Stratford’s Masters and K.E.S. Weekend of Triumph!

Congratulations to Heather Hayton winning the WMD1x trophy in style! Heather is no novice to the event: commenting on her win Heather said, “The River Severn is always challenging and Saturday was no different, fast stream and a cross wind. Worcester Spring Regatta was my first race in the 1x this year, it was a positive experience and a good benchmark to work from. Lovely to hear our women’s eight cheer for me on my way down the course!”

The Women’s Masters VIII was coxed by Jen Carey, stroked by new Club member, Californian Adrienne Abreu with Rebecca England making stern pair. Following behind them; Helen Helliwell, Lin Hansen, Charlotte Jones, Fiona Schulz, Gina Fusco, Claudine Pearson, taking bow seat. The crew were grateful for their experienced cox who expertly navigated the long queue for boating, as well as the race with a fast stream. The eight made a powerful and efficient start which settled into a confident rhythm to take the first race against a Worcester.

But river regattas can be unpredictable and Stratford’s opponents in the final were a Bewdley crew whose age difference gave them a six second advantage. The eight were hindered under the umpire’s command at the start costing them dearly; although they gained on their opposition, the advantage was too large to make up.

Amanda Bowden, Masters’ Vice Captain, summed up the event, “I am delighted to see Stratford Masters Women beating the opposition so convincingly in the first round. Winning the event would have been the ideal, however I felt they beat the better crew in the first race. This was another valuable learning experience for all the crews today.”

The earlier division saw David Timmins and Lucy Scarlett race against Birmingham in the first round of the Senior Mixed Doubles. It is early days for this newly formed crew, they went out in the round but had a very good row and enjoyed the race nonetheless. The Masters would like to thank Club Chairman, Dawson Curnock, for towing so early in the morning and Eric Pearson for towing back again.

Also at the weekend, Stratford Boat Club’s sister Club King Edward V1 School Boat Club headed down to Dorney Lake for the Ball Cup Regatta. First down the course for K.E.S. was A. Appleton in WJ17 1x. She had a storming scull to finish second in her heat and comfortably progress to the final. In her final she got off to a better start and finished with a very credible silver medal. Later in the morning the J18 4x of W. Dalrymple-Baker, H.Hoare, A. Mathers and M.Cullimore raced down the course progressing comfortably to the final, in the final they put everything into it but couldn’t quite out perform some strong opposition finishing in fourth place. T. Shields and H. Perry went in the WJ18 2x, this was to be Shields’ first ever race: they put in a very respectable row finishing tenth overall from fifteenth crews.

In the Girls Ball Cup Fours, the K.E.S. crew of M.Rowan, E. Cooper, J. Long, A. Appleton and cox E. Mitchell put in a very impressive performance to pull away and take the win.

Next up were the Boys Ball Cup Fours, K.E.S. had two crews entered: both crews got off to a good start settling in well and put in great performances. The A crew of W. Dalrymple-Baker, H. Hoare, A Mathers, D. Shilvock and cox, E. Mitchell won to take the Ball Cup trophy with the B crew of M.Cullimore, H. Frost, F. Groves, T. Woodcock and cox A. Appleton took the silver.

Finally it was the turn of the WJ18 4x, the crew of M. Rowan, T. Shields, E. Cooper and J. Long had a great race narrowly missing out in the win by less than half a length to take the silver medal. Commenting Hannah Crone, Head of K.E.S. Rowing said, “It was a great day for the squad coming home with five medals and winning both the girls and boys Ball Cup Fours for the second year running!”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page forty four and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/trophy-triumph-at-spring-regatta-9367278 and also Stratford Observer online https://t.co/tLQtd3dK1Y

Stratford’s Juniors & Masters Show Style!

At the prestigious Junior Sculling Regatta, held at the iconic Dorney Lake at the weekend, the stage was set for a thrilling display of young talent. Despite the less-than-ideal spring weather with thick fog and drizzle setting a challenging scene, the competitors showed remarkable resilience. Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s junior 16 boys quadruple scull of Theo Richter, Xavier Sissins-Rofey, Seth Vondrak and Ollie Rowlands with an early start at the crack of dawn put forth a valiant effort, narrowly missing the finals by a mere five seconds. In the women’s junior 16 singles, Alexandra Francis, coming off a strong performance at the Junior Inter-Regional regatta, secured a spot in the final and clinched a commendable fifth place, showcasing her improvement and determination against formidable opponents.

