This Saturday, the athletes of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club travelled across the county into Worcestershire to compete at the Worcester Spring Regatta. Stratford was represented by two squads, Senior Men and J13 juniors. Senior sculler Jake Blatcher made short work of a sculler from Birmingham University in the first round. Sadly his run of form was not sustained into the final where a strong row was bettered by a Worcester Rowing Club sculler making full use of the home advantage.
With the regatta being held over 850m on the River Severn, the event presented the youngest Stratford athletes with the opportunity to experience big river racing for the first time. Perfect conditions greeted the J13 squad as they arrived in Worcester to prepare. First to go was Cara Berisford-Murray in the WJ13 single scull. A tricky draw saw Cara put in a big push in the closing 100m of the race but couldn’t quite catch the Exeter sculler. Exeter then continued to take the win in the final against Stratford’s Becca Smith who made her opposition work hard for the win.
The morning excitement continued with a Stratford versus Stratford final in the WJ13.4x+. The crew of Tessa Parkin, Josephine Cooper, Martha Cooke, Martha Baines and Maeve Dunn (coxswain) started well and pushed hard throughout the race but undeterred by their bumpy start the crew of Bryony Francis, Isla Dunn, Sophie Franklin, Poppy Warren and Millie Smith (coxswain) rowed through their fellow Stratford athletes to take the win in style. More coxed quadruple scull racing continued in the afternoon when, due to a lack of competition, the Stratford J13 crew of Martha Baines, Maeve Dunn, Martha Cooke, Josephine Cooper and Poppy Warren (coxswain) competed in the Open J14 category mixing it with schoolboy crews one year their senior. In the first round, a boys’ crew from St Edwards School (Oxford) boated with some trepidation having seen the Stratford girls racing earlier in the day. Their fears were well founded as Stratford thundered down the course leaving the Teddies boys in their wake. Unfortunately, the semi-final saw a quality boys crew from Winchester School overhaul the Stratford girls with fresh legs in their first race of the day.
The final competition of the day for Stratford was the WJ13 double sculls with three crews entered. The scene was set in the semi-finals with the Stratford crew of Millie Smith and Becca Smith motoring home to better a quality pairing from Exeter Rowing Club. On the other side of the draw, it was Stratford versus Stratford again with Bryony Francis and Sophie Franklin lining up against Tessa Parkin and Isla Dunn, each crew vying for a place in the final. The Francis/Franklin combination proved the quicker which set the scene for the third race to be contested between Stratford crews. What a race it was! The people of Worcester were treated to a fine display of junior sculling and sportsmanship in the final. It was a nip and tuck affair for the duration of the race as each sought to nose ahead of the other. As the two crews rounded the bend, coming within sight of the finish it was still too close to call and the crowd rose to their feet to catch sight of the duel crossing the line. The final verdict was a win for Bryony Francis and Sophie Franklin by just a quarter of a boat length – the slimmest of margin and testament to the quality of rowing seen throughout the day!
Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Masters Women and Senior Men took to the water on Sunday for Nottingham Rowing Club’s Masters & Club Regatta at Holme Pierrepoint Nottingham, home of the National Watersport Centre. Rowing in a crew formed literally that morning due to illness, Stratford’s Ed Lewry mounted an impressive display in his double with George Crouchly from Nottingham, coming in first place by three lengths.
As they passed the 250mark, the official race commentary team announced how ‘Stratford‘s double are showing everyone how to scull today‘. Underlining their class, the double also took the fastest double of the day title: an amazing achievement for a sea tech crew! Sadly, due to the rules of composites for the Open category, Lewry was not awarded a medal but showed true winning style and just how two quality rowers can win, even if they have never been in a boat together before!
Stratford‘s relatively new Masters’ Women double of Gina Fusco and Christine Goodwin achieved their three planned goals for today; a racing start off a stake boat for the first time, staying straight and in their lane and finishing the race! Facing tough opposition, their coach Danni Fusco encouraged them home and gave plenty of good feedback and building blocks for their next battle in three weeks’ time, Christine and Gina commented, “The standard was high and it is great to come and compete at a higher level. We have many learning points and will get back on the Avon and are determined to keep improving!”
For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page sixty two and also Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-upon-avon-boat-clubs-juniors-conquer-at-worcester
For more great pictures of Worcester Spring Regatta, see The Baines’ great selection https://1drv.ms/u/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9j5ExDZVrMsPIma1_6g?e=hKuCOT