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

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 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

Stratford Adaptive Sculler Wins Again!

Peter Humberstone, Immediate Past President, Shakespeare Lions (l); Jake Blatcher (c) with the John Whitfield Shield for Youth Community Service and additional award; Mark Dewdney, Stratford Boat Club’s Head Adaptive Coach (r)

Whilst 2020 hasn’t been the best of years for anyone let alone Stratford upon Avon Boat Club, the year ended better than expected not only with the adaptive section winning Parasport Club of the Year but also with Jake Blatcher, an adaptive athlete, being awarded the Shakespeare Lions’ John Whitfield Shield for Youth Community Service for 2020

Jake Blatcher with the Shakespeare Lions’ John Whitfield Shield for Youth Community Service watched over by pictures of Stratford Boat Club’s supporters such as Marie Corelli donating the King’s Trophy Challenge Vase to mark the accession to the throne of King Edward V11 in 1901 and the Club’s first President Sir Arthur Hodson 1874 – 1902

The award was presented to Jake Blatcher, who sculls regularly and volunteers and helps out with the adaptive section at Stratford Boat Club, by Peter Humberstone, Immediate Past President of Shakespeare Lions. Jake was also awarded an addition prize by Peter for his consistent contribution to volunteering and achievement at Stratford Boat Club: Jake has donated this award directly to the adaptive section’s funds

The Shakespeare Lions’ John Whitfield Shield for Youth Community Service

Mark Dewdney, Head Adaptive Coach at Stratford Boat Club, commented: “Jake’s selfless assistance and input with the Club’s adaptive section has been an example and beacon to us all in these challenging times and exemplifies the qualities of all who coach and volunteer at Stratford Boat Club. We are immensely proud of Jake’s achievements not only on the water but also in his own life. As well as being an excellent and improving sculler, Jake works with a local company promoting their and other clients’ products and services. The encouragement, mentoring and help that Shakespeare Lions and their outreach for over fifty years into the local community gives, massively impacts the confidence and progress of young adults”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page thirty one and teaser headline page thirty two and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/…/stratford-adaptive… and also https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2021/01/08&pages=024 page four

IT’S OFFICIAL – STRATFORD IS PARASPORT CLUB OF 2020!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s adaptive squad has been crowned as GB Paralympic Association’s ‘Parasport Club of the Year!

Commenting, Mark Dewdney, Head Adaptive Coach at Stratford Boat Club said,

“Well, well, well: who would have thought it! It is a humbling accolade given the fantastic work being done by the other nominees for the award as well. This is recognition for a great team effort over several years”

“‘The Club of the Year’ title should help us progress some of the plans we have set out for the months and years ahead. We hope it will make easier to get sponsorship and funding during 2021”

“We will not be resting on our laurels! There are many more tangible targets we have yet to achieve. We still have a long way to go improve provision and facilities for the disabled community. This is true of most, if not all, sports”

The ‘Parasport Club of the Year’ financial award is worth in the region of £1000. This can be used towards new adaptive rowing kit, access facilities or anything to benefit provision for the disabled

As part of the award, a top Paralympics GB athlete will spend a day at the club in 2021. “This should be an inspiration to the whole Club membership not just our section” says Mark

Mark also commented, “Parasport congratulated Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive squad on their great and often humorous ‘Club of the Year’ campaign and specifically the important message it contained on inclusivity within community sports”

“Stratford Boat Club would also like to take this opportunity of thanking Stratford Boat Club members and their families for their magnificent support by voting for us”

The adaptive squad’s win in October with ‘Parasport Club of the Month’ now seems a long time ago but Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s message remains as before: ‘if there’s a will, there’s usually a way to get people rowing no matter their circumstances’

The Club launched their adaptive section in 2015 with two rowers and now have six or seven different boats serving a squad of more than ten. The squad’s secret to their success is simple – a ‘listen first’ mentality – embracing a people-centred approach to physical and coaching challenges

“What makes the adaptive squad work is that we’re always learning from our athletes – we listen!” said Mark. “Necessity means the rowers have often come up with clever ways of overcoming their particular challenges. We take something from every person who comes to us – something that we have not thought of that help us to improve what we do with others. We are at our best when it comes to finding novel ways to teach people how to move a boat. It is different for every single person we get, whatever their ability. That is what makes it so interesting to be an adaptive coach”

One of the two rowers who joined the club in 2015, Kingsley Ijomah, is African champion and will represent his native Nigeria at the 2021 Paralympics. Stratford has been coaching another athlete on the GB Paralympic Development Pathway during 2020. However, Mark’s coaching philosophy is rooted in inclusivity rather than high performance.

“If we can do it and if it’s safe, we will have a go” Mark said. “We don’t select on how good someone’s going to be, we just look at how we can make it work for that particular individual. We can help those who just want a paddle, enjoy the social side and be independent or those who want to go all the way up to the top of the sport”

Stratford’s adaptive rowers have wide-ranging needs, including participants with spinal cord injuries, hemiplegia, visual impairment and autism. They are support by five qualified coaches plus a large number of volunteers who provide safety, launch driving and much else besides. Mark said, “This level of support is, ultimately, why it works”

Parasport is developed by ParalympicsGB in partnership with Toyota as part of their commitment to making movement better for everyone. To discover inclusive local opportunities to become more active, visit parasport.org.uk

So, if you are interested in trying something new, getting outdoors on the water, seeing what’s possible, or just assisting with Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive squad, please get in touch using the contact section of Boat Club’s website (http://www.stratford-rowing.co.uk/contact), marking the subject box ‘Adaptive’

https://www.facebook.com/mayorofstratforduponavon

Stratford Create Storm Indoors!

On Sunday, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club junior squad and their parents braved Storm Ciara to attend the annual South of England Indoor Rowing Championships in Abingdon run by Hinksey Sculling School.

The championship started with the individual events with the J15 girls five minutes category first. Ruby Howells went out hard and led her group closely followed by Fleur Griffiths and Freya Watts. At the other end of the sports hall, Bella Chappelhow also started out well and led her group by a considerable margin. The battle between Howells and Griffiths continued and they finished with exactly the same distance gaining themselves the silver medals. Chappelhow finished just one metre behind them to take the bronze, with Watts finishing in a very respectable seventh place.

Next up was the J15 boys’ five minutes race. Tomi Wilcock, Will Beattie and Toby Sartain all competed in this with another close battle for the top with Wilcock and an athlete from Hinksey Sculling School. Wilcock took the silver nine metres behind gold with Beattie in sixth and Sartain in twelfth place.

Will Clarke was the only J16 taking part and he raced over the full 2000m. He went out hard but having been suffering with a bad virus found he couldn’t sustain the fast pace he had set. Despite this, Clarke finished in a very good eighth place.

The day culminated with the relays. Both the open and girls’ J15 relays took place at the same time competing over 3000m. The open team of Wilcock, Beattie, Sartain and Lucy Browne put in a good performance in a battle with The Langley Academy and Falcon Boat Club. The Stratford Boat Club quartet finished in a brilliant third place to secure the bronze medal.

The girls’ team of Howells, Chappelhow, Griffiths and Watts faced another closely fought race with Hinksey Sculling School. The Stratford Boat Club girls did what was needed and despite the race coming down to the final 250m, they won the title for the second consecutive year picking up the gold medals.

Said J15 coach Abi Terry, “A brilliant result for the J15 squad all coming back to Stratford with at least one medal each!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifteen and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/105985-stratford-storm-medal-success-south-england-champs.html and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratford-rowers-create-a-storm-indoors

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

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