IT WAS a busy week for Stratford Boat Club as last Monday the J14 and J15 squads travelled down to a windy and choppy Dorney Lake for the Oarsport Junior Sculling Head.
Two individually-timed runs of 1,800m with only a short turnaround in between tested everyone’s mettle, with all performing at their best on this Olympic course.
First to race for Stratford was the WJ15 quad of Abbey Meggeson, Amelie Sartain, Harriet Hodgson and Sophie Elstone, coxed by Sienna Rawlings, lining up into the strong headwind for their first leg.
Rowing firm through the start line they set their pace, settling nicely into rhythm for a first run time of eight minutes, 27 seconds.
Almost immediately, with just enough time allowed to have a drink, the second leg began. Rowing with the wind made for a quicker second time, the effort required remained. Finishing almost a minute quicker, the combined finish time of 16 minutes, 0.1 seconds placed them 22nd out of a field of 66, with all the big named schools and clubs featuring.
Following closely was the quad of Elisabeth Edwards, Emma Harrison, Julia Zampronio Gurden and Martha Usselmann, coxed by Toby Sartain. The headwind seemed to increase as they waited for their start, yet undeterred the crew set off strongly and quickly settled into their racing pace.
First leg over, the run home towards the cheering crowds yielded a leg and lung-bursting quicker time of 17 minutes, 55 seconds.
The nominally classed ‘15′ boys quad consisted of J14s Tomi Wilcock and Will Beattie and J15s Conar Aitchison and Will Clarke, coxed by Mary Walton. Apprehension was in the air for their first race together and for Tomi and Will Beattie their first outing on a racing lake.
Starting well, all worries were quickly forgotten with the rhythm and pace established early in the race. This strong synchronisation carried them to the end of the first run in exactly eight minutes.
After the short recovery, Mary captained the crew to a firm second run, keeping the boys focused and working at their best together. Crossing the finish line in 46th place from a strong field of 70, it was a promising first outing from a crew of mixed age groups.
The J14 girls were up next with two Stratford crews in action. First up was the crew consisting of Freya Watts, Lucy Browne, Honour Keil, Fleur Griffiths and cox Toby Sartain.
On the first 1,800m leg up the length of the lake, the Stratford girls put in a very strong performance to overtake two crews in a time of eight minutes, 17 seconds.
In the second leg, they were just as strong, pushing away from the crews behind them and catching the crews in front. Their overall time was 16 minutes, three seconds – putting them into joint 11th place out of 47 crews.
The final crew to race was the second J14 girls’ crew of Harriet Holmes, Bella Chappelhow, Ruby Howells, Anne Mynors and cox Owen Perkins. Again, another strong performance saw them hold off the fast crew behind them.
Their first leg was completed in nine minutes, five seconds. After a quick turn at the top of the lake, the girls set off back down the lake on their second run. A good pace was held and the crew finished in a time of 17 minutes, 32 seconds, giving them a place of 30th in the whole event and fourth out of the B division crews.
Abi Terry, J14 coach, said: “For the J14s’ first national event these were great results and the squad will look to build on these now before the Junior Inter-Regionals in April when they have been selected to represent the West Midlands and we also look forward to the National Schools Regatta in May.”
On Saturday, Stratford’s junior squad went to Kingston upon Thames Head, with their WJ17/18 coxed four of Katie Wellstead, Emily Browne, Khloe Curnock and Molly Gill-Swift, expertly coxed by Mimi Hill, taking on the year group above in a race over 5,200m.
Despite being excluded from the fleet of their competition through no fault of their own, they raced magnificently over the first half of the course, gaining on the nearest crew every stroke.
As they hit the headwind over the second half of the race, they maintained a great pace to finish in fourth place and 34 seconds behind the winner.
Dr Graham Collier said: “This was a magnificent effort from all the crew which required great mental as well as physical exertion. Their hard work training six days each week over the winter is beginning to pay off. The squad is looking forward to an exciting regatta season.”
The coxless WJ16 quadruple scull of Jasmine Mountney, Maiya James, Mili Wilcock and Alice Baines sculled superbly at the head of their division. As the race progressed they pulled clear of the Kingston crew behind and moved through the crews ahead of them to record an excellent third place, just 34 seconds off the leader in the 20-minute race.
King Edward VI School also competed with a boys’ coxed four of Joe, Adam, Felix, Sam and Matilda and had a tough race, competing up two age categories against university crews.
Unfazed, they stayed strong to finish second, just 17 seconds behind the winners and beating another university crew in the process by a good margin.