During the weekend, Stratford’s Masters’ squad travelled to Nottingham in force: Suzie Radley and Amanda Bowden led from the start, winning the MasD2x in a time of three minutes and fifty nine seconds. Nottingham Regatta was the first regatta of the summer season and for two of the squad their first regatta ever! The weather and water conditions were incredible as the crew lined up for the one kilometre of six lane racing.

The 4x- of Emily Sayers, Christine Goodwin , Gina Fusco and Ellie Davis. The crew were looking forward to a good race and were not disappointed: they got off to a composed start and by five hundred metres were into a good rhythm. It then became a battle for second place against local rivals, Warwick Boat Club. Unfortunately Stratford ladies just lost out by 0.03 of a second, taking third place four minutes and seven seconds. The crew were pleased with their performance and it was another step forward.

The Masters Women’s DVIII had a good start and settled into a rating of thirty three strokes per minute and were ahead of Monmouth after 100 metres mark. Broxborough had an eight second start due to the older average age of the crew and handicapping system, despite gaining on the leading crew, the gap proved too much to make up over the one kilometre course. The crew captain, Charlotte Jones, said, “There are plenty of positives and we have more this race to build on now. Thanks you to Debs Thompson of Upton Boat Club for coxing.”

Amanda Bowden, Masters Vice Captain, added, “This was a valuable training race for the
squad and I could not have been prouder of the commitment that the crews showed in the race. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and we look forward to Worcester Regatta next Saturday. Thank you to our supporters on the day, also the coaches and coxes for the training – Alfie, Dan and Sam and to Dan Simkins and Dawson Curnock for towing the boats.”

Also at the weekend, King Edward V1 School Boat Club headed down to Dorney Lake for the Ball Cup Regatta. First down the course for K.E.S. was A. Appleton in WJ17 1x. She had a storming scull to finish second in her heat and comfortably progress to the final. In her final she got off to a better start and finished with a very credible silver medal. Later in the morning the J18 4x of W. Dalrymple-Baker, H.Hoare, A. Mathers and M.Cullimore raced down the course progressing comfortably to the final, in the final they put everything into it but couldn’t quite out perform some strong opposition finishing in fourth place. T. Shields and H. Perry went in the WJ18 2x, this was to be Shields’ first ever race: they put in a very respectable row finishing tenth overall from fifteenth crews.

In the Girls Ball Cup Fours, the K.E.S. crew of M.Rowan, E. Cooper, J. Long, A. Appleton and cox E. Mitchell put in a very impressive performance to pull away and take the win.

Next up were the Boys Ball Cup Fours, K.E.S. had two crews entered: both crews got off to a good start settling in well and put in great performances. The A crew of W. Dalrymple-Baker, H. Hoare, A Mathers, D. Shilvock and cox, E. Mitchell won to take the Ball Cup trophy with the B crew of M.Cullimore, H. Frost, F. Groves, T. Woodcock and cox A. Appleton took the silver.

Finally it was the turn of the WJ18 4x, the crew of M. Rowan, T. Shields, E. Cooper and J. Long had a great race narrowly missing out in the win by less than half a length to take the silver medal. Commenting Hannah Crone, Head of K.E.S. Rowing said, “It was a great day for the squad coming home with five medals and winning both the girls and boys Ball Cup Fours for the second year running!”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page fifty and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/season-s-opening-regatta-results-in-medals-9366189 and also Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-boat-club-masters-pair-clinch-victory-at-nottingham-regatta and also Stratford Observer back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2024/05/17&pages=32

Stratford Rotary Set Plans Rolling at Stratford Boat Club!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s adaptive section is the largest of its kind in the UK: however, access for those with a disability around the Club and especially to the water is poor. Sadly this does not provide the athletes with the facilities they require. Significant investment is needed to bring access to where it should be but this is beyond the means of the Club.

What is needed a stable, floating landing stage pontoon, flat wheelchair friendly access in the grounds and a lift to the Club’s upstairs training rooms. Large scale funding from government and other authorities will be needed to deliver the project: to get this started needs all the design and permission work to be carried out and the project fully costed. This is where the Rotary Club of Stratford upon Avon has stepped in with a sizeable donation to help fund these initial but crucial steps.

