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 Clean Up at Oxford

Sunday 20 August saw Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s J13 and adaptive crews take on the 500m Sprint course at City of Oxford Regatta with stakeboat start by Jesus and Keble College boat house. In the morning division, competing in the WJ13 2x event, the doubles of Orla Linforth/Erin Appleton and Maria Ntoukaki/Naomi Sime steered a good course but were beaten by very competent crews from Oxford City and Thames Scullers (eventual winners).

In the afternoon division, competing in the J13 1x event, Rory Rowan, Euan Richer, Seb Happel, Noah Rutter and Ed Appleton sculled very well too but were beaten by more experienced scullers from Falcon Boat Club and Oxford City, rowing on their home waters. Said Hugo Happel, J13 Coach, “Overall, the J13s bagged some worthwhile experience on the Thames, taking away many positive learning points.”

First on the water was the women’s J15 double of Lily Warren and Alexandra Francis who won their first round against a crew from Upton: however, they then lost their semi final to a strong Wallingford crew by three quarters of a length after a close race and a commendable sprint finish.

In the open J15 doubles, Xavier Sissins-Roffey and Theo Richter raced a formidable Falcon crew who had the advantage as they were on home water and despite a strong racing start which gave the Stratford crew an initial lead, lost to the eventual winners of the category. Also in the open J15 doubles was the mixed double of Poppy Baines and James Albrighton, who, despite never having rowed together before, gave an impressive performance but were beaten by tough opposition from a Wallingford crew.

In the afternoon division, Seth Vondrak won his initial race against a Falcon single by a comfortable four lengths. Progressing on to the next race he showed great sportsmanship in requesting to race his opposition from Wallingford in the semi final, despite the fact the Wallingford single had been initially disqualified which would have secured him a spot in the final. After a closely battled race, Seth narrowly missed out on his spot in the final. Also competing in the singles events, Alexandra Francis competed against a strong single from Wallingford in her semi-final and, after a very close race from start to finish, she won by just two feet which meant she progressed through to the final where she met another Wallingford single who she also beat to win the women’s J15 singles event.

Stratford’s J16 squad entered two crews, the first being a WJ16 quad with Aimee Appleton, Eloise Cooper, Esme Elfwood and Lucy Sartain: rowing up against seniors due to lack of competition in their age group, the quad lost narrowly to a strong Abingdon crew. The Stratford boat finished strongly gaining with every stroke but Abingdon held on to cross the line just a quarter of a boat length ahead.

In the same division Molly ‘V’ Vondrak enjoyed success in the WJ16 single sculling category. Following a confident row and comfortable win over Wallingford in the semi finals, Vondrak went on to the final against a sculler from Exeter Rowing Club. It was nip and tuck over the first half of the race but the Exeter sculler was unable to maintain the pace with Vondrak taking the win by a comfortable margin and collecting a medal.

Stratford’s senior women’s squad of Amelie Sartain and Alice Baines, racing together as a combination for the first time in over two years, had a strong first race against Bentham Boat Club in which they found their rhythm halfway through to power away to a four length lead over the finish line. In the final they drew a strong crew from Reading Rowing Club who jumped out to a length lead off the start but the Stratford double stuck to their plan and rowed through the competition on the inside of the bend and winning the event in style!

Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive section also joined the Club’s J13 squad on a sunny Sunday for the Oxford Sprint Regatta. The morning saw all the adaptive single scull races. There were several really good performances from Stratford’s adaptive section: Andy Morris, who has remained undefeated for most of the summer, again won his event overcoming his final opponent from the local City of Oxford Club by several lengths. Stratford’s adaptive thirteen year old Isaac Clarkson then had a very convincing win against an adult opponent from Marlow. Rob Pedley competed in two events and suffered a narrow defeat in the first race but winning his second final very convincingly over a Sudbury sculler.

Jess Dowdeswell had the hardest task of the day competing against a Paralympian from Kenya. Although Jess was beaten, this was the best performance of this her first summer of racing. Both coach and Jess were very pleased!

