Stratford Score at Indoor Championships

The Stratford upon Avon Boat Club adaptive squad had a strong outing at the British Rowing Indoor Championships (BRIC) at Birmingham’s NEC this weekend. Amid over 1,500 competitors, Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive squad secured three gold medals and four personal bests.

Jake Blatcher, competing in BRIC for the first time, came twenty fifth in the Open 2000m and sixteenth in the Open 500m with a whopping 1:35mins split time. Jake completed his 2K race in 7:04mins (three seconds short of his previous PB of 7:01mins) and the 500m race was a new personal best for Jake.

Curtis Dickens, who has been selected for British Rowing’s GB World Class Rowing Programme, won gold in the PR2 2000m category. It was a close race in the middle but Curtis powered ahead in the latter stages, winning with a comfortable lead. Curtis has competed his 2K race in 7:55 while maintaining a steady rate.

Isaac Clarkson won gold in the Year 9 PR3 category and was thirtieth out of fifty five competitors in the mainstream Year 9 boys. Isaac went on to win a second gold in the Year 9 PR3 One Minute category. Most of all, Isaac secured two personal bests continuing to go from strength to strength as the youngest PR3 accredited rower in the UK. Isaac is also Stratford Boat Club’s youngest adaptive rower

Commenting, Courtland Clarkson said, “It was a superbly organised event with a great atmosphere and lots of friendly rivalry across the clubs and schools. It’s definitely an event for the race calendar from now on!”

Also representing Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Participation Squad was Ellis Bishop: despite only rowing for one year and having minimal training time indoors, Ellis came a credible eleventh in the 500m Year 11 Boys’ Race.

Ralph Johnson, Participation Squad Coach said, “Ellis was very nervous this being his first major competition but he followed his race plan perfectly to come through in the last 50m as others around him faded. Having doubted himself, Ellis was understandably pleased with his performance which should hopefully stand him in good stead for future races in the New Year!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online and page thirty six and Stratford Observer online and also back sports page

Peterborough, Ironbridge & Nottingham in One Weekend!

Saturday saw Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s J14 squad in action at Peterborough Junior Championships on the purpose-built Cambridgeshire rowing lake. The event drew in top schools and clubs from the junior rowing scene to do battle on the 1000m four lane course. First to go in the heats were the WJ14 coxed quadruple scull of Martha Cooke, Millie Smith, Josephine Cooper, Isla Dunn and Maeve Dunn (coxswain) with a solid fifth place of the twenty four crews entered.  Going forward to the B Final, the girls had a ding dong battle with Cambridge’s Rob Roy Boat Club to finish second by the slimmest of margins.

Next to go were the WJ14 double sculls of Sophie Franklin and Becca Smith along with Bryony Francis and Poppy Warren going to work in the heats to record fourth and fifth place respectively of twenty two entrants. In their finals the Francis/Warren combination dominated their B Final and romped over the line in first place whilst the Franklin/Smith crew chased Nottingham and Union down the course to maintain their fourth place overall ranking. In the last of the J14 events, Stratford’s single scullers took to the course as the afternoon heat continued to bake the spectators. In the heats Stratford was represented by Tessa Parkin, Martha Baines and Maeve Dunn who recorded eighth, fifth and fourth respectively of the thirty three scullers racing. In the B Final, Tessa and Martha brought their best to finish fourth and second against stiff competition.  Meanwhile, in the A Final, Maeve Dunn dug deep and tore down the lake to better her time trial ranking and earn herself a richly deserved silver medal against quality competition in the process.

Stratford’s Junior 15 squad also competed at the Peterborough Junior Championships. The competition was intense, with crews from Leeds, Lincoln, Oxford, Sussex, and London. There were one hundred and fifty two races, with four-lane racing and initial time trials. The fastest twelve crews were seeded into the ABC finals, which took place throughout the day.

In the double sculls event for the Junior 15’s, Theo Richter and Ollie Rowlands represented their squad and finished third in the C final. Xavier Sissins-Rofey and Seth Vondrak competed in the time trials for the same event and finished fourth in the B final. Vondrak and Sissins-Rofey also competed in the single sculls event and finished fourth in their respective division B finals. Lucy Yang and Alice Jones raced in the Junior Women’s 15 single sculls event. Yang did not qualify for the finals due to being overwhelmed by her first singles event more to come in future events but Jones finished third in the C final.

