Busy Weekend for Stratford’s Rowers!

On a perfect but cold and windy weekend, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s squads went to various locations to test their skills.

The Senior Men’s elite squad spent the weekend at Nottingham training on the multi-lane course honing their technique in preparation for Henley Royal Regatta in July.

Said Bill Sullivan, Senior Men’s Elite Coach, “It was windy and cold in Nottingham but the boys got in some good training putting them in a good position for the preparation for some hard racing at Henley.”

Heading to the other end of the country on Saturday were two senior crews from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club who travelled to Totnes in Devon to compete in the annual Head of the Dart River Race. This year the processional time trial was planned to run from Totnes to Dartmouth over a distance of fifteen kilometres.

Due to weather and river conditions on the day, organisers deemed the conditions at the lower reaches of the river toward Dartmouth too dangerous to run the event over the planned full course. The decision was made to run the race over a shortened five kilometre course, which involved crews rowing down to the revised start and then rowing back up to finish adjacent to the Dart Totnes Amateur Rowing Club.

The re-scheduled shortened race still attracted over one hundred crews from all over the United Kingdom taking part in a very varied range of coastal and river boats (including pilot gigs, canoes and fine boats). Stratford crews rowed in fine boats, more suited to calm inland river conditions.

After launching boats from the Dart Totnes Amateur Rowing Club clubhouse in Totnes, crews rowed down to what became a very congested marshalling area. Once underway, the race itself required a high level of skill in negotiating the tight and winding course, navigation buoys, mud flats, river traffic as well as other competing crews. Due to the delay in the start time, rowing against an outgoing tide and south-easterly winds made conditions severe with a high risk of the boats taking on water.

Top Stratford Boat Club performers on the day were the Women’s Masters crew (coxed quad) of Rosie Stone, Andrea Duxbury, Clare Nash, Rona Fitzpatrick and Alfie Nash (cox), winning their category in an adjusted race time of 00:26:21.

The Stratford Men’s Masters crew (coxed four) of Simon Skillings, Graham Cann, Dave Edwards, Richard Anderson and Jessica Cann (cox) finishing in an adjusted race time of 00:26:43.

Said Alfie Nash, Women’s Masters crew coach, “Although the event was a logistical challenge with the transportation of boats to and from the start and finish locations, it proved to be a very interesting and enjoyable challenge to all crews taking part. Those crews stopping over in Dartmouth and Totnes were able to fully appreciate the hospitality of the host club as well as fellow competitors!”

Meanwhile, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club J13 squad entered three crews in Abingdon Rowing Club’s Spring Head of the River Race on Sunday held on the River Thames over 1850m

The first to boat in Division One at 8.00hrs from an icy pontoon was Imogen Hill and Maddie Hall in their double scull. Undaunted by their first experience of a major event raced over two kilometres, they sculled superbly to finish third in a time that would have beaten two WJ14 crews.

Next to race in Division Two was the WJ13 4x+ of Emily Stobart, Grace Beason, Uchenna Nwachukwu, Ruby Brooker-Collins and cox Kate Richardson: they soon showed they have what it takes to mix it with the big clubs by finishing second splitting the two Henley crews.

In Division Four, the Open J13 4x+ of Ciara Wilson, Louie Beason, Amalia Richardson and Millie Hodgson coxed by Imogen Hill mixed it with boys crews to come third in an identical time to the girls’ quad of 10minutes and 38 seconds. Said Sam Hill, J13 coach, “The results were really encouraging and the whole squad displayed good technique all the way to the finish.”

Matilda Watts and Geoffrey Flambert also both put in strong performances in the J17 1x events finishing fourth and sixth respectively.

The J14 squad was also in Abingdon. In Division One, the squad was represented by the J14 2x of Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie. Rowing in the higher band, they put down a very strong performance to take the Band One win by seven seconds, despite coming up against very good opposition.

The WJ14 4x+ of Freya Watts, Fleur Griffiths, Bella Chappelhow, Harriet Holmes and cox Toby Sartain were also placed in Band One and despite putting in a good time were just pipped by a crew from Wallingford and were beaten by just four seconds to take second place.

Division Two saw the first of the Stratford J15’s take to the water. The WJ15 singles of Sophie Elstone and Harriet Hodgson both raced well with Elstone battling at the top of the field to take a brilliant win, a second over her closest rival from City of Oxford. Hodgson also put in a good performance finishing eighth.

Will Clarke raced in the J15 single against some strong opposition and managed a sixth place finish. The J15 double of Conar Aitchison and Emma Harrison raced against some all boys crews to finish eighth.

In Division Three, more of the J14’s took to the water with the J14 4x+ of Tomi Wilcock, Will Beattie, Ruby Howells, Bella Chappelhow and cox Toby Sartain in action. Again they faced some strong opposition from Wallingford and were unfortunately unable to overhaul the all-boys crew to finish second by just four seconds.

