Stratford Start The Season Well at Wallingford and Runcorn

Starting their full head season for the first time, three J14 squads made their debut at Wallingford Long Distance Sculls, rowing the short course. Thanks to some brilliant intersquad camaraderie, three J15 athletes stepped up as coxswains, enabling all twelve J14 athletes to compete on the day. Martha Baines coxed the girls’ quad (Linforth, Ntoukaki, Sime, Appleton) and came fourth against well drilled crews from Headington School, beating one of the Headington quads on the way from Oxford Brookes to Oxford University boat houses. Maeve Dunn coxed the boys’ quad of Rowan/Shaw/Appleton/Jones and Sophie Franklin coxed Happel/Richter/ Greenwood/Rutter, with the latter taking the win for Stratford in a time of eight minutes and twenty eight seconds. J14 Coach Hugo Happel said: “A really good day for J14’s, showing good technique on this fabulous stretch of water. Great experience gained combined with plenty of laughs. Well done to all athletes!”

The J15 squad’s new rowing season also began last weekend with the opening event at Wallingford. A bumper entry saw Stratford’s juniors travel to Wallingford for the 2023 edition of Wallingford Long Distance Sculls. First out for the J15 squad was the women’s coxed quadruple scull of Sophie Franklin, Maeve Dunn, Martha Baines, Millie Smith and Martha Cooke (coxswain).  The crew stormed over the 4000m course to come within touching distance of Henley Rowing Club’s two crews finishing third by just 2.1 seconds over the nineteen minute race. Next to go, in the 1800m short course event, were the J15 double scull crews of Bryony Francis/Poppy Warren and Tessa Parkin/Josephine Cooper. The two crews duelled over the full course to achieve second and third ranking for the Club with the Francis/Warren combination taking the second place spot after battling their way through the traffic. Last to go for the J15 squad were the single scullers, Martha Cooke and Isla Dunn. Always a gladiatorial competition, Dunn and Cooke fought it out on the Thames to record creditable fourth and sixth places.

One of the most anticipated events in the rowing calendar for Stratford junior squads is the Wallingford Long Distance Sculls, a challenging and prestigious race that draws many competitors from various clubs and schools in the region. The event takes place annually in Wallingford, a historic town in Oxfordshire and the head race has a rich tradition that goes back to 1974. The original course was a gruelling 6,000 metres upstream from Moulsford Boathouse to Wallingford Marina but it has since been shortened to 4,000 metres starting from Cholsey Ferry.

The race consists of two long divisions and one shorter one with different categories of boats and rowers. The Wallingford Long Distance Sculls is a test of endurance, skill and teamwork and showcases some of the best talent in the sport.

The Junior 16 Women’s coxless quad consisting of Tessa Parkin, Sophie Evans, Alice Jones and Poppy Baines were the first down the course. They faced tough competition from local rivals such as Wallingford, Henley and Headington but they rowed with determination and skill. They finished in fifth place which is a commendable result considering that Tessa Parkin, a junior 15 athlete, stepped in at the last minute due to illness: Tessa went on to compete in her own event after a short break.

Another impressive result came from the double sculls pair of Theo Richter and James Albrighton who finished fifth overall. They competed against strong crews from St Pauls School, Leander, Wallingford and Lea and showed great speed and technique.

Finally, Alexandra Francis represented the J16’s in the single sculls event, which had thirty four entries. She had to endure a long wait on the water due to some issues on the course but she did not let that affect her performance: she rowed with power and stamina and finished sixth overall.

The first J17 crew to take to the water were Lucy Sartain, Jess Long, Scarlett Richardson and Aimee Appleton in their coxless quad. They sculled with great skill and were faster than the crew in front over the second half of the race finishing fourth which was an excellent result at such a high profile event.

Charles Happel entered the Open Junior 18 single scull event pitting his skills against forty four other scullers from some of the top rowing clubs in the country. Setting off hard on the first half of the course he was in nineteenth place at the halfway point. Charles put in a very strong final kilometre to finish in a highly creditable sixteenth place.

Molly Vondrak, Ez Elfwood, Eloise Cooper and Nancy Davis all entered the Junior 17 single sculls event finishing seventh, twenty sixth, twenty seventh and thirtieth respectively. Molly’s performance was particularly impressive.

Uche Nwachukwa entered in the Women’s single scull event, a tall order for a junior athlete, finishing twenty fourth out of thirty competitors. She then sculled in a double with Maddie Hall in the afternoon division coming tenth out of sixteen competitors. Also racing in the same event Jess Long and Lucy Sartain came thirteenth, Harriet Froom and Megan Rowan came eleventh and Scarlett Richardson and Aimee Appleton finished strongly in eight place.

Given the favourable conditions, Suzie Radley and Amanda Bowden representing Stratford’s Masters’ Women were excited to be racing again in the first head race of the season. Following a convincing start rate set by stroke, Suzie, accompanied by fantastic steering through the bends overtaking several crews in the process, the race was going very well! The boat speed placing the crew second behind a younger age category. However, sadly there then followed a steering error costing the crew thirty seconds which knocked the double out of the competition on this occasion. Commenting, Suzie Radley said, “This race was to be a warm up for the Pairs’ Head of the River in London next weekend. The race has provided much needed feedback, with some key points to work on to improve the competitive edge. This has certainly sparked a fire for next weekend!”

Also sculling at Wallingford were Paul Collins and Mike Adkins who were the only entry in Masters’ H double category and they had a good row. Steered by Paul, they managed to restrict their bank contact on the way to the start! For a first event together, they were well satisfied with the result managing to hold off a good Guildford double.

Also sculling on Saturday, this time at the Runcorn Autumn Head, was Stratford’s adaptive squad. The Runcorn Head of the River attracts clubs from the North West and Midlands to compete on the river Weaver. Andy Morris represented Stratford’s Adaptive Squad in a division which included Runcorn’s Sean Bailey who had recorded a personal best of 18:20 for the course.

This was Andy’s first race without floats and in a boat borrowed from Runcorn. The conditions were fine for the race over a 3650m course which was a series of bends with 200m straights in between. Commenting, Andy said, “I was pleased with my row and the course tested my steering skills. This was my first head in a single without floats and it went well”. Andy’s winning time was eighteen minutes and thirteen seconds.

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer online  https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-boat-club-make-strong-start-to-new-season-at-wallingford-and-runcorn and back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2023/10/06&pages=32: see also Stratford Herald page forty five

For great pictures of Wallingford, see Kathy Baines’ excellent selection https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AKg7Ldg9UzZfSuU&id=8E50DAC120123B06%21101272&cid=8E50DAC120123B06

Stratford Rounds Off Season at Ross

Experiencing the Ross on Wye Sunday 550m Sprint course in the morning division for the first time, the J13 doubles of Seb Happel/Rory Rowan and Ed Appleton/ James Greenwood showed excellent steersmanship however the crews of City of Bristol and Queens Park High proved a tad too strong in the semi finals.

