Stratford’s Adaptive Squad Show Promise at Oxford and Juniors Finish 2020 Competition!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s adaptive (disabled) squad raced at Oxford on the weekend. Building on recent success, they won five events and came extremely close to winning a couple more.

The Oxford City Rowing Club regatta was solely for disabled rowers with the usual two day regatta being cancelled for Covid reasons.

Pride of place goes to Kelly Donald in the wheelchair user women’s single sculls event. Competing in her first event, she beat a plucky and experienced City of Oxford sculler in the final by a little over a length.

James Bastin’s win in beating his Stratford colleague Gillian Middleton in the final of a doubles event was also a first win in his first event. A great performance from the visually and physically impaired athlete. Gillian competed in two events and a win for her must surely be just around the corner.

Xander van der Poll, a Stratford Great Britain Paralympic hopeful, won a very close final against another Oxford opponent. Further wins were completed by Ian Ward supported by his sister Sofia and Hattie Throssell with Paola Ward.

The unluckiest pair of the day were Jake Blatcher and Dan Godefroy. Competing in two events, they lost the finals by just a foot in each case. Steve Binns, in his fifties, had a tough draw against a much younger Guildford opponent.

The squad’s next outing is at Stratford Boat Club’s own regatta on Saturday 18th September.

Not to be out done, Stratford Boat Club’s Junior Squad was in action over the weekend finalising the concluding junior heats of the 2020 President’s Sculls. Yes, 2020 President’s Sculls, just over a year after the first races and very much in the style of Tokyo Olympics affected by Covid restrictions and disruptions!

Some close racing was delivered by Freya Watts as this year’s junior champion who won by one length in the final.

Said Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator and J17/18 Performance Squad Coach, “Well done to all entrants: we’ll be having the trophy presentation soon!”

The original trophy was initially presented by Ian Cartwright, the then Captain, to Derek Eardley in 2004 during his tenure as President of Stratford Boat Club to mark his many years of service to the Club and was to be raced for annually in coxed fours.

Over the years, the competition faded from the annual calendar and was reinstated comparatively recently as an annual sculling competition in three categories – women, men and juniors.

Paul Stanton, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club President commented, “We hope that the President’s Sculls award will continue to inspire all members to continue with sculling at a high level and further contribute to all sections of the Club mixing and communicating with each other. Our congratulations go to Freya Watts who has won the Junior Award. Our thanks go to all those who supervised this final by marshalling and safety spotting on the bank and from the launch.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty five

Stratford’s Adaptive Squad Scores at Worcester

At the weekend, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Senior Men’s sculler Harvey Mole travelled to Worcester Regatta and had a first round victory in the Band Two Open Single Sculls event beating Crane from local club Warwick. In the final, Harvey was against a rower from City of Bristol: whilst Harvey started well, he lost the middle part of the race giving away two and a half lengths at the halfway mark. Although Harvey took back a length, he left himself too much to do in the final sprint.

The mixed Masters double sculls event featured Stratford rowers Heather Hayton and Thomas Doherty against a younger Minerva Bath crew in a straight final. After a fast start, the Stratford crew racing with a slight handicap advantage rating a lively 38 strokes per minute off the start eased out into a significant lead by the halfway stage.
A big push saw the Stratford crew consolidate the race easing through to the finish rating 35 strokes per minute for a comprehensive win to round off a successful days racing.

Following their recent success at Oxford, Stratford Boat Club’s Adaptive squad was equally triumphant at the weekend’s Worcester Autumn regatta. Pride of place must go to Hattie Throssell. All season she has been getting closer and closer to that debut win: it finally came on Saturday. In the final, Hattie competed against an all male crew, again from Stratford. It was a clear win for Hattie and her support rower Paul Beason. The whole squad was ecstatic for her; even her well beaten colleagues.

Other wins included Mark Brookes, another athlete succeeding for the first time, again with Paul Beason. In the final of the adaptive pairs they

narrowly overcame their young opponents Dan Godefroy and Jake Blatcher in yet another all Stratford final, only nudging into the lead in the last one hundred metres of the race.

Mark Sanders and Jake Blatcher, in better form than at Oxford, had a comfortable win over Maidenhead in a supported doubles event and also Mark was beaten by a mere six feet in the semi final of the adaptive singles event.

The remainder of the Club spent the weekend settling into their new squads and learning new skills and techniques such as how to go through the very narrow spans of Clopton Bridge. Last minute jobs were being completed ready for the Club’s rescheduled regatta on Saturday 21 September.

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald http://www.stratford-herald.com/101914-stratfords-adaptive-squad-scores-worcester-regatta.html and page fourteen and Stratford Observer https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratford-squad-shines-at-worcester.

Stratford’s Adaptive Squad Makes Racing Debut!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s adaptive squad went to its first event of the season last Sunday.

Stratford is one of the “Big 5” adaptive clubs that dominate the scene in the South of England. All but one of these clubs attended the Time Trial that was rowed over part of the Henley Royal Regatta course. The five squad rowers from Stratford were Jake Blatcher, Dan Godefroy, Hattie Throssell, Ian Ward and Mark Sanders. A couple of athletes, due to their disability, require experienced club volunteers to row with them. For Dan and Jake it was their first competitive event.

Jake won the prize for best junior men’s performance of the day. Mark missed out on the men’s adult prize by 0.1 of a second to a Marlow sculler. The other athletes all produced times that bode well for this summer’s regatta season.

The adaptive squad was revived at the Stratford Boat Club in 2015: since that date, the squad has grown steadily. “We have athletes with a variety of disabilities: some just require a little extra support. Safety is always paramount: we can deal with most issues but not all. The emphasis is on participation and enjoyment but it always great to get a win at these events” says Mark Dewdney, the Club’s Adaptive Coach.

The squad’s next competition will be at Marlow on the May Bank Holiday Monday.

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/adaptive-rowers-impress-at-henley and Stratford Herald page 16 and http://www.stratford-herald.com/97512-stratford-boat-clubs-adaptive-squad-makes-racing-debut.html

For those interested in learning more about adaptive rowing at Stratford Boat Club, please contact the Club via the Club’s website http://www.stratford-rowing.co.uk/contact