Stratford Boat Club Regatta: Another Great Success despite Covid!

A marvelous late summer day with the weather ideal for racing! Great participation from crews local and further afield from Evesham, Stourport, Hereford, Becket School Rowing Club (Nottingham), Worcester, AB Severn Rowing Club (Tewkesbury), Pengwern Boat Club (Shrewsbury), Lagan Scullers’ Club (Belfast), Marlow, City of Oxford and Agecroft Rowing Club (Salford)  as well as major entries from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club. The regatta this year had three divisions and two adaptive (disabled) divisions and one hundred and sixteen separate races starting at 08.30 and running all day through until a prompt close at 16.30hrs!

Dr Graham Collier, Stratford Boat Club’s Regatta Secretary said, “This year we were very heartened by the huge turn out from local and distant clubs and the interest from the public who also had the bonus of having the Stratford Town Food Festival close by. A massive thanks to all our hard working Stratford Boat Club members, visiting crews, umpires and officials and especially the public for supporting the event. We were especially honoured to have Stratford upon Avon Town Council Mayor Councillor Kevin Taylor attend the regatta.”

Steve Wellstead, Stratford Boat Club’s Junior Co-ordinator and Course Marshal commented. “It was a long day’s racing: our tea tent was extremely busy dispensing dozens of cakes and snacks: what a magnificent day topped by great racing!  We decided to stay with the shortened 650 metre course to ensure the safety of all the competitors and river users: we ran the regatta under very tight Covid rules and protocols.  We were especially grateful for the help and tolerance of those operators who work and make their living on the river.”

Commenting further, Mark Dewdney, Stratford Boat Club’s Head Adaptive Coach said, “It was very heartening to see at least fifteen adaptive races in two divisions and the fact that an adaptive sculler came over from Belfast to compete in our regatta speaks volumes! To see the effort that the adaptive athletes, helpers and supporters put into racing was very humbling and gratifying!”

Saturday’s busy regatta was followed by Sunday’s Shakespeare Hospice Dragon Boat Racing with more action on the river: Stratford Boat Club’s 2022 Regatta is tentatively scheduled for the more usual month of June, Covid permitting! Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club’s President said, “We were blessed with good weather and large crowds watching the racing adding much to Stratford’s atmosphere and vitality: we were glad to showcase our sport and demonstrate our part in the success of our town!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald pages fifty six and page fifty four and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/straford-boat-club-regatta-back-on-the-water

For more great pictures of the regatta, see Stuart Baines’ selection: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9jv0hRZs7yxtLL3GInw?e=CcLB9s

Trophies Presented for 2020/2021 for President’s Sculls

The week ended for Stratford Boat Club with the presentation of trophies on Sunday for the winners of The President’s Sculls competition run over 2020 and 2021 due to the interruption by Covid. The winner of the Men’s Trophy was Tim Lunel and the Ladies’ Trophy was Heather Hayton, neither of whom could attend. However, Tim sent a note to Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club’s President, saying, “Having concentrated almost exclusively on sweep oar rowing in my university rowing days, it has been really enjoyable to have the chance to transfer those skills to sculling at Stratford. It has been great to hear hints and tips from lots of Stratford Boat Club members. The fact that I was able to win the President Sculls is however due almost exclusively to the patience and good humour of Chris Straw. It was sculling with Chris, learning from him and being coached by him that means that at least I know what I am trying to do in getting a single scull moving quickly through the water – if only achieving it on rare occasions! Thank you Chris, this President’s Sculls’ prize is more yours than it is mine! Thank you Paul for making this competition happen and getting as many people in the Club to appreciate the joys of sculling”

The winner of the junior trophy was Freya Watts who came through her fiercely fought heats to win against all including some juniors older than her. The Adaptive trophy, repurposed/ recycled from Head Adaptive Coach, Mark Dewdney’s own collection was won by Jake Blatcher for his dedication and input to the adaptive squad over the last two years and his marked improvement in his sculling and rowing

Commenting, Paul Stanton said, “We are indebted to the Rose family for the original trophies which have again been recycled/repurposed for today’s presentation. Albert George Gerald Rose was the original benefactor and everyone knew him as Sonny and was captain of the Club in the early 1930’s and rowed in many winning fours. Sonny owned and ran The Boat House [now Avon Boating] next door. Tim Lunel’s pot is dated 1929 which Sonny won at Nottingham and Heather Hayton’s pot dates from 1927 and was awarded as the President’s Sculls. Jake Blatcher’s second trophy dates back to 1928 and was when Sonny won the Maiden Fours at Stratford’s own regatta. Freya Watts’ trophy dates from 1929 and appropriately was won by Sonny in the Junior Fours race at Ross Regatta where Freya raced last week with some considerable success!”