In the double sculls event for the girls, Alexandra Francis and Poppy Baines narrowly missed out on the A final but won their B final. Lily Warren and Sophie Evans finished fourth in their B final. Francis also competed in the single sculls event and won a bronze medal in the A final, while Baines placed second in the B final.

Commenting, Colin Bell J15 Coach said, “Overall, the event provided valuable learning experiences for Francis, Baines, and Vondrak, who will apply what they learned in the upcoming British Junior Championships.”

Sunday saw the trials for the U16 GB vs France match take place at the National Watersports’ Centre in Nottingham. ‘V’ Vondrak and Scarlett Richardson entered in the double sculls event in their first opportunity to compete for a GB Rowing badge. With the forecast for thunderstorms in the afternoon, the side by side finals were cut from the programme meaning selection would be based on performance in the time trials only. The Stratford girls sculled well in the early heat of the day, missing out on a top five finish by just 0.5 seconds but demonstrating they are in the mix with the most competitive crews in the country.

Meanwhile, Jake Blatcher, competing in the open single sculls event, was the only Stratford Boat Club representative at Ironbridge Regatta on Saturday. In the first round he came up against a local rival from Evesham. Jake overcame his opponent, in a hard fought race, by a length and a half. His semi-final against a young sculler from Liverpool Victoria Rowing Club proved a more straightforward affair. Pulling away consistently, he won easily.

This win set up Jake for a final against a very good sculler from Falcon Rowing Club (Oxford). The tall rower from Falcon set up an early lead. In the last few hundred metres, Jake’s improved technique started to tell and he began to close quickly on his rival. Unfortunately, he was not able to quite catch up before the finish line. Mark Dewdney, Head Adaptive Coach commented, “This was another sign of progress in an encouraging season. I’m pleased with the performance”.

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online and Stratford Herald page fifty two

For more great pictures of Peterborough Junior Championships, please see Kathy and Stuart Baines’ excellent selection!AiW2DAyn9tg9j69o2xUB_tV0JoX2OQ?e=1HikGG

Busy Coronation Weekend for Stratford & K.E.S. in Munich, Dorney Lake & Shrewsbury

Busy Coronation Weekend for Stratford & K.E.S. in Munich, Dorney Lake & Shrewsbury. Harriet Noyes won her first GB vest after a gruelling selection process that started in October 2022. After training hard over the winter at their home clubs, the athletes looked forward to Munich as this was the first opportunity to see how their junior crew measured up against international competition.

Rowing in a pair with Isadora Kennedy on Saturday, Harriet won a bronze medal in a very tight final finishing less than a second behind her teammates in the other GB boat.

On Sunday Harriet and her pair’s partner Isadora were entered in the Coxless Four event. They went out hard leading the field by over a length at the halfway marker. Gradually the Swiss crew started to reel them in as the second GB crew held on to third place. Harriet’s crew picked up the rate to 38 stroke per minute in the last 250 meters to take the gold medal by half a length.

Sam Hill, Harriet’s J17/18 Coach at Stratford said, “Munich has proved to be a remarkable international debut for Harriet and we hope she can continue to represent GB U19s through the summer regatta season.”

Commenting further, Dawson Curnock, Stratford Boat Club’s Chairman said, “The whole Club would like to firstly send massive congratulations to Harriet on her outstanding performances in Munich: we are more than proud of her. Furthermore, congratulations also need to go to her coaches at Stratford upon Avon for matching her goals with their expertise to facilitate the opportunity to get to row for GBR along with her crew at the Club as well. Nor must we not also forget her crew members at Munich, thank you for looking after Harriet, pulling together when it matters, greater together! Lastly, thank you to Team GBR for giving Harriet this great chance: she will not let you down!”

Also finishing off the Coronation weekend were two members from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Mixed Ability/Adaptive squad who attended Shrewsbury Sprint Regatta.

Commenting, Mark Dewdney, Stratford’s Head Adaptive Coach said, “After three event cancellations, it was relief to get two members of the squad competing. Unfortunately, many of the large boat club adaptive squads may have to wait to June to make their regatta season debut.”

Andy Morris’s final in the PR3 (limb) singles’ event was against a sculler from Runcorn: the Runcorn man started slightly better than his Stratford opponent and established a small early lead. However, Andy’s more polished technique and race experience soon began to tell. By halfway, Andy had passed the Runcorn competitor. He consistently built on his lead and won the race by about three lengths.

Jake Blatcher in the Open singles mainstream event raced a Shrewsbury local Pengwern competitor in his final. Unfortunately, a rather untidy first hundred metres put him well behind: a deficit he was not able to claw back on the 600m course. It was a good performance spoilt by the start in the final. Jake is due to compete again at Monmouth in three weeks’ time.