Stratford Boat Club’s Head Adaptive Coach Mark Dewdney said, “The Stratford Boat Club believes in delivering the best access possible to its disabled members: the scheme will be a major step forward. Stratford Rotary Club have shown faith in our vision and we thank them for this: it has given us all a real boost.”

Commenting further, Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club’s President said, “Stratford Boat Club has a long relationship with Stratford Rotary and we admire their tireless efforts to help fund good causes and charities in Stratford upon Avon: for many years Stratford Boat Club has helped with Stratford Rotary’s pivotal fundraising activities such as the annual Shakespeare Rotary Marathon and the Duck Race in August. The hard work put in by Stratford Rotary has benefitted not only good causes but also the commercial and community wellbeing of Stratford upon Avon. In this our 150th year of the Boat Club’s formation, the pontoon landing stage and access project will be a lasting legacy for adaptive sport in the area, region and nationally and Stratford Rotary’s priming donation has set the early plans going but we need substantial support from local, regional and national companies and organisations to achieve this ambitious goal.”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-boat-club-to-begin-adaptive-section-upgrades-thanks-to-donation-from-rotary-club and Stratford Herald page eleven

Stratford’s Juniors and Adaptives Score at Nottingham!

Competing for the first time in the Junior Inter-Regional Regatta (JIRR) at the Holme Pierrepoint National Water Sports Centre, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s J14 Open double of James Greenwood and Rory Rowan sculled well in the 1000m time trial and made it into the C Final (1500m), which they subsequently won. The coxed quad of Seb Happel, Euan Richter, Will Shaw and Ed Appleton, coxed by Orla Linforth, sculled well in the time trial and made into the B Final, in which they finished fifth. Said J14 coach Hugo Happel, “Fantastic work ethic from the J14s here, in their first event at this venue. They are taking away lots of fine learning points as well as new connections with the boys from George Watson College!”

Having qualified two boats at the recent West Midlands trials, Stratford’s J15 squad also headed to Nottingham’s National Water Sports Centre to represent the region at the Junior Inter-Regional Regatta. A national level event, the athletes competed against regional teams from Scotland to Wessex and everywhere between. The women’s J15 coxed quadruple scull of Tessa Parkin, Martha Baines, Maeve Dunn, Sophie Franklin and Martha Cooke (coxswain) powered down the course in the time trial to firmly secure a place in the A Final. Lining up in the lane beside the eventual winners from Great Marlow School, the crew exploded from the stake boat and set about attempting to ruin their competitors’ day. Sadly, it wasn’t to be and the girls came home in sixth place after a mighty row. The women’s J15 coxed four of Isla Dunn, Becca Smith, Millie Smith, Bryony Francis and Josephine Cooper (coxswain) performed equally well in their time trial to cement their place in the A Final. The plucky crew treated the Nottingham crowd to a fabulous display of sweep rowing with not a small amount of grit thrown in. Storming down the course, the Stratford outfit found themselves engaged in a ding dong battle for bronze with the East Midlands as the advantage with each stroke. The battle continued to the line where, on the surge, the East Midlands clinched the medal by just 7/100ths of a second! The battle may have been lost but this crew will be back to race again.

The Junior Inter-Regional Regatta once again showcased the remarkable talent and determination of Britain’s young rowers. The West Midlands’ trio from Stratford’s junior 16 squad made their mark on the event. Xavier Sissins-Rofey missed the bronze by a whisper of time, finishing just four seconds shy of third place. Poppy Baines battled through to a commendable sixth place. Alexandra Francis clinched the silver medal in a finish that had spectators on the edge of their seats, a mere two seconds from gold. Commenting Colin Bell J16 Coach, “Their performances have certainly raised the bar for the regattas to come!”

Also competing at JIRR for the adaptive squad was Isaac Clarkson racing at his second JIRR. Just past his fourteenth birthday, Isaac is still two years younger than all of his opponents in the adaptive event. Expending minimum possible effort in the opening Time Trial, Isaac focused on the Final: Isaac rowed superbly over the 1000m course and pushed the race leaders all the way to the line. Mark Dewdney, Stratford’s Head Adaptive Coach said, “Isaac kept to the plan and has worked hard in recent months: the Bronze is a just reward!”