Stratford Boat Club is looking forward to its own Covid secure regatta on Saturday 18 September: racing will be from 08.00hrs to mid/late afternoon and there will be a catering wagon and bar open to all. Excellent views of the racing can be seen from the Club, Bancroft Gardens, The Royal Shakespeare Theatre Riverside Café and the Rec

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page sixty one and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/prestigious-trophies-handed-out-to-top-performers-9215851

A Busy Week for Stratford Boat Club!

It’s been a busy week for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club! On Thursday, the adaptive section had a visit from Cllr Tony Jackson, former Mayor of Stratford upon Avon, to see what his donation from The Mayor’s Fund had gone towards

Cllr Jackson during his term in office had three chosen causes which were Volunteers, People with Disabilities and Health and Well Being. Commenting Paul Stanton, President of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club said, “Tony has been a great supporter of the Club and especially the adaptive squad and he understands the importance of sport and recreation for the welling and health of the adaptive and other athletes”

Said Mark Dewdney, Stratford Boat Club’s Head Adaptive Coach, “Tony was most interested to learn of the extra and special equipment needed to get adaptive athletes onto the water such as a Madeleine chair for lifting athletes from their wheelchair to their boat; specially adapted seats enabling disabled athletes to row and use an ergo; a ramp for wheelchairs to access the pontoon for boating; floats for adaptive boats as well as the emergency rescue launch with all its specialised equipment, purchase and running costs. Tony was pleased to learn that his contribution from The Mayor’s Fund has gone towards some of these essential items as well as towards a new adaptive boat soon to arrive”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page ten

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 Masters Settle Some Old Scores!

Saturday saw a return to competition rowing for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Masters crews following the Club’s junior squad’s successful return to racing of the previous week. The Masters’ crews took on the very significant challenge of the British Rowing Masters Championships held on the multilane course at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham. Held at a venue renowned for its blustery conditions and variable weather, this year saw a reasonably calm and hot day, an unusual occurrence remarked on by many competitors!

The competition which, due to Covid restrictions, was reduced to a one day event with all status crews competing together which led to some high quality and fiercely competitive racing throughout the day. The Stratford Boat Club’s mixed double crew of Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty in their first national competition together in their age group race found themselves in a field of four other boats, all of whom had previously won championship golds.

Faced with such a task, Stratford’s crew who were blessed with a strong headwind gave it everything off the start to stay with the field over the 1000m course. At 600 m they were still in the mix but the experience and power of the other crews saw them pull away over the last third of the race. A satisfied but shattered crew were pleased to have been able to race and to have been competitive against some of the best the best crews in the country.

Said Tom Doherty, Masters’ Vice Captain, “The weekend’s race was a real baptism of fire for Heather in her first national standard completion and multilane race and she passed with flying colours. The experience gained over the weekend will be very beneficial as we look to further races as lockdown is hopefully reduced in the future.”

Also competing at Nottingham at the weekend in the Open Masters E single sculls was Tim Lunel. Not holding out for much more than a competitive day out, Lunel was very pleasantly surprised to find himself leading at the 500m mark in the first round with the comforting knowledge that the first three go through to the final. Banter was inevitably to follow as ex-Stratford Boat Club Piers Copham “rowed through” or was allowed to exert extra wasted energy to take first place depending on the perspective of the scullers in question.

