Stratford’s Juniors’ & Masters’ Stellar Performances at Henley Women’s Regatta & Ironbridge

The Henley Women’s Regatta stands as a testament to the skill and dedication of female rowers, showcasing intense competition and the spirit of sportsmanship. Stratford upon Avon Boat Club junior 16 composite crew of Gracie Janes (AB), Pheobe Asquith (AB), Alexandra Francis (SuABC), and Daisy O’Reilly (CBR), their alliance, a blend of clubs from AB Severn, Stratford upon Avon, and City of Bristol, emerged as a force to be reckoned with. Despite the brevity of their union, they rowed in perfect harmony, displayed remarkable synergy and tenacity, securing a place in the finals of the quadruple sculls. Their journey through the regatta, from strong time trials to the nail-biting final, highlights the crew’s potential and sets a promising stage for their individual pursuits at the GB v France trials. Commenting Colin Bell, Stratford’s J16 Coach said, “Their achievement, within such a brief period of collaboration, is indeed a remarkable feat in the world of competitive rowing!”

Stratford’s J18 squad entered Maddie Hall, Molly Vondrak, Uch Nwachukwu, Kate Richardson and coxswain Imogen Hill in the The Groton School Challenge Cup for coxed fours at Henley Women’s Regatta. Twenty two crews took part in the time trial with the fastest sixteen gaining entry to the heats. The Stratford girls went out hard and looked sharp as they attacked the relatively short 1,400m course. They produced a quick time and qualified for the heats.

Drawn against Tyne Rowing Club, who had finished fourth at the National Schools’ Regatta, Stratford knew it would be a tough race, but they had a chance if they could keep within a length of Tyne until the last 600m sprint for the line. Stratford led off the start and stayed within a length of Tyne until halfway, but Tyne gradually pulled away in the second half of the race to win by three lengths. J18 Coach Sam Hill said, “The girls put in a great performance, they rowed with great skill and thoroughly enjoyed the event. It has been a fitting finale to their regatta season.”

Also at the weekend, Stratford’s Masters were at Ironbridge Rowing Club Regatta which did not disappoint: the Ironbridge Rowing Club and regatta are nestled at the bottom of the large gorge in idyllic surroundings. The organisation of the regatta was exceptional and running to time.

The 900m course required a staggered start due to the stream advantage, which made steering interesting along the course.

Suzie Radley and Amanda Bowden enjoyed the challenge of the occasion, having won the semis, the final provided the opportunity to capitalise and make improvements. Rowing through the opposition, who had a handicap head start, and appreciating the flat water, the Stratford double took it up in the last 200m, coming over the line first to the sound of the gong.

Heather Hayton had a very tight race and was unlucky to be beaten in the last few strokes as the opposition took the rating up.

Commenting, Amanda Bowden, Stratford’s Masters’ Vice Captain said, “The lovely green pots are actually models of Ironbridge power station cooling towers which used to tower over the course but were finally brought down last year. A collector’s item!”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page forty four

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