Challenging Conditions for Stratford’s Successful Crews at Stourport

The weekend weather forecast for heavy rain and strong winds had made us consider very carefully the safety aspects of taking our Stratford upon Avon Boat Club junior crews to Stourport but how happy we were to have gone!

Firstly, the weather proved to be very kind to us if you ignore the heavy blustery rain showers and secondly the J13 crews had an excellent and successful regatta.

First up was our junior J13 double crew of Charles Happel and Louie Beason provided a very promising row racing against a crew from Derwent Rowing Club. Stratford went off very powerfully and quickly holding a good lead for the first third of the course before running out of steam and eventually missing out by three boat lengths.

Next up for Stratford was the WJ13 coxed quad of Ruby Brooker Collins, Grace Beason, Uche Nwachukwa and Imo Hill admirably coxed by Emily Stobart up against Stourport Boat Club in their first heat race. The girls provided a very impressive controlled performance starting strongly and extending their position through to finishing with a very satisfying win recorded as “easily”.

The next heat was the final against a crew from Burton Leander in strong blustery wind conditions was if anything a better performance than the first heat. It was well coxed and steered by Emily with her crew providing a demonstration of well controlled sculling winning by two lengths. The crew jubilantly collected their pots in bright sunlight.

From the J14 squad, Stratford Boat Club had four athletes competing.

Owen Perkins and Ruby Howells both competed in their first singles events and were joined by Lucy Browne and Freya Watts.

Watts was first up and despite a strong effort didn’t quite manage to overcome her opposition from Derwent Rowing Club. The Derwent sculler then went on to race against Howells who again raced a brilliant race to be beaten by just two lengths.

Browne then took to the water to race against a young lady from Hollingworth Lake and Perkins raced against a strong sculler from Burton Leander. Both raced with their best technique and determination, unfortunately this wasn’t enough to progress to the next rounds.

Perkins and Howells then teamed up in the J14 double sculls to race against two boys from Derwent in the final. They steered a fantastic course and pushed right to the end, but this time it was the Derwent duo who claimed the pots.

The final race of the day for the J14’s came from the WJ14 double scull of Browne and Watts. Again, they raced brilliantly and by the halfway mark already had a substantial lead over their opposition from Hereford. The Hereford duo tried their best but the Stratford double pushed away further to claim their win.

Commenting, Abi Terry, J14 coach said, “The J14’s enjoyed a good event where a lot was learnt about coping in windy conditions and race strategies.”

Overcoming the prevailing wind and impending showers, Conar Aitchison in the single was first on the water for the J15 squad. Despite a good hard row a final’s

place became just out of reach during the finishing sprint.

Emma Harrison and Sophie Elstone in the double battled the conditions comfortably winning a place in the afternoon finals. Shortly after, Elstone took to the water again, this time in a single, easily gaining another finals place in the afternoon.

The afternoon weather improved and the timetable saw Elstone initially competing in the singles final racing against local competition from Evesham. Gaining the lead from the start, Elstone controlled the race to win confidently with much support from the river bank.

The final race of the day for Stratford juniors was Elstone and Harrison

in the double against a strong brew from Hollingworth Lake. Despite their strong and tidy rowing, fighting hard to the end, the girls were unable to close the gap during the last push to the line, finishing second by only a few lengths.

Stratford’s Masters’ sculler Kjersti Rogneflaten Woolley also raced at Stourport Sprint Regatta, this time on Sunday. Despite some downpours, the weather had improved massively from Saturday’s stormy weather.

Kjersti raced in a Women Master E Double, as a composite crew with Derwent’s Gillian Lockhart. They won their first heat against the ladies from Exeter by one length.

The semi-final against Bewdley was more exiting. Despite several warnings from the umpire, Bewdley did not move over into their own lane and thus the Derwent/ Stratford crew was forced into the lane for boats going up to the start. The composite crew registered their objection at the finish and the umpires disqualified the Bewdley crew. An unfortunate outcome of a race.

The final was against Hereford Rowing Club and the Stratford/Derwent composite won with two lengths. Said Kjersti,”This was our first regatta in a women’s double this year. A few tweaks with the set up of the boat and we will be ready for the Worlds Masters Regatta in Hungary in September!”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald pages 15 and 16 and online Also see Stratford Observer online

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