Lunel’s and Piers’  fears that the other heat contained the fastest sculler in the field was then confirmed in the A Final where those rowers took the podium positions with Denis Crowley from Commercial Rowing Club of Ireland hopping over the Irish Sea to record a cracking 4.08 as the winning time

The only race that really mattered in the final though this was of course the one between Tim Lunel (Stratford) and Piers Copham (ex-Stratford) and we are pleased to report that staying at Stratford Boat Club to enjoy the new singles (rather than relocating to the Cam as Piers has done) produced the desired result with a “winning margin” of 2.6 seconds for Stratford’s Lunel!

Commenting, Tim Lunel said, “A great day of racing after an eighteen month gap, celebrated by one of those really rare events … a sunny day with a moderate breeze rather than a howling gale at Holme Pierrepoint!”

Whilst their Masters were battling to gain honours for the Club, the Junior Squad and others were at home battling the very busy ungoverned river to achieve their weekend river outings. Sunday saw the second Stratford Boat Club Internal Young Coaches’ Assistant Course: the course consisted of technical ‘classroom’ based sessions and much appreciated outdoor practical sessions. Commenting, Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club’s President, said, “We are so grateful to Abi Terry, our very successful J16 coach, for delivering these courses. The potential coming through our Junior Squad, not only our athletes but also their talented coaches, gives us some much confident for the future. We are delighted with the local and regional response to our junior summer camps for August which are now full!”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/masters-settle-old-scores-9203306 and page sixty one

2020 President’s Sculls Men’s Trophy Finally Awarded!

 

No, the date is correct! With the recurring lockdowns and Covid restrictions, it has taken until May 2021 to finish and award the Men’s Trophy for the 2020 President’s Sculls competition! The frustration of not being able to get onto the river for water sessions has continued until very recently curtailing training and competition heats

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 Tim Lunel who won the Men’s Final in a closely fought race with Rory Nicol. Our thanks go to all those who supervised this final by marshalling and safety spotting on the bank. We are looking forwards to running the Junior Heats for the competition very shortly”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty five and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/lunel-takes-the-honours-after-close-battle-9198967

Back on the Water and Feeling Good!

This Easter weekend was a bumper one for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club as members got back onto the river under the easing of Covid restrictions for organised outdoor sport. The extra ‘feel good factor’ was added by The Rotary Club of Stratford upon Avon who presented Stratford Boat Club with a much welcome donation to the Boat Club’s funds in what has been a very challenging time

Said Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator and J17/J18 Performance squad coach, “Seeing our young athletes back on the water this week has been immensely heartening. The squad athletes have followed their coaches’ home training exercise plans during the lockdown periods: Stratford Boat Club also lent out our ergos (static rowers) to Club members so that they could their keep up and exceed their physical fitness targets. Seeing the athletes’ performance to date, athletes have kept themselves trim! Getting back to sport has also contributed much to all our mental wellbeing”

©Mark Williamson, Stratford Herald

Paul Stanton, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s President commented, “The substantial donation to our Club’s funds from The Rotary Club of Stratford upon Avon is most welcome. Financially and mentally this has been a very challenging year for Stratford Boat Club and its members: however, we are very aware how lucky we are compared to so many other people and organisations. The Rotary Club’s donation to Stratford Boat Club is part of Rotary’s far reaching charitable outreach to Stratford’s and Warwickshire’s communities: our donation came from the entry monies from the last two cancelled Shakespeare Rotary Marathons which runners had left with Stratford Rotary to distribute as they felt fit rather than ask for a refund. We are so grateful for the participants’ and Rotary’s generosity”

Stratford Boat Club looks forward to working closely with The Rotary Club of Stratford upon Avon for their plans for 2022 and another successful Shakespeare Rotary Marathon and Half Marathon: Stratford Boat Club is also hoping to stage its own regatta in 2021, most likely in September 2012

For media coverage, see Stratford herald online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/back-on-the-water-and-feeling-good-9193964 and page fifty six and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratford-boat-club-continue-to-make-a-splash-with-rotary-club-backing and back sports page

Adaptive Squad Back on the River!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s adaptive squad this weekend was able to get back on the water under the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and British Rowing’s Covid exemption for disability sport

Welcoming the squad back onto the water was Stratford upon Avon’s Mayor, Councillor Tony Jackson with the Mayoress, Mandy Jackson together with Stratford Boat Club’s President, Paul Stanton

