Stratford upon Avon Boat Club made their way to Stourport on Severn for the Stourport Boat Club annual regatta. Stratford’s Masters were the first to boat on the Saturday and in blistering temperatures, the 4x had a solid row, making improvements since the previous regatta. Later in the day, the 2x of Suzie Radley and Amanda Bowden were happy with their first race, winning a straight final.
Sunday saw the annual Sprint Regatta held over 650m on the River Severn. Stratford upon Avon Boat Club’s J13 squad were in action with racing throughout the day. First to take to the water was the mighty double scull combination of Millie Smith and Becca Smith who gave the crowd something to get excited about with a three quarters of a length win over Trent Boat Club.
Celebrations were short lived however as the Smith duo pushed a quality outfit from AB Severn down the course in the final to lose out by three lengths. Next to go was the WJ13 coxed quadruple scull of Bryony Francis, Isla Dunn, Martha Cooke, Sophie Franklin and Josephine Cooper (coxswain). The girls rowed up to J14 level to race against Stourport Boat Club on their home water and sculled superbly to take the win with a dominant display of junior sculling.
With the waters of the Severn rapidly evaporating in the 35°C heat, the Stratford girls raced on into the afternoon with the WJ13 single sculls event next on the schedule. Stratford’s Millie Smith sculled with determination shortly after the double scull event to keep her opposition from Evesham on her toes in the single scull. Stratford J13 sculler Isla Dunn exerted revenge for Millie’s defeat with a solid win over the Evesham sculler to take her place in the final with AB Severn (who knocked out Stratford’s Sophie Franklin after a plucky row from the young sculler).
Once again it was a Stratford/AB Severn showdown and despite Isla’s best endeavours, the AB Severn sculler crossed the line with Stratford’s bows nipping at their stern. Last to go was the second WJ13 coxed quadruple scull race of the day with Becca Smith, Cara Berisford-Murray, Josephine Cooper, Martha Cooke and Bryony Francis (coxswain) who raced a straight final against Trent Boat Club. Another solid row from the Stratford girls brought the crowd to their feet with a round of applause as they passed the club grounds holding a one length lead to take the second win of the day.
The J17/J18 squad showed fantastic commitment over the whole weekend, racing in every division possible over the two days. Saturday morning began with a semi-final victory in the Open J18 single sculls event for Tomas Wilcock against a Derwent RC rower. The final of this event was one of the closest races of the day, with Wilcock beating a second Derwent Rowing Club boat by only three feet to claim the medal.
Following this, Freya Watts gave a strong effort in the WJ18 single sculls event, losing out on a spot in the final by one and a half lengths against Burton Leander Rowing Club. The first division ended with a great win in the WJ18 double sculls, where Ruby Howells and Lucy Browne executed a fine race plan to dominate the second half of the 1100m course and to claim victory over the home Stourport Boat Club by two lengths.
The afternoon led to new territory for Wilcock and Browne, who raced together for the first time in the exciting Mixed Double Sculls event. Unfortunately, the juniors were unable to perform against the Hereford senior rowers they were alongside and the semi-final was conceded. Howells and Watts also raced up in the Women’s’ Double Sculls, giving spectators a tightly fought battle between Stratford and Warwick, which resulted in a close win for Stratford by just a third of a length. Claiming three events in just one day, the Stratford juniors ended the afternoon with anticipation of the next day’s rowing.
Sunday saw the return of the Mixed Double sculls for Wilcock and Browne, who gave an impressive sprint over 600m, but resulted in a loss against Hereford RC once again. Watts also returned to the WJ18 single sculls, but similarly lost out to Hereford RC by just one length. In the afternoon’s division, Wilcock won the semi-final of the J18 single sculls event by another incredible margin of half a length, but could not replicate his win from the previous day as, in the final, a Hereford sculler powered to the finish and claimed the event.
Finally, to round off a great weekend of racing, Browne and Watts teamed up for the WJ18 double sculls event. Both the semi final and final witnessed impressive efforts from two more Stourport Boat Club pairings but Stratford were once more victorious in this event to end the weekend with another medal.
For media coverage, please see Stratford Herald online https://www.stratford-herald.com/sport/double-win-for-stratford-boat-clubs-juniors-at-stourport-9269317 and page forty three and Stratford Observer https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/rowing-stratford-impress-in-blistering-heat-at-stourport and back sports page https://www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/editions/view/?/Stratford/2022/08/19&pages=024