The next day at The National Water Sports Centre, Stratford’s Pararower Curtis Dickens attended his second GB Squad development camp of the year: two plus days of hard work culminating in a 2000m race against his rival from Scotland. Curtis impressed the GB coaches with his development over the winter. The race proved to be his first win over his more experienced Scottish opponent: it was also the first time that Curtis has beaten ten minutes for the distance and a forty four second improvement since GB Trials in November. Commenting further, Mark said, “We are more than satisfied with how things are going: Curtis’ next big target is to represent England at the Home International Regatta in July!”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page sixty one and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-boat-clubs-junior-and-adaptive-squads-win-medals-in-nottingham

For great pictures of JIRR, see Stuart Baines’ excellent selection https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AO9bx%2DvFRmRxCMg&id=3DD8F6A70C0CB625%21259269&cid=3DD8F6A70C0CB625

Stratford Boat Club takes steps to becoming a more sustainable club, fit for the future

On Thursday 4 April, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club held a sustainability workshop for its junior members. Fifteen athletes from the under 13 to under 17 squads volunteered to take part in an interactive workshop led by coach and Masters rower Eric Appleton.

The workshop was organized and supported by a new Club sustainability working group, which includes Vice Chair Gina Fusco, Safeguarding Officer Lizzie Sartain, Co-Treasurer Jake Blatcher and Chris Belcher, Fun Regatta organiser of recent years.  Claudine Pearson, ordinary member and Rubbish Friend assisted with resources.

Over the course of the afternoon, the athletes worked in groups to answer a series of questions on sustainability, including “What does sustainability mean to you?” and “What are the consequences if we don’t act sustainably?”

Two short films were shown from the international and national rowing bodies.

World Rowing: World Rowing and WWF to partner until 2024 to improve global water quality

British Rowing: British Rowing launches Environmental Sustainability Strategy

The workshop took a brief outdoor break by the pontoon, where Severn Trent River Rangers demonstrated water testing for ammonia.  Too much ammonia can be toxic to fish and other aquatic life.  Sewage effluent from treatment works is a major source of ammonia in rivers, along with diffuse run-off from agriculture. (Source: WCS Group). Testing on the day was found to be extremely low.

Olivia Boertje, River Protection Lead, Severn Trent, said: “River Health is important, and we all have a responsibility to drive positive change to ensure the wellbeing of our present and future environment. As the effects of climate change intensify, we witness a surge in extreme weather events—a phenomenon that reverberates not only through our lives but also across our waterways. It was great to engage with passionate individuals actively participating in discussions around Sustainability and River Health. I look forward to seeing their passion drive forward improvements to help protect our rivers and encourage others to do the same.”

Luke McCusker, Senior River Ranger, Severn Trent, said, “Our teams are committed to improving the health and biodiversity of the region’s rivers and watercourses. We are out on the riverbank’s day in, day out, resolving problems, and working closely with the hundreds of amazing customers, groups, clubs and associations linked with them – such as Stratford upon Avon Boat Club. There are challenges across all sectors, river health is a complex mixture of lots of things, and sustainability is huge key part to help improving them, so we are really pleased to see all the positivity, engagement, and interactions from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s new youth Sustainability group, looking forward to working together in the future, great work all round!”

In the final section, the athletes discussed how their club could be more sustainable and suggested ideas for a more sustainable regatta. Suggestions to reduce the event’s carbon footprint included: encouraging lift shares, not purchasing single use plastic, sourcing local and homemade food, choosing to support local businesses, separating food waste collection, improving signage around waste and recycling, choosing recycled glass for prizes and selling reusable cups.

Concerns on waste and recycling were addressed. Local waste management company, Fortress, take mixed rubbish and sort on site. A visit to the materials recycling plant was proposed to the junior squad members by Dawson Curnock, Chairman who was also present for the day.

Dawson Curnock said: “Like everyone in the current climate, our Club is keen to ensure that its members and athletes have a clean and safe environment to perform the sport that they love so much on.

“We are all aware that there are external challenges that we cannot control as individuals or clubs. However, as custodians of our stretch of the River Avon, we can try to limit the impact that we have on it and its surroundings.

“Clearly, we, the current custodians, cannot control the ageing process.  It is therefore imperative we allow future custodians to lead the awareness, generate the initiatives and drive the process to cleaner rivers.

