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

Lessons Learnt By Masters on the Soar!

It is said that competing is more about what you learn than where you finish: Stratford uponAvon Boat Club Masters Squad Christine Goodwin, Tim Lunel and Chris Strawlearnt a lot whilst they competed at the Soar Head in Loughborough on Saturday!

Loughborough have a saying, “You race the straights and you steer the bends”.  Stratford’s Masters learnt there is good reason for this as the green weed at the side of the bends may look friendly but however many times the steersman says, “let’s go”, it doesn’t let go of your blade until you hack your way back out into clear water!

The hare and the tortoise also applies to rowing – when you overtake two other scullers and then if you then row so far into the reeds that you have to back out of the reeds then the tortoises just effortlessly pass by!

The final lesson that Stratford’s Masters learnt was to have a steersman that knows the course and then you can stay rowing on the water rather than examining the wildlife!

 Said Tim Lunel,Masters competitor, “All said, it was a really enjoyable day made by better by the fact that this is a head race run by rowers for rowers, none of the endless waiting about at the start. Marshalls with a sense of humour who don’t feel any need to shout and free tea and coffee for everyone there – we’ll be back next year now that we know the course.”

Later on in the day, Chris Straw and Tim Lunel put in a very creditable performance in the double coming second out of three crews in the Masters E category and third out of seven crews in the overall combined D/E categories. On the straights, Christine Goodwin and Tim Lunel did a great job of matching the boat speed of the very competitive Derwent mixed double that Stratford competitors know all too well.  They did find that bouncing from bank to bank round the tight bends seemed to reduce the boat speed, a lesson learnt earlier, and so came second best on this occasion. But being only twenty seconds behind having watched the Derwent crew steer a perfect course behind them means they are looking forward to their next encounter on a straighter course! Christine had an excellent first two thirds of her race overtaking to other scullers and is looking forward to returning to the Soar Head next year to complete unfinishedbusiness.

For media coverage, pleases see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/lessons-learned-by-masters-on-the-soar and page 31 and Stratford Herald page 17

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