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

Stratford’s Juniors Finish Head Season On High Note!

To round off the winter head racing season, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s juniors headed east for Bedford and Great Ouse. Not one of the Club’s regular events, it was the first time the junior athletes had rowed the 2k course that winds through the town under seven bridges to the finish in a very scenic park.

The J16 squad entered Charles Happel in a single scull, who put in his best performance of the season so far. In a field of twelve, Charles finished third, just one second behind Leicester Rowing Club.

J16 Coach Sam Hill said, “I am very pleased for the athletes. To achieve such a good result at Bedford is very encouraging for the regatta season that starts in two weeks at Nottingham.”

The Stratford WJ15 girls also put on a great performance at the 2022 Bedford Spring head. The squad of Eloise Cooper, Molly Vondrak, Lucy Sartain, Esmerelda Elfwood and Aimee Appleton (cox), sculled the 2000m course in a fantastic time of eight minutes and sixteen seconds. Commenting, Hugo Happel, J15 Coach said: “They missed out on Gold by only four seconds to the girls from Falcon RC (Oxford). However, they beat five other crews, three of them based on the Thames: Wallingford, Eton Excelsior and Staines plus Leicester and Bedford!”

Also at Bedford were the J17/18 Performance squad represented by Freya Watts, Martha Usselmann, Amelie Sartain and Harriet Holmes who competed first in the Women’s coxless quad event. Commenting, Abi Terry, the J17/18 Performance Squad Coach said, “With Harriet steering an excellent line down the tricky course, the girls finished a respectable third in the most competitive band and fourth overall in a field of stiff competition.”

Later on, the WJ squad split into two doubles, Martha and Amelie competing in the Women’s event, and Freya and Harriet in the Women’s J17 category. The two scratch crews finished third and sixth respectively in their events, against some prestigious crews.

Also competing at Bedford Head was the double of Nick Sartain and Ed Lewry: they were the first Stratford crew to hit the water competing in the Open Double Sculls event. They posted the fastest time of the Club for the day across the 2km distance to finish at the top of their band and seventh overall.

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty nine and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/rowers-sign-off-the-winter-season-on-a-high-note-9249786 and also Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-upon-avon-boat-club-juniors-finish-winter-head-season-in-style and back sports page https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2022/04/15&pages=032

Stratford Clean Up Indoors and at Wycliffe!

The weekend saw a welcome return to racing on the Gloucester and Berkeley Canal for the annual Wycliffe Small Boats Head.  Held over 2500m, the Wycliffe event always attracts quality crews from around the region and for the 42nd edition the competition did not disappoint.  As the wildfowl of the nearby Wetland Trust stirred from their slumber, the Stratford upon Avon Boat Club athletes pushed off to get racing underway in Division 1. The WJ14 coxed quadruple scull of Lucy Yang (cox), Poppy Baines, Alexandra Francis, Meg Nuttall and Lily Warren were first down the course. Surging past a quality outfit from Hereford Cathedral School, the girls went on to take the bronze medal.  Later in Division 3, the open J14 coxed quadruple scull of James Albrighton (cox), Seth Vondrak, Ollie Rowlands, Sophie Evans and Alice Jones delivered more hardware with a commanding row to take the silver medal.

Stratford’s J15 athletes continued their initiation to head racing and came back with an impressive medal haul. Lucy Sartain won Silver in the WJ15 1x category, beating the girls from Wallingford Rowing Club. Will Dalrymple-Baker won Bronze in the OJ15 1x in 11:58.9, beating strong opposition from Queens Park High, Dart Totnes and Wallingford Rowing Club. Will and Jamie Wilcock collected Bronze in the OJ15 2x, in 10:37.9, beating crews from QPH, Dart Totnes, Kings Worcester, Hereford and Monmouth.

Charles Happel was the only J16 competing in the OJ16 1x event, and set a Silver medal winning time of 11:11.6, beating strong opposition from Queens Park High and Hereford Cathedral.

The day started early for Stratford’s J17/18 Performance squad in Division 1, with Toby Sartain and Will Beattie finishing third in the open doubles event. Freya Watts (WJ17) and Amelie Sartain (WJ18) also competed in their respective singles races, both placing second overall. Later in Division 2, they raced alongside Fleur Griffiths and Lucy Browne in the WJ18 quad event, competing against fellow teammates Ruby Howells, Harriet Holmes, Martha Usselmann and Elisabeth Edwards. In a field of stiff competition, the girls finished eleventh and twelfth respectively. Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie also raced in Division 2, placing fifth in the open J18 doubles event. With the wind picking up in Division 3, Martha Usselmann stepped into the WJ18 doubles event to replace an injured teammate to row with Harriet Holmes, the pair achieving a strong fourth place, just ahead of Fleur Griffiths and Ruby Howells who finished fifth. The open J17 singles event rounded off the day for the squad, with Tomi Wilcock coming in second, and Toby Sartain just after in third.