“Enthusiastic is an underestimation of the atmosphere generated by the workshop. Several of the initiatives can be implemented into our Junior Sprint Regatta on 15 June, which was agreed should be a starting point to showcase the great ideas from our younger members.”

To wrap up the session, a representative from British Rowing, Lily Fraser talked with the juniors about the importance of using communications to create dialogue with members and the wider community on the environment and to build momentum for change.

Lily Fraser, Head of Digital and Marketing , British Rowing, said, “With 90% of British Rowing members considering sustainability to be important, British Rowing is looking forward to working with grassroots clubs such as Stratford Boat Club, the rowing community and the nation as a whole to champion a cleaner, bluer future.”

The workshop concluded with networking over homemade cakes as junior squad members created a new Instagram account and reel to mark the day. Internships and work experience are sought after and students took the opportunity to make contacts.

Harriet Froom, J17 athlete said, “The workshop helped to explain how things can’t just happen straight away. Even though we may be a small Club, just doing our bit for the river or local environment, even though it may seem as if it has little impact, it does add up to something bigger when a lot of places do similar things.”

For media coverage, please see British Rowing https://www.britishrowing.org/2024/04/juniors-help-stratford-upon-avon-bc-become-fit-for-the-future

Stratford’s Masters and Junior Squads Thrive in Sunny Bedford!

Having had their wings clipped by so many weeks of bad weather, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s junior and masters’ squads travelled to Bedford Spring Head where the J13 squad were itching to take make their competitive debut in Club colours. The weather and setting combined to deliver a great introduction to racing, and some really confident sculling was on display from the youngest athletes on a complicated course surrounded by quality crews of all ages. The first quad of Connor Birrell, Charlotte Mansfield, Herbie Shickle and Raya Hothi, calmly piloted by Martina Bruce-Bonilla, made effortless progress down the course and recorded a commendable time despite an issue in the closing stages that would have ruffled far more experienced crews. They were followed by a double scull containing Reuben Stanford and Nathan Lebordais who combined power with enthusiasm to deliver a highly creditable result.

The afternoon’s racing saw a second quad of Meredith Paul, Bethany Hammond, Tristan Hammick and Scarlet Wheeler propelled down the course under the guidance of Abi Dunn as coxswain. A tight racing line around the final bend scattered the swans and helped them record a respectable time achieved with minimal fuss. A final double scull of Dunn and Bruce-Bonilla then returned upriver to deliver a composed and well-measured race that saw them steadily close on the boat ahead of them. Commenting Jon Francis, J13 Coach, “All in all, an excellent day of racing for the whole J13 squad at their first event.”

Rowing their last head race this season, Stratford’s J14s started the Bedford Spring Head with the OJ14x+ of Rory Rowan, Euan Richter, Will Shaw, Rory Jones and Ed Appleton (c), rowing well and finishing fouth. The Women’s J14 coxed quad of Orla Linforth, Erin Appleton, Maria Ntoukaki, Naomi Sime and Rory Jones (c) did very well and came second, beating crews from Wallingford and Falcon Rowing Clubs. Finally, the Open J14 double sculls of Seb Happel and Euan Richter and James Greenwood and Ed Appleton came third and fourth respectively. Commenting, Hugo Happel, Stratford’s J14 Coach said, “The athletes gained valuable experience here, which they will take into their next events.”

A glorious spring day saw a total of twenty five crews from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club on their trip to Bedford for the Spring Head. Held over 2000m on the Great Ouse the course runs through the town centre making a theatre of rowing for the day.  Stratford’s J15 squad competed in both coxed quadruple sculls and double sculls. In the quadruple sculls, it was a Wallingford sandwich with the crew of Bryony Francis, Martha Baines, Maeve Dunn, Becca Smith and Isla Dunn (coxswain) taking the win ahead of Sophie Franklin, Millie Smith, Martha Cooke, Tessa Parkin and Josephine Cooper (coxswain) in third and Wallingford Rowing Club in between. When it came to the J15 double sculls event, the Stratford girls made their presence felt again in dominant style with the athletes taking first (Bryony Francis/Maeve Dunn), second (Martha Baines/Becca Smith), third (Millie Smith/Sophie Franklin), fourth (Isla Dunn/Martha Cooke) and ninth (Josephine Cooper/Tessa Parkin) places.

