National Schools Regatta: Testing Ground for Stratford Juniors!

The J14 squad, competing in their first National Schools Regatta, also took part on Friday. First up was the crew of Will Beattie, Tomi Wilcock, Bella Chappelhow, Harriet Holmes and cox Owen Perkins. As the only mixed crew in an open event, racing against all boys’ crews, the Stratford combination put in a fantastic performance. They overtook a crew from the Windsor Boys School on their way to a very respectable twenty fifth place out of the forty one crews taking part.

The J14 girls’ crew of Freya Watts, Lucy Browne, Fleur Griffiths and Honour Keil, expertly coxed by Toby Sartain, performed well in the time trial to place sixteenth, just thirty seconds off first place and gain themselves a place in the C Final.

In their side by side final, they raced against some strong crews. They put in a quick start and found themselves leading the race away from the stake boats. As they settled into their mid race pace, they found themselves in a tussle with a crew from the Grange School, Hartford. The two crews battled their way down the course neck and neck until the Stratford crew pushed away, as they hit the last 250m to take fifth place.

Said J14 coach Abi Terry, “It was a very encouraging day’s racing from the J14 squad, showing that there is plenty more to come. We’re all looking forward to the British Junior Championships in July.”

For the J15 squad, Friday was the first day of a thrilling weekend’s racing at Dorney Lake for the National Schools Regatta.

The J15 girls’ quad of Abbey Meggeson, Amelie Sartain, Emma Harrison and Sophie Elstone, coxed by Mary Walton were the first crew from Stratford to time trial the 1900m for places in the finals later in the day.

Said Trevor Tiller , J15 coach, “Despite a good strong row in the field of sixty eight crews, only eleven seconds saw them miss out on a finals placing, however the experience of the event bodes well for the remaining regatta season.”

The Stratford J16 squad fielded two crews as the regatta continued into its third day.  First down the course was the combination of Jasmine Mountney, Maiya James, Mya Kenny and Alice Baines in the women’s coxless quadruple sculls event.  Always a highly competitive event in junior sculling, the girls finished the day with sixteenth place overall leaving some quality competition in their wake.

Next up was Fred Tyler who raced in the Championship single sculls event.  Commenting, Steve Wellstead, J16 coach and Junior Co-ordinator, “Competing against boys two years his senior, his twenty seventh place overall belies the quality of his performance and over the middle 1000m of the race, he was safely in the top ten fastest scullers. A superb performance from a promising young talent.”

Stratford’s J17 girls coxed four  – Katie Wellstead, Khloe Curnock, Emily Browne coxed by Mimi Hill – stunned many of the crews from the big schools and clubs with their solid performance. Nineteen crews from England, Wales and Scotland entered the time trial event with only the quickest twelve progressing to semi-finals raced over 2000 metres. The girls were sixth fastest in the time trial followed by a fifth place in their semi final. This put them into the non-medal final against five other crews.

Said Dr Graham Collier, J17/18 coach, “This was one of the most exciting races in which Stratford raced neck and neck with their closest opponent who train on the Thames at Marlow. After 1850 metres only six seconds separated all the crews but Stratford put in an incredibly powerful spurt to overtake the Sir William Borlases Grammar School crew and win by the race by half a length.”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page 14 and online at http://www.stratford-herald.com/99178-regatta-provides-tough-testing-ground-stratford-juniors.html and Stratford Observer https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/national-schools-regatta-provides-stern-opposition

Stratford Master’s Woman Wins at Trafford Head of Bridgewater

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Kjersti Rogneflaten Woolley went to race at the Trafford Bridgewater Canal on Saturday 23rd February. Trafford Rowing Club is a very friendly and welcoming club at the outskirts of Manchester.

The race is over 3200m. Kjersti raced in her single in Division One against a lady athlete from Hollingworth Lake Rowing Club. Having great respect for her opposition, knowing that she had won bronze at a recent indoor rowing competition, Kjersti set out hard, wanting to put distance between them.

This year, Kjersti was prepared for the windy conditions through the famous Budenburg Flats which occur about 500m from start and so carried on regardless. The last 1000m is a straight course and Kjersti was worried that the opposition would push hard, Kjersti put the throttle down.

Kjersti won the race by forty five seconds which was an improvement on her time from last year by two minutes and thirty seconds, although 2018 was on a blustery winter day with ice on the canal in the morning!

Kjersti said, “I was so pleased that I was able to work hard throughout the race and I am so grateful to my coach and mentor Chris Straw who has helped me to get more power into my strokes”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page 19 and online  http://www.stratford-herald.com/96307-stratford-boat-clubs-kjersti-storms-trafford-head-bridgwater-victory.html: see also Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/trafford-triumph-for-kjersti

Christmas Excess Blown Away!

Courtesy of DP Photos

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s annual Scratch Regatta took place early on Boxing Day morning and over fifty members managed to leave their beds after the overindulgence of the Christmas festivities. The crews were supported by friends and relatives who came down to the river to watch the spectacle and cheer

Twenty six competitors, including four former junior members and visiting rowers took part. A nice mix of mature and younger members

Courtesy of DP Photos

from all sections of the Club came with their families. Some of the athletes have been rowing for less than a year.

