Stratford Triumphs on the River, Beach and in Munich!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 Show Promise at Junior Sculling Head

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s junior crews were back on the water this week following Schools’ Head for the second of the pinnacle events of the Head racing season – the Junior Sculling Head at Dorney Lake.

On the Olympic course at Dorney Lake the J14, J15 and J16 squads took on competition from around the UK to compete at this high profile event.  The J14 squad fielded a women’s coxless quadruple scull with Bryony Francis, Maeve Dunn, Becca Smith, Sophie Franklin and Martha Cooke (coxswain) representing Stratford Boat Club. The crew stormed up the course on the first 1800m leg and held their own in the 1800m second leg to finish eighth out of forty five crews entered. Commenting, Steve Wellstead, J14 Coach and Junior Co-ordinator said, “This places the WJ14 squad amongst the top crews in the country and makes for an exciting summer regatta season ahead!”

Representing the Junior 15’s girls were Alexandra Francis, Lily Warren, Sophie Evans, Poppy Baines, Meg Nuttall (cox) competing in the WJ15 coxed quad event. This is a popular event and this year was no different: a total of seventy two crews from the UK competed in difficult conditions. The Stratford girls were drawn in the outside lane racing into a crosswind of 23mph bearing the full brunt of the strong gusts and thus the first of the two runs challenged cox and crew. Despite a strong performance the girls finished twenty fifth. Said Colin Bell, J15 Coach, “On this occasion, the results did not reflect the effort!”

A field of fifty one crews took to the water in the WJ16 coxless quad event. Seeded sixteenth, the Stratford Boat Club crew of Ez Elfwood (stroke), ‘V’ Vondrak, Scarlett Richardson and Aimee Appleton (bow) settled into a strong and steady rhythm early on with Appleton dealing well with the cross winds to steer a straight line. Rowing through two other boats and with a faster second leg, the girls pulled up three places to finish thirteenth overall in a very competitive class.

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty three and Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-junior-scullers-show-promise-on-dorney-lake and back sports page https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2023/03/31&pages=032

For more great pictures of the Junior Sculling Head, see Stuart Baines’ excellent selection https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AAgtRX2jqm73JFY&id=3DD8F6A70C0CB625%21250426&cid=3DD8F6A70C0CB625

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

Success at Junior Championships!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stratford’s Juniors Show Real Mettle at Ironbridge!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Packed Schedule for Stratford’s Rowers!

It has been a very busy week for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Junior Squad with multiple away heads and trials. Firstly, Stratford’s J17/18 Performance Squad competed at The Scullery event on a very, very wet Wednesday. The Junior Sculling Head was held on the Olympic course at Dorney Lake

The day started early at the Lake for the J17/18 squad and the boys’ coxless quad of Will Beattie, Tomi Wilcock, Charles Happel and Toby Sartain were the first to boat. Despite discovering some steering problems off the start, they rowed a strong race to finish tenth in the Open J17 category, beating several competitive crews.

In the Women’s J18 event, Freya Watts, Ruby Howells, Amelie Sartain and Lucy Browne raced their coxless quad to finish a respectable thirty first with the majority of the crew racing up an age group.

Also at the Junior Sculling Head at Eton Dorney were Stratford’s WJ15 Squad: this great national event provided a great showcase for Stratford’s WJ15 quads. Stratford Boat Club takes this opportunity to thank the athletes’ schools for signing off on the permission to race during school time. Both WJ15 coxed quads did a tremendous job over the 2x 1.8km course. Sadly, Stratford did not win the event and they missed out on qualifying for Inter Regionals by 1.7seconds. Nevertheless, the WJ15 squad did the Club and their schools proud: sixty five crews raced in the event, with Stratford’s WJ15’s finishing in sixteenth and thirty ninth position, beating some big names such as Bedford Girls’ School, Wallingford, Sir William Borlase’s Grammar A, Thames Scullers A, Nottingham & Union, Godolphin & Latymer as well as both Kings School Worcester crews.

Hot on the heels of the WJ15’s was the Stratford’s WJ14’s boating in torrential rain. However, this did not deter the crew of Alexandra Francis, Poppy Baines, Sophie Evans, Alice Jones, coxed by Meg Nuttall. Commenting, Colin Bell, J14 Coach, said, “A very creditable eighth place out of thirty six crews amongst some of the high achieving clubs in the country is no mean feat!”

Taking to the water in the penultimate race of the day in low visibility were the OJ14 boys’ crew of Seth Vondrak, Xavier Sissins-Rofey, Theo Richter, Oliver Rowlands coxed by Lucy Yang. Achieving a position of eighteen out of forty three was commendable considering Sissins-Rofey, Richter and Yang are new to the sport having started sculling in October of last year.

The J16 squad also faced a hard competition at the weekend with two competitions. On Saturday, Amalia Richardson, Harriet Noyes, Grace Beason and Kate Richardson and cox Imogen Hill entered the WJ16 coxed four event at Kingston Head of the River Race over 5.2k of the fast flowing river Thames starting at Hampton Court Bridge. A strong headwind for much of the course created rough conditions testing the girls’ skill and the cox’s judgment in steering the fastest course. The Stratford crew showed great determination and stamina to beat their main competition Surbiton High School by fifty one seconds to score their third victory on the trot. Said Sam Hill, J16 Coach, “As a measure their achievement, it is worth noting that they also beat six university crews and Surbiton’s Championship women’s crew!”

Sunday brought another early start for the squad to race at the West Midlands selection event at Evesham which had been postponed from Stourport the previous weekend. Switching boats to a coxless quadruple scull, Amalia Richardson, Harriet Noyes, Maddie Hall and Kate Richardson beat Stourport by one minute and eight seconds. Charles Happel put in a brilliant performance in his single scull to beat King’s School Worcester by seven seconds to win a place alongside the girls’ quad in the squad to represent the West Midlands at the Junior Inter Regional Regatta in April.

On the upstream 1.4km Evesham course, from the ferry to the rowing club, two out three Stratford J15 crews qualified to represent the West Midlands t the Inter Regionals in April: Scarlett Richardson and Molly Vondrak in the WJ15 2x event, winning by forty two seconds against their nearest competition from Worcester Rowing Club as well as Will Dalrymple-Baker in the J15 1x event.

Musing on a very busy week for Stratford Boat Club, Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club President said, “What a credit the Junior Squad is to Stratford! Adding to the Juniors’ successes, the Club is also immensely proud of two recent Stratford Boat Club and King Edward The Sixth alumna – Katie Wellstead who was stroke in the Oxford University Women’s Light Weight crew on Sunday and Esme Booth who continued her winning streak, rowing in last weekend’s Women’s Eights Head of the River Race.” Rowing at number four in the winning Leander Club’s “A” boat, the crew completed the 4.25 mile course on the River Thames in nineteen minutes and fifteen seconds, thirty four seconds ahead of the second placed Oxford Brookes “A” boat! This follows on from Esme’s victories in the November GB Trials in Boston as part of a Leander Women’s pair (W2-) and in the Fours Head of the Tideway Race (Women’s Championship event) as part of the Leander Women’s Four (W4-). Esme returned to Caversham this week, training as a member of the GB Women’s Squad.

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty seven and Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-busy-week-for-stratford-upon-avon-boat-clubs-junior-squad