All the adaptive double races took place after the lunch break. These events saw another three Stratford Boat Club adaptive wins. Andy Morris and Isaac Clarkson, teaming up to defeat Guildford by a few lengths and then Daniel Browne and his support rower, Neville Hand, won their event in the most exciting final of the day, defeating a plucky crew from Marlow by a mere two feet! The last win was in an all Stratford final between James Bastin/Neville Hand and Phil Startin/Andy Morris. Phil winning his first ever event by a couple of lengths commented, ”My first regatta: what a fantastic day! Thank you Mark, Andy and everyone!”

Mark Dewdney, Stratford’s Head Adaptive Coach commented further, “With the exception of a few races on the Bank Holiday, this wraps up another very successful regatta season for Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive squad. We will be visiting Turin for an international event in early October and we have many exciting projects in hand to bring rowing to a wider audience of adaptive rowers.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page forty one and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/winning-ways-for-crews-at-oxford-9327338 an and also Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-boat-club-scullers-clean-up-at-oxford

For more great pictures of City of Oxford regatta, see Kathy Baines’ excellent selection https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21APoYhH8AIy0FjnU&id=8E50DAC120123B06%21100237&cid=8E50DAC120123B06

Stratford’s Juniors Rack Up Points For West Midlands

The Stratford upon Avon Boat Club regatta season started in style with five crews selected to represent West Midlands at the Junior Inter Regional Regatta. The opening national level regatta of the season as the twelve UK regional teams competed for the much coveted Victor Ludorum prize.  First down the 1500m course was the WJ14 coxed quadruple scull of Bryony Francis, Maeve Dunn, Becca Smith, Tessa Parkin and Poppy Warren (coxswain). They dominated their heat, leading from the front for the full race crossing the line twelve seconds ahead of a tidy North Western crew. This earned them a place in the A Final where once again the crew went out hard, dicing for third place at the halfway marker and eventually being placed sixth and collecting valuable points for the West Midlands squad

Theo Richter, Ollie Rowlands, Seth Vondrak, James Albrighton and cox Meg Nuttall were selected to represent the West Midlands in the junior 15 coxed quad event. Despite an early morning chill, the sun broke through the overcast skies resulting in calm conditions at the National Water sports Centre in Nottingham. In typical fashion for the venue the competitors soon found themselves facing strong headwinds, challenging the most experienced coxes

The boys were drawn in the second heat facing opposition from Yorkshire, North West, East Midlands, Northern, West and Wales Wiltshire, Avon, Gloucester and Somerset. Despite a strong start, the boys race did not progress as planned which resulted in them finishing in fifth place in their heat progressing to the B final. Undeterred, the boys and Meg revised their race plan executed their race as to the plan, pressurising strong opposition from Yorkshire and closed the gap to within 2.5 seconds, placing them second in the B final and eight overall

Stratford Boat Club’s WJ16 squad competed for the region in both the double scull and coxless quadruple scull categories. Lucy Sartain and Eloise Cooper rowed a well paced race to finish fourth in their double scull heat, also securing fourth position in the B final. The coxless quad crew of Esme Elfwood, Molly Vondrak, Scarlett Richardson and Aimee Appleton rowed a strong heat finishing in second place to a dominant Thames Upriver boat and making the A final, ultimately claiming fifth place overall for the region

Isaac Clarkson from Stratford’s adaptive squad, competing in his first race, represented the region with distinction in the adaptive single sculls. Aged only thirteen, Isaac performed well against his three opponents who were all several years his senior. Commenting, Mark Dewdney, Head Adaptive Coach said, “Isaac showed once again that Stratford is the leading adaptive/para squad in the West Midlands”

In the final analysis, the West Midlands squad was placed fourth overall of the twelve regions, a superb result from all the athletes from the region. Commenting on the result, West Midlands Team Manager (and Stratford J17/18 Performance squad coach) Abi Terry said, “Well done to everyone in the squad! A big improvement on placing from last year and a real testament to the hard work from all the coaches!”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page fifty two and Stratford Observer back sports page https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2023/04/28&pages=032

For more great pictures of JIRR, see Dave Parkin’s excellent selection https://1drv.ms/f/s!AtAyGCrPvAupqho6bP6AymvayZMM?e=s72mPb

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

Canal or River: Stratford Deliver!