The Junior 17/18 squad raced the 2k course twice. Jamie Wilcock put in a very consistent performance in his single scull recording exactly the same time in both runs placing him seventh out of fourteen in the J17 event. Scarlett Richardson and Aimee Appleton lead their event after the first division in their double scull only to be beaten narrowly by three crews from Wallingford racing at the end of the day. Nancy Davies and Ez Elfwood sculled well to finished eighth in the same event.

Amalia Richardson, Aimee Appleton and Lucy Sartain entered the Junior 17 single sculls event finishing a very close race in seventh, ninth and tenth respectively covered by just thirteen seconds.

The WJ18 coxed four of Amalia Richardson, Aimee Appleton and Lucy Sartain won the Women’s event by twelve seconds in the morning, then went two seconds quicker in their second run in the afternoon. Commenting, J17/18 Coach Sam Hill said, “Bedford has been a successful event for the J17/18 squad who have shown they all have potential to perform well in the regattas to come this summer.”

For Stratford’s masters men racing in Division 5, where a noticeable tailwind had picked up compared to the morning racing, the quadruple scull of Ed Lewry, Eric Appleton, Tom Doherty and Nick Sartain attacked the course from the gun to make the best of the favourable conditions. Initially striking thirty six strokes per minute, the pace was frantic until they settled into a steadier race-pace after a minute. The crew held a solid rhythm as they ticked off the many bridges which cross the course as it curved through the town. As the finish approached, they found a final sprint for the line to complete the race in 6 minutes 36 seconds and a commendable third out of the sixteen men’s quads present.

The ladies’ masters WMD4x quad of Ellie Davis at stroke, Gina Fusco at three, Christine Goodwin at two, and Emily Sayers in bow, had a strong row, finishing second place on raw time, in 8.09mins. Following handicapping time adjustments, the crew were placed sixth. This crew is one to watch, having made significant progress in training.

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/…/rowing-stratfords…  and Stratford Herald page forty five and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/enjoyable-debut-for-club-s-juniors-9362077

The Vesta International Masters Head of the River Race 2024 – “Taming of the Tideway”

Congratulations to Suzie Radley who won the Masters D VIII division in a time of 19:59mins. This time was faster than the winning Masters C VIII, a huge achievement having raced the course twice in as many weeks.

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s novice masters women’s crew took on the challenge of rowing 6.7km along the championship course in London. Coxed expertly by Jen Carey, the crew – Jane Cryer (s), Lin Hansen, Katie Burman, Ruth Poulten, Caroline Collins, Vicki Noyes, Clare Booth and Rona Fitzpatrick – raced in a field of two hundred and sixty masters’ boats from Chiswick through to Putney. After several weeks of tough river conditions, the sun shone and the wind died down to allow the ladies crew a good race with a solid rhythm and a strong finish.

Commenting, Amanda Bowden, Masters’ Vice Captain said, “Particular thanks to the fabulous support crew – Esme and Alfie Booth and Paul Fitzpatrick. Also a special mention to our wider group of masters’ ladies for their significant support over the last ten weeks through training, coxing and coaching. A great first race experience and plenty to build on!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page thirty seven and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-radley-tops-division-in-vesta-international-masters-head-of-the-river-race and also on back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2024/04/05&pages=24

Stratford and K.E.S. Have A Busy Week!

An early start at Dorney Rowing Lake for the 2024 Oarsport Junior Sculling head was a picture of determination as Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s WJ16 quad category competitors including the crew of Lily Warren, Poppy Baines, Sophie Evans, and Alice Jones took to the water, The event, a testament to individual skill in the art of sculling, was a grueling test of endurance and strategy over the twin 1800-metre courses. The young athletes, juggling the demands of sport and academia, faced a field of fifty four crews in their division in a race that was as much about mental fortitude as it was about physical prowess. Despite their valiant effort and a commendable comeback in the latter half, the girls’ early pace wasn’t enough to secure a top finish. Commenting Colin Bell, J16 Coach, “However, the lessons learned are invaluable, and with a training day scheduled in two weeks at Dorney, they have the opportunity to refine their technique and strategy, turning the tide of their performance in preparation for the challenges ahead.”

