Another Busy Weekend for Stratford Juniors and KES

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s J16 squad faced a busy weekend: after a light outing and more boat loading, the J16 squad set off at the crack of dawn for Dorney Lake and The Junior Sculling Regatta. With crews from clubs and schools all over the UK and even the South African Schools Rowing Union, top competition was assured. Charles Happel sculled brilliantly over the 1900 meter time trial to finish seventh out of thirteen scullers in his event, missing out on a place in the A final by just 1.5 seconds, a splendid come back from his misfortune at Evesham. Charlotte Isbell and Grace Beason again in their double acquitted themselves well gaining a lot from the experience of competing at a high level event. Amalia Richardson, Harriet Noyes, Maddie Hall and Kate Richardson competing again in their quadruple scull faced twenty one other crews in the time trial finishing seventh, just 0.3 seconds behind Maidenhead.

Also qualifying for the B final just 0.3 sec behind Stratford and starting in the next lane were Tideway Scullers. Stratford made a sensational start leading the field by a quarter of a length after seven strokes. Tideway edged back after 500 meters and took a one length lead by 1400 meters with South Africa closing the gap: Amalia made the call to up the pressure and go for home. South Africa couldn’t answer and with a high rate burst for the last ten strokes, Stratford secured second place by just three quarters of a length to Tideway Scullers. Said Sam Hill, J16 Coach, “The J16’s showed great skill and determination this weekend proving they have what it takes to compete with the best!”

In addition, some of the J17 performance squad travelled to Dorney Lake to compete in small boats also at the National Junior Sculling Regatta. This was their first opportunity this season to compete in small boats and each learned a lot and put in some really good performances. First up were the J17 double scull of Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie. They were up against some strong opposition from some of the top rowing clubs from around the country. They managed to come in seventh place, less than three seconds from the A Final.

Next to go was Toby Sartain in the J17 single sculls. Toby sculled a good race and finished up in thirteenth place with a solid technical performance. Lastly from the J17 squad was Freya Watts in the WJ17 single sculls. Freya had never raced in a single at a national competition before and this was a good challenge for her. Finishing in a solid ninth place with just thirty five seconds separating her from first place. Commenting, Abi Terry, J17/18 Performance Squad Coach said, “This was a great event to give the squad a real test against some top opposition. Next up is National Schools Regatta at the end of May!”

Also rowing at Dorney Lake in the Ball Cup was Stratford’s sister club, King Edward The Sixth School Boat Club, this time in the Ball Cup, a competition which KES founded. KES won gold in the quad and a silver in the coxed four events.

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/j16-squad-show-they-can-compete-with-the-best-9253801 and page fifty three. See also Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-upon-avon-boat-clubs-junior-squad-enjoy-junior-sculling-regatta-challenge and back sports page https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2022/05/13&pages=024

Packed Schedule for Stratford’s Rowers!

It has been a very busy week for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Junior Squad with multiple away heads and trials. Firstly, Stratford’s J17/18 Performance Squad competed at The Scullery event on a very, very wet Wednesday. The Junior Sculling Head was held on the Olympic course at Dorney Lake

The day started early at the Lake for the J17/18 squad and the boys’ coxless quad of Will Beattie, Tomi Wilcock, Charles Happel and Toby Sartain were the first to boat. Despite discovering some steering problems off the start, they rowed a strong race to finish tenth in the Open J17 category, beating several competitive crews.

In the Women’s J18 event, Freya Watts, Ruby Howells, Amelie Sartain and Lucy Browne raced their coxless quad to finish a respectable thirty first with the majority of the crew racing up an age group.

Also at the Junior Sculling Head at Eton Dorney were Stratford’s WJ15 Squad: this great national event provided a great showcase for Stratford’s WJ15 quads. Stratford Boat Club takes this opportunity to thank the athletes’ schools for signing off on the permission to race during school time. Both WJ15 coxed quads did a tremendous job over the 2x 1.8km course. Sadly, Stratford did not win the event and they missed out on qualifying for Inter Regionals by 1.7seconds. Nevertheless, the WJ15 squad did the Club and their schools proud: sixty five crews raced in the event, with Stratford’s WJ15’s finishing in sixteenth and thirty ninth position, beating some big names such as Bedford Girls’ School, Wallingford, Sir William Borlase’s Grammar A, Thames Scullers A, Nottingham & Union, Godolphin & Latymer as well as both Kings School Worcester crews.

