Mammoth Day at Monmouth for Stratford’s Women’s Masters!

A strong squad of masters women from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club competed in both divisions at Sunday’s Monmouth Winter Head, winning medals in the VIII and Quads.

This was the largest number of masters women that Stratford has seen out in a while, boating two VIIIs, three quads and a coxed four. Despite a series of unfortunate events that could have derailed the plans for the day, including crew illness, mechanical failure resulting in two boats remaining at Stratford and some pretty awful weather, the adaptability of the squad members coupled with generosity from Monmouth rescued the situation and saved the day.

In the morning division, the first VIII composite had a very solid row in a time of 7.39mins, beating two other crews. The stern pair of Amanda Bowden and Suzie Radley set a strong rhythm for the crew. The middle four of Heather Hayton, Rebecca England, Ruth Poulten and Charlotte Jones, were called upon a couple of times for extra pushes. The response was felt and the boat lifted, supported with good timing from Rona Fitzpatrick and Susan Brown (Xpress Boat Club) in the bows. The crew was ably coxed by Keris McShane.

The second VIII of Jane Cryer (stroke), Ellie Davies, Emily Sayer, Lin Hansen, Geraldine Chorley, Lucy Kelleher, Claudine Pearson and Paola Arevelo Ward, were confidently coxed along the 2.25km by Jen Carey. The crew went off at a rate of 26 strokes per minute, settling to 24 after three minutes before finishing strongly at 27 with a respectable time of 8.22mins. This was an enjoyable row despite the cold wet conditions and challenges faced in order to get a boat on the water. Jane Cryer commented, “Great to see so many women representing Stratford Boat Club at this event and enjoying their sport.”

In the afternoon division, the winning Women’s Masters C 4x- of Ellie Davis, Gina Fusco, Christine Goodwin and Emily Sayers had a very good row. They beat Worcester by seven seconds. They were delighted with the win having stuck to their race plan and produced a good race.

The winning composite Women’s Masters D/E 4x- of Heather Hayton, Suzie Radley, Amanda Bowden and Susan Brown (Xpress Boat Club) had a fabulous row, in a time of 7.37mins beating Upton and Gloucester.

The novice Women’s Masters D/E 4x- was stroked by Lucy Kelleher and backed up by Jane Connolly, Mel Brown (substitute) and Claudine Pearson. Claudine was steering for the first time in a race. This developmental stage for a sculler is a positive step for racing crews. Mel Brown from Monmouth Boat Club, commented on what a great line Claudine had taken down the river.

The Women’s Masters C 4+ was coxed by Jen Carey, stroked by Rebecca England, was supported by Lin Hansen, Jane Cryer and Ruth Poulten. They came in 26seconds after the winners, Evesham Boat Club. This crew is recently formed and one to watch in the future.

Vice Captain, Amanda Bowden said, “The squad is developing to show real strength in depth. Crews are beginning to see rewards, or will do soon, for the effort they put in. Time on the water and in the gym is ensuring that we have strong and technically competitive crews. I am delighted with the progress this autumn, it bodes well for the summer racing. Thanks goes to Eric Appleton for trailering and supporting the crews on a rather cold, damp day and to the finishing coaches Dan Simkins and Sam Hill.”

Sadly, the juniors squads’ Wycliffe Small Boats Head on Saturday was cancelled at the very last minute after the crews and their boats had travelled to the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal.

For media coverage of Stratford’s Women’s Masters’ triumphs at Monmouth Rowing Club’s Winter Head see Stratford Herald page thirty nine and online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/medals-for-rowers-at-monmouth-meeting-9343383 and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-mammoth-effort-from-boat-clubs-womens-masters-at-monmouth and back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2023/12/08&pages=24

Stratford Happiness on the Avon and Tideway!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s Masters Women’s crew of Rona, Clare, Paola and Ruth competed at the Avon Bluefriars’ Small Boats Head near Bath at the weekend

Rowing the Long Course of 3250m, they all enjoyed the paddle upstream to the start on what is a beautiful stretch of the Avon. They completed the course with competent and efficient rowing and brilliant steering from Ruth at bow. No medals won but all were satisfied to have completed the course: a very enjoyable race and useful practice for the remaining Head season. A great experience which is definitely recommended: very well organised, friendly, welcoming and a lovely course. Stratford will be back!