Also over the Coronation weekend on Sunday, Stratford Boat Club’s sister club King Edward VI School Boat Club departed Stratford at 06.00hrs and headed to Dorney Lake to compete in the Ball Cup South Regatta. The original Ball Cup Challenge was founded by K.E.S. in 1934 so this regatta is a big one for the school. It is now held over the last 750m of the 2km Olympic lake.

K.E.S. took a squad of fourteen athletes entered across six different events. First up were the J18 double sculls: this event consisted of three heats where the fastest six crews across the board qualified for the final. K.E.S.’s A crew of Tomi Wilcock and Ed Rose rowed in the second heat and had a good start, taking an early lead, they paced the race well maintaining a lively rate and crossed the line first. In the third heat the B crew of Tom Beard and Rafa MacDonald had a steady start and settled into a good pace and started to pick up in the last 150m but it wasn’t quite enough and finished in second place. The times were out almost immediately and it was pleasing to see both crews had qualified for the final in first and fourth positions. An hour later, both crews boated for their final, Tomi and Ed in Lane Three and Tom and Rafa in Lane Five. Tom and Rafa had a superb start taking an early lead but unfortunately couldn’t hold the pace as the faster crews settled into their rhythm and steadily went ahead. Tom and Ed had a good start and settled again into a nice lively rhythm really pushing the other crews: their final sprint saw them pulling away to take the win over Itchen Imperial and Radnor College with Tom and Rafa finishing in fourth place.

Up next was the Girls Ball Cup 4+ event. The K.E.S. crew of Imogen Hill, Lucy Browne, Maddie Hall, Kate Richardson and Amalia Richardson (cox) were a scratch crew having only had one outing in this combination. They went off the start cautiously but quickly and soon found themselves in the lead in this straight final of three boats. They soon settled in and had found their rhythm, looking neat they gradually pulled away from the crews from Sydenham High School and Cambridge City to take the win and claim the trophy!

Ten minutes later was the J18 4x of Tomi Wilcock, Tom Wheeler, Tom Beard and Ed Rose. Another straight final with some stiff competition from the likes of Whitgift School and Globe Rowing Club. The boys had a strong start and kept up the pace throughout: they were just squeezing out in front when unfortunately they clipped the buoys and one of the crew caught their blade under the water and this saw them drop almost to last place. With the adrenaline now flowing, they absolutely flew back into contention but unfortunately didn’t have enough course left and came home in bronze medal position finishing just 0.4 seconds behind silver.

In the third division of the day, Tom Wheeler went out to race in the J18 1x sculls: this was a packed event with three heats, the same format as the doubles earlier in the day. Tom’s second race in the single, he started well and sculled professionally throughout, pushing on into the last 150m. He finished fourth in his heat: unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to see him through to the final finishing eighth overall.

Finally it was the turn of the Boys Ball Cup fours with a straight final between K.E.S. A crew of Tomi Wilcock, Tom Beard, Rafa Macdonald, Ed Rose and Imo Hill and K.E.S. B crew of David Shilvock, Tom Woodcock, Milo Cullimore, Joe Warner and Kate Richardson. The A crew had a fantastic row in almost perfect conditions to take a convincing win, beating the winning time from last year’s regatta. For three of the B crew, this was their second ever race with the whole crew having only started rowing in September. They had a good row and it was a fantastic experience for them and they will be back next year to take the win!

Commenting, Hannah Crone, Head of Rowing at King Edward VI School, “Overall, a great day for K.E.S. Boat Club, claiming a total of five medals from seven crews!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer online, Stratford Herald page fifty five and British Rowing

A First for Stratford’s Adaptives: A First for British Rowing

Last weekend was the final and second two day weekend coaches’ course for para and able bodied athletes: a first for British Rowing and also a first for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s adaptive section!

Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive section has recently been held up as an exemplar for para rowing in the United Kingdom: this has only been possible with the support of local Stratford and Warwickshire companies and regional and national organisations. The course is run by British Rowing’s Dr Perse Wynn, L3 Senior Club and L2 Strength and Conditioning Coach and Marcus Walker, Level 2 and L3 Course Coach: the extensive four day course covered topics such as risk management; warming up and cooling down exercises; understanding the assessment process, coaching behaviours, the code of conduct, responsibility, safety requirements; cold water immersion and hypothermia; developing athleticism and the practical application of boat adjustments

On the course were Sofia Ward, Jake Blatcher, Gillian Middleton and Kelly Donald, all members of Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive squad and Imogen North who is trainee coach with Stratford juniors’ J15 squad

Also on the course was Rachel Morris from Guildford Rowing Club: Rachel has enjoyed a successful career as a hand-cyclist, winning time trial gold at Beijing 2008 and a bronze medal in the road race at London 2012. Seeking a new challenge, Rachel transferred to rowing in 2013 and won an outstanding gold medal in the PR1 (arms and shoulders only) women’s single scull boat at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Shoulder surgery following the Rio Games sadly curtailed Morris’s rowing career and she left the squad in 2017 and now rows and coaches at Guildford in Surrey.

Commenting, Mark Dewdney, Stratford Boat Club’s Head Adaptive Coach said, “To have the British Rowing (BR) coaches’ course at Stratford is a major benefit and shows BR’s commitment to Stratford’s adaptive squad and para rowing in the UK. The emphasis of the course is to teach the participants how to be a coach first and then how to adapt their new skills to para rowing”

Commenting further, Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club’s President said, “Mark’s commitment to the Stratford’s adaptive squad and para rowing in general is an example of dedication producing results. We are also most grateful to Crowne Plaza Stratford for providing Rachel’s accommodation which has enabled her to join the course”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty three; Stratford Observer online and back sports page and British Rowing

2022 President’s Sculls Trophies Awarded!

… and finally! Stratford upon Avon Boat Club finally awarded The President’s Sculls 2022 trophies for the best sculler in the men’s and adaptive category this last month, The race off for the award for the best sculler in the Club’s junior squad is still to be completed

The original trophy was initially presented by Ian Cartwright, the then Captain, to Derek Eardley in 2004 during his tenure as President of Stratford Boat Club to mark his many years of service to the Club and was to be raced for annually in coxed fours

Over the years, the competition faded from the annual calendar and was reinstated comparatively recently as an annual sculling competition in four categories – women, men, juniors and adaptive

Paul Stanton, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club President commented, “We hope that the President’s Sculls award will inspire all members to continue with sculling at a high level and further contribute to all sections of the Club mixing and communicating with each other”

The award for the men’s trophy went to Jake Blatcher who dominated the men’s races and was awarded by Dr Persephone Wynn, Programme Manager for the Level 3 Senior Club Coaching Award and Level 2 Strength & Conditioning programme at British Rowing. The awards for the adaptive squad went to Gillian Middleton and Rona Fitzpatrick for the best pair; Rob Pedley for the most improved sculler in a single and to Isaac Courtland for the most promising sculler in a single

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page forty three and Stratford Observer online

Stratford’s Adaptives Prove Themselves at Maidenhead!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s adaptive squad took the long journey to Maidenhead to compete at their regatta on Saturday. Five clubs entered eight different events for the disabled. The other clubs won one each. Stratford won the other four; four of the five adaptive events they competed in.

Jake Blatcher also attended and raced in both his single and as well as a support rower with some of his adaptive colleagues. In Jake’s first race, his opponent from Reading University took an early lead. However, Jake closed the gap consistently and his opponent, feeling the pressure, started to make mistakes and as Jake came alongside, the Reading man made a fatal mistake resulting in his capsize and defeat! Jake’s second race was against a large sculler from Ardingly: this was an epic encounter that Jake lost by just a quarter of length!

First up from the adaptive squad was Andy Morris racing Watson from Oxford in his singles’ final. The Oxford sculler was given a twenty second head start: Andy succeeded in clawing this back by halfway down the course eventually winning by a comfortable four lengths.

Rob Pedley then took on a sculler from Lagan (Belfast) in his final: this was Rob’s first event. The competitor from Northern Ireland was also given a twenty second head start. It was only in the last one hundred metres that Rob poked his nose in front, winning by a few lengths as his opponent faded.

The next event turned out to be an all Stratford final as new boy Dan Browne took on the more experienced Gillian Middleton in Mixed Ability Doubles/Pairs. Dan was given a head start which he and his steerer, Joe Moore, never relinquished: this was Dan’s first win after a few tries.

The final win for Stratford Boat Club came in another Mixed Ability Doubles/Pairs event. The final was between a Lagan and Maidenhead combined crew and Dan Godefroy and Jake Blatcher from Stratford. This was an exercise in better technique overcoming a lot of effort. Rowing smoothly down the whole course, the result looked inevitable well before the finish, Dan and Jake drawing applause from the crowd for what looked like effortless rowing.