Hot on the heels of the WJ15’s was the Stratford’s WJ14’s boating in torrential rain. However, this did not deter the crew of Alexandra Francis, Poppy Baines, Sophie Evans, Alice Jones, coxed by Meg Nuttall. Commenting, Colin Bell, J14 Coach, said, “A very creditable eighth place out of thirty six crews amongst some of the high achieving clubs in the country is no mean feat!”

Taking to the water in the penultimate race of the day in low visibility were the OJ14 boys’ crew of Seth Vondrak, Xavier Sissins-Rofey, Theo Richter, Oliver Rowlands coxed by Lucy Yang. Achieving a position of eighteen out of forty three was commendable considering Sissins-Rofey, Richter and Yang are new to the sport having started sculling in October of last year.

The J16 squad also faced a hard competition at the weekend with two competitions. On Saturday, Amalia Richardson, Harriet Noyes, Grace Beason and Kate Richardson and cox Imogen Hill entered the WJ16 coxed four event at Kingston Head of the River Race over 5.2k of the fast flowing river Thames starting at Hampton Court Bridge. A strong headwind for much of the course created rough conditions testing the girls’ skill and the cox’s judgment in steering the fastest course. The Stratford crew showed great determination and stamina to beat their main competition Surbiton High School by fifty one seconds to score their third victory on the trot. Said Sam Hill, J16 Coach, “As a measure their achievement, it is worth noting that they also beat six university crews and Surbiton’s Championship women’s crew!”

Sunday brought another early start for the squad to race at the West Midlands selection event at Evesham which had been postponed from Stourport the previous weekend. Switching boats to a coxless quadruple scull, Amalia Richardson, Harriet Noyes, Maddie Hall and Kate Richardson beat Stourport by one minute and eight seconds. Charles Happel put in a brilliant performance in his single scull to beat King’s School Worcester by seven seconds to win a place alongside the girls’ quad in the squad to represent the West Midlands at the Junior Inter Regional Regatta in April.

On the upstream 1.4km Evesham course, from the ferry to the rowing club, two out three Stratford J15 crews qualified to represent the West Midlands t the Inter Regionals in April: Scarlett Richardson and Molly Vondrak in the WJ15 2x event, winning by forty two seconds against their nearest competition from Worcester Rowing Club as well as Will Dalrymple-Baker in the J15 1x event.

Musing on a very busy week for Stratford Boat Club, Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club President said, “What a credit the Junior Squad is to Stratford! Adding to the Juniors’ successes, the Club is also immensely proud of two recent Stratford Boat Club and King Edward The Sixth alumna – Katie Wellstead who was stroke in the Oxford University Women’s Light Weight crew on Sunday and Esme Booth who continued her winning streak, rowing in last weekend’s Women’s Eights Head of the River Race.” Rowing at number four in the winning Leander Club’s “A” boat, the crew completed the 4.25 mile course on the River Thames in nineteen minutes and fifteen seconds, thirty four seconds ahead of the second placed Oxford Brookes “A” boat! This follows on from Esme’s victories in the November GB Trials in Boston as part of a Leander Women’s pair (W2-) and in the Fours Head of the Tideway Race (Women’s Championship event) as part of the Leander Women’s Four (W4-). Esme returned to Caversham this week, training as a member of the GB Women’s Squad.

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty seven and Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-busy-week-for-stratford-upon-avon-boat-clubs-junior-squad

Stratford Clean Up Indoors and at Wycliffe!

The weekend saw a welcome return to racing on the Gloucester and Berkeley Canal for the annual Wycliffe Small Boats Head.  Held over 2500m, the Wycliffe event always attracts quality crews from around the region and for the 42nd edition the competition did not disappoint.  As the wildfowl of the nearby Wetland Trust stirred from their slumber, the Stratford upon Avon Boat Club athletes pushed off to get racing underway in Division 1. The WJ14 coxed quadruple scull of Lucy Yang (cox), Poppy Baines, Alexandra Francis, Meg Nuttall and Lily Warren were first down the course. Surging past a quality outfit from Hereford Cathedral School, the girls went on to take the bronze medal.  Later in Division 3, the open J14 coxed quadruple scull of James Albrighton (cox), Seth Vondrak, Ollie Rowlands, Sophie Evans and Alice Jones delivered more hardware with a commanding row to take the silver medal.