Meanwhile, in unimaginable glorious conditions, two Stratford masters’ women’s pairs rowed the 4.5km Championship Course from Chiswick to Hammersmith in the prestigious Pairs Head 2023. Heather Hayton and Liz Collins raced in the WMB2x and had a fabulous race, thoroughly enjoying the occasion.

Amanda Bowden and Suzie Radley won the WMD2x Club event in a time of 16.26mins. Amanda commented, “This was first time I have rowed the event, it was great fun and I was delighted to have steered a good course. We all look forward to returning to the Tideway racing again soon!”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page sixty one and Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-boat-club-masters-duo-triumph-at-prestigious-pairs-head and back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2023/10/13&pages=32

Stratford Start The Season Well at Wallingford and Runcorn

Starting their full head season for the first time, three J14 squads made their debut at Wallingford Long Distance Sculls, rowing the short course. Thanks to some brilliant intersquad camaraderie, three J15 athletes stepped up as coxswains, enabling all twelve J14 athletes to compete on the day. Martha Baines coxed the girls’ quad (Linforth, Ntoukaki, Sime, Appleton) and came fourth against well drilled crews from Headington School, beating one of the Headington quads on the way from Oxford Brookes to Oxford University boat houses. Maeve Dunn coxed the boys’ quad of Rowan/Shaw/Appleton/Jones and Sophie Franklin coxed Happel/Richter/ Greenwood/Rutter, with the latter taking the win for Stratford in a time of eight minutes and twenty eight seconds. J14 Coach Hugo Happel said: “A really good day for J14’s, showing good technique on this fabulous stretch of water. Great experience gained combined with plenty of laughs. Well done to all athletes!”

The J15 squad’s new rowing season also began last weekend with the opening event at Wallingford. A bumper entry saw Stratford’s juniors travel to Wallingford for the 2023 edition of Wallingford Long Distance Sculls. First out for the J15 squad was the women’s coxed quadruple scull of Sophie Franklin, Maeve Dunn, Martha Baines, Millie Smith and Martha Cooke (coxswain).  The crew stormed over the 4000m course to come within touching distance of Henley Rowing Club’s two crews finishing third by just 2.1 seconds over the nineteen minute race. Next to go, in the 1800m short course event, were the J15 double scull crews of Bryony Francis/Poppy Warren and Tessa Parkin/Josephine Cooper. The two crews duelled over the full course to achieve second and third ranking for the Club with the Francis/Warren combination taking the second place spot after battling their way through the traffic. Last to go for the J15 squad were the single scullers, Martha Cooke and Isla Dunn. Always a gladiatorial competition, Dunn and Cooke fought it out on the Thames to record creditable fourth and sixth places.

One of the most anticipated events in the rowing calendar for Stratford junior squads is the Wallingford Long Distance Sculls, a challenging and prestigious race that draws many competitors from various clubs and schools in the region. The event takes place annually in Wallingford, a historic town in Oxfordshire and the head race has a rich tradition that goes back to 1974. The original course was a gruelling 6,000 metres upstream from Moulsford Boathouse to Wallingford Marina but it has since been shortened to 4,000 metres starting from Cholsey Ferry.

The race consists of two long divisions and one shorter one with different categories of boats and rowers. The Wallingford Long Distance Sculls is a test of endurance, skill and teamwork and showcases some of the best talent in the sport.

The Junior 16 Women’s coxless quad consisting of Tessa Parkin, Sophie Evans, Alice Jones and Poppy Baines were the first down the course. They faced tough competition from local rivals such as Wallingford, Henley and Headington but they rowed with determination and skill. They finished in fifth place which is a commendable result considering that Tessa Parkin, a junior 15 athlete, stepped in at the last minute due to illness: Tessa went on to compete in her own event after a short break.