In the afternoon division, the WJ13 doubles of Maria Ntoukaki/Naomi Sime and Orla Linforth/Erin Appleton proved equally adept at steering the tricky course, but were narrowly beaten by a powerful Hereford double by half a length. Also in the afternoon, the same four J13 boys took to the quad and, expertly coxed by Rory Jones, took victory in the OJ13 4x+ event by 1.5L against Hereford Rowing Club. Commenting, Hugo Happel, J13 Coach said. Overall it was a brilliant day for the J13s, their last competition before they transition to J14, armed with even more learning and desire to develop and have fun!”

The traditional end of season event for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club arrived over the Bank Holiday weekend with thirty nine crews travelling to Ross Regatta. The event is considered a classic on the club racing calendar with two days of racing on the beautiful River Wye. The Sprint Regatta on Day One saw J13, J14, Masters and Adaptive athletes compete over the 550m course.

In the Masters G single sculls, Stratford’s Julian Foster took an early scalp with a solid win in the first round against Thames Tradesmen. Ross Regatta attracts competitors from far afield and in the final Stratford’s Foster lined up against the bronze medallist from the British Championships. Undeterred, Foster gave chase to the Star Club athlete but was unable to cause the much hoped for upset and finished second.

The Stratford’s J14 squad were out in force at Ross with entries across all categories in their age group. First to go were the single scullers entered in both Band One and Band Two events.  An all Stratford final was assured in Band Two as Tessa Parkin romped past Queens Park High School and Millie Smith recorded a narrow win against her squad mate Poppy Warren. The Band Two final did not disappoint with Tessa and Millie battling it out and Millie Smith the eventual winner. The Band One final was less dramatic and Stratford’s Sophie Franklin left the City of Bristol Sculler in her wake to record the win.

Next to go was the Stratford’s Sophie Franklin (coxswain) who executed a superb race to take the win against Queens Park High School. With the morning’s excitement barely receding, the afternoon racing got underway with the Stratford’s J14 girls coxed quadruple scull of Martha Cooke, Tessa Parkin, Millie Smith, Poppy Warren and Sophie Franklin (coxswain) took to the water to race against Liverpool Victoria in the boys event. Another great race saw the girls delight the crowd by chasing the boys hard down the course and just a quarter of a length margin put the Liverpool boys through to the next round. Finally, in the WJ14 double sculls event, Stratford fielded crews of Martha Baines/Isla Dunn and Josephine Cooper/Bryony Francis. The crews swept their competition aside in the semifinals to deliver another all Stratford final. Commenting, Steve Wellstead, J14 Coach and Junior Coordinator, said. “And what a final! The two crews passed the assembled crowd bow ball to bow ball, the Wye boiling with heat of competition! In the final analysis, some classy steering from Dunn saw the Dunn/Baines combination take the win and round off a pot-tastic day for the squad! 

First on the water were the open J15 doubles: despite having issues with their start, the double of Seth Vondrak and Xavier Sissins-Roffey managed to close the initial gap between them and their opposition from Queens Park High, missing out on a place in the final by only a metre to the eventual winners of the event. Also competing in this event, the double of Oliver Rowlands and James Albrighton comfortably won their semi final but unfortunately lost in their final against Queens Park High.

Competing in the junior 15 women’s coxed quad was the quad of Lily Warren, Poppy Baines, Sophie Evans and Alice Jones, cox Lucy Yang, who in a close race against yet another Queens Park High crew, unfortunately lost by less than a boat length. In the junior 15 women’s singles event, Alexandra Francis raced against a strong sculler from A B Severn and after establishing a lead relatively early on, went on to win the event.

In the afternoon, the doubles of Alice Jones and Lily Warren and Sophie Evans and Poppy Baines competed in the women’s J15 double sculls. Jones and Warren raced well in their heat but unfortunately were beaten by a double from Queens Park High. The double of Evans and Baines won their heat by a comfortable margin but in their semi final against an Evesham double, lost out by a small margin after some very close racing.

In the open junior 15 singles Xavier Sissins-Roffey raced a very experienced sculler from Black Sheep Rowing Club and despite being very close for the majority of the race, unfortunately clipped a buoy before the finish line allowing his opposition to pull away and take the win. In the open J15 coxed quads, the quad of James Albrighton, Oliver Rowlands, Seth Vondrak and Alexandra Francis, coxed by Lucy Yang, raced a quad from Queens Park High and quickly established a considerable lead over their opposition, winning the event by five lengths.

The J16’s were represented in the Sunday sprint event by Jess Long, Harriet Froom and Will Dalrymple-Baker in the single sculls along with Aimee Appleton and Lucy Sartain in the double sculls event. Both Jess and Harriet put on great displays of sculling and stayed in contention through to the finish, but were unable to overhaul their opponents despite big efforts from both girls.

Dalrymple-Baker faced a familiar opponent from Evesham in his semi final and having never beaten him was determined to ring in the changes. Quick off the start and gaining the advantage, Dalrymple-Baker maintained a high stroke rate and held off the advancing Evesham sculler to secure a place in the final by two feet. Despite the gargantuan efforts of the semi final, Dalrymple-Baker picked himself up to face an even bigger opponent from Monmouth but despite deploying the same race strategy, narrowly missed out on the win by just two feet.

The afternoon division saw the Appleton/Sartain double square up against Staines in a semi final. Rounding the bend the girls were just over a length down and sculling well together before the Staines crew used their physical advantage to push on and counter the attack from the Stratford girls, denying them a place in the final.

On Monday Jess Long and Harriet Froom came together in the double sculls event on the longer regatta course. Facing local rivals Evesham in the semi-final, the girls displayed the same levels of determination from their singles event the previous day to take a convincing win and secure a place in the final against Liverpool Victoria. Feeling buoyed by their win the girls put in another gutsy performance but ultimately the Liverpool crew were too strong and took the win.

Amélie and Lucy Sartain were first up on Sunday, racing in the senior women’s doubles event. They sculled strongly despite minimal practice but fell to a close defeat in their first round. Freya Watts was next on the course in the WJ18 singles event, and rowed a brilliant race to come home just short of a win against a previous National Champion from Evesham. The OJ18 double of Charles Happel and Toby Sartain then took on a straight final against a crew from Evesham Rowing Club in what would be their last of many races as a pairing this season and they cruised home to take the win by a margin of four lengths.

