Stratford’s Juniors and Adaptives Score at Nottingham!

Competing for the first time in the Junior Inter-Regional Regatta (JIRR) at the Holme Pierrepoint National Water Sports Centre, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s J14 Open double of James Greenwood and Rory Rowan sculled well in the 1000m time trial and made it into the C Final (1500m), which they subsequently won. The coxed quad of Seb Happel, Euan Richter, Will Shaw and Ed Appleton, coxed by Orla Linforth, sculled well in the time trial and made into the B Final, in which they finished fifth. Said J14 coach Hugo Happel, “Fantastic work ethic from the J14s here, in their first event at this venue. They are taking away lots of fine learning points as well as new connections with the boys from George Watson College!”

Having qualified two boats at the recent West Midlands trials, Stratford’s J15 squad also headed to Nottingham’s National Water Sports Centre to represent the region at the Junior Inter-Regional Regatta. A national level event, the athletes competed against regional teams from Scotland to Wessex and everywhere between. The women’s J15 coxed quadruple scull of Tessa Parkin, Martha Baines, Maeve Dunn, Sophie Franklin and Martha Cooke (coxswain) powered down the course in the time trial to firmly secure a place in the A Final. Lining up in the lane beside the eventual winners from Great Marlow School, the crew exploded from the stake boat and set about attempting to ruin their competitors’ day. Sadly, it wasn’t to be and the girls came home in sixth place after a mighty row. The women’s J15 coxed four of Isla Dunn, Becca Smith, Millie Smith, Bryony Francis and Josephine Cooper (coxswain) performed equally well in their time trial to cement their place in the A Final. The plucky crew treated the Nottingham crowd to a fabulous display of sweep rowing with not a small amount of grit thrown in. Storming down the course, the Stratford outfit found themselves engaged in a ding dong battle for bronze with the East Midlands as the advantage with each stroke. The battle continued to the line where, on the surge, the East Midlands clinched the medal by just 7/100ths of a second! The battle may have been lost but this crew will be back to race again.

The Junior Inter-Regional Regatta once again showcased the remarkable talent and determination of Britain’s young rowers. The West Midlands’ trio from Stratford’s junior 16 squad made their mark on the event. Xavier Sissins-Rofey missed the bronze by a whisper of time, finishing just four seconds shy of third place. Poppy Baines battled through to a commendable sixth place. Alexandra Francis clinched the silver medal in a finish that had spectators on the edge of their seats, a mere two seconds from gold. Commenting Colin Bell J16 Coach, “Their performances have certainly raised the bar for the regattas to come!”

Also competing at JIRR for the adaptive squad was Isaac Clarkson racing at his second JIRR. Just past his fourteenth birthday, Isaac is still two years younger than all of his opponents in the adaptive event. Expending minimum possible effort in the opening Time Trial, Isaac focused on the Final: Isaac rowed superbly over the 1000m course and pushed the race leaders all the way to the line. Mark Dewdney, Stratford’s Head Adaptive Coach said, “Isaac kept to the plan and has worked hard in recent months: the Bronze is a just reward!”

The next day at The National Water Sports Centre, Stratford’s Pararower Curtis Dickens attended his second GB Squad development camp of the year: two plus days of hard work culminating in a 2000m race against his rival from Scotland. Curtis impressed the GB coaches with his development over the winter. The race proved to be his first win over his more experienced Scottish opponent: it was also the first time that Curtis has beaten ten minutes for the distance and a forty four second improvement since GB Trials in November. Commenting further, Mark said, “We are more than satisfied with how things are going: Curtis’ next big target is to represent England at the Home International Regatta in July!”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page sixty one and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-boat-clubs-junior-and-adaptive-squads-win-medals-in-nottingham

For great pictures of JIRR, see Stuart Baines’ excellent selection https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AO9bx%2DvFRmRxCMg&id=3DD8F6A70C0CB625%21259269&cid=3DD8F6A70C0CB625

Boxing Day Scratch Regatta

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club finished the 2023 season with a certain amount of frustration with the high water levels and fast following river forcing most athletes off the river and into the Club for land training. Said Steve Wellstead, Stratford’s Junior Squad Co-ordinator, “December is a challenging month for training with many Junior Squad athletes taking important mock exams and the river this year has restricted us even more to indoor and land training”

However, there has been some recent good news to spur athletes on: Stratford’s alumnae Alice Baines and Katie Wellstead have been selected for the Trial Eight Crews for the Boat Race in March 2024. Alice, a member of Magdalen College Boat Club rows for the University of Cambridge and Katie, a member of St Edmund’s Hall Boat Club rows for the University of Oxford. Commenting Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club’s President said, “We have watched Alice and Katie’s progress with pride and they stand out as role models to all showing that hard work and dedication produces results!”

The adaptive section this weekend said goodbye for a week or so to Curtis Dickens who has been accepted onto British Rowing’s Pararowing Talent Pathway and is off for a GB pre-Christmas training camp. Mark Dewdney, Stratford’s Head Adaptive Coach commented, “This is entirely due to the planning and training that the adaptive section’s coaches and helpers have given Curtis but most importantly and without doubt, the massive effort that Curtis has put into his own progress. His positive ‘can do’ attitude and his eagerness to learn will help him a long way to his potential path to a possible future Paralympics!”