Stratford’s J15 athletes continued their initiation to head racing and came back with an impressive medal haul. Lucy Sartain won Silver in the WJ15 1x category, beating the girls from Wallingford Rowing Club. Will Dalrymple-Baker won Bronze in the OJ15 1x in 11:58.9, beating strong opposition from Queens Park High, Dart Totnes and Wallingford Rowing Club. Will and Jamie Wilcock collected Bronze in the OJ15 2x, in 10:37.9, beating crews from QPH, Dart Totnes, Kings Worcester, Hereford and Monmouth.

Charles Happel was the only J16 competing in the OJ16 1x event, and set a Silver medal winning time of 11:11.6, beating strong opposition from Queens Park High and Hereford Cathedral.

The day started early for Stratford’s J17/18 Performance squad in Division 1, with Toby Sartain and Will Beattie finishing third in the open doubles event. Freya Watts (WJ17) and Amelie Sartain (WJ18) also competed in their respective singles races, both placing second overall. Later in Division 2, they raced alongside Fleur Griffiths and Lucy Browne in the WJ18 quad event, competing against fellow teammates Ruby Howells, Harriet Holmes, Martha Usselmann and Elisabeth Edwards. In a field of stiff competition, the girls finished eleventh and twelfth respectively. Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie also raced in Division 2, placing fifth in the open J18 doubles event. With the wind picking up in Division 3, Martha Usselmann stepped into the WJ18 doubles event to replace an injured teammate to row with Harriet Holmes, the pair achieving a strong fourth place, just ahead of Fleur Griffiths and Ruby Howells who finished fifth. The open J17 singles event rounded off the day for the squad, with Tomi Wilcock coming in second, and Toby Sartain just after in third.

Christine Goodwin and Gina Fusco, Stratford Masters also competed in the doubles event.

This weekend was also the annual British Rowing Indoor Championships which this year took place in a fully virtual format.  Athletes competed for glory from living rooms, conservatories, garden sheds and garages across the globe. In her first year of rowing, Cara Berisford-Murray represented Stratford upon Avon Boat Club in both 500m and 3min races for Year Eight girls’ category. In a thrilling three minute event, Cara walked through the field to secure the Silver medal just 1.5 lengths behind the winner.  Not satisfied with one medal, Cara went on to dominate the 500m sprint event taking Gold.  Commenting, Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator and J13 coach said, “A truly magnificent start to her rowing career and results of which she can be proud!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty three and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/rowers-claim-medals-galore-9229376 and also Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-upon-avon-boat-club-enjoy-success-at-british-rowing-indoor-championships-and-wycliffe-small-boats-head and back sports page https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2021/12/10&pages=024

For more great pictures of Wycliffe Small Boats Head, see Stuart Baines’ selection https://1drv.ms/u/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9j4MIWDlZpSwGKK7L_w?e=rYDQUC

Stratford Juniors Take Their Skills to Evesham

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s J17/J18 performance squad sent several crews to Evesham to compete over the 1900m course on Saturday. First up was the J17 double of Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie racing up an age group in the J18 event. They put in a strong performance to finish in second place, just five seconds behind the winners from Hereford Cathedral School.

Next up were the WJ18 doubles of Amelie Sartain and Fleur Griffiths and Freya Watts and Lucy Browne, with the latter also racing up an age group. On this occasion it was Sartain and Griffiths that were victorious with Evesham in second and Watts and Browne taking third place.

Division 2 saw the WJ18 coxed fours taking to the water. The performance squad crew of Browne, Ruby Howells, Bella Chappelhow, Harriet Holmes and cox Toby Sartain, raced well and took the win after Toby steered a near perfect course to take full advantage of the faster water.

The final division saw the WJ18 coxless quad take to the water. The crew of Watts, Howells, Amelie Sartain and Griffiths took an emphatic win, beating their nearest opponents by an impressive forty three seconds!

The J18 singles were next, again all three athletes were racing up an age group. Will Beattie had the best result finishing in second place, just three seconds behind the winner. Tomi Wilcock finished in fourth place with Toby Sartain in tenth place.