Another impressive result came from the double sculls pair of Theo Richter and James Albrighton who finished fifth overall. They competed against strong crews from St Pauls School, Leander, Wallingford and Lea and showed great speed and technique.

Finally, Alexandra Francis represented the J16’s in the single sculls event, which had thirty four entries. She had to endure a long wait on the water due to some issues on the course but she did not let that affect her performance: she rowed with power and stamina and finished sixth overall.

The first J17 crew to take to the water were Lucy Sartain, Jess Long, Scarlett Richardson and Aimee Appleton in their coxless quad. They sculled with great skill and were faster than the crew in front over the second half of the race finishing fourth which was an excellent result at such a high profile event.

Charles Happel entered the Open Junior 18 single scull event pitting his skills against forty four other scullers from some of the top rowing clubs in the country. Setting off hard on the first half of the course he was in nineteenth place at the halfway point. Charles put in a very strong final kilometre to finish in a highly creditable sixteenth place.

Molly Vondrak, Ez Elfwood, Eloise Cooper and Nancy Davis all entered the Junior 17 single sculls event finishing seventh, twenty sixth, twenty seventh and thirtieth respectively. Molly’s performance was particularly impressive.

Uche Nwachukwa entered in the Women’s single scull event, a tall order for a junior athlete, finishing twenty fourth out of thirty competitors. She then sculled in a double with Maddie Hall in the afternoon division coming tenth out of sixteen competitors. Also racing in the same event Jess Long and Lucy Sartain came thirteenth, Harriet Froom and Megan Rowan came eleventh and Scarlett Richardson and Aimee Appleton finished strongly in eight place.

Given the favourable conditions, Suzie Radley and Amanda Bowden representing Stratford’s Masters’ Women were excited to be racing again in the first head race of the season. Following a convincing start rate set by stroke, Suzie, accompanied by fantastic steering through the bends overtaking several crews in the process, the race was going very well! The boat speed placing the crew second behind a younger age category. However, sadly there then followed a steering error costing the crew thirty seconds which knocked the double out of the competition on this occasion. Commenting, Suzie Radley said, “This race was to be a warm up for the Pairs’ Head of the River in London next weekend. The race has provided much needed feedback, with some key points to work on to improve the competitive edge. This has certainly sparked a fire for next weekend!”

Also sculling at Wallingford were Paul Collins and Mike Adkins who were the only entry in Masters’ H double category and they had a good row. Steered by Paul, they managed to restrict their bank contact on the way to the start! For a first event together, they were well satisfied with the result managing to hold off a good Guildford double.

Also sculling on Saturday, this time at the Runcorn Autumn Head, was Stratford’s adaptive squad. The Runcorn Head of the River attracts clubs from the North West and Midlands to compete on the river Weaver. Andy Morris represented Stratford’s Adaptive Squad in a division which included Runcorn’s Sean Bailey who had recorded a personal best of 18:20 for the course.

This was Andy’s first race without floats and in a boat borrowed from Runcorn. The conditions were fine for the race over a 3650m course which was a series of bends with 200m straights in between. Commenting, Andy said, “I was pleased with my row and the course tested my steering skills. This was my first head in a single without floats and it went well”. Andy’s winning time was eighteen minutes and thirteen seconds.

For media coverage, see Stratford Observer online  https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-boat-club-make-strong-start-to-new-season-at-wallingford-and-runcorn and back sports page https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2023/10/06&pages=32: see also Stratford Herald page forty five

For great pictures of Wallingford, see Kathy Baines’ excellent selection https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AKg7Ldg9UzZfSuU&id=8E50DAC120123B06%21101272&cid=8E50DAC120123B06

Stratford’s Masters & Seniors Win at Peterborough

It was hugely encouraging to see the women of Stratford upon Avon Boat Club dominating the racing in Peterborough.

In a tremendously strong tail wind, the Masters’ Women fought to hold the quad level off the start and powered their way to catch up the crew ahead, that had been given a time handicapped head start. Finding better water at 250m they came back through the lead crew to win just as the crews went over the line. A win by 0.4 of a second! Charlotte Jones, crew member, said, “The crew overcame challenging conditions to win! Great win and great fun!”

