STRATFORD Boat Club was ably represented by its masters men’s squad and club supporters at the British Rowing Masters Championships on Sunday at the National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham.
The six-lane event featured side by side racing and was characterised by very competitive and exciting racing throughout the day and saw crews from Stratford compete in variable weather conditions in a number of events.
First off was the Stratford Masters E coxless four of Gary Clay, Tom Doherty, Richard Nelson and Simon Beard in a close race which saw all crews separated by only five seconds and the Stratford team just failed to qualify for the final by two-and-a-half seconds in a time of 3.35.30.
This crew then competed again in the Masters E coxed four event, ably coxed by Jen Cary, in one of the most heavily contested events at the regatta which saw 12 of the 13 competitors in the heat races separated by a mere 12 seconds.
Despite coming third in their heat in a creditable time of four minutes and rowing into a strong headwind, the crew again just failed to qualify for the final by four seconds.
The most impressive performance of the day, however, was produced by the Stratford masters D coxed four crew of Stephen Haighton, Glyn Hawkins, Tim Lunel and Wallace Brown, coxed again by Cary.
The crew stormed to a very close win in their heat in a time of 3.40.89 in a race which saw the top four crews separated by less than two seconds as Stratford recorded the fastest overall heat time.
In a hotly-contested final which produced one of the best races of the day, an exuberant crowd saw all six crews finish within five seconds of each other.
Stratford, rowing a very strong race into the last 250 metres, were just squeezed out of a medal position by a last-gasp surge by Nottingham Boat Club.
Stratford finished an outstanding fifth in a time of 3.36.48, less than three seconds behind winners Monmouth.
Masters vice-captain Tom Doherty said: “This was an excellent overall performance by the masters’ squad crews from Stratford, in particular the outstanding masters D coxed four, and demonstrates we are able to compete for medals at national level with a squad that continues to grow in strength all the time.
“It was also great to have the support of club members Christine Goodwin and Helen Smith who kept the crews’ spirits up all day.”
MEANWHILE, Stratford Boat Club’s youngest athletes were in action over the weekend at the Blenheim Palace Junior Regatta hosted by Hinksey Sculling School.
For many of the junior squad, this marked their competitive debut and the competition was strong with top crews at J13 level present from around the country.
The coxed quadruple scull of Sophie Neville (cox), Jasmine Mountney (stroke), Alice Baines (3), Mili Wilcock (2) and Maiya James (bow) gave the spectators something to celebrate by overhauling King’s Ely School, Staines Boat Club and Hinksey to take a bronze medal.
There were also strong Stratford performances in the single scull (Fred Tyler) and double scull categories (Dan Cox and Max Griffiths).
Commenting on their performance, coach and junior co-ordinator Steve Wellstead said: “These young athletes all showed tremendous composure in the heat of competition and should be enormously proud of their achievements.”