Honour Keil was the last squad member to race, also racing up in the WJ18 singles. She put in a solid row to take fifth place in a strong field.

Said Abi Terry, J17/J18 Performance Squad Coach, “It was great to get some good racing under their belts and even better to come away with three wins and really solid performances.”

The WJ18 Club Group of Emma Harrison, Elisabeth Edwards, Imogen Hill, Martha Ussellman and Lucy Sartain raced against the Club’s WJ 17/18 Performance Squad in a coxed four. In their first race in this crew combination, the girls put in a strong race against the Performance Squad and came in a very credible eleven seconds in second place with a time of 9:01 minutes

The J16 squad was represented by two single scullers. Charles Happel sculled a brave race and he set off hard and really attacked the 1,900m course. His race plan paid off with a strong second place losing out to a local Evesham sculler by just three seconds. Uche Nwachukwu raced in a large field of fifteen athletes displaying her excellent technique by finishing in a creditable fifth place.

In their first ever head race the Stratford Boat Club J15 Squad sculled fantastically well against strong competition. The WJ15.4x+ won Gold in 08:34, beating Royal Grammar School Worcester, Evesham and Hereford Cathedral School.

The J15 boys double missed out on Gold, beaten by the home crew of Evesham by twenty two seconds. The three WJ15 doubles did superbly and came fourth, sixth and seventh against well drilled crews from Evesham and Headington School Oxford. J15 Coach Hugo Happel said, “Our boys and girls sculled superbly in their first ever head race over 1900m upstream. They can row that longer distance and steer well on this challenging course. We now go back to training and look forward to Henley Long Distance Sculls in November.”

Also making their first debut at a head race were the J14 Squad. In Division 1 the coxed quad of Alice Jones, Meg Nuttall, Sophie Evans, Poppy Baines and Lily Warren faced crews from Evesham, Abingdon and Headington School. The girls rowed very well against stiff competition and given they have only rowed the distance three times were well placed by the second check point, eventually conceding a win to a very creditable Headington crew.

Next up in Division Three double sculls were Seth Vondrak, Oliver Rowlands, Alexandra Francis and Meg Nuttall. Due to a lack of competitors the girls rowed in the Junior Boys’ event. Both crews rowed exceptionally well, achieving a well-deserved second and third place being pipped at the post by a crew from Abingdon. Commenting Colin Bell, J14 Coach said, “Given their results the future looks promising for the J14 Squad.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/magnificent-results-for-talented-squads-9220418 and page fifty seven and also Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratford-youngsters-are-head-above-the-rest-at-evesham and back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2021/10/15&pages=024

Stratford’s Juniors Take Home The Pots From Ross!

The August Bank Holiday weekend is synonymous with the Ross on Wye Regatta for the athletes of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club. The event marks the close of the 2020/2021 racing season and made a much welcome return this year following a two year hiatus.  Always a superb event – this year was as expected with crews from across the club competing for victory on the Wye over 500m and 750m courses across two days.

For the Sunday sprints, conditions were perfect.  The Herefordshire sunshine split the mist over the Wye heralding the commencement of racing. Representing the Masters squad the dream team of Tom Doherty and Heather Hayton met their double sculls nemesis from Dart-Totnes and whilst closer were unable to avenge prior defeats.

Ross was only the J13’s second regatta. They demonstrated excellent steering skills by negotiating the long bend and its current without a hitch. Sophie in her 1x was pitted against girls a year older in the J14 category, finishing second, but with a very credible and solid performance. The 4x+ of Meg, Poppy, Alex, Sophie and Lily kept up well with their City of Bristol competitors, finishing a couple of lengths behind. Ollie Seth sailed through their semi-final, kept a very good line around the centre buoys on each race and galloped to victory against QPH in the final. Last but not least, both the W2x of Meg and Alex and W2x of Poppy and Alice won their semi-finals and raced in all Stratford final, which Meg and Alex carried to victory – a credit to both crews. Said Richard Nelson, J13 Coach, “The J13s have come a long way in a short time and their form at Ross Regatta is a tribute to their athletic dedication and strong team spirit throughout this turbulent year.”