Next up was the WJ18 coxed four of Kate Richardson, Maddie Hall, Uchenna Nwachukwu, Harriet Noyes and cox Imogen Hill. Despite proficient rowing. they were unfortunate to fall short to a crew from Black Sheep Rowing Club in their first round. Will Beattie followed in the senior men’s singles category and, after taking a superb win in his first round by four lengths to a sculler from Liverpool Victoria, he then fell to an extremely close loss in the final by only one quarter of a boat length. Beattie was soon to race again though, this time alongside Toby and Amélie Sartain and Freya Watts in the senior mixed quads event. In another straight final against a crew from Queen’s Park High School, the four scullers put in an immense performance with no prior training in the boat to turn the race around in the last one hundred metres, coming from behind to take an unexpected and special win. Finally, Charles Happel took to the water one last time in the J18 singles event, and rounded off a victorious day for the squad with an effortless win in his final. J18 Coach Abi Terry commented. “As the final race for the J18’s as juniors, it was a great way to end the season!”

Stratford J16s and J17s also combined forces to enter an VIII in the Senior Women’s event. Megan Rowan, Aimee Appleton, Ez Elmwood, V, Harriet Noyes, Maddie Hall, Uche Nwachukwa, Kate Richardson and coxswain Imogen Hill drew a strong crew from Warwick in the semi-final but displayed better technique and soon pulled out a convincing lead to progress to the final. Despite a quality row and holding a high rate for the entire 750 metre course, Stratford could not hang on to a very experienced and powerful composite crew from Black Sheep Rowing Club in the final. J16 Coach Sam Hill said, “The girls have put in a superb performance, punching way above their weight with very little time training together: so it bodes well for next season when they ‘graduate’ to J17/18’s this September.”

Ross Rowing Club has recently started a Mixed Ability section which follows Stratford Boat Club’s example: Mixed Ability seeks to integrate adaptive rowers with able bodied club members. A Mixed Ability event took place at Ross Regatta between ladies’ doubles from each club with Stratford’s more experience crew of adaptive athlete Gillian Middleton and buddy rower Jackie Joesbury winning the day by four lengths.

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-boat-club-round-off-season-at-ross

Stratford Triumphs on the River, Beach and in Munich!

After the excitement of National Junior Championships, the Stratford upon Avon Boat Club junior rowing summer calendar turned to Henley Town & Visitors Regatta for the next races. Held over 800m on the famed Henley Reach, the event always provides great racing and moreover a great relaxed atmosphere. First to go from the J14 squad was the women’s coxed quadruple scull of Sophie Franklin, Becca Smith, Martha Baines, Bryony Francis and Poppy Warren (coxswain). Competing in the J15 category, the crew made easy meat of Wallingford Rowing Club in the first round. However not to be outdone, the hunter became the hunted in the final and a second Wallingford Rowing Club crew, recent National Junior Championship finalists, took the win in the final by just four lengths over the Stratford girls.

The racing continued furiously with the WJ14 single sculls next to boat. Sophie Franklin and Millie Smith represented Stratford with great sculling in a tough headwind, both placed second in their respective semifinals and narrowly missing out on a place in the final. Challenging conditions continued for the WJ14 double sculls event where three Stratford crews competed. Bryony Francis and Martha Cooke powered their way past a quality Wallingford Rowing Club double in the semifinal whilst Martha Baines and Becca Smith booked their place in the final showing Falcon Rowing Club nothing but wake. Meanwhile in the third semifinal, Isla Dunn and Poppy Warren narrowly missed out to a quality Henley Rowing Club double. With the regatta drawing to a close, the final wasn’t quite an all Stratford affair and the Henley Rowing Club crew took full home advantage securing the win with Stratford nipping at their heels until the finish line.

Stratford’s Junior 15’s had four events to participate in, starting with Theo Richter and Ollie Rowlands in the Junior 15 double sculls. They faced tough competition from Falcon and Henley who took an early lead and kept it until the end. Richter and Rowlands did their best but could not catch up on the short course. Sadly, they did not qualify for the final.

Stratford’s J15 girls had more success in the single sculls event with Sophie Evans, Alexandra Francis, Poppy Baines and Meg Nuttall representing Stratford Boat Club. Evans raced against City of Oxford and Wallingford and, despite being more used to racing in bigger boats, she performed well and finished third. Francis and Baines competed in the second heat against Shiplake with Francis advancing to the final finishing first with Baines finishing second in their heat. Nuttall who usually coxes, tried her hand at sculling in the third heat but lost to the eventual winner of the event. In the final, Francis fought hard against Wallingford but lost by a narrow margin.

The next event was the J15 singles where Seth Vondrak faced Henley in a straight final. The two boys were evenly matched in the first part of the race but Vondrak used his experience from the British Rowing’s recent Junior National Championships to pull ahead in the middle section. He maintained his lead and won by four lengths. Finally In the double sculls event for girls, Lily Warren and Alice Jones competed for the first time as a crew. They faced Wallingford and Shiplake in their heat who were both strong contenders. Wallingford took an early lead and kept it until the end, winning the overall event. Stratford and Shiplake fought for second place but Warren and Jones overtook them at the halfway point and secured their position, finishing second.

Stratford’s J16 squad entered three crews, enjoying an early success in the double sculls when Jamie Wilcock and Will Dalrymple-Baker executed their race plan perfectly in a straight final against a Wallingford crew. The boys went off hard to open an impressive lead by halfway and maintained their composure with a two boat length advantage as they crossed the line. Next to compete was Elliot Baird in the J16 single sculls: Elliot found himself in a very competitive heat with scullers from Wallingford and Henley. A strong start saw Elliot well in touch during the early part of the race before eventually crossing the line a couple of lengths behind the other two crews in a closely fought finish. Finally, the WJ16 coxless quad of Jessica Long, Scarlett Richardson, Megan Rowan and Harriet Froom took to the water rowing up an age category against a composite WJ18 crew from Staines and Mundener from Germany. Despite a good start and clean row from the Stratford athletes, the age difference told with the very accomplished WJ18 opposition taking the win in blustery conditions.

From Stratford’s J17 squad, Charles Happel stepped up to do battle in the Senior single sculls event.  Despite remaining in contact throughout, it was not to be Charles’ day as his opponent from Upper Thames Rowing Club took full benefit of a home crowd and crossed the line first.

The weekend also saw Stratford upon Avon Boat Club masters and adaptive rowers competing against athletes from far and wide with rowers in Germany in the European Club Championships on the south coast of England at the British Offshore Rowing Championships and also at Henley on Thames for the Henley Town & Visitors Regatta.