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s J14 boys’ quad of were racing at the Olympic standard venue for the very first time. They sculled with fine technique in blustery but dry conditions and showed great consistency throughout, finishing twentieth out of forty crews in their division. A very proud J14 Coach Hugo Happel said, “I’m so incredibly proud of the boys: not only did they show great skill and energy management on the water, the way they prepared before boating was exemplary.”

Stratford’s J15 squad were represented by Maeve Dunn, Millie Smith, Tessa Parkin, Becca Smith and Poppy Warren (coxswain) in the coxed quadruple sculls event. After a strong first leg putting them in thirteenth position, the crew steeled themselves for the return 1800m. A ding dong battle over the final 500m with Wallingford Rowing Club saw the crew return a result of twenty first overall from the fifty seven crews racing in their division.”

Earlier in the week, Stratford’s sister club King Edward V1 School Boat Club, having had a very wet season and having all the events they have entered so far cancelled, headed down to London on Wednesday for the Schools’ Head of the River Race. Once again they had entered the School Mixed Eights’ category with a crew of A.Appleton, J. Long, D. Shilvock, J.Warner, A. Mathers, M. Hall, W. Dalrymple-Baker, K. Richardson and I. Hill. Only two of the crew and cox remained the same as last year’s crew and with little to no racing so far, they had no idea how well it would go. With the whole event potentially in jeopardy due to high flow rates, it was a great feeling once the crew were on the water and heading to their marshaling point. Going off at place 282, the crew had quite a wait on the water until it was go time. Leading off their category down the championship course cox Hill steered an excellent course and while doing so also kept the crew on top of their rowing.

Commenting, Hannah Crone, Head of Rowing at K.E.S. said, “Finishing fourth in a very respectable time and not far off the top crews and despite their initial disappointment with the result, the crew were happy with their row and their time: they should all be proud of themselves for the effort and performance they put in on the back of little race experience.”

On Wednesday Stratford’s junior 17/18 women’s quad also headed to London for the first national race of the season on the Tideway. After fears of cancellation, perfect conditions made for an exciting and fast race. A strong pace was set by V Vondrak in the stroke seat with Uch Nwachukwu and Scarlett Richardson providing the power in the middle of the boat. The crew came under pressure from some extremely strong crews however Lucy Sartain in the bow seat was unfazed and steered a strong line down the course whilst going blade to blade with the top boats in the country. The crew finished the 6.8km course strongly in a very respectable time of 20:17.1 to put them 21st out of 30 top level boats.

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page forty four and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-boat-clubs-young-rowers-impress-at-oarsport-junior-sculling-head

For pictures of Scullery, see Stuart Baines’ great selection at https://1drv.ms/f/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9j-UffQM-vzC8bM9Wjg

Stratford Excel at Gloucester!

The Stratford upon Avon Boat Club masters’ men’s squad were out in force on Sunday at Gloucester Rowing Club Spring Head. The morning division may have been overcast but the rowing was a shining example of Stratford Boat Club at its best!

It was excellent to see  Stratford’s E 4- of Gary Clay, Richard Shepherd, Rich Owen and Dan Simpkins take to the water. This was the first time racing in this combination and the first time Rich Owen has raced since 2012 when he and Dan won Masters C at the same race!  A steady row, as planned, rating twenty six strokes per minute down the course and, whilst outshone by an impressive Minerva/Bidford combination, an enjoyable start to the season.

The H 2x of Mike Adkins and Paul Collins also rowed the Long Course. The double became cold waiting for the start, a draw back to head racing. Cold can pose one of the hardest challenges of head racing which is getting going again once the race is finally underway! With the terrific tail wind, they covered the course at a consistent rate of twenty six strokes per minute and were delighted with a no crab verdict!

The lunch break was enjoyable as the three squads – masters, senior women and adaptives – met together. Some were also fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time for some of the delicious lemon drizzle cake baked by Rich Shepard!

In the afternoon division, the sun came out welcoming the men’s C 4x for their first race of the head season. With Nick Sartain setting the pace from the stroke seat, the quad got off to a quick start before settling into a race rate of thirty one strokes per minute. Ed Lewry in the bow seat steered perfect lines down the course. The crew had the Stratford/Evesham composite VIII in their sights and soon reeled them in, followed by another overtake as they went past Avon County VIII. Eric Appleton and Tom Doherty, in the middle of the quad, kept the intensity up all the way to the finish. The crew recorded a time of nineteen minutes dead, easily winning their division, placing them fifth fastest of the afternoon and seventh for the day. Congratulations on their win!