An early, crisp start welcomed Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s J14 squad as they arrived to do battle on the 2.5km course held on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal in the Wycliffe Small Boats Head on Saturday. First down the course was the WJ14 coxed quadruple scull of Isla Dunn, Cara Berisford-Murray, Martha Baines, Martha Cooke and Bryony Francis (coxswain). A plucky row saw them in the mix with the Bristol Rowing Club and luminaries of the junior rowing scene Henley Rowing Club. The crew eventually placed fourth and within touching distance of the crews ahead. Next up where the three Stratford WJ14 double scull crews of Bryony Francis and Sophie Franklin, Millie Smith and Tessa Parkin and Becca Smith with Poppy Warren. In a hard fought event, the Stratford crews placed third, fourth and fifth with the Parkin/Smith crew picking up the bronze medal. Finally, the WJ14 single sculls took the water with Maeve Dunn and Josephine Cooper representing Stratford. Both girls put their hard training to work and sculled tremendously to be placed third and fifth with Maeve Dunn collecting the bronze in emphatic style.

Representing the Junior 15 squad in their inaugural single sculls rowing head were Alexandra Francis and Xavier Sissins-Rofey. Francis, racing against fourteen crews faced her double scull rival from City of Bristol. Francis starting behind the Bristol sculler, she closed the staggered start gap and crossed the finish line in first place. Given Sissons-Rofey only started rowing a year ago, he managed to cross the line in seventh place out of a field of fifteen crews. Representing the girls in the quadruple sculling event were Sophie Evans, Poppy Baines, Lily Warren, Lucy Yang and Alice Jones (coxswain) finishing sixth out of fifteen crews. Finally, in diminishing light and low temperature conditions, the boys quadruple scull of Theo Richter, Seth Vondrak, Ollie Rowlands, James Albrighton and Meg Nuttall (coxswain) took to the water finishing fifth out of fifteen crews.

With exams impacting the availability for racing this weekend, the J16 squad took just five athletes to Wycliffe Small Boats Head. First up in Division 1 was the J16 women’s coxless quad of Jess Long (stroke), Molly Vondrak, Scarlett Richardson and Aimee Appleton (bow).  After a strong start out of the bridge, they managed to pass local rivals Kings School Worcester and then with open water ahead of them, continued to work hard for the rest of the race finishing in gold medal position, seventeen seconds ahead of Thames Scullers and twenty six seconds ahead of the Kings School Worcester boat.

In Division 2 Vondrak and Richardson doubled up to race again in the WJ16 2x. Pushing hard throughout the race, they pulled away from a chasing Thames Scullers’ crew to secure a bronze medal, only narrowly missing out on silver by 0.2 seconds. Following them was Will Dalrymple-Baker in the open J16 1x. In a strong field of thirteen athletes, he rowed hard and consistently to gain a respectable fifth place.

Last up in Division 3 was Appleton in the women’s J16 1x for her second race of the day. Rowing a tidy race and pushing hard in the last 500m, she secured seventh in a competitive field.

The J17/18 squad started the day on a high note as the WJ18 4+ of Kate Richardson, Harriet Noyes, Maddie Hall, Amalia Richardson and cox Poppy Baines set off for their race in the first division. Despite Baines being a last minute substitute, they rowed strongly to win their event posting a time of 9:49.2. The two J18 doubles of Will Beattie and Tomi Wilcock, and Charles Happel and Toby Sartain were next to race for the squad in the second division. Beattie and Wilcock set off first and sculled superbly to come home in first place, ahead of fifteen other boats. Happel and Sartain followed them down the 2.5km course, and came over the line in joint seventh place, setting an identical time to the crew from The King’s School Worcester. Division three saw Beattie, Wilcock, Happel and Sartain race as one crew in the Open J18 4+ event, again with a late substitute cox who was kind to step in despite being from the RGS Worcester squad. They rowed confidently, despite being an inexperienced combination, however they were unfortunate to be outpaced by strong crews from Winchester College and King Edward The Sixth School and finished fourth overall.