The gusty strong tail wind continued into the afternoon for the Masters’ Women’s double of Suzie Radley and Amanda Bowden. They comfortably won the heat and the final race in a time of 1:55minutes.

Heather Hayton, Club Captain and stroke of the quad, highlighting the wins said, “It is spectacular to see women, across all age groups, come together and succeed in their sport. Inspirational! Added to that, the Stratford ladies won the most female events of the day!”

Racing in the first boat of the day for the senior women were Alice Baines and Imogen North in the Women’s Band 2 doubles event. Despite only having one outing prior to the event, they commanded their heat and subsequently their final in a time of 1:46.0. In the afternoon both Alice and Imogen took to the water again joined by Elisabeth Edwards and Katy Thomas for the Women’s Band 2 quads event. This was an exciting start to Katy’s sculling career as her first ever sculling race having taken up the sport whilst at university. This scratch crew, with only one outing under their belts, took themselves by surprise by winning comfortably both their heat and final despite the blustery conditions

Stratford’s Masters men also competed at Peterborough: Sunday afternoon saw Stratford’s men’s masters competing after quite a break. Conditions were good but an occasional wind across the course was causing some problems for steering.

A lack of competition saw the coxless four masters crew (Dave, Simon, Graham and Richard) entered into open category against much younger crews from Auriol, Cantabrigian and Dart Totnes. Undaunted, they decided to give it their best and recorded a personal best in what would have been very credible time for a masters’ E event

After the fours’ event, there was the return to competitive rowing by John Robinson. Facing stiff competition from Peterborough City and Bewl Bridge, John remained within one boat’s length right up to the finish but sadly missing out on a pot

Said Dave Edwards, Masters’ Vice Captain, “An excellent day was had by all and the squad is now looking forward to the start of the head season”

For media coverage, please see Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratfords-women-win-at-peterborough and back sports page https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2023/08/18&pages=24 and also Stratford Herald page forty three

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

All Fun At The Fun Regatta!

Although the wait of a year 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 twenty four 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 organiser Chris Belcher said, “We were heartened by the huge numbers who came to watch, cheer the competitors on and enjoy the spectacle even though the weather wasn’t ideal: it may not have been Henley Royal Regatta but we like to think that it was more fun to watch!”

Fancy dress was again a major part of the day, with crews dressed as Roman legionnaires; colourful Hawaiian shirts; the now immediately recognisable blue and yellow of Ukraine who were made very welcome by the watching crowds; ladies from Wilmcote dressed as swans; colourful hippies; crews with Mohican hairstyles; pink flamingos on their heads; others mascaraing as King Charles 111 (is this a treasonable offence? Off to the Tower with you!); ladies from Stratford’s Warwick Events; ladies looking suspiciously like Super Woman and many other colourful creations! 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 again Never Mind The Rollocks as runners up. Oarsome 4 Some took the fancy dress prize!

Commenting further, Chris Belcher Fun Regatta 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 also 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!”

Paul Stanton, the Club’s President said, “We were so grateful that Stratford upon Avon’s Mayor Cllr Kate Rolfe and her Consort visited us and presented prizes to the winners: Stratford upon Avon Town Council’s support is essential for the encouragement for sport and recreation in the Warwickshire area and community. Thanks also to Sip ‘n’ Swig, Stratford Boat Club’s regatta bar contractors, for filling the winners’ tankards with beer: that made their day!”

Whilst the Club members were running the Fun Regatta, the Club’s masters’ squad were competing in a fantastic two days of racing at Henley Masters Regatta with another win for the masters women from Stratford upon Avon Boat Club.

Suzie Radley and Amanda Bowden joined forces with other clubs to form two composite eights: the racing consisted of heats, a semi and the finals. The fast starts and lengthy powerful rowing strokes were too strong for the opponents, resulting in two winning eights, beating a crew from USA and Marlow Rowing Club, respectively.

Further down the country, Llandaff near Cardiff was the venue for the latest regatta outing for Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s adaptive squad. The experienced team from Stratford helped the local organisers to provide a fun and safe event. Stratford also loaned boats to Runcorn and Fishguard on the day so that all could compete. Honours were pretty much shared between the five adaptive clubs that attended: Stratford came away with most wins.