The British Offshore Rowing Championships took place off Exmouth and attracted its largest entry with rowers from the Czech Republic, France and Germany taking part in racing over two days.

Racing commenced on Friday with Stratford rowers Andrew Morris and Tom Doherty joined by their fellow rowers Ali Martineau and Kath Coleman-Jones from the Coastal Barbarians Club racing in the mixed ability quads sculls over a 4 km course. Up against crews from Fishguard, Llandaff and Mayflower, it was going to be a closely contested race with Mayflower with two of their senior men and Sophie Harris former GB Paralympic squad member.

A good start saw Stratford/Barbarians gain a half length lead which they held to the buoy turn out to sea. Over the next two kilometres, Mayflower edged back and both crews were racing for the buoy side by side in the choppy sea conditions. At the three kilometre buoy turn, Mayflower started to edge ahead by a length but drifted off course allowing Stratford/Barbarians to close and edge ahead and gain a short lead which they held to the finish. Said Tom Doherty, crew captain, “This was Stratford’s Andrew Morris’s first experience at sea rowing and he put in an incredible performance to win a gold medal. It also shows there are no limits to what adaptive athletes can achieve.”

Stratford were not finished with Tom Doherty back on the water half an hour later for the senior Men’s 6km Double Sculls final with Robin Steward from the Mayflower Club. In a very competitive field of six crews, a good start saw the double edge into second place behind Jersey with Eastbourne neck and neck. A long side by side race ensued with Eastbourne finally pulling away at the three kilometre point. Jersey, who had been leading, began to tire and were pushed into second place as Stratford/Mayflower attempted to close on second and hold off a fast finishing Ardingly crews behind. Jersey rallied enough to hold onto second place with Stratford/Mayflower finishing in third place for the bronze medal.

Meanwhile, Stratford’s Women’s Masters were competing in the Euro Master Regatta in Munich. Stratford’s Masters Women won five gold medals and secured several second and third positions of the thirteen events entered. The races were all extremely tight with often just a second between the top three places.

Particular congratulations to Suzie Radley, who won three of the gold medals in women’s VIII; Amanda Bowden, winning a gold medal in women’s VIII; Heather Hayton, winning gold in a Mixed double and Kjersti Rogneflaten Woolley who represented Stratford across several boat classes at times combining with other clubs. All the events saw hard racing from everybody involved across the four days.

Commenting, Amanda Bowden, Stratford crew member, said, “Lining up on a start to hear the starter announce ‘Great Britain’ alongside the other international competitors was totally thrilling! It was hugely inspiring to race masters’ athletes at this level, competing against other nations and great fun catching up with previous rowing friends and making new ones! Many thanks to all our supporters, with a special mention to Dan Simkins for boat support and David Bowden for the driving to and from Munich!”

For media mentions, see Stratford Herald page forty four and Stratford Observer back sports page https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2023/08/04&pages=24

For more great pictures of Henley Town & Visitors regatta, see Kathy Baines’ selection https://1drv.ms/f/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9j7QT6aOurkcIfval3A?e=NE1B7N

Glorious Weekend for Stratford’s Juniors!

The Bank Holiday Weekend saw the 2023 edition of the UK’s premier rowing event for junior athletes. Held on the Olympic Lake at Eton Dorney, the National Schools’ Regatta attracts the highest quality crews from schools and clubs from across the country.  Day One of the three day regatta saw Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s J14 and J15 crews competing over a 1000m distance. First to go were the WJ14 coxed quadruple scull crew of Maeve Dunn, Becca Smith, Martha Baines, Sophie Franklin and Josephine Cooper (coxswain) who stormed the time trial to record the sixth fastest time of the fifty three crews entered. Later in the day the girls lined up in the A Final to come home sixth after a nip and tuck race with Molesey Boat Club. Next to go was the WJ15 coxed quadruple scull crew of Alice Jones, Alexandra Francis, Poppy Baines, Sophie Evans and Lucy Yang (coxswain) who delivered a solid time trial performance to earn themselves a place in the C Final. The girls delivered another great row to come out fourth in their final. Last down the 1000m course was the OpJ15 coxed quadruple scull crew of Ollie Rowlands, Seth Vondrak, Xavier Sissins-Roffey, Lily Warren and Meg Nuttall (coxswain). The crew scored the twenty eighth fastest time against tough opposition.

 The final day saw of National Schools ‘Regatta saw Stratford Boat Club enter both the first and second WJ16 quad events. These were run as separate events for schools and clubs fortunate enough to have strength in depth to enter two competitive boats in the same category. The first quad crew with Esme Elfwood at stroke, Molly Vondrak, Scarlett Richardson and Aimee Appleton at bow came through the time trial to secure a place in the B final eventually finishing in twelfth position after a close contest all the way to the line against a crew from Yarm School in North Yorkshire. The second quad crew with Jessica Long at stroke, Lucy Sartain, Nancy Davis and Harriet Froom in the bow seat qualified third fastest in their time trial and rose to the occasion in their A final to produce a clean row and maintain third place, securing a bronze medal for Stratford. In doing so they recorded a very impressive time to finish within five seconds of the boat in silver medal position and ensure that Stratford Boat Club returned home with two WJ16 quads in the fastest fifteen boats at this premier national event.

On Saturday, Stratford entered Junior 17 Uchenna Nwachukwu in the Championship single scull event. Finishing thirty fifth out of forty nine in the time trial, Uche went on to the repechage where she won a place in the E final, but unfortunately had to pull out with a shoulder injury.

The Women’s Junior 17 coxed 4 of Amalia Richardson, Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes, Kate Richardson and cox Imogen Hill entered the Championship event coming fourth out of twenty two in the time trial. They stuck to the race plan in their semi final finishing second to gain a favourable lane for the eight lane A final. Stratford made an excellent start holding third place at the 500 metre marker, by 1500m Shrewsbury School had pulled out one length when Stratford increased the pressure. By 250m to go, Stratford had reduced the deficit to half a length, then they went up another gear increasing the rate to draw level with Shrewsbury. In the last few strokes, the crews swapped the lead with each stroke, but Shrewsbury took the Bronze medal by the tightest of margins.

J17/18 Coach Sam Hill said, “Our target was to reach the A final at the National Schools’ Regatta this year, so to finish within half a second of a medal is a great achievement. We will be back next year!”