As complete contrast, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Boxing Day Scratch Regatta has become a firm fixture on the Boat Club’s and town’s calendar allowing Club athletes to blow away the over indulgence of Christmas, have fun and set their sights firmly on serious training for the 2024 season

Over forty athletes from the Club traditionally brave the cold and damp to take part in the Scratch Regatta, competing in fours over a short sprint course from the Ferry to the Club grounds on the Town stretch of the River Avon, weather permitting

Says Dave Edwards, Masters’ Vice Captain and organiser of this year’s Boxing Day Regatta, “We pick Club crews from names entered into a draw based on gender, age and ability so that all the crews are more or less equal, ranging from members of the Junior squad right through to Masters”

To ensure fair play and safety, starters, umpires, spotters and the safety launch will all be in place whilst crowds can watch and cheer from the Recreation Ground, The Royal Shakespeare Terrace, Bancroft Gardens and The Tramway Bridge

“The training schedule will be back on target the first weekend after the New Year,” says Steve Wellstead, “2024 is going to be another great season for Stratford in all categories and we’re heading for continued success in local and national regattas and heads!”

Why not come down to the river on Boxing Day Tuesday 26 December: racing begins at 10.00hrs!

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-boat-club-preparing-for-annual-boxing-day-scratch-regatta and back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2023/12/22&pages=24 and also Stratford Herald page thirty six

Stratford Goes Paddling on the Po!

The Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Mixed Ability Group attended an international rowing event in Turin, Italy last week. Mixed Ability is the name given to fully integrated rowing – crews being made up of competitors with a disability and their mainstream – able-bodied – Club colleagues. Stratford, who attended the event in 2022, were instrumental in encouraging other UK clubs to attend. In several events, the UK crews were made up of a combination of Ross, Glasgow, Stratford and Ross-on-Wye rowers

The regatta itself was made up of several parts over two days of competition. A Special Olympics section for those with an intellectual impairment, a set of straight adaptive/para events. There was also a section set aside for the rehabilitation of ex-prisoners from Italian jails plus the Mixed Ability races

All the UK teams, whether individually or in the combined crews, had a very successful weekend. Stratford rowers won several gold, silver and bronze medals competing in five abreast side by side racing on the River Po. Every Stratford Boat Club competitor came home with a least one gong!

Commenting. Mark Dewdney, Stratford’s Head Adaptive Coach said, “It’s a great and unique event: we have sung its praises in the rowing world and the number of UK and Irish crews attending is on the rise. We went for a week to practice, race and enjoy Turin and the company of our Italian friends: in the end, the results don’t matter. What does matter is seeing everyone have a good time: a truly integrated regatta!”

For media coverage, please see British Rowing online https://www.britishrowing.org/2023/10/stratford-goes-paddling-on-the-po and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-boat-clubs-mixed-ability-rowers-claim-glut-of-medals-at-international-event and back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2023/10/20&pages=32. Also Stratford Herald page forty four and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/medals-for-all-at-italian-regatta-9335697 For more great pictures of Turin, please see the Adaptive Squad’s selection https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1g8mkTDJYpf9Wv7pOZ0thbErYJrEay5cj?usp=sharing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-busy-coronation-weekend-for-stratford-in-munich-dorney-lake-and-shrewsbury, Stratford Herald page fifty five and British Rowing https://www.britishrowing.org/2023/05/gb-junior-rowers-bring-home-a-flurry-of-medals-from-munich-international-junior-regatta-2023

Turin: A Welcome Second to None!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s adaptive section received a terrific welcome in Turin, Italy when fifteen athletes, helpers and coaches took part in Armida’s Rowing Club’s sixteenth annual celebration of para-rowing!

The two-day event attracted entries from several countries including Portugal and the United Kingdom. Sadly, some foreign crews were unable to attend due to an air traffic control strike in Italy. Over one hundred and fifty athletes took part in the racing.

Canottieri Armida (Armida Rowing Club) is the premier adaptive club in Italy. This commitment has been rewarded with excellent results, medals and para-rowers representing Italy.

Mark Dewdney, Stratford’s Head Adaptive Coach said “They have been running a squad for over twenty years compared with our seven years. We are the biggest in the UK with nearly athletes: Armida have eighty athletes!. Their adaptive team is just part of the club fabric: they focus on those with learning difficulties. You can see these athletes are treated with respect and understanding: they are happy and comfortable in their environment. It is inspirational. We can learn much from them. There are a few areas, I think, where the reverse is also true!”

Both clubs are working on an integrated mixed ability approach to rowing. The able-bodied and those with a disability training, racing and enjoying the sport together.

Mark said, “Much of the racing was club versus club but towards the end we mixed everyone up in fours and eights. People with different issues and from different countries racing together: great fun! We hope to be going back next October. The squad is now back home on the Avon: we hope the weather is kind for a little while yet before the winter bites”

Commenting on the adaptive squad’s very successful visit to Turin, Paul Stanton, the Club’s President said, “The welcome that Armida gave our rowers, coaches and helpers shows the international spirit that is so evident in the rowing community. We can learn a lot from their example. Mark Dewdney, our Head Adaptive Coach, presented Armida with a special trophy marking our thanks and lasting friendship”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/a-warm-welcome-to-para-rowing-festival-9282156 and page fifty seven and Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratfords-adaptive-squad-receive-warm-welcome-in-turin and back sports page https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2022/11/04&pages=024

For more pictures of the adaptive squad in Turin, see https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1cXEy8hdLMoDIbDotkXbQfTIlsDUyzivn and https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1jFZBKRIOcljzLbyZhuu_EdCsSTj8E1SW

All Fun At The Fun Regatta!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/fancy-dress-and-fun-9263476 and page sixty two and Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-upon-avon-host-enjoyable-fun-regatta and back sports page https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2022/07/15&pages=024

For more great pictures of the Fun Regatta, see Stuart Baines’ excellent selection https://1drv.ms/u/s!AiW2DAyn9tg9j5VoJYvAKDCwMfMSlA?e=JgnE7D