Also competing at Wycliffe Small Boats Head was Stratford’s sister club, King Edward The Sixth School: the first race of the season for KES saw a quad and four competing. With a last minute substitution due to illness, the quad was up first in a strong field of J18 quads. Ed Rose, Rafa MacDonald, Tom Wheeler and Will Dalrymple-Baker had a good scull, completing the course in 8:53, putting them in sixth place within six seconds of a medal. In the afternoon, again with last minute substitution, the same crew went out in the coxed four with Poppy Baines from Stratford coxing. They had another decent row finishing in bronze medal position behind two strong crews from Winchester College.

Not to be left out, Stratford’s Masters’ squad travelled to Monmouth on Sunday to compete on the River Wye. The women’s new masters eight of Amanda Bowden, Suzie Radley, Charlotte Jones, Heather Hayton, Jane Cryer, Kjersti Rogneflaten Woolley, Ellie Davis and Ruth Poulten won Monmouth Head over a 2.5 km course. Not only that, but they were the pennant winners for the fastest women’s eight for the day at 6.55 minutes! This is a superb achievement to this newly formed eight in their first race and it shows the strength of women in the Club. Said Charlotte Jones, crew members, “Despite the cold, damp conditions, the women were determined and, with Amanda at stroke, we set a good rate. Women’s rowing at Stratford Boat Club is just getting better and better!

Not satisfied with just one win, Stratford’s women’s’ masters quad of Heather Hayton, Amanda Bowden, Ruth Poulten and Suzie Radley raced for a second time to win in a time of 7 minutes19 seconds! Suzie steered a great course keeping hold of the stream.

Also at Monmouth on Sunday, a Stratford Masters 8+ debuted at the Winter Head, competing in the Mixed Masters D/E/F category. The crew, with an age range of 45 to 76 years old, raced the 2500m downstream in cold but thankfully calm weather, guided confidently by their experienced cox Isobel Moore who has been coxing for Stratford since she was a junior and more recently, coxing for University of Edinburgh Boat Club.

In their first 500m, the crew pushed firm, finding their pace for the 2000m still to come. With their opposition from Avon County Rowing Club ahead of them, the enthusiastic Stratford crew were ready to battle for a win in their very first race as a crew. Entering their last 500m, the crew dug deep to find those last strokes, their energy restored and spirits lifted by shouts of encouragement from the bank as they crossed the finish line.

Having only come together as a crew this autumn and with just a few weeks of training to prepare, the group was pleased with the result of their hard work, even if they missed out on a win. No doubt the presence of two Level 2 coaches in the crew was a blessing, with both Joe Moore and Alfie Nash bestowing their years of rowing expertise to the crew. Another mention must go to Alfie for completing his first race as a rower, having only coxed in previous races, as well as to David Day for his racing debut at 76 years old! The crew are already back to training and looking ahead to plan their next race in the new year. The crew consisted of Christine Deacon, Clare Booth, David Day, Joe Moore, Simon Moore, Alfie Noakes, Paola Ward, Rona Fitzpatrick and Isobel Moore (cox).

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/junior-squads-make-waves-9288103 and page forty four and Stratford Observer https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-success-for-stratford-juniors-at-wycliffe-small-boats-head and also back sports page https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2022/12/09&pages=024

For more great pictures of Wycliffe Small Boats Head, see Stuart Baines’ excellent selection https://1drv.ms/u/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9j6BfI3pyu0CSN51jdA?e=18GHXv

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 Boat Club Regatta: Covid Comeback!

The weather could have been better but great participation from crews local and further afield from Evesham Rowing Club, Worcester Rowing Club, AB Severn Rowing Club (Tewkesbury), Cheltenham College, Dragon School Boat Club, King Edward The Sixth Boat Club, King’s School Worcester Boat Club, Magdalen College School Boat Club, Nottingham and Union Rowing Club, Ross Rowing Club and Worcester Royal Grammar School as well as major entries from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club. The regatta this year had three divisions and one hundred and sixty three separate races starting at 08.30 and running all day through until a close at 17.45hrs!

