EASTER weekend was a busy one for Stratford Boat Club members and chocolate eggs had to be left to one side whilst the junior squad and coaches received coxing coaching from British Rowing’s Olympic cox Zoe de Toledo.
Zoe has coxed Britain’s women’s eight throughout the 2014 season including the European Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, where the crew won a silver medal.
Zoe also coxed Oxford University’s eight in the infamous 2012 Boat Race which was disrupted by the swimming protest.
Jim Flambert, coach at Stratford Boat Club, said: “To have Zoe spend so much time with our juniors and talk to them was inspirational. She shared her experiences and knowledge which was of great benefit not only to our young coxes and rowers but to our coaches as well.”
Time was also taken to celebrate two Stratford members’ recent success in achieving their qualifications as launch drivers and their Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Level Two licence. The RYA course focuses on low speed close quarters handling, man overboard recovery, an introduction to driving and collision regulations.
“Safety is a matter that we take most seriously here at Stratford Boat Club not only for our members, especially the junior squad, but also for all river users and the general public.” said Shân Stokes, Stratford Boat Club’s safety advisor.
“All our safety and training launch drivers are all put through rigorous RYA Level 2 training to ensure they are up to the highest standards and comply with British Rowing’s recommendations. We are especially pleased to see two more volunteers join the rota.”
Whilst Stratford’s juniors and coaches were on the Avon, other club members continued their foray into offshore coastal rowing in conjunction with Mayflower Offshore Rowing Club and took part in Paignton Regatta on Easter Saturday.
On a blustery day with choppy offshore conditions, the crew took on some of the top South Coast crews, coming a creditable second out of five crews in the Open Men’s race, narrowly beaten by top rated Teignmouth.
Over a gruelling, choppy 8km course, the composite crew, stroked by Thomas Doherty and ably assisted by Will McLeod both from Stratford, and Mayflower rowers Jeff Keast and Robin Steward, fought for 5km to hold off the local Torquay highly-rated men’s four who were determined not to be beaten on their own patch.
In a nip and tuck race with barely more than three lengths separating the crews, the visitors held on for a well deserved second place.
The increasingly tough conditions were further manifested in Tom’s next race when the crew snapped a blade in half as a result of the rough water conditions and were forced to retire.
Mayflower captain Jeff Keast said: “This was a fine performance considering this was Robin’s first event and the composite crew now looks forward to the challenging long distance Totnes to Dartmouth Head Race over 15km next weekend with confidence.”