The J18 squad was represented on Sunday by Lucy Browne and Freya Watts in the Women’s Championship Double Sculls event. A lively time trial and placing of twenty second saw the duo qualify for the C final in the early afternoon. Despite the sunshine and moderate temperature, a strong northerly crosswind created harsh conditions for the double’s last ever national event as juniors. Nevertheless, Browne and Watts powered through the 2km course, with support from coach Abi Terry cycling alongside, to secure a strong sixth place, losing to the fifth placed crew by only a second.

Abi Terry, J17/18 Coach added “It was a great way for Lucy and Freya to finish their last National Schools Regatta, moving up on where they had placed in the time trial.”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page forty five and Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-boat-club-juniors-win-bronze-at-national-schools-regatta and back sports page https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2023/06/02&pages=024

Stratford’s Juniors Out In Force At West Midlands Junior Championships

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s junior squad went in force to Stourport for British Rowing’s West Midlands Junior Championships. Making their debut in rowing competition, the eight boys and four girls who make up Stratford’s J13 squad came home with at least one medal each. The J13’s rowed the 1800m downstream course cheered on at the midway point at Stourport Boat Club and showed everybody how focused and determined they are. It was smiles all-round on the day for the J13s. The gold medal time was 8 minutes and 45 seconds. J13 Coach Hugo Happel said,” I’m so proud of these boys and girls. They have great spirit, attitude, belief and are just a joy to coach. They have a terrific bond with each other and that showed again today. What a super bunch! Thanks to the parents for helping out, it is much appreciated!”

The winter head season continued at the weekend for Stratford’s J14 squad at the West Midlands Junior Championships. The event presented the opportunity for the region’s junior rowers to be selected to represent West Midlands at the Junior Inter Regional Regatta in April. As a result, the spectators lining the banks of the Severn were treated to an excellent display of rowing and sculling. First to go for the J14 squad was the girls coxed quadruple scull of Bryony Francis, Maeve Dunn, Becca Smith, Tessa Parkin and Poppy Warren (coxswain). The crew demolished the course to win the event by forty five seconds and gain West Midlands jerseys in the process. Next to go were the three J14 girls double sculls of Isla Dunn and Sophie Franklin, Martha Baines and Mille Smith and Martha Cooke and Josephine Cooper. It was a nip and tuck affair as the crews raced under Stourport Bridge with the majestic Victorian arch willing crews onwards. Commenting, Steve Wellstead, J14 Coach and Junior Co-ordinator said, “In the final analysis, the Stratford Boat Club crews were placed second, third and fifth with a cigarette paper between them: accomplished rows from all!”

The day started early in Stourport for the J16 squad at the qualifying event for the chance to represent the West Midlands at the prestigious Junior Inter-Regional Regatta. The WJ16 doubles headed down the course first, facing strong competition from high level clubs in the region. All three boats rowed elegantly, with the pairing of Nancy Davis and Jess Long coming home in fifth, Harriet Froom and Eloise Cooper in fourth and Megan Rowan and Lucy Sartain in second, meaning they qualified to represent the West Midlands. Next up was Jamie Wilcock in the J16 singles who put in a well composed performance to finish sixth in a field of tough competition. On the heels of the WJ16’s were Lily Warren and Poppy Baines in the WJ15 double and Xavier Sissins-Rofey in the single sculls events. Although not qualifying to represent the West Midlands, both crews delivered an excellent performance, bronze medals for Warren and Baines and silver for Sissins-Rofey

After a strong start in the morning, first crew down the course for division two was the WJ16 coxless quad of Ez Elfwood, Molly Vondrak, Scarlett Richardson and Aimee Appleton. A clean start and some tidy sculling, they pushed on to win with a sub seven minute time, eleven seconds ahead of the home Stourport crew and well ahead of the trailing Kings School Worcester and Pengwern boats to qualify to represent West Midlands at the inter regional regatta. Following the quad was the J16 double of Jamie Wilcock and Will Dalrymple Baker who just missed out on a podium position after delivering a skilful performance. Up next representing the J15’s was the coxed quad of Theo Richter, Seth Vondrak, James Albrighton, Ollie Rowlands coxed by Meg Nuttall. Following on from their previous success at Stourport’s own head race, the J15 boys did not disappoint finishing one second against their nearest rivals and now move onto the Inter Regional Regatta. In hot pursuit was Alexandra Francis competing in the single sculls. Francis was competing against a formidable opponent from AB Severn who last year was awarded a gold medal at the British Rowing Championships. Francis finished just three seconds behind her opponent in silver medal position, a result which shows promise for the year ahead.

Finishing the day with a final singles race, Molly Vondrak, Lucy Sartain and Eloise Cooper went back out for one more run. Chasing each other, they pushed hard and finished with some strong times, Molly finishing fourth, Lucy just behind in sixth, and Eloise in eighth positions in a highly competitive field of eleven boats. Following on was the WJ15 quad with Poppy Baines, Lily Warren trying to repeat their previous placing along with Sophie Evans, Alice Jones and cox Lucy Yang. Despite every effort and up against stiff opposition the girls finished in fifth place.

Two members of the J17/18 squad also took on the familiar course at Stourport-on-Severn. Whilst they were not eligible for qualification for the Inter-Regional Regatta, Charles Happel and Toby Sartain competed in the J17 and J18 singles events respectively. Happel sculled superbly to bring home a confident win in his class, whilst Sartain also put up a good performance to finish third. In the afternoon division, they then combined to compete in the J18 doubles events, where in a field of strong crews they recorded a third place finish, rounding out a successful day.

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page forty five and Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-boat-club-juniors-impress-at-west-midlands-junior-championships

For a selection of photographs see Kathy and Stuart Baines’ amazing album WMJRRC 2023

Stratford’s Juniors Conquer The Severn!

On Sunday, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club junior squads went in force to Stourport Winter Head: the J17/18 squad started the day with singles’ events, which featured Will Beattie and Toby Sartain in the J18 category and Charles Happel in the J17 category. Beattie sculled to his usual high standard, finishing strongly to win the event and was followed down the course by Sartain who crossed the line in second place to round out a 1-2 finish for Stratford. Happel came next and sculled to a similar high standard also to claim second place in his event. Next up was the WJ18 pair of Amalia Richardson and Kate Richardson who, despite being relatively new to the pairs event, rowed proficiently and came home in first place. Finally, the afternoon division saw the two J18 doubles of Will Beattie and Tomi Wilcock and Charles Happel and Toby Sartain take on the 4km course: Beattie and Wilcock set off first sculling typically well on their way to win the event just ahead of Happel and Sartain who also sculled confidently to complete an excellent overall performance for the squad in second place.

