Stratford Come In From The Cold!

Competitors from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club and King Edward The Sixth Grammar School braved miserable January weather conditions to enjoy a successful day at Northampton Head of the Nene raced over a 1.8 km course.

Stratford’s Junior squad came home with several winners’ pots and medals.

WJ18 rowers Theo Mordaunt, Claire Teakle and Sofia Ward came home with victories in both the coxless quad and coxed fours event. With fourth crew member Lauren Willis they recorded a ten second win over a strong Wallingford crew in the quad and went on to win the coxed four category with Isobel Marsden switching into the stroke seat and Charlie Waters steering an intelligent course against a strong stream.

Lauren Willis and Issy Clarke also secured a winners medal in the WJ18 double sculls despite suffering with the extremely cold conditions.

Boys J18 (Howard Gould-Yates and Dominic Furey) and J16 (Geoffrey Flambert and Joe Hodson) double sculling crews both put in strong performances. Despite an excellent time Geoffrey and Joe narrowly lost out by eight seconds to Wallingford.

Joe Hodson later went on to claim victory wearing King Edward The Sixth colours in the J16 single sculling event with an impressive time.

Stratford’s J14 squad had an excellent day achieving wins in the WJ14 coxed quad of Julia Zampronio Gurden, Martha Usselmann, Elisabeth Edwards and Sienna Rawlings with cox Mary Walton and the WJ14 double sculls, Sophie Elstone and Harriet Hodgson. Amelie Sartain and William Clarke teamed up to row in the J14 open double sculls category and produced an impressive row to win by fourteen seconds from the quickest of two all boys crews from Falcon Rowing Club.

Said Trevor Tiller, J14 coach, “All in all a very good day!”

Stratford Masters’ squad joined up with the Junior squads to add a wealth of experience to the Northampton Head of the Nene. The event is renowned for its cold character building weather conditions and lived up to expectations with steady continuous rainfall only alleviated by showers of sleet to test even the toughest competitor!

Stratford Masters lead the event off at the start of the day with the first two crews in division 1. Leading off from the start was the Masters D/E/F (age groups 50-60) mixed eight of Dave Edwards, Richard Field, Richard Anderson, Helen Helliwell, Linda Hansen, Hugo Happel, Dave Howe, Graham Cann and cox Elida Fidler, closely followed by the coxless Masters E (age 55-60) crew of Simon Beard, Gary Clay, Richard Nelson and Tom Doherty.

An inter-club battle ensued to determine who would be the first crew of the day over the finish line which was won by the coxless four in a time of six minutes an twenty seven with the eight finishing in a time of seven minutes and thirty three seconds.

Another early riser to compete in the morning division was Tim Lunel in the Masters C/D (age 50-55) single sculls: Lunel almost stole bragging rights over the eight completing the course in a time of seven minutes and thirty two seconds to finish a close third in his event.

A quiet second division saw only Kjersti Woolley racing in a composite crew with Derbyshire club Derwent in a quad scull finishing in a time of six minutes and forty seconds, a mere five seconds behind the winners from east of England club Oundle Town.

In worsening weather with heavy sleet now falling, Simon Beard and Richard Nelson braved the conditions to race their Masters E (age 50-55) coxless pair against old adversaries Milton Keynes. In a close fought race, they completed the course in seven minutes and twenty three seconds only to be pipped by six seconds from a win.

Division 4 saw an incident packed  stage with Stratford’s Masters D/E/F second eight of Richard Nelson, Simon Beard, Tim Lunel, Stephen Haighton, Neville Hand, Gary Clay, Tom Doherty, Wallace Brown and cox Elida Fidler scrambling around for a replacement boat following a collision in a previous race which left a large hull hole and their eight unusable. With local hosts Northampton coming to the rescue, the crew were able to race and despite being held up by a slow Milton Keynes eight, recorded the fourth fastest time of the day finishing in under six minutes and one second. However this was not enough to win with honours going to Oundle Town who completed the 1.8 km course in a wafer thin faster time of five minutes and fifty nine seconds!

With no wins to date for the Masters’ squad, it fell to Kjersti Woolley in her single scull to claim glory in her Women’s Masters E event with a well deserved win in a time of eight minutes and fifty one seconds.

The final events saw two women’s double sculls of Christine Goodwin and Naomi Macdonald and Becky Smith and Lucy Kelleher finish their respective events in times of nine mins and thirteen second and eight minutes and fifty seconds respectively to record creditable performances.

Said Tom Doherty Masters Men’s Vice Captain, “It was great to see competitors from across the club ranging in age and ability coming together to put in some creditable race performances.”

Meanwhile, back at Stratford and keeping no warmer were the remainder of the Club with the elite Senior Men undergoing ‘seat racing’ for their places in crews for Royal Henley Regatta. Said Senior squad coach Bill Sullivan, “Seat racing is a grueling process but it ensures the best selection of athletes in the ideal crew combinations. The following day’s circuit training rounded off a hard weekend!”

Whilst the J14 and J17/18 crews were battling it out at Northampton, the J15 crews went upstream with guest coach Camilla Hadland (2010 World Rowing Junior Championships Gold medal winner and Stratford Boat Club member) and Will Horrocks (former HSCT coach with Scottish Rowing). Said Junior Co-ordinator Steve Wellstead, “We welcome experienced guest coaches from other clubs as it often brings a different perspective to the coaching and sometimes highlights areas for improvement!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer online at and for videos see, and

Posted in News.