Commenting, Mark Dewdney, Head Adaptive Coach, said, “This weekend was very special for the adaptive squad as under the Covid exemption for disability sport, some of the adaptive athletes were able to get back to sport and recreation on the water. It took a lot of planning and risk assessments incorporating all the British Rowing Covid advice on sanitising and social distancing but it was certainly worth it. We’re hoping to get more adaptive athletes onto the water in the coming weeks and eventually the junior and adult members of the Club”

Paul Stanton, the Club’s President said, “Having the Mayor of Stratford upon Avon coming down to cheer the adaptive squad back onto the water was a great honour and boost for the squad’s morale. Councillor Jackson has three main chosen causes during his tenure as Mayor which are volunteers, people with disabilities and health and well being. Tony has been a great supporter of the Club and especially the adaptive squad and he understands the importance of sport and recreation for the welling and health of the adaptive athletes”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty five and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/adaptive-squad-back-on-the-water-9158578 and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratfords-adaptive-squad-back-on-the-river-28246

For more great pictures, see Trevor Tiller’s selection at https://1drv.ms/f/s!Ajo1zADNwhQAshunqy3A77kHhHxk

President’s Sculls Trophy Awarded

The frustration of not being able to get onto the river for water sessions continued this weekend but Stratford upon Avon Boat Club took time out from their arduous indoor training schedule to award trophies for some of the best scullers in the Club

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 this year was reinstated as an annual sculling competition in three categories – women, men and juniors. Paul Stanton, Club President took time out during the presentation of the trophies to thank Paul Hadland who had refurbished the much damaged trophy and also Dawson Curnock, Chairman and Colin Upchurch, Senior Vice President, who had made and fitted the trophy mounting

Paul Stanton further 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.” The President also thanked Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator, for his part in running and organising the competition

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/sculls-awards-are-a-fitting-accolade and Stratford Herald page fourteen

Dinner Surprise for Stratford’s Adaptive Coach!

At Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s formal dinner on Saturday, the Club’s Adaptive Coach Mark Dewdney got a surprise when he was awarded the James Roe Award for outstanding services to the Club and rowing in the area

In the citation given by Oliver Smith, Captain of Boats, considerable mention was made of Mark Dewdney’s tireless efforts to establish and expand adaptive rowing at Stratford and throughout the region. Said Oliver Smith, “Mark’s hard work and determination are an example to us all: the standard of coaching that Mark and his fellow coaches and supporters have given to Stratford’s adaptive squad is a beacon of excellence which we hope will be copied throughout the region and gain the support that adaptive rowing deserves.”

Paul Stanton, the Club’s President said, “The James Roe Award was named after and first awarded to the Club’s 2012 Olympic Gold Medal winner, James Roe MBE to commemorate James’ great achievement and the kudos and lift it gave to the Club and rowing at Stratford. The cup has only been awarded to a very few club members since 2012 and Mark’s presentation was richly deserved.”

The guest of honour at the Club dinner was Richard Phelps, 1992 Olympian in the Great Britain Men’s Eight in Spain, competitor at the World Championships in 1993 and 1994, a member of the winning Cambridge crew in three University Boat Races in 1993, 1994 and 1995 and many other sporting successes. Richard is a member of the Leander Club, Thames Tradesmen’s Rowing Club, Chiswick Boat Club, Cambridge University Boat Club and Kingston Rowing Club. Richard was also the University Boat Race umpire for the women’s race in 2019 and the men’s race in 2014. In his speech, Richard enthralled the audience with his many rowing anecdotes on and off the water!

The weekend’s duties were not over for Richard Phelps as he was out early on the Sunday morning as guest coach for the Club’s J17/18 squad with Stratford coaches Dr Graham Collier and Colin Bell. Said Dr Graham Collier, “Richard certainly didn’t give the crews an easy time and pushed and encouraged them using his considerable experience as a coach and competitor: our young athletes gained much from the outing and we are so grateful to Richard for the time he spent with us.”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/news/stalwart-stratford-boat-club-coach-honoured-for-outstanding-service and Midweek Herald page twenty eight