable fourth in the final in a time of 9:32, only five seconds behind third place.

Our lady single sculler was Uche Nwachukwa who sculled with great determination, against very strong competition, to finish seventh in her time trial missing a place in the final by just six seconds. A truly great effort.

Finally Stratford’s WJ15 quad of Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes, Kate Richardson, Amalia Richardson and expertly coxed by Imogen Hill sculled with great precision and energy to record a time of 8:02 in their time trial, just missing a place in the A final by 1.8 seconds. Determined to make amends, they set off at a blistering pace to lead the B final by a length at the 500m mark. Guilford tried to hang on, but broke at half distance leaving Latymer to take up the chase. Stratford saw them coming and opened the taps leaving them for dead in the last 500m to win by three lengths. It was a perfectly executed race in a winning time of 8:47, quicker than both Hinksey and Maidenhead in the A final!

Commenting, Steve Marsden, J15 coach said, “A great performance from all our crews who, as always, performed above and beyond all expectations against the “top” boat clubs. Well done all – they now know the pain and pleasure of competition over a grueling 2km regatta course!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty three and https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/bumper-weekend-for-junior-squad-9202430 and also Stratford Observer back sports page, https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2021/06/11&pages=024 and https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratfords-young-rowers-buoyant-after-regatta-events