Stourport, Oxford and Warwick Wins for Stratford

The last two weekends have been busy ones for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club with the J13 and J14 squads travelling to some of our local West Midlands rivals for Stourport’s annual two day regatta. Stourport Boat Club had very kindly leant Stratford boats enabling the crews to compete and all of the Stratford upon Avon athletes had two great days racing.

On the Saturday Stratford claimed two wins. First up the J14 double of Will Clarke and Conar Aitchison had a very close exciting race against a double from Burton Leander. It came right down to the wire and despite an appeal from the opposition the result stood and the Stratford boys were awarded the win by just two feet.

The WJ14 single sculler, Sophie Elstone, stormed through her round against a strong sculler from Evesham gaining a verdict of easily and her place in the final. Here she met another strong sculler, this time from Loughborough Boat Club who had also beaten her opposition in her heat with an ‘easily’ verdict. Sophie kept a cool head and did exactly what she needed to in order to get in front fast and stay in front. Sophie pushed away from the Loughborough sculler and won the event with a very impressive verdict of four lengths. 

The J13 quad of Lucy Browne, Anne Mynors, Honour Keil, Will Beattie and cox Conar Aitchison raced in the open category and came up against a strong crew from Derwent comprising of three boys and one girl. They put up a good fight and gave the Derwent crew their best race of the weekend. Unfortunately, the Stratford crew weren’t quite strong enough and Derwent went on to take the win. 

On the Sunday held over the 600m course Stratford had a number of athletes competing in singles for the first time. Lucy Browne, Anne Mynors and Will Beattie all competed in their respective J13 single events. They all raced hard and showed how all of their hard work on technique this year had paid off. 

Lucy and Will then teamed up to race in a J13 double again against Derwent. This was against two boys and the Stratford crew showed great determination however, the Derwent boys had the better of them and won by and a half lengths.

Meanwhile, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club continued its summer regatta campaign last weekend at Oxford City Royal Regatta. Held over 1000m on the River Thames in Oxford, the club fielded crews from across the age ranges with Junior, Senior and Masters’ squads in action.

First to go was the Mixed Double Scull of Ed Lewry and Imogen North, a pairing likely to cause trouble for any opposition and the competition from Oxford and Fulham Reach clubs felt the might of their combination as they collected the first club victory for the day.

Next up the Men’s Double Scull of Ed Lewry and Tom Coles, another fearsome duo who dispatched Putney Town and Christchurch clubs in the heats and semi-final. It wasn’t to be their day however as Gloucester Rowing Club ruined the party just piping Lewry and Coles to take the win in the final.

Moving on and the action continued with the Men’s Coxless Quadruple Scull of Oliver Smith, Tim Henry and Finn Sprackling and Max Marcus taking to the water and beating London Otters to reach the final. The Stratford men continued their domination of the event as Globe Rowing club disappeared from view and Stratford racked up their second win of the day.

The Junior section was represented in the Women’s J16 double sculls with Katie Wellstead and Emily Browne. Keen to repeat their win from last year’s event they made short work of a home club double in the semi-final. Turning the heat up further in the final, Wellstead and Browne took the victory comfortably to retain their crown.  Said Stratford’s Captain of Boats, Oli Smith, “More performances like this and Oxford will be naming a stretch of the Thames after the duo!”

Then things got spicy in the Women’s Masters single sculls as Christine Goodwin picked up the Stratford standard and stepped forward. Gladiatorial in nature, single sculls events always promise a spectacle for the assembled crowd and Christine delivered in bucket loads with a win in the first round. The Thames, still simmering from Christine’s semi-final, reached boiling point in the last race of the day as she took an early lead in the final. The crowd took to their feet in support as with each stroke she propelled her boat forward with increasing vigour. In a final frenzy, her opposition from Cambridge 99’s fought back but Christine remained in control and stretched out to take the win, her first regatta victory but with her fine sculling on display most certainly not the last!

Whilst their colleagues were at City of Oxford regatta, the J13 squad had another great day in the beautifully set Warwick Regatta. With the start being overlooked by Warwick Castle, this is one of the most picturesque settings for a regatta. Racing was held over 500m in a round robin format for J14 and under, giving all of the crews a minimum of two races.

First up was the J13 singles. Harry Trueman competed for the first time in a single and despite some steering issues kept his head up and completed the course.  Will Beattie also competed in the singles and put in two really strong performances in his rounds. He was joint second on results so had to take part in a race off. He fought hard against a strong sculler from Derwent but unfortunately Will couldn’t quite beat him.

Next up was the WJ13 singles. This was an all Stratford affair with Harriet Holmes and Lucy Browne fighting it out to decide who took home the win. They raced each other twice and although it was close on both occasions Harriet took the win each time and the overall title.

Then Beattie teamed up with Toby Sartain to compete in the J13 doubles. Holmes and Browne also joined up to compete in the same event. Both crews raced against another crew from Derwent and against each other. All of the Stratford athletes showed huge amounts of determination but it was Holmes and Browne that made it into the final to face Derwent for the second time. The girls put in another strong performance, unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough to overhaul the two boys from Derwent this time.

The J14 events began again with an all Stratford affair in the girls’ doubles. All three crews racing each other with good close racing, ultimately Amelie Sartain and Elisabeth Edwards claimed victory after a good finals race against Martha Usselmann and Sienna Rawlings with Emma Harrison and Julia Zampronio Gurden only just missing out by a point.

Coach Trevor Tiller commented, “Despite the ‘all Stratford’ crew races during the day, there is a saying; “If two people compete, their destinies remain intertwined, they’ll remain a part of each other’s life no matter what.” These races will no doubt enhance both squads’ bonding as we go into the new rowing season.”

In the J15/14 girls double, Mary Walton and Emma Harrison performed brilliantly against a strong Derwent crew unfortunately to be beaten by just a couple of lengths. This was Mary’s first competitive race as a sculler and with such a performance we look forward for more to come.

The days racing concluded with Amelie Sartain racing up an age group in the J15 single event and winning her heat by eight lengths saw her into the final. After four previous races she was up against a fresh Derwent sculler and after a neck to neck race was pipped at the post by a mere three quarters of a length, an outstanding performance in an older age group.

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer back page and online and Stratford herald online

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