Dan Warren, Stratford Boat Club’s Regatta Secretary said, “This year we were very heartened again by the huge turn out from local and distant clubs and the interest from the public. A massive thanks to all our hard working Stratford Boat Club members, visiting crews, umpires and officials and especially the public for supporting the event. We were especially honoured to have Stratford upon Avon Town Council Mayor Gill Cleeve attend our regatta.”

Colin Davies, Regatta Water Team Lead commented. “It was a long day’s racing: our tea tent was extremely busy dispensing dozens of cakes and snacks. What a magnificent day topped by great racing! We decided to stay with the shortened 500 metre sprint course to ensure the safety of all the competitors and river users: we ran the regatta under very tight protocols. We were especially grateful for the help and tolerance of those operators who work and make their living on the river.”

Commenting on the J13’s squad’s successes at the regatta, Steve Wellstead J13 Coach and Junior Co-Ordinator said, “Our home regatta brought more high quality racing from Stratford’s J13 squad to the calm waters of the Avon.” First to take to the course was the coxed quadruple scull crew of Martha Cooke, Millie Francis, Sophie Franklin, Isla Dunn and Bryony Francis (coxswain). The girls made short work of the first round but then faced a quality crew from Nottingham & Union Rowing Club in the final. The quality of the Stratford crew shone to take the win by a solid three lengths and the first pots of the day. Next down the river was the double sculls event where Cara Berisford-Murray and Poppy Warren dispatched Evesham to face another Stratford crew of Tessa Parkin and Josephine Cooper. Great sculling from both crews wowed the Stratford crowd with Cara and Poppy the eventual winners.

In the single scull event, two J13 Stratford scullers took to the water. With a bye in the first round, Maeve Dunn had to wait whilst Bryony Francis raced. After a nail biting run down the course, Bryony was pipped to the post by just one length leaving Maeve to fly the Stratford flag. Maeve bravely faced a formidable sculler from AB Severn and made the AB athlete work hard for all of the 500m with the final margin being four lengths to AB Severn.

For the J14s it was a chance to try out some new crew combinations, starting with Alice Jones racing in the J14 single for the first time this year. After a strong start, both boats were neck and neck, with the sculler from Nottingham and Union inching away in the second half of the race to take the win by less than two lengths. Next up were the boys coxed quadruple scull crew of Theo Richter, Seth Vondrak, Xavier Sissins, Ollie Rowland and James Albrighton (cox). A powerful start put them well up on their opposition, however a boat malfunction soon after forced them to row a man down giving Magdalen College the upper hand to take the win.

Next up for the J14’s were the girls’ coxed quadruple scull of Meg Nutall, Sophie Evans, Lily Warren, Lucy Yang and Alexandra Francis (cox). In a nail biting race against a strong crew from Evesham, Stratford really showed their skill resulting in a photo finish where Evesham took the win by one foot. In the afternoon James Albrighton and Alexandra Francis took to the water in the open J14 double scull, winning their first two races against solid crews. In the final Stratford were fiercely holding off the Nottingham and Union crew until they caught a boat stopping crab where the opposition squeezed past them to take the win. In addition Sophie Evans generously stepped into a J14 double sculls on the day with a rower from Worcester, Roxie. With Sophie taking the bow seat, they comfortably won both two races to get them to the final. In the final, the Worcester/Stratford composite took the lead from the start and held it down the course to take the win.

The WJ15 1x event saw Aimee Appleton rowing a fantastic first race against her formidable Nottingham & Union opposition and beating her by three lengths with fine technique. Sadly, Lucy Sartain lost her first race against the eventual winner from AB Severn and Eloise Cooper had a capsize shortly after the start.

In the WJ15 2x event, Jessica Long and Nancy Davis showed great technique over the sprint course but lost by three lengths to a very powerful AB Severn crew who would take the overall win later on. In the OJ15 2x event, Jamie Wilcock and Will Dalrymple-Baker were drawn against their nemesis from Evesham Rowing Club. They rowed well and came half a length short.