For Stratford’s J16 squad, the morning division saw the coxless quad of Aimee Appleton, Scarlett Richardson, Molly Vondrack with Megan Rowan in the stroke seat put on an impressive display of sculling to beat the home Stourport boat by 12.5 seconds and take first place. In the afternoon three doubles of Lucy Sartain and Jess Long, Eloise Cooper and Nancy Davis, Ez Elfwood and Harriet Froom all competed to a very high standard and finished with seven seconds of each other over the 4k course. In the end it was Elfwood and Froom who missed out on a second place by just 1 second to take 3rd with Sartain and Long 0.8sec behind them followed by Cooper and Davis. Finally, Jamie Wilcock competed in the singles event and was in the lead at the halfway stage before a collision caused him to lose time and finish second overall.

For the J14 and J15 squads, the weekend saw the Stratford upon Avon Boat Club athletes from across the age ranges compete on the Severn in the “Blackpool of the Black Country, Stourport-on-Severn”! The 4000m course running with the stream presented a good opportunity for all to display the fruits of their winter training over a longer distance. Conditions on the day were superb with a light breeze and sunshine threatening to make an appearance on occasion.

In Division One, Stratford’s J14s fielded two WJ14 double sculls combinations. The crew of Josephine Cooper and Sophie Franklin powered down the course in style to finish over a minute ahead of Avon County Rowing Club and Evesham Rowing Club. The win however was taken by Maeve Dunn and Bryony Francis by a margin of just three seconds with a superb performance. The J15 squad fielded a coxed four into the event but, without opposition in their age range, took on senior crews. The crew of  Theo Richter, Seth Vondrak, Xavier Sissins-Roffey, Oliver Rowlands and James Albrighton (coxswain) thundered down the course to take the win in emphatic style.

In Division Two, the WJ14 coxed quadruple scull of Sophie Warren, Isla Dunn, Becca Smith, Martha Cooke and Josephine Cooper (coxswain) delivered a stonking row to take the win over quality opposition from Trentham Boat Club and Hereford Cathedral School.  The quadruple scull event was followed by the toughest event of the day by far, the single sculls. Testing themselves, representing Stratford were the J14 girls of Martha Baines, Tessa Parkin and Millie Smith. Dicing with strong competition from around the area, they recorded a creditable eighth, fifth and sixth respectively. Commenting, Steve Wellstead, J14 Coach and Junior Co-ordinator said, “No mean feat over the 4000m course so early in their rowing careers. No doubt, these athletes will return to the Severn in the coming years!”

Representing the J15 squad in the women’s double sculls, the powerhouse duo of Alexandra Francis and Poppy Baines provided a show for the assembled crowd with a textbook row, taking the win by a comfortable margin, In the women’s J15 coxed quadruple sculls event, the crew of Sophie Evans, Meg Nuttall, Alice Jones, Lily Warren and Lucy Yang (coxswain) delivered a solid row chasing Ross Rowing Club all the way to achieve a fourth place.

Joining their Stratford colleagues, King Edward The Sixth School Boat Club also headed to Stourport Head. First up in the morning division was the J18 4+ of T. Wilcock, R. Macdonald, T. Wheeler, T. Beard and I. Hill (cox) they were racing in the open men’s category and put in a great performance to see off crews from Warwick BC and Trentham RC to take the win.

The afternoon division saw a debut for our J16 4x of W. Dalrymple-Baker, H. Hoare, A. Mathers and M. Cullimore, three of whom only start rowing in September. Said Hannah Crone, KES Coach, “This was their first race and the aim was to row well and enjoy it: the boys put in a fantastic performance to take the win over Evesham Rowing Club.”

Next up was our WJ18 4+ of A. Richardson, T. Dunn, M. Hall, K. Richardson and I. Hill (cox) again racing in the senior category. Despite a last minute substitution due to injury, the girls had a good row and came out on top ahead of Evesham Rowing Club and Trentham Rowing Club. This topped off a great day for King Edward The Sixth School Boat Club coming home with three wins from three crews.

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page forty four and Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratfords-juniors-conquer-the-severn

For more great pictures of Stourport Winter Head, see Kathy and Stuart Baines’ excellent selection at https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AOAm%5FWXXHbdtI6M&id=8E50DAC120123B06%2190130&cid=8E50DAC120123B06

Stratford Sets The Thames Alight!

Saturday saw the opening head race of the new season on the Thames in Oxfordshire. Wallingford Long Distance Sculls, held over 4.25km, attracts top level scullers from around the region with Stratford fielding crews across the age range. Stratford’s J14 squad raced in the short course event for their head racing debut: it was to be an all Stratford affair with no other J14 coxed quadruple sculls entered. Undeterred, the Stratford girls took the competition by the horns with the crew of Martha Cooke, Maeve Dunn, Poppy Warren, Bryony Francis and Isla Dunn (coxswain) leading the way down the course being chased by Millie Smith, Tessa Parkin, Josephine Cooper, Martha Baines and Sophie Franklin (coxswain).  In the final analysis, it was Sophie’s crew who took the win with just ten seconds separating the two crews over the eight minute course.

The J15’s raced in their first long distance event: the boys crew of James Albrighton, Xavier Sissins-Rofey, Seth Vondrak, Ollie Rowlands, and Lucy Yang (coxswain) were one of the first crews down the course and finished second in their age group losing out to a local crew. Following the boys in hot pursuit were Sophie Evans, Alexandra Francis, Lily Warren, Alice Jones and Poppy Baines (coxswain). The girls were challenged from the start due to the loss of their rudder: undeterred, Baines ensured her crew navigated the course without further incident finishing fourth in their age group.

The J16 squad started the day with the women’s coxless quad of Esme Elfwood, Eloise Cooper, Nancy Davis and Harriet Froom. New to coxless racing at J16, they steered a good course, rowing a tidy race to finish fourth from a field of eight. Next down the course in the Open Double category were Jamie Wilcock and Will Dalrymple-Baker putting up a strong performance to finish a very respectful third.

In the afternoon division, the women’s doubles started with Lucy Sartain and Aimee Appleton who, following an incident with a rogue boat that caused them to stop, powered on to finish fourth. They were closely followed by Jessica Long and Megan Rowan who showed great form to finish seventh. Rounding off the day were Scarlett Richardson and Molly Vondrak in the highly competitive singles event, both displaying great technical ability and strength with Richardson finishing eighth and Vondrak securing the win by a good margin with an under twenty minute time.