Rob Pedley kindly agreed to race Akhurst from Marlow who otherwise would not have had an opponent: this was a tremendous race with the experience and technique of Marlow against the brawn of the Stratford man. As with the previous final, technique came out on top with Akhurst winning by a few lengths.

Commenting on the day, Stratford Boat Club’s Head Adaptive Coach Mark Dewdney said, “We are pretty happy with the outcome. It has been a while since our last event and I was concerned we would be a bit rusty. We are off to Oxford Regatta in a fortnight and hope for similar results!”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online and back sports page and also Stratford Herald online and page forty five.

Success Just Around The Corner for Blatcher!

Jake Blatcher took on the mantle of representing Stratford upon Avon Boat Club at the weekend’s Bewdley Regatta. As with the recent Llandaff Regatta, the Open Men’s Singles proved to be the biggest event of the day. Unfortunately, Jake had an early exit against a strong sculler from Trent Rowing Club. Jake had some steering issues in the first half of the race but was coming back hard as he approached the finish. The line came perhaps twenty yards too soon with the Trent sculler a little over a canvas ahead.

Mark Dewdney, Head Adaptive Coach and Jake’s coach commented, “There were definite signs that we are overcoming one or two issues and I think he will get a win this summer!”

Jake’s next outing will be at Maidenhead Regatta on 6th August where he will also be helping out with Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive squad who will be at Maidenhead in numbers.

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online and Stratford Herald online and page sixty one

All Fun At The Fun Regatta!

Although the wait of two years seemed a long time, all the expectations of the Fun Regatta were met and even bettered! The Fun Regatta attracted competitors from local companies, villages and groups of friends and sixteen crews with just three hours’ training produced some quality rowing, ably coxed by skilled members of Stratford Boat Club’s junior squad and watched by crowds and friends from the Club’s grounds, the Bancroft Gardens and the Rec

Fun Regatta joint organiser Simon Price said, “We were heartened by the huge numbers who came to watch, cheer the competitors on and enjoy the spectacle: it may not have been Henley Royal Regatta but we like to think that it was more fun to watch!”

During the lunch break, there was some exhibition racing with juniors against juniors and then the winner of that race again a Masters’ four: in a much disputed start decision, the Masters were given a five second start advantage (despite the juniors having raced just before!) and the Masters won by only one second!

Fancy dress was again a major part of the day, with crews dressed as Vikings – horns and all; teachers fully equipped with motarboards; crews with boaters and moustaches; pirates; crews dressed in colourful tootoos and Hawaiian shirts; circus clowns and animals; the now immediately recognisable blue and yellow of Ukraine and multicoloured wigs. Many crabs were caught and there was a lot of splashing but nobody capsized with the rescue launch staying on her mooring throughout the day! The eventual winners were Meander Club with Afro Circus taking the fancy dress prize!

Chris Belcher joint organiser added, “Through the hard work and all the efforts of Club members, we have been able to raise funds for replacing equipment, repairs and maintenance. As always, we are especially grateful for the tolerance of those who make their living on the river and to our sponsor Crowne Plaza Stratford.”

Dawson Curnock, Boat Club Chairman commented, “The wait was worth it! A fun day was had by all and Stratford Boat Club was happy to contribute to the vitality and atmosphere of the town and give visitors and residents a cause for celebration!”

Whilst the Club members was running the Fun Regatta, Jake Blatcher was competing at Llandaff Regatta: Jake was the only Stratford upon Avon Boat Club competitor at Cardiff. Despite the beautiful weather, many entered crews had to withdraw due to Covid. However, the Men’s Singles event was the biggest of the day with twelve scullers taking part. It proved also to be the highest standard event and Jake would have had to get through four rounds to win the pot.

Jake’s first opponent was Dawson from Hartpury College (Gloucester). Jake established an early lead on the 1000m course and extended this to two lengths coming under the bridge with about 400m to go. He continued to increase his lead and won the race by three and a half lengths. In the quarter-final, Jake met Jenden from Bristol Ariel. This proved to be a very good race with the Bristol sculler establishing a small lead in the early stages. However, the race was going fast enough to catch up with the race that had been started before them. This forced Jake to slow down to avoid collision and Jenden extended his lead a bit and won the race. Despite the effect of the previous race, the result was allowed to stand. Said Mark Dewdney, Stratford’s Head Adaptive Coach, “Jake is showing signs of improvement as the season progresses: circumstances conspired against him on this occasion and it was a tough draw. A win must be just around the corner!”

