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