Sunday 29 August was a great day for the Stratford Boat Club J14 scullers. For some, it was their first ever competition. The J14 boys did brilliantly against tough competition from Queens Park High, Upton and Evesham, in the 1x and 2x categories. The J14 girls did equally well against their opposition from Bristol, Evesham, QPH and Staines. In the WJ14 2x Final, SuABC (Appleton/Rowan) had a strong last 200m and were beaten by a canvas. In the WJ14 1x Final, Stratford’s (Vondrak) was ahead of her Evesham opposition after 300m but clipped a buoy and capsized. She stood up and gave a thespian bow which gained her the biggest round of applause from the bank. The J14 athletes ended an adrenaline fuelled day by splashing each other in the river Wye!

For the Monday 750m event, the sunshine stayed away but still conditions continued for another day of racing. Undeterred by the prior day, Stratford Boat Club’s Masters squad stalwart Heather Hayton was again disappointed as her opposition from Bedford rowing club withdrew from the event to avoid certain defeat. Representing the Adaptive squad, Jake Blatcher in the single scull performed well but narrowly missed out on a place in the final. In their final regatta as Juniors (for some), the J17/J18 athletes of Mili Wilcock, Amélie Sartain, Maiya James and Alice Baines represented the club in coxless quadruple sculls, double sculls and single sculls throughout the day. Commenting, Steve Welstead, J17/18 Performance Squad Coach and Junior Co-ordinator said, “The J17/18 squad swept the board in what can only be described in a “pot-tastic” set of races with all crews winning their events!”

Stratford’s J15 athletes attended the last regatta of the season before the new rowing season as J16. A very full day of racing but proving to be very successful as yet again our junior athletes performed over and above expectations.

First up for Stratford was Uche Nwachuckwa who sculled very powerfully to overcome competition from Evesham and Ross rowing club setting up a semi final race with her colleague, Grace Beason before meeting Saunders of Evesham in the final. Again demonstrating great power and style, she eventually lost by three lengths. Grace Beason had earlier powerfully steered a great course to win against Ross rowing club easily before losing out to Uche.

Next up was a double boat of Charles Happel and Elliot Baird, competing for the first time, against a crew from Queens Park School Rowing Club but despite a strong performance, they missed out by a distance of “very close”. The girls quad of Kate Richardson, Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes, Ruby Brooker Collins and coxed by Imogen Hill came up against  a crew from Queens Park High School firstly winning by one length before having to dig deeper in their final to beat City of Bristol in a very exciting race by three quarters of a length showing great determination and sculling precision to get over that winning line to win their very well deserved pots.

Charles Happel won his first singles race against Queens park High School by one and a half lengths and then against another competitor from Queens Park school by one foot and in so doing provided the comic moment. The race had been so close and tough he celebrated very enthusiastically raising one hand and in so doing struck a tree stump with one blade and very gently capsized  – comical for spectators but he had still won the race. He then raced an opponent from previous regattas, Woodfin of Evesham in the final but try as he might, missed out by one length, in his words, -“until the next time”!

The WJ15 double’s crew of Maddie Hall and Harriet Noyes sculled extremely powerfully to beat a crew from Queens Park School by four lengths to set up a final with Grace Beason and Ruby Brooker Collins who had earlier beaten another Queens Park school by only a canvas after another exciting demonstration of sculling technique. The final was again competitive but was won by Maddie and Harriet having just that little more power on the day to win by four lengths. Said Steve Marsden, J15 Coach, “A great day, great performances by all to bring home those treasured “pots” – real china Ross Rowing Club mugs- for those winners.”

The J16 squad were lucky enough to row both days at Ross Regatta. Starting on the Sunday in the Junior and Masters Sprint over 550m, Stratford had the J16 doubles of Tomi Wilcock and Owen Perkins. They started the day against Evesham with a convincing lead to put them into the final. There they met fellow Stratford duo Will Beattie and Toby Sartain who had also had a comfortable win in the semi final, this time against Liverpool Victoria. It was the Wilcock and Perkins duo who were victorious in the closely contested final against their team mates.

Next up was the turn of the girls where Freya Watts, Ruby Howells and Harriet Holmes were joined by colleague Amelie Sartain, racing up in the WJ18 coxless quads. They also raced against Liverpool Victoria in the semi final beating them by an impressive margin of five lengths. In the final they faced a strong crew from Exeter, but managed to come away victorious with a fantastic performance.

