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

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 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

Stratford Battle Choppy Waters at Nottingham!

Last weekend, the Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s J16 double of Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie travelled to Nottingham to the National Water Sports Centre to take part in a new event, the GB J16 Summer Regatta. This event attracted the best of J16 athletes from around Great Britain.

Held over 1500m, this event enabled athletes to race up to three times during the day giving them vast amounts of race experience, something that has been drastically lacking over the past eighteen months.

The Stratford duo took to the rather choppy water for the time trial where they put in a great performance to finish in third place. This secured them their spot in the semi-finals: the water remained choppy due to the winds throughout the day. Wilcock and Beattie raced well in the semi-final coming into the final 200m in second, where they were just pipped on the line placing them third, enough to make the A-Final.

As they boated for the A-Final, the wind picked up even more: they paddled off to the start in preparation. They had been assigned Lane 1 out of 6 and rowed extremely well. The crews from Weybridge and Newark were out in front and took Gold and Silver respectively. The other four crews were extremely close together coming into the final 200m, it was going to come down to whoever could out sprint the rest. Beattie and Wilcock put up a good fight and on the line were officially awarded sixth place, in pretty much a photo finish of the four crews. Said Abi Terry, J16 Coach, “The result was so close that none of the coaches actually knew who had finished where. This was a great event for the boys to attend, well organised and some brilliant racing. We now look forward to the British Championships in a couple of week’s time.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/photo-finish-for-boat-club-duo-9206158 and page fifty three and also Stratford Observer https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2021/07/09&pages=024 and back sports page

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