Phil Marshal, Dave Edwards, Simon Skilling and Ian Sayers made up half of the Stratford/Evesham E/F composite VIII. They also found the cold wait a challenge but once the race started that was soon forgotten. They set about finding their rhythm and settled into a comfortable pace, having adjusted to the river conditions. From here, the cox Elisabeth Edwards, was in a good position to ask them to build as they moved on the crews ahead. They confidently rowed past an Avon VIII and held their own against a quad that pushed them from behind for the entire second half of the race. The VIII were determined to get the best time possible and gave everything they had through to the finish line. A gutsy row from this newly formed VIII.

Amanda Bowden, Masters’ Vice Captain commented that she was very impressed with the rowing and Club commitment, adding, “Well done to everybody who raced. Given the short time that the crews had been together and with very little time on the water this season due to the floods, the crews should be pleased with their results. These crews are all packed with potential and looking to make further improvements! We would all like to thank Dave Edwards for towing the boats. There may be one more head race for some crews but after that – bring on the summer regattas!”

In the morning division, Stratford’s women’s double of Imogen North and Beth Edwards took to the water for their first race together. Amongst a strong field of seven crews, they maintained a strong steady pace down the course to finish second.

Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive section sent five crews to Gloucester’s Head race. Unfortunately, there was no effective competition for them. Each athlete performed well. The stand-out performance was from 14 year old Isaac Clarkson who finished the course in 9 minutes 51 seconds, only a minute slower than his two adult club colleagues – Curtis Dickens and Andy Morris. The two doubles of Ian/Paola Ward and Gillian Middleton/Jake Blatcher were in a close, all Stratford contest. All the adaptive event medals for the day came back around the necks of the Stratford rowers.

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page forty two and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-mens-masters-squad-out-in-force-at-gloucesters-spring-head and back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2024/03/22&pages=32

Stratford Conquer The Tideway!

Congratulations to Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Masters Women, Suzie Radley and Amanda Bowden who raced at the Women’s Eights Head of the River Race (WEHORR) and won the Masters Pennant!

WEHORR is rowed over 6.8km on the Tideway in London from Chiswick Bridge to Putney on the ebb tide, the same course that the University Boat Race will row over at the end of March but in the other direction.

The Stratford’s Masters women were invited to row in a composite crew with other clubs and it was a great privilege to be able to race in the boat that was used by the US Women’s winning eight in the 2016 Olympics.

The masters crew set up with a strong rhythm and maintained that for the duration of the course at 31 strokes per minute, overtaking two crews and gaining on a third. It was a solid row in tough conditions as the head wind pushed against the tide producing very choppy water. The adjusted time for masters was 20:06 minutes which would place the crew 26 out of 158, up amongst some of the university A times.

The crew enjoyed the Victory Celebration presentation in the evening, with the medals being presented by Annamarie Phelps CBE, Olympic Rower and previous Vice Chair of the Olympic Association, and hosted by Stratford’s Honorary Life Member Camilla Hadland-Horrocks, rowing commentator for Olympic and Paralympic Games. Another successful Stratford rower, Katie Wellstead was also spotted at the event, rowing for OUBC.

This year the event had been expecting to host many more crews, but sadly due to the high water levels and in the interest of safety, about 50% of the less experienced crews were withdrawn, including Stratford’s own junior 18 girls boat. We hope that the Stratford J18 crew will get to enjoy the long Tideway Course next year or with future university crews. For now, they should take some comfort, the conditions were horrible!

Commenting, Amanda Bowden, Stratford’s Women Masters Vice Captain said, “We would like to thank the masters women for all their encouragement and support. Messages before, during and after the event have ensured that the masters women are well supported.

There is more masters women Tideway action to come as the Masters E Crew of Jane Cryer, Ruth Poulton, Katie Burman, Lin Hansen, Caroline Collins, Victoria Noyes, Clare Booth and Rona Fitzpatrick and cox Jen Carey will be racing at Vesta International Masters Head of the River Race on Sunday 24th March. They have been training hard and we all wish them good luck!”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page forty six and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/stratford-rowers-compete-in-usa-olympics-boat-9357098 and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-boat-club-womens-masters-pair-triumph-on-the-tideway and back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2024/03/15&pages=24