Next up were the WJ14 double sculls with two Stratford boats in action. The first was Fleur Griffiths and Harriet Holmes, again facing a crew from Wallingford. This time the girls were able to overhaul the opposition and take the event win. The other Stratford crew of Freya Watts and Anne Mynors also put in a very good performance to finish in a highly credible fourth place.

Division Four saw the final Stratford crews of the day racing again with more J15’s on the water. The WJ15 4x+ of Emma Harrison, Abbey Meggeson, Harriet Hodgson, Julia Zanpronio Gurden and cox Sienna Rawlings raced strongly to finish in sixth place. Also racing in this division was the J15 double of Will Clarke and Sophie Elstone who again raced against a lot of all-boys crews to finish in sixth place beating several crews in the process.

The final J15 crew was Conar Aitchison in the single who, despite being rather nervous about competing in the single, had a good race to finish in fifth place over a minute ahead of the sculler behind him.

This week also sees the J17/18 squad on a training camp in Henley and next week is the turn for the existing J13/J14/J15 squads to train at Stratford.

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/busy-weekend-for-stratfords-rowers and Stratford Herald page 15.

Stratford take Silver Medal at Junior National Rowing Championships

The junior rowing season culminates each year in the British Rowing Junior National Championships held on the 2000m purpose built lake at the National Water Sports Centre, Nottingham.  The event held over three days represents the last opportunity for junior athletes to compete on the national stage after a year of training hard.

Day One saw the Stratford J14 squad competing in the Omnium event, a test of their skills and boatmanship. The day began with an initial time trial over 1000m in coxed quadruple sculls to determine placings for the finals later in the day. This was then followed by the Omnium in single and double sculls. In the individual event, Amelie Sartain secured right place from ninety one competitors followed by Elisabeth Edwards. Martha Usselmann and Sienna Rawlings took twenty seventh place in the doubles event, closely followed by the pairings of Harriet Hodgson and Sophie Elstone and Abbey Meggeson and Emma Harrison. The morning time trails resulted in the coxed quadruple scull of Amelie Sartain, Harriet Hodgson, Sienna Rawlings, Sophie Elstone and Mary Walton (coxswain) being placed in the C final whilst the crew of Abbey Meggeson, Elisabeth Edwards, Emma Harrison, Martha Usselmann and Rebecca Parkin (coxswain, on loan from Evesham Rowing Club) unfortunately missed a finals place by only 0.7 of a second, approximately 25cm over a distance of 1000m. After a long, hot, tiring, yet very enjoyable day, the races resulted in an overall position nationally of eighteenth place for the finals squad.

Days Two and Day Three followed the more usual regatta format where J15 and upwards crews raced side by side over the full 2000m course. First to go where the J15 coxed quadruple scull of Jasmine Mountney, Nixie Brunt, Mili Wilcock, Maiya James and Naomi Sergeant (coxswain) recording twenty third in the time trial of over forty crews competing and twenty fourth overall at the close of the regatta. Next up was Fred Tyler in the J15 single scull with a strong showing in the time trial finishing sixteenth. In the regatta format competition Tyler went on to improve his ranking to fourteenth overall from the forty scullers competing, a great performance and one that shows promise for next season. The final J15 crew competing was the women’s double scull of Mya Kenny and Alice Baines. Highly motivated from training the pairing opened well with eighth in the time trial with a time sufficient to put them in the top three at J16. Then on to the regatta format finishing the day second in the B Final and eighth overall. A highly creditable result.

Last but by no means least, the Stratford J16 squad took to the water. The recently formed coxless quadruple scull of Jessica Wiesheu, Autumn Keil, Emma Little and Talei Dunn put in an exemplary performance in the time trial. The crew’s aggressive racing style in an exciting and demanding semi-final earned them a place in the final of six crews. Still exhausted from their previous race, the crew sculled well but could not get amongst the medals. Joe Hodson (King Edward The Sixth Grammar School rowing captain) was one of thirty eight single scullers contesting the J16 event. He finished twenty fifth in the time trial and after racing strongly over 2000 metres was less than nine seconds from making the top twelve who qualify for the semi-finals. His day ended with a superlative piece of sculling to give him third place in the minor final. Said Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator, “The crowning moment for the club then came with the crew of Katie Wellstead, Emily Browne, Khloe Curnock and Molly Gill-Swift coxed magnificently by Mimi Hill taking to the water in the coxed four ev

Photo : Angus Thomas (werow.co.uk)

ent. After coming second in the time trial, first in the semi-final the crew raced superbly and skillfully in a most exciting final to finish just behind one of this season’s main adversary, Lea Rowing Club. As a result the girls took the Silver Medal in the event and a just reward for ten months of very hard work in the gym and on the water whilst studying for and completing GCSE examinations.  2019 promises to be another exciting rowing year for them all.”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online at https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratford-youngsters-excel-to-seal-silver-medal-at-nationals