Andy Morris in the Open PR3 Singles beat his rival from Runcorn by little more than a length. He then teamed up with his young colleague Isaac Clarkson to take the Band 2 Doubles event: this was thirteen year old Isaac’s first pot. To complete his day, Andy then partnered the Runcorn sculler in Band 1 Doubles event against a Stratford/Ross double, winning by three lengths.

Jess Dowdewell continued the close rivalry with Rob Pedley in the PR1 Singles: another epic battle in the final saw Jess overcome Rob for the first time by just under a length. Commenting, Head Adaptive Coach Mark Dewdney said, “The best bit about the day was seeing new faces on the circuit: we have some new friends who all interested in taking adaptive and para rowing forward.”

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 Strathclyde 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! The logistics of getting multiple boats, trailers, coaches, athletes, coaches and supporters to Strathclyde is immense and I’d like to thank all who have given their support, time and effort to make this complex exercise possible!”

Further afield in Lucerne, Stratford Boat Club’s alumnae of Camilla Hadland and Esme Booth were both performing at the Rowing World Cup III this weekend. Camilla was doing an excellent job in the commentary box and Esme rowing in the GB Women’s Eight collecting an excellent gold medal!

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald middle pages, British Rowing online https://www.britishrowing.org/2023/07/all-good-fun-at-stratfords-fun-regatta and Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-boat-club-hosts-successful-fun-regatta

Stratford Triumph at Marlow and British Masters’ Rowing Championships!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s adaptive squad went to Marlow Town regatta for what to most was the first racing of their regatta season. There was a hint of regatta rustiness!

The race of the day was an all Stratford final between Rob Pedley and Jess Dowdeswell in the PR1 singles. This is a fixed seat event for those with a Spinal Cord Injury or some other condition that makes it impossible to use legs. It was nip and tuck all the way with the vastly more experienced Pedley winning by just one foot!

Andy Morris triumphed in a PR3 event, defeating his Oxford rival by a length. There was also a surprise win for Curtis Dickens and Jake Blatcher: Curtis has been rowing for less than two months. However, they trounced a Marlow and Sudbury crew.

The rest of the squad performed well, but all lost their finals by small margins.

Jess Dowdeswell and Curtis Dickens have been referred to the Stratford Boat Club by the GB Paralympic team. The Club’s adaptive coaching team have been asked to develop them to the appropriate level.

The weekend also saw the highlight of the masters’ regatta season with the British Rowing Masters Championships held at the multi lane national course at Holme Pierrepoint in Nottingham. The event, held over two days in glorious sunshine, attracted a record entry of over eight hundred crews to race on the 1000m multi lane course. A very strong tailwind and a choppy course promised challenging but fast racing. Stratford upon Avon Boat Club we were represented by a number of women’s and men’s crews competing over the two days.

Saturday saw the first action for Stratford with Heather Hatton and Tom Doherty competing with their friends Tabatha and Julian Scrivener from the Upton club in mixed masters E (average age 55) quad sculls (two blades [oars] each) against a strong field from Warwick, Monmouth and Ardingly.

A good start from Stratford/Upton saw them edge ahead of Ardingly to lead Monmouth and Warwick by about a length at the halfway 500m mark. A big push from Warwick saw them close to about half a length at the 750m mark with Monmouth still in the race only a length behind. With all to play for, Warwick continued their push drawing level at the 800m mark.

A furious race to the finish continued with Warwick using their size and strength to just push through to win by three seconds with Stratford /Upton settling for the silver medal in second place ahead of a strong Monmouth crew a length behind in third place.

Next up at midday in the heat of the sun was Stratford’s Ed Lewry and Nic Sartain in the Men’s Masters’ B (average age 35) double scull event. The race was a heat with three of the five crews progressing to the final later in the day. A fast start from Ed and Nic saw them pushing hard for a final place.

With only four seconds separating the four crews at halfway, a tight finish was on the cards. With Nottingham and Poplar edging ahead, the final place was between Stratford and Falcon clubs. A very close finish saw Stratford pipped by the slenderest of margins of less than half a second.