The J17 and J18 squad began the day with the two Open J18 doubles of Tomi Wilcock and Charles Happel and Will Beattie and Toby Sartain. Wilcock and Happel set off first, delivering a convincing performance to finish in first place. Beattie and Sartain followed them down the course, rowing well and coming home happy in third place with what they described as the best they could have achieved. Next came Freya Watts in the Open Women’s single event who sculled confidently to finish in sixth place in a competitive field. Just behind her came Harriet Noyes, Amalia Richardson and Grace Beason, all in the WJ17 singles event, who finished in second, fifth and twenty second places respectively, rounding out a strong showing for the squad in the singles

In the afternoon division, Beattie, Wilcock, Happel and Sartain raced in the Open J18 quads event. They set off well, catching the boat ahead, however trouble struck before halfway as an equipment failure caused them to have to stop, losing a lot of time before they could get moving again demoting them to seventh position from what could have been a much better result. The last race for the squad was the Open Women’s quad of Watts, Beason, Noyes and Richardson. They too set off assuredly, rowing neatly and consistently in another competitive event. They came across the line in an excellent sixth after a long day of intense racing.

Whilst the junior squad were recovering from their successes at Wallingford, Sunday saw Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Masters head off to London for the national Pairs Head of the River race. Held over the famous Tideway varsity boat race course on the Thames over 4.5km, for two crew boats in pairs [one oar each rowers], and doubles [two oars], the event attracted over 330 competitors from across the country. Stratford Boat Club were represented by Ed Lewry and Nick Sartain racing in Open Club Doubles and Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty racing in Mixed Masters’ Doubles.

First Stratford crew off on the day was Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty, the thirtieth boat to start. With conditions considerably more benign than on the previous day, the crew were able to settle into their race plan and chase down the much fancied Walton mixed crew starting in front of them.

Pulling away from some of their immediate competitors starting behind, they managed to open a gap and settled down to chase Walton, managing to maintain their starting distance to them for the first half of the course. The second half of the race saw them working to push away from a number of crews starting just behind including previous winners Upton and Mosley.

At the end of the race the crew failed to catch Walton rowing strongly over the second half of the course who finished a magnificent eighty sixth overall with the third fastest woman in the whole event in their boat. Although they failed to catch Walton, the crew held off and pushed away from the crews behind to finish in a time of 15mins 21 sec, one hundred and fifty third overall and second in their event.

The best was yet to come however with Ed Lewry and Nick Sartain: starting in one hundred and thirty third position in the middle of a strong pack of crews including the GB/Leander crew of Dawson/Rossiter, the crew settled into an early rhythm and were able to use their power and fitness to row through a number of crews down the course. A very strong finish as they approached Hammersmith Bridge saw them close on several other crews finishing in a magnificent time of 14 mins and 11 secs for a fantastic overall finish position of thirty second and third in their event.

Said Heather Hayton afterwards, “We were very pleased with our race keeping the boat speed at 1.44/500m splits for the whole course and left nothing in the tank at the end, finishing only five seconds behind our quad crewmates and event winners Upton and four seconds behind big rivals Molesey: however, the biggest cheer of the day  must go to Ed and Nick for their magnificent achievement which made for a great days racing.”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page fifty eight and Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-start-new-season-in-style

Stratford’s Juniors Clean Up At Henley!

The weekend’s Henley Town & Visitors regatta was to host pulsating performances by the young ladies from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s J15 squad. Racing over 800 metres of the famous Henley Royal Regatta course, the ladies demonstrated their devastating sculling skills, honed on the river Avon, to their opponents from home clubs on the river Thames.

In the morning the quadruple sculling crew of Scarlett Richardson, Megan Rowan, Jessica Long and Harriet Froom coxed supremely by Nancy Davis annihilated a Wallingford crew by more than three lengths to earn each crew member a lovely engraved pewter tankard.

Later in the day, two double sculling crews of Aimee Appleton partnered by Molly Vondrak and Scarlett Richardson with Nancy Davis took on the mighty Henley Rowing Club and Wallingford Rowing Club respectively. Both crews sculled well, demolishing Henley by five lengths and Wallingford by over three lengths to bring both Stratford crews to the final. In what was the best race of the day, both crews sculling out of their skins were neck and neck all the way down the course. As they approached the finish the crowd was on its feet to witness Scarlett and Nancy winning by just one foot!

The regatta on Thames treated Stratford upon Avon Boat Club athletes to very kind weather on Saturday: not too hot with a fair breeze down the course at least to start the day with the breeze strengthened during the afternoon.

Stratford Boat Club WJ16 ladies were entered into an open category meaning they were to scull against adult ladies in a coxless quad. Not daunted, the junior crew of Amalia Richardson, Harriet Noyes, Maddie Hall and Kate Richards faced up to a crew from Walton Rowing Club in their first race. Sculling with great energy over the 800m course beating Walton by one and a half lengths in a time of three minutes and thirty five seconds. This was a great race and qualified them to meet a composite crew from Upper Thames Rowing Club and Wycliffe Rowing Club in the final.

In the final, the Stratford crew got off to an excellent start but gradually Upper Thames and Wycliffe pulled away to a two length lead in the mid course which was pulled back to finish to only one and a half lengths ahead at the finish. Commenting Steve Marsden, J16 Coach said, “A valiant effort against a very experienced crew.”

First to race for Stratford’s WJ 17/18 squad was Elisabeth Edwards in the Women’s Single Sculls. Racing against two highly experienced scullers from Upper Thames RC and University College London, Edwards had a rough start but soon recovered and settled into a clean and tidy rhythm down the course. A final sprint in the last 200m narrowed the gap between the other scullers but she ultimately ran out of time to catch them. Said Helen Smith J17/18 Coach, “Despite this, Elisabeth looks forward to her next race in a few weeks’ time, where she hopes to better Saturday’s result.”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page forty three

Success at Junior Championships!

The British Rowing Junior Championships took place at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham over the last three days with tight racing from the J14 & J15 crews on Friday. The day started with a morning of time trials over the 900-metre course ahead of the G to A Finals in the afternoon held over 1000 meters. It was a complete regatta for the J14 and J15 crews, with their J16 and J18 counterparts racing across Saturday and Sunday.

Spirits were high from the onset, with friends, family and teammates supporting their rowers right from the first-time trial to the last A Final. The time trials took place in ideal conditions with light winds and comfortable temperatures. This was short lived as the cloud dissipated, temperatures rose and typical of the venue the winds picked up in the afternoon and several of the young crews found it challenging to line up at the start.

First up was Eloise Cooper representing the Junior 15’s in the single scull E final. Elouise was determined to make up for her capsize at the Stratford Regatta. Racing neck and neck for three quarters of the course Eloise finally finished third behind City of Bristol and Wallingford.

Next up representing the J14’s in the B final of the double sculls were Alexandra Francis and Poppy Baines. A strong start from the Stratford girls gave them a slight lead at the 200 meters marker, however Maidenhead having a slightly lower rate started to pull ahead and maintained their lead to finish first. A battle for second and third ensued resulting in a third place for Francis and Baines just three seconds behind Calpe.