Christine Goodwin and Gina Fusco, Stratford Masters also competed in the doubles event.

This weekend was also the annual British Rowing Indoor Championships which this year took place in a fully virtual format.  Athletes competed for glory from living rooms, conservatories, garden sheds and garages across the globe. In her first year of rowing, Cara Berisford-Murray represented Stratford upon Avon Boat Club in both 500m and 3min races for Year Eight girls’ category. In a thrilling three minute event, Cara walked through the field to secure the Silver medal just 1.5 lengths behind the winner.  Not satisfied with one medal, Cara went on to dominate the 500m sprint event taking Gold.  Commenting, Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator and J13 coach said, “A truly magnificent start to her rowing career and results of which she can be proud!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty three and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/rowers-claim-medals-galore-9229376 and also Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-upon-avon-boat-club-enjoy-success-at-british-rowing-indoor-championships-and-wycliffe-small-boats-head and back sports page https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2021/12/10&pages=024

For more great pictures of Wycliffe Small Boats Head, see Stuart Baines’ selection https://1drv.ms/u/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9j4MIWDlZpSwGKK7L_w?e=rYDQUC

Stratford Juniors Take Their Skills to Evesham

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s J17/J18 performance squad sent several crews to Evesham to compete over the 1900m course on Saturday. First up was the J17 double of Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie racing up an age group in the J18 event. They put in a strong performance to finish in second place, just five seconds behind the winners from Hereford Cathedral School.

Next up were the WJ18 doubles of Amelie Sartain and Fleur Griffiths and Freya Watts and Lucy Browne, with the latter also racing up an age group. On this occasion it was Sartain and Griffiths that were victorious with Evesham in second and Watts and Browne taking third place.

Division 2 saw the WJ18 coxed fours taking to the water. The performance squad crew of Browne, Ruby Howells, Bella Chappelhow, Harriet Holmes and cox Toby Sartain, raced well and took the win after Toby steered a near perfect course to take full advantage of the faster water.

The final division saw the WJ18 coxless quad take to the water. The crew of Watts, Howells, Amelie Sartain and Griffiths took an emphatic win, beating their nearest opponents by an impressive forty three seconds!

The J18 singles were next, again all three athletes were racing up an age group. Will Beattie had the best result finishing in second place, just three seconds behind the winner. Tomi Wilcock finished in fourth place with Toby Sartain in tenth place.

Honour Keil was the last squad member to race, also racing up in the WJ18 singles. She put in a solid row to take fifth place in a strong field.

Said Abi Terry, J17/J18 Performance Squad Coach, “It was great to get some good racing under their belts and even better to come away with three wins and really solid performances.”

The WJ18 Club Group of Emma Harrison, Elisabeth Edwards, Imogen Hill, Martha Ussellman and Lucy Sartain raced against the Club’s WJ 17/18 Performance Squad in a coxed four. In their first race in this crew combination, the girls put in a strong race against the Performance Squad and came in a very credible eleven seconds in second place with a time of 9:01 minutes

The J16 squad was represented by two single scullers. Charles Happel sculled a brave race and he set off hard and really attacked the 1,900m course. His race plan paid off with a strong second place losing out to a local Evesham sculler by just three seconds. Uche Nwachukwu raced in a large field of fifteen athletes displaying her excellent technique by finishing in a creditable fifth place.

In their first ever head race the Stratford Boat Club J15 Squad sculled fantastically well against strong competition. The WJ15.4x+ won Gold in 08:34, beating Royal Grammar School Worcester, Evesham and Hereford Cathedral School.

The J15 boys double missed out on Gold, beaten by the home crew of Evesham by twenty two seconds. The three WJ15 doubles did superbly and came fourth, sixth and seventh against well drilled crews from Evesham and Headington School Oxford. J15 Coach Hugo Happel said, “Our boys and girls sculled superbly in their first ever head race over 1900m upstream. They can row that longer distance and steer well on this challenging course. We now go back to training and look forward to Henley Long Distance Sculls in November.”

Also making their first debut at a head race were the J14 Squad. In Division 1 the coxed quad of Alice Jones, Meg Nuttall, Sophie Evans, Poppy Baines and Lily Warren faced crews from Evesham, Abingdon and Headington School. The girls rowed very well against stiff competition and given they have only rowed the distance three times were well placed by the second check point, eventually conceding a win to a very creditable Headington crew.