Next up for Stratford was Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty in their Mixed Masters E double scull category. Racing former internationals from Castle Semple and also multiple championship winners from Lakeland, the race was always going to be for the minor places. As predicted Castle Semple and Lakeland moved away from the rest of the field in the by now quite choppy conditions leaving a three way battle for the minor placing between Bewel Bridge, Stratford and Bentham. A big push by Stratford in the final 250m was not enough to overhaul Bewel Bridge however and Stratford had to settle for fifth place.

The final Stratford competitor saw Tim Lunel racing in the Single Masters’ E sculls event. In what was one of the strongest entries of the whole championship with three heats, it was always going to be a stiff challenge to qualify for the final. With the choppy conditions still persisting, Tim put in a solid performance but sadly it was not enough to make the final.

Sunday saw Stratford back in action with Tom Doherty racing in the Men’s Coxless fours sweep (one oar) race with Greenbank Falmouth. Despite never having rowed together before, the crew were looking to qualify from their heat for the final. Against a quality field including ex-Irish internationals from Commercial Rowing Club and Upper Thames, Nottingham and Avon County, it was going to be a big ask.

A very fast start rating forty one strokes per minute and a fast race tempo of thirty eight strokes a minute for the whole course, enabled the Stratford/Greenbank composite to edge ahead by a length over a much fancied Nottingham crew to hold third place behind Commercial and Upper Thames and qualify for the final. A further tough race in the final saw the Stratford/Greenbank, Tyne and Minerva Bath crews battle for the minor places with only two seconds separating the three crews at the finish.

And finally for Stratford, Suzie Radley and Amanda Bowden won a gold medal at the British Masters’ Rowing Championships! The double rowed with a powerful, consistent rhythm, pulling away from the competition over the length of the course. The conditions were very favourable, although swelteringly hot! The masters’ women were delighted to demonstrate improved cohesion and boat speed, both positive steps in preparing for the European Masters’ Championships at the end of July.

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page forty four and Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-masters-win-gold-and-silver-at-british-rowing-championships

Stratford’s Masters Crowned at Nottingham!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Masters rowers enjoyed glorious conditions at Nottingham Masters’ Regatta. It is not often that it can be said it was a light head wind at Nottingham! Amanda Bowden and Suzie Radley, racing in The Tempest, a double scull, grasped the opportunity to go off the start hard, moving quickly into the lead and stayed ahead throughout the race. The women were delighted to receive bespoke Coronation medals and complete the 1km race in a time of 4.07 minutes. Said Amanda Bowden, “The women’s masters double will return to the course for the British Masters’ Championship in June.”

Shortly afterwards Stratford’s Ed Lewry and Nick Sartain took to the water in the open senior men’s doubles. After a slightly slow start, they found some rhythm and pushed through the field before coming home third in a close finish.

Following on from Suzie’s and Amanda’s very successful race was Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty racing in a combined age group mixed doubles event against two Masters’ C crews average age forty three years, two Masters’ D crews average age of fifty years and two Masters’ E crews average aged fifty five years.

A staggered timed start saw the Stratford Masters E crew chase down the other Masters’ E crew and national champions and race favourites Lakeland out to the 250m mark. A concerted push saw Stratford managing to stay with Lakeland at the halfway 500m mark. By this point in the race, the younger crews were beginning to close on the leading crews which lead to a hard third quarter of the race as Stratford worked to stay with Lakeland and hold off the four boats closing behind.

By the 750m mark, Lakeland had moved further ahead with a length of clear water and Stratford were level pegging with Warwick and Nottingham Masters’ C crews. Big pushes from all three crews saw an exciting finish for second place with Warwick edging in by three seconds and Stratford and Upton being split by half a second with Sudbury and the RAF well beaten in fifth and sixth.