Representing the J15 girls in the double scull C final in challenging windy conditions were Lucy Sartain and Aimee Appleton. The girls had a tete-a-tete with Falcon Rowing Club for most of the course vying for the fifth and sixth positions. With less than a second between both crews, Sartain and Appleton had to wait for the photo finish judges analysis. The result was a fifth place for the Stratford double.

Following hot on the heels of the girls were Will Dalrymple – Baker and Jamie Wilcock in the B final of the Open J15 double sculls. Competing against very strong opposition both athletes gave it their all and finished in a creditable sixth place.

Next down the course in the WJ14 coxed quad F final were Alice Jones, Sophie Evans, Lily Warren, Lucy Yang coxed by Meg Nuttall. Determined to make up for their time trial equipment failure, a closely fought race between Wallingford and Stratford ensued and concluded with a third place for Stratford.

Last race of the day and after a long wait lining up for the B final of the WJ15 coxed quad were Scarlett Richardson, Megan Rowen, Jessica Long, Harriet Froom coxed by Nancy Davis. Being drawn into Lane One, the girls bore the brunt of the increasing crosswinds and finished in sixth place behind Henley Rowing Club.

Commenting, the J14 and J15 coaches said, “Some excellent results for the Junior 14 and 15’s squads in their inaugural British Junior Championships. Three crews in the top twelve and one in the top sixteen, some lessons learnt and a good stake in the ground for all athletes as to where they are against the best of the best.”

The J16 squad entered Charles Happel in the single scull event, which attracted a large field of thirty competitors. Finishing sixteenth in the time trial, Charles qualified for the C final run at mid-day on Saturday. In spite of exhausting heat, Charles sustained excellent technique throughout the 2k course to finish a superb fourth place.

The WJ16 Coxed Four of Kate Richardson, Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes, Kate Richardson and Imogen Hill faced fourteen crews in their time trial on Saturday morning, five of whom had beaten them at Henley Women’s Regatta, so to qualify for the A final required a top performance from the Stratford crew. They duly delivered with the fourth fastest time. Returning for the final on Sunday, Stratford made a superb start and pushed hard to gain a half a length lead at 500m. They held on to 1000m but Glasgow Academy/George Watson composite and Henley eased through in the third place and Sir William Perkins just took the bronze medal ahead of Stratford. Stratford’s J16 Coach Sam Hill said, “It was a brave and typically competitive race strategy from our crew to round off a highly successful season with an excellent result!”

Toby Sartain was the first representative of the J17 and 18 squad to take to the lake, competing in the Open J18 singles event. Placed forty second in the time trial, Toby went on to maintain this position in the G final in the afternoon against some very tough competition.

The pairing of Freya Watts and Amelie Sartain competed in the Women’s’ J18 doubles event, qualifying sixteenth to race in the C final. They finished fourteenth overall racing right up to the line. Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie entered the Open J18 pairs category, a difficult event full of technically skilled crews. They qualified in twelfth position, returning on Sunday to race in the B final and maintain their position from Saturday’s time trial. The last crew from the squad was the girls’ quad of Martha Usselmann, Ruby Howells, Grace Beason and Lucy Browne who competed in the Women’s J18 quad event. They placed an impressive fourteenth in the time trials, finishing fifteenth overall after their C final in the afternoon.

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page fifty three and Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-upon-avon-enjoy-success-at-british-junior-championships

For more great pictures of Stratford Boat Club Juniors at the British Rowing Junior Championships, see Kathy Baines’ excellent selection https://1drv.ms/u/s!AgY7EiDB2lCOhaIIslipeO-ODXfMbQ?e=0HvdDY

Stratford’s Juniors Show Real Mettle at Ironbridge!

On Saturday 25 June, Stratford upon Avon juniors set off early and racing side by side over 1000m with the stream, upstream from the pretty town of Ironbridge, opposite the former cooling towers, Will Dalrymple-Baker beat a Grosvenor sculler and two City of Bristol Scullers to take the win in the J15 1x Band 1 event. Jamie Wilcock crashed whilst in the lead, recovered well but ran out of time.

The Stratford WJ15 doubles of Nancy Davis/Jessica Long and Harriet Froom/Esmerelda Elfwood sculled with fine technique against powerful opponents from Grange School and Huntingdon, with a win for Nancy and Jessica. The latter duo came just short in the Final.

Following on from the J15’s was Theo Richter, Xavier Sissins-Rofey, Seth Vondrak , Ollie Rowlands in the OpJ14 coxed quad. The boys were determined to make up for their equipment failure at Stratford regatta last weekend. A very strong start enabled the boys to pull ahead within the first quarter of the course. Their cox Meg Nuttall steered a perfect line and pushed the boys to further increase their lead, winning the final against Grange School by a convincing four boat lengths.

Up next was Poppy Baines who faced a very strong sculler Daisy O’Reilly from City of Bristol and despite a strong start where both girls were neck and neck, Daisy managed to pull away crossing the line fist. The City of Bristol sculler went on to win the finals of the WJ14 single event.

In Division Two, Jamie Wilcock and Will Dalrymple-Baker raced twice to win the J15 2x Band 2 event, beating crews from Grange and City of Bristol. In the WJ15 1x events, all three Stratford scullers Aimee Appleton, Molly Vondrak and Eloise Cooper raced very well but came just short against tough opponents from Grange and Liverpool Victoria.

The WJ15 4x+ event saw very close racing and the Stratford girls, Scarlett Richardson, Megan Rowan, Jessica Long and Harriet Froom, coxed by Nancy Davis, beat City of Bristol by two feet and then Grange by half a length to take the event win.

Also in Division Two, Alexandra Francis, Sophie Evans, Alice Jones, and Lily Yang competed in the WJ 14 coxed quad verses Grange School. Grange School were a little too eager to make for their boys’ loss earlier in the day. Grange were quick of the start but were unable to sustain their fast pace. Once again Meg Nuttall, the Stratford cox, stuck to her race plan. Not fazed by her opposition she successfully coxed the girls to a win of one length.

Commenting on the day Hugo Happel, Stratford’s J15 coach said, ”It was a very special atmosphere all day with the crowds gathered in front of the Ironbridge Boathouse being very lively and engaged which made for a great experience for competitors and spectators alike. The J15 athletes did so well, much improved pre-race preparation and fantastic sculling with great determination, well done all!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/juniors-show-their-mettle-9261155 and page sixty and also Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-upon-boat-club-juniors-on-form-at-ironbridge