Next up in Division Three double sculls were Seth Vondrak, Oliver Rowlands, Alexandra Francis and Meg Nuttall. Due to a lack of competitors the girls rowed in the Junior Boys’ event. Both crews rowed exceptionally well, achieving a well-deserved second and third place being pipped at the post by a crew from Abingdon. Commenting Colin Bell, J14 Coach said, “Given their results the future looks promising for the J14 Squad.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/magnificent-results-for-talented-squads-9220418 and page fifty seven and also Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratford-youngsters-are-head-above-the-rest-at-evesham and back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2021/10/15&pages=024

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

Stratford Score at Bewl Bridge Ergatta

As the last of the winter frost thawed over the Warwickshire countryside, the athletes of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club prepared to race (virtually) in the more temperate Kentish climes of Bewl Bridge Rowing Club. The spinning fans of rowing machines (ergos) in garages and sheds transported the Stratford rowers back to pre-lockdown days when racing was part of their weekend routines.

Bewl Bridge Rowing Club hosted the virtual event and offered racing categories across the age and experience range with an additional running event for those without access to rowing machines.

In the 5k ergo event, Amelie Sartain scored a solid 8th place in the WJ17 category whilst in the blue riband junior event at WJ18 Mili Wilcock and Alice Baines took 7th and 8th place respectively.

Isabelle Watts casually recorded the second fastest time in the WJ18 5k run to take Silver with Maiya James taking a creditable 5th place. Knowledge of the course was clearly a factor as Bewl Bridge took the Gold.

The J15 athletes exchanged the very glamorous surroundings of the Stratford Boat Club rooms for the even more glamorous home gyms for this virtual Ergatta with tremendous results.

Charles Happel came first in his age group for the 5,000m run in a personal best time of 24 minutes and 21seconds.

Amalia Richardson recorded a personal best time of 12:22.3, in the Women’s J15 3,000m ergo event, beating Maddie Hall into 2nd place by just 6.9 seconds, Uche Nwachukwa came 4th and Harriet Noyes 7th out of twelve entries.

Amalia Richardson and Maddie Hall won the WJ 15 double event with Uche Nwachukwa and Harriet Noyes coming 2nd.

Amalia Richardson, Harriet Noyes, Maddie Hall and Uche Nwachukwa won the WJ 15 quad event.

Commenting Steve Marsden J15 coach said, “Admirable results demonstrating athletes’ levels of fitness have been maintained throughout lockdown. We can look forward to similar successes once we are allowed to attend water based events as lock down is behind us.”

First up in the WJ14 5,000m Running category, with two clubs battling it out for top honours with multiple entries, Stratford Boat Club and Lea Rowing Club (London E5, Hackney), a Gold medal for Stratford went to our Eloise Cooper, in a time of 22 minutes 22 second, a full minute and 29 seconds faster than her nearest competitor from Eloise Cooper. A good performance also from our other Stratford J14 athlete Nancy Davis, who ran that distance for the first time, in a creditable 28 minutes 55 seconds, still five minutes faster than another Lea Rowing Club competitor, and no doubt would have been collecting a medal too had it not been for her brother unwittingly deleting all the music from the family iPhone!

Moving on to the rowing events, in the 3,000m Mx 4x J14 category, with an ultra- featherweight cox, our Stratford athletes Will Dalrymple-Baker (S), Jamie Wilcock, Lucy Sartain and Scarlett Richardson (B) took Gold in a resplendent time of 13 minutes 07.4 seconds. ‘It was a great boys and girls collaborative effort,” said the crew afterwards, feeling very chuffed clearly. “The boys did need to talk less during the race though,” quipped bow!

Next up in the 3,000m 2x J14 event, our Stratford J14 boys Jamie Wilcock and Will Dalrymple-Baker faced passionate competition from the boys from Lea, Weybridge and Bewl Bridge (the host club). In a very credible time of 12 minutes 45.5 seconds, our boys took Bronze. Both athletes commented afterwards that a lot of energy was spent splashing each other!

Next up in the 3,000m 2x WJ14 event, our Stratford J14 girls Scarlett Richardson and Lucy Sartain translated all their land and water training experience into a superb performance which earned them the Gold medal, against competition from Shoreham Rowing Club, in a winning time of 13 minutes 29.3 seconds. Both athletes were very pleased with their technique and said there’s a lot more to come.

In the final event for our J14 squad, in the 3,000m WJ14 singles, earning Stratford two medals against intense competition from Tideway Scullers School, Weybridge and Shoreham, Scarlett Richardson won Gold with a time of 13 minutes 01.9 seconds, 16 seconds clear of her nearest competitor and Lucy Sartain won a commendable Bronze for the Club.

Said Hugo Happel J14 coach. “It was a fantastic tally of four gold and two bronze medals for our J14 athletes, showing grit and determination in difficult conditions, and bodes very well for when Junior rowing restarts in the real world, on the water – soon hopefully!”

Recreational weekday rower Ellie Davis was encouraged by a co-member (Mark Tailby) to enter the Ergatta. Having never tried 5k on an ergo before, and with just two practise sessions before the event, she joined the Ergatta from her very cold garage, with only fairy lights for company, and knocked twenty five seconds off her best previous time. She’s now upping her training ready for more competition this season!

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty five and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratford-success-at-bewl-bridge-ergatta