Stratford’s junior squads were back on the water on Sunday after coxing at the Fun Regatta, putting in more training for the British Rowing’s Junior Championships at The National Watersport Centre at Nottingham this coming weekend. Steve Wellstead, Junior Co-ordinator commented, “The junior squad will be heavily represented with crews from J14, J15, J16 and J17/18 categories all there for their chance for glory against some of the best schools and clubs in the country: we wish them luck!”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald online and page sixty two and Stratford Observer online and back sports page

For more great pictures of the Fun Regatta, see Stuart Baines’ excellent selection!AiW2DAyn9tg9j5VoJYvAKDCwMfMSlA?e=JgnE7D

Stratford Conquer at Worcester and Nottingham

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

For more great pictures of Worcester Spring Regatta, see The Baines’ great selection!AiW2DAyn9tg9j5ExDZVrMsPIma1_6g?e=hKuCOT

Stratford’s Adaptives and Masters Make A Splash at Gloucester!

Starting the morning at Gloucester Rowing Club’s Spring Head, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Adaptive Squad its first outing at the season. On a 1750 metre course, the Stratford Boat Club swept the adaptive board winning both the singles and doubles/pairs events.

Andy Morris competing in his first event for the Club covered the course in a few seconds under ten minutes. Bennett from Stourport was second about twenty seconds behind. Holliday from Gloucester came in third.

The doubles/pairs events were a 1-2-3 for Stratford Boat Club’s Adaptive Squad. All the Club’s crews finished in between ten and eleven minutes. After time adjustments to compensate for varying levels of disability, the winners were Gillian Middleton with her support rower Rona Fitzpatrick. Ian Ward and his mother Paola finished second. Hattie Throssell and rowing partner Joe Moore were third. Jake Blatcher also had a good row in his single but suffered from cramp during the last kilometre of his 5000 metre race which sadly ruined his chances of success.

The Adaptive Squad now forms part of a new initiative at Stratford Boat Club – The Stratford Mixed Ability Rowing Team. This aims to integrate the adaptive squad with able-bodied people learning to row and the Club’s day time recreational groups. The Club is introducing this change slowly so that the best result is achieved for all concerned. The Adaptive Squad’s next event is a time trial at Henley-on-Thames on 3rd April.

Saturday morning at Gloucester Rowing Club’s Spring Head also saw a composite Stratford/Gloucester crew comprising Gary Clay and Kjersti Rogneflaten (representing Gloucester but also a Stratford member), racing as Masters F Mixed Double Scull event: they were up against stiff opposition from Upton and two Warwick crews from the start. With a strong head wind, the double settled into a strong rhythm and managed to overtake four women double scull crews who had set of ahead of them. The double then negotiated the tricky course and finished strongly to win by four seconds from Upton (the Scriveners, who joined forces with Stratford in the afternoon division).

Another Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Masters’ squad continued their competition in the 5km afternoon division of Gloucester Rowing Club Spring Head with Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty rowing with their Upton friends Tabatha and Julian Scrivenor in the mixed Masters’ fours event.

With a field of five crews of varying age groups from average age of under 30 up to 60, the race was always going to be keenly contested. The Stratford/Upton crew with an average age 55 to 60, lead off closely followed by Bristol Ariel average age 35 to 40.

The Ariel crew put immediate pressure on the Stratford/Upton crew who refused to give in and dug deep to keep Ariel behind them down the course. With tricky head wind conditions, Ariel were only able to close slowly with Stratford/Upton managing to keep them behind until the three kilometre mark, well over half way down the course.

At the approach to a narrow bridge, a well known feature of the course, Ariel managed to sneak past and establish a lead of less than a length going into the last 1.7km.

The Stratford/Upton crew continued to dig deep and hang on to Ariel knowing that a close finish would guarantee them a win on the races age group handicap system. Although Ariel pulled out to about a twenty second lead at the finish, it was not enough as Stratford/Upton were able to come home in second place with a significantly close overall time to take the race win.

Sadly, Stratford’s Junior Squad and King Edward The Sixth Boat Club had to make the best of the water on the Avon at Stratford as their West Midlands Rowing Championships at Stourport were cancelled as the River Severn was not viable for rowing.

For media coverage, see  page fifty two and Stratford Observer online

For more great pictures of Gloucester Rowing Club’s Spring Head, see Matt Jones Photography’s selection at