The afternoon saw Beattie and Wilcock in the J16 singles. Wilcock was up first against a strong sculler from Royal Chester who proved to be just too quick for Wilcock beating him over the line. Beattie faced a home club Ross sculler. Despite the Ross sculler knowing the course, Beattie pushed ahead to take a verdict of three lengths. He then met the Royal Chester lad in the final and despite his best efforts lost by just 1 length in a fantastic race.

The WJ18 4+ was up next of Amelie Sartain, Watts, Howells and Holmes, this time joined by expert cox Toby Sartain. In one of the closest races of the day their straight final was a spectacle for the spectators. Toby Sartain steered an amazing course and this put them over the line just in front of their opposition with the verdict a canvas.

Monday’s longer 750m course saw the J16 squad in action again. Tomi Wilcock joined up again with Owen Perkins in the J16 doubles event and faced two of the same crews from the day before. They raced Evesham first with an easy win and then faced Liverpool Victoria in the final. The Stratford duo won with a comfortable verdict of three lengths.

The afternoon saw the J16 singles of Owen Perkins and Toby Sartain. Both Stratford scullers were up against athletes from Evesham in the semi finals and both won booking their places in the final to face each other. On this occasion Perkins was victorious taking his third win of the weekend. The girls double of Freya Watts and Harriet Holmes had a good battle against Exeter, however this time it was Exeter who took the win by just 1 and half lengths.

Said Abi Terry, J16 Coach, “It was great to see all of the juniors racing and enjoying their rowing. The J16 squad are looking forward to starting their J17 year with a bang at our own regatta in a couple of week’s time!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/juniors-make-a-splash-at-regatta-9214157

Stratford’s Juniors and Masters Clean Up at Stourport

This weekend saw Stratford upon Avon Boat Club attend one of their local regattas in Stourport upon Severn: this regatta takes place every year in August and has done since the late 1800’s! It is the premier sporting event in Stourport and the surrounding area and attracts around six hundred crews from across the UK with an age range from thirteen years right up to veteran rowers in their seventies and eighties!

First off representing the Women’s Junior 17/18 Performance squad was Amelie Sartain. Having not competed in a single scull for two years, it was time to brush of the cobwebs and in her first heat took a commanding lead from the onset, maintaining her lead saw her crossing the finish line two boat lengths against opposition from Nottingham. After a brief rest, Sartain was pitched against a crew from our nearest neighbour Evesham: Sartain took advantage of a quick start and dominated the race winning comfortably by three lengths. Before too long her final against a sculler from Ross on Wye was upon her: the Ross sculler had a bye to her final and having been more rested, the Ross sculler maintained a short lead until the final 200 meters. Undeterred, Sartain steered a perfect racing line, dug deep and crossed the line first winning by three quarters of a length.

Next up for the Junior 18’s were Milena Wilcox and the less experienced Isabelle Watts competing in the Women’s Junior 18 doubles: given this was only the third time Watts had competed but being in the safe hands of Wilcox saw a win against Pengwern by one and a half lengths. After a short interlude next they were pitched against their fellow squad members of Maiya James and Alice Baines, the more experienced crew went on to win by one and a half lengths, James and Baines went on to win the final of the Women’s Junior 18 doubles by half a length saving their energy for the looming quad event.

Finally hot footing from their doubles event Maiya James and Alice Baines were joined by Milena Wilcox and Amelie Sartain in the Women’s School Junior quad winning by one length. With only ten minutes rest, it was time to boat for the last race of the day, their opposition from Ross had been given a bye to the final and took advantage of this rest period to take an early lead. Commenting, Colin Bell, J17/18 Performance Squad Coach said, “Not fazed by the early lead, Wilcox, James, Sartain and Baines put all of their training post their return to rowing from the outage caused by the current pandemic into practice and eventually won by one a half lengths!”

For the J16 squad, first up were the J16 singles where Toby Sartain sailed through his first two rounds and found himself in the final against a sculler from Warwick. The Warwick sculler had beaten Stratford sculler Owen Perkins in a close heat to get his place in the final. Sartain put in a good effort but sadly it wasn’t to be and he had to settle for second place, still a fantastic result.