Later in the day saw Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty take to the water again in their mixed masters quad with Julian and Tabatha Scrivener from Upton Club to take on a Bentham/Maidstone composite crew in a head to head clash. A fast start saw the Stratford/Upton quad quick out of the blocks rating forty five strokes per minute to establish a half length lead by the 250m mark. A high tempo push out to the 500 metre mark enabled the Stratford/Upton crew to establish a length of clear water and in the second half of the race, the crew were able to continue to build on the lead eventually winning by a comfortable margin.

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/masters-among-the-medals-at-nottingham-9313131, page fifty five and also Stratford Observer https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-boat-clubs-masters-rowers-crowned-at-nottingham

Stratford’s Juniors & K.E.S. Excel at Schools’ Head of the River and Masters’ at Vesta International Masters Head of the River Race

On Friday, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s J17/18 squad travelled to London and the Schools’ Head of the River to take on the revered Thames Tideway, the venue for the Oxford/Cambridge boat race.

The squad competed in the highly competitive Championship quads event which hosted fifty one of the country’s best junior boys’ boats. On the unfamiliar and challenging course that stretches for nearly 7km through West London, the crew of Will Beattie, Tomi Wilcock, Charles Happel, and Toby Sartain sculled with confidence and came home in a strong thirty nineth place ahead of eleven high level crews.

Also at the Schools’ Head was King Edward VI School Boat Club with their unmatched string of victories including their recent success at the West Midlands Championship and now they pulled off another decisive win on the Thames.

The Mixed Eight of Amalia Richardson, Maddie Hall, Tom Wheeler, Rafa Macdonald, Tom Beard, Ed Rose, Harriet Noyes, Kate Richardson and Imogen Hill set an impressive new course record of 19:30 minutes over the 6.8 kilometer Thames Championship Course. Setting off with a strong pace though Chiswick Bridge at a rate of 32 strokes per minute and maintaining this all the way to Barnes Bridge, on the straight to Chiswick Eyot coxswain Imogen Hill took the perfect racing line as the K.E.S. crew picked up the pace. Hot on the heels of Westminster School and overtaking the hosts of the event passing under Hammersmith Bridge, K.E.S. continued to extend their lead past Fulham Football ground to the finish at Putney Bridge.

K.E.S. Captain of Boats, Ed Rose said, “We had it under control for the entire race and I have to agree with the commentator who broadcast – “It looks like good fun”! It feels great to have won this national event giving K.E.S grounds for optimism for the upcoming summer season. Our thanks go to Stratford upon Avon Boat Club for their support in getting us to this event!”

Also at the weekend, Stratford upon Avon Boat Club secured an impressive victory at the Vesta International Masters’ Head of the River Race on Sunday in the Women’s D eights category. The brand-new composite crew, which included members from seven European clubs, completed the Championship course in an impressive 20:02 minutes, and finished as the fourth fastest women’s crew overall.

After the race, Suzie Radley, who represented Stratford, remarked that it was an honour to compete on this historic stretch of the Thames and to witness so many masters crews putting in their best effort. She also expressed her delight at her team’s triumph, stating, “We were thrilled with our win.”

For media coverage, see Stratford Herald page fifty two and Stratford Observer on line https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-juniors-and-kes-excel-at-schools-head-of-the-river-in-london and back sports page https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2023/03/24&pages=032

MASTERS SCORE TWO OUT OF TWO!

Stratford upon Avon Boat Club were represented by both a mixed double and women’s double at Stourport Small Boats Head and both Masters’ crews won!

Suzie Radley and Amanda Bowden enjoyed the fast stream taking 14 minutes 34 seconds to complete the 4K course. Suzie steered a good line, grateful for the cloud cover during the race and not having to stare into the sun. There
were no crews within reach so the double focused on pushing off the crews behind.

Kjersti Rogneflaten Woolley and Gary Clay enjoyed racing in a Masters’ mixed double for the first time since last June. In the slightly flooded swirly water, they were overtaken by a Men’s junior coxed quad that started just behind them. Kjersti and Gary then managed to overtake two Masters’ women’s doubles. This set them up for clear water and a good sprint for the finish which was just enough for a narrow win!

For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald page sixty eight and Stratford Observer online https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-double-delight-for-stratford-masters and also back sports page https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2022/11/18&pages=032