Six crews raced in a knockout competition. The final was won by a masters and juniors mixed crew of Simon Beard, Nixie Brunt, Khloe Curnock, Richard Shepherd and coxed by Katie Wellstead. Club tankards were awarded to the winning crew. The conditions were mild with little wind or current and the crews were supported by club volunteers

Commented coach Helen Smith, joint organiser. “All races were over a short sprint course from the Ferry to the Club grounds on the Town stretch of the River Avon”

The racing provided great interest to early morning sightseers and visitors watching from the Recreation Ground, The Royal Shakespeare Theatre Terrace, Bancroft Gardens and The Tramway Bridge. Said Dawson Curnock, Chairman for Stratford Boat Club, “The scratch regatta caught the imagination of all who came down to the river and gave us added impetus to move further ahead for fundraising in 2019 to achieve the funds to refurbish and replace our fleet and equipment”  

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club will be back on the river this week and after the New Year training hard for the 2019 head season, the Senior squad’s entry at Henley Royal Regatta and their own regatta in June

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online http://www.stratford-herald.com/94254-stratford-boat-clubs-boxing-day-scratch-regatta-hailed-success.html and page fifteen

For more great Boxing Day Scratch Regatta pictures, see David Phillip’s selection https://www.dpphotos.co.uk/Boxing-Day-Regatta-2018/ and Stuart Baines’ pictures https://1drv.ms/f/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9jOluK1P6Ae2IgUtZMA

Wet Weekend for All Stratford’s Rowers

With Evesham Junior Head cancelled on the Saturday, it was left to the Masters to represent Stratford rowing this weekend. Unlike Evesham, the weather was set to be glorious on Sunday at Bedford Autumn Small Boats Head. Masters rowers Christine Goodwin and Tim Lunel had only raced once before in the Masters D Mixed Double category and they showed they had learned much tactically by choosing to row in the first division at 09.15hrs, so not only an early start but also an early shower in some of the heaviest rain of the day!

A good row over the 2,000m course where the highlight was the first half of the course but Stratford rowers didn’t quite have the run that brought them victory at Wallingford in September but finished in a very creditable second place where they were only beaten by a very good Cantabrigians mixed double by three seconds in actual time and sixteen seconds allowance for their Masters E handicap. Christine and Tim’s time was twenty six seconds ahead of their next nearest competition and this would have put them in second place in the Open Masters D double which puts the time put in by Cantabrigians into perspective.

Said Masters rower Tim Lunel, “An excellent second run out for the mixed double and plenty to build on for the rest of the head season.”

Elsewhere on the water were four Stratford members taking their RYA Level Two Powerboat certificate on Birmingham Edgbaston Reservoir so that they can drive Stratford Boat Club’s three safety and coaching launches. Despite the inclement weekend weather, all water sessions went ahead safely and the Club squads’ training for the head season went ahead as planned. Said Junior Coach Dr Graham Collier, “Our athletes showed real determination going out on the water and training in such wet conditions but they were kept safe by their coaches, safety launch drivers and spotters.”

For media coverage see Stratford Observer page 30 and online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/wet-weekend-for-all-stratford-rowers and Stratford Herald online http://www.stratford-herald.com/91858-wet-weekend-stratfords-rowers.html

Stratford’s Seniors Excel in Worcester

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Senior Men’s squad started off the new Head season at a very wet Worcester Small Boats Head on Saturday. Over 200 boats were competing on the 4.5 kilometre stretch of the River Severn aiming to show off their early season pace, run over two divisions.

In the morning division, Stratford’s Senior Men’s coxed four of Amie Jones , Mike Hourigan, Finn Sprackling, Ben Twiney and Patrick Hourigan had a very promising row winning their event and coming home as the quickest boat overall, beating rivals from all over the Midlands.

They were closely followed home by the Stratford coxless quad of Ed Lewry, Oli Smith, Max Marcus and Tom Coles who also won their event with something in hand, despite some slightly erratic steering.

The morning was rounded off by a win for Vice Captain, Tom Marshall, in his singles race, especially pleasing as he was returning from a long term injury.

Stratford only had one entry in the afternoon division – racing a coxless four against a strong Nottingham crew. The Stratford crew of brothers Mike and Pat Hourigan, Tom Coles and Finn Sprackling lost by fourteen seconds to the Nottingham crew after fading in the second half of the race.

Said Bill Sullivan, Senior Coach, “Overall however it was a pleasing first outing for the squad. Next up is Gloucester Head at the end of October before taking on the prestigious Fours Head held on the Tideway on the Thames in early November.”

Whilst their colleagues were battling it out on the River Severn, two Stratford Master rowers braved the worst of the weather on a rough River Thames. Sian Maher and Thomas Doherty braved the stormy conditions to take part in one of the main national head races of the year on Saturday on the famous River Thames in Central London.

An extensive logistical operation saw the two rowers arrive with their boat at a stormy Putney Embankment to join a huge field of 470 entrants from all over the UK. Conditions proved challenging from the start as the crews undertook a long row up to the starting area by Chiswick Bridge for the start of the 4.5km course in windy choppy waters and continual rain.

For Sian experiencing her first small boat event it was a baptism of fire as all crews struggled with the conditions. With the race finally underway, there was no let-up in the weather conditions, Stratford opted for a conservative race plan and settled into a steady rhythm in the swell and wind. A good push at Barnes Bridge saw them up the pace as they found themselves in a side by side race with a Cambridge crew for the whole of the second half of the race. With both crews forgetting about the conditions and focusing on each other, an exciting tussle developed with both crews level for the remainder of the race.

Finishing in a time of 17.54 whilst not fast enough to trouble the winners, it was a respectable time for an inexperienced Tideway crew.

Said Tom Doherty, “I was extremely pleased at how well Sian handled the race which at times was grim and scary and her performance enabled us to put in a solid performance in what was her first small boat Tideway race.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page 15 and online http://www.stratford-herald.com/91727-stratford-boat-clubs-seniors-shine-worcester.html and Stratford Observer page 31

Photographs courtesy of Lawrence Little