Following this, the WJ15 4x+ semi-final event saw Scarlett Richardson, Molly Vondrak, Megan Rowan and Esmerelda Elfwood, coxed by Lucy Sartain having a poor start followed by catching a bad crab from which they recovered well and then showed grit and determination but ended up losing by two lengths to the winning finalists from AB Severn.

Stratford’s J16 competition started with Charles Happel  competing against a single sculler from Magdalen College: Charles sculled energetically with stroke precision to cruise home with a four length advantage. His next race proved to be more of a challenge against another sculler from Magdalen. Charles sculled a valiant race but lost out by two lengths. In the afternoon it was the turn of the WJ16 double crew of Grace Beason and Charlotte Isbel who, after a lengthy delay, rowed against a very experienced Evesham doubles crew in their doubles finals race having benefitted from a bye to the final: success eluded Stratford this time despite a spirited and technically good performance losing just by four lengths.

The day started early for the J17/18 squad with Will Beattie and Tomi Wilcock competing in the Open J18 doubles event, one of the first races to set off. They beat crews from Magdalen College and Worcester Rowing Club comfortably in the heats and finished two lengths ahead of the anticipated King Edward The Sixth Boat Club crew in the final to bring home the win. Bella Chappelhow and Honour Keil raced in the Women’s J18 doubles just missing out on the final in their heat against Worcester Grammar School, a crew that went on to win the event. The story was the same for the other girls double of Fleur Griffiths and Harriet Holmes who, despite steering an expert line, also finished just short of the final. The girls’ quad of Freya Watts, Ruby Howells, Amelie Sartain and Lucy Browne raced a straight final against Worcester Grammar School in the Women’s J18 coxless quads event, rowing to a mid-afternoon victory. The final effort of the day came from Toby Sartain in the Open J18 singles event where his competitor’s dubious steering contributed to him just missing out on the final. Alongside racing, J17/18 squad each helped the umpires in their role throughout the day where their assistance was much appreciated.

Meanwhile away at Henley Women’s Regatta, Stratford’s WJ16 four of Amalia Richardson, Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes, Kate Richardson and coxswain Imogen Hill entered The West End Cup. Stratford rowed with great skill to finished ninth out of twenty crews in the time trial just missing the top eight to progress to the knockout stage of the regatta. J16 coach Sam Hill said, “Henley Women’s Regatta attracts the best crews from clubs and schools across the UK, so to finish in the top half of the time trial is an excellent result!”

Also on the river at Henley Women’s Regatta were some of Stratford Boat Club’s alumna – Talei Dunn and Hermione Hill (Durham), Molly Gill-Swift (Exeter) and Katie Wellstead (Oxford) competing for their respective universities.

Saturday’s busy regatta will be followed by the Club’s Fun Regatta on Saturday 09 July where the Club give crews from local companies, clubs and organisations three hours training, a boat and an experienced cox.

Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club’s President said, “Although we weren’t blessed with good weather for the regatta, there were still crowds watching the racing adding much to Stratford’s atmosphere and vitality: we were glad to showcase our sport and demonstrate our part in the success of our town! The support of our sponsors is much appreciated especially from our headline sponsor Stratford Self Store as is the tolerance and help from the other river users and colleagues.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/gallery-regatta-returns-with-a-bang-despite-the-rain-9260166 and Stratford Observer https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-upon-avon-boat-clubs-junior-sprint-regatta-round-up and https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-upon-avon-boat-club-host-successful-junior-sprint-regatta: also see Stratford Observer back sports page https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2022/06/24&pages=024

For The Herald’s pictures of the regatta, see https://www.stratford-herald.com/_media/img/749×0/XFZHHK000DN7B5TQNQB1.jpg

Silver Glory for Stratford’s J16 Juniors!

The National Schools’ Regatta is the largest and most exciting regatta junior race calendar in Great Britain. The regatta attracts crews from over three hundred and fifty clubs and schools with over five thousand competitors. It is the premiere junior regatta in the country. With racing for ten hours per day, exciting closely matched rounds and finals, this is the regatta where you will see future Olympic Champions start out! … and Stratford upon Avon Boat Club juniors were there in force!

