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