Next was the turn of the WJ16 doubles, where Stratford again had two crews entered. Honour Keil and Fleur Griffiths were up first and took on a duo from Worcester first beating them by two lengths. Next they took on a strong double from Nottingham where they were just beaten to the line putting Nottingham into the final. The other Stratford double of Lucy Browne and Harriet Holmes took on a Ross crew in their first round where they had a comfortable win. That win booked their place in the final where despite a good battle down the course, the Nottingham boat was just too quick for the Stratford duo.

Griffiths, Browne and Holmes then teamed up with Ruby Howells and cox Lucy Sartain in the open women’s fours event. Here the J16 Stratford crew faced a ladies crew from Stourport in the final and the girls put up a good fight with fantastic steering from J14 Lucy Sartain, losing by just two boat lengths, a great result given the ladies racing them were at least four years their senior!

Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie took to the water next in the J18 doubles event. Racing up two years, they took on a local derby, facing Evesham in the heat. In one of the closest races of the day, they lost by just a canvas. Another brilliant result, showing how strong this duo are.

Wilcock then teamed up with Toby Sartain in the J16 event. First up for them was Nottingham where the Stratford crew put on a show in front of the crowd to take the win. In the semi-final they took on Warwick who proved to be too strong for the Stratford double.

In the same J16 double event Beattie joined Perkins in the semi-final to take on a crew from Becket. This proved to be another good race which went right down to the wire with the Becket crew just edging out the Stratford crew on the line.

The WJ16 quad raced next in a straight final against Worcester. The Stratford crew of Freya Watts, Howells, Keil and Griffiths started well giving them the early lead. This continued all the way down the course where they took a fabulous win. Freya Watts also raced in the WJ16 singles event, facing a sculler from Derwent in the first round taking a comfortable win. She then went through to the final facing a sculler from Nottingham. Watts again lead from the start and pushed on in the last 200m to take her second event win of the day.

Said Abi Terry, J16 Coach, “It was great to be back racing at a local event where supporters were allowed and with some brilliant racing. We’re all now looking forward to Ross over the Bank Holiday weekend!”

Next were the J15 crews who competed admirably over a 650m sprint course at Stourport Regatta. A very early start for Uche Nwachukwa racing her single scull saw her row strongly but losing out to Evesham, the eventual final winner, by three lengths. Charles Happel was next up racing in gusty conditions against Evesham. Unfortunately the conditions didn’t help but a spirited sprint finish saw him closing rapidly but finishing one length behind Evesham.

The first of the J15 ladies’ doubles of Ruby Brooker Collins and Imogen Hill battled strongly against A B Severn showing great technique but losing eventually by three lengths. Next up was the doubles boat of Kate Richardson and Harriet Noyes who having benefited from a bye came up against Trent Rowing in the next round and demonstrated a really strong expert scull to win by four lengths. In their final, they were up against AB Severn crossing the line ahead of them but suffering the anguish of a disqualification having been judged to have steered across their opposition – a tough call but it had been a truly strong scull perhaps deserving a better result. Said Steve Marsden, J15 Coach, “Overall perhaps not the results to reward lots of effort by the crews but great experience ready for our next test at Ross in two weeks time.”

Joining the rest of the Junior Squad were the J13’s spreading their wings in the first regatta of their lives! Displaying tremendous grit and maturity, they handled the river circulation and the bends with apparent ease and gave Stourport crews a good run for their money. Ollie, who only a few weeks ago was climbing into a single scull for the first time, steered brilliantly for the whole course.

The 2x of Alex and Poppy kept the pressure on their counterparts, catching up to within two lengths at the finish. The coxed, mixed quad of Poppy, Alice, Alex, Seth and Meg contested Stourport’s home advantage neck and neck for the length of the course and with a surge at the end looked the stronger crew. To the roar of the crowd and the passionate shouting of their cox, Stratford’s J13’s finished within three feet of the winning crew. Said Richard Nelson. J13 Coach, “The fledgling J13 athletes thoroughly enjoyed the event and left with a smile and great motivation for their next contest at Ross Regatta.”

Stratford Masters’ Squad was represented at Stourport Regatta by Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty. The Masters’ double of Hayton and Doherty won their race by three lengths over Warwick Boat Club and Hayton lost her single’s race by half a length, her first race in a ‘new’ boat!

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page fifty one

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

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 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