Returning to Dorney Lake near Windsor, the Junior 14’s were welcomed by sunshine, a marked improvement from their previous attendance at the 2012 Olympic venue where they had previously competed in torrential rain!

The boys crew of Seth Vondrak, Xavier Sissins-Roffey, James Albrighton, Oliver Rowlands and cox Theo Richter were first to face the time trial raced over the 1000M course. After an unsettled start, the boys soon got into their rhythm and delivered a solid row. Despite a valiant effort, the boys missed out on selection for the finals by eight seconds. Following hot on their heels were the girls’ crew of Alexandra Francis, Poppy Baines, Sophie Evans, Alice Jones, and cox Meg Nuttall. Another solid performance by the girls resulted in selection for the B final. Crossing the finish line in fourth place delivered an outcome of tenth out of thirty-six competing crews. The squad are looking forward to competing at the British Rowing Junior Championships at the National Water Sports Centre in July.

Competing at NSR for the first time, the coxed WJ15 quad of Harriet Froom (cox), Lucy Sartain, Molly Vondrak, Scarlett Richardson and Aimee Appleton (bow) rowed a superb 1000m in the time trial with a top twenty finish in a gargantuan entry of sixth nine crews, 15.7 seconds off the top crew and three seconds away from a B Final. Their time was faster than Thames Scullers A, Kingston, Lea Rowing Club, Fulham Reach Kings School Chester, Henley E and many more. Commenting Hugo Happel, J16 Coach said, “Terrific result, great work ethic and a great foundation to build on!”

The J16’s entered Amalia Richardson, Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes, Kate Richardson and coxswain Imogen Hill for the Anna Fegen Cup event on Saturday. On the back of a successful head racing season in the four and a strong performance in a quad at The Junior Sculling Regatta, the girls set their sights on reaching the A final. The time trial went according to plan with Stratford recording the second fastest time behind hot favourites Headington School. Stratford needed a top three finish in the semi-final to progress to the coveted A Final. The girls produced a perfect race leading from the start and sitting on their split and rate all the way to the finish taking the win without needing to increase the pressure. The starters’ role call for the A Final was a list of the top rowing schools in the country: Headington, Stratford, Godolphin, Pangbourne, Yarm and Sir William Perkins. The girls had achieved their goal, now could they go one step further and win a medal? Stratford put down another blistering start to lead by a canvas at 100 meters. By 500m Stratford and Headington were neck and neck easing out a lead from Godolphin and Pangbourne. By the 1000m board Stratford had dropped Godolphin and Pangbourne to fight for the Bronze, but Headington were half a length ahead. Stratford gave all they had in the last 500m to secure the Silver medal as Headington hung on to take the Gold.

J16 Coach Sam Hill commented, “To win a Silver medal at National Schools Regatta is a major achievement and just reward for all the hard training the girls put in every week. We look forward to the next challenge at Henley Women’s Regatta in three weeks time!”

For the J17/18 squad, the day started with the boys’ double of Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie with them taking to the lake to compete in the Open Championship Doubles event. Putting up a strong battle against the wind, they finished a respectable twenty first in their time trial. The girls pairing of Amelie Sartain and Freya Watts were next up in the Women’s Championship Doubles event, finishing a symmetrical twenty first against crews from some impressive clubs. Last out for the squad was Toby Sartain competing in the Open Championship Singles event: Toby finished an impressive thirty seventh against stiff competition from across the country.

It may have been a half term holiday but there was no let up for Stratford Boat Club athletes and coaches as they took part in the Club’s Junior Coaching Assistants’ Course on Monday. Said Abi Terry, J17/18 Performance Squad Coach, “This course is designed to give competent junior athletes the skills to pass on their knowledge to their younger colleagues and those new to rowing and sculling: it covers essential points such as safety, techniques and how to put these across to others. It was heartening to see how many volunteered for the course and the effort they put in over a long day!”

For more great pictures of the J14’s achievements and others, please see Kathy Baines’ selection https://1drv.ms/u/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9j5M5T-GeVQz0ndO5iQ?e=C2Qgjm