THE PAST weekend’s weather forecast of heavy rain and strong winds made Stratford Boat Club officials wary of the safety aspects of taking junior crews to Stourport, but how happy they are to have done so given the results achieved.
There were some heavy showers, but Stratford’s J13 crews had an excellent and successful regatta.
First up was the junior J13 double crew of Charles Happel and Louie Beason who provided a very promising row against a crew from Derwent Rowing Club. Stratford went off very powerfully and quickly held a good lead for the first third of the course before running out of steam and eventually missing out by three boat lengths.
Next up for Stratford was the WJ13 coxed quad of Ruby Brooker-Collins, Grace Beason, Uche Nwachukwa and Imo Hill, admirably coxed by Emily Stobart, up against Stourport Boat Club in their first heat race.
The girls provided a very impressive controlled performance, starting strongly and extending their position through to finishing with a very satisfying win recorded as “easily”.
The next heat was the final against a crew from Burton Leander in blustery conditions and was if anything a better performance than the first heat. It was well coxed and steered by Stobart with her crew providing a demonstration of controlled sculling to win by two lengths.
From the J14 squad, Stratford Boat Club had four athletes competing. Owen Perkins and Ruby Howells both competed in their first singles events and were joined by Lucy Browne and Freya Watts.
Watts was first up and despite a strong effort did not quite manage to overcome her opposition from Derwent Rowing Club. The Derwent sculler then went on to race against Howells who again raced a brilliant race, only to be beaten by just two lengths.
Browne then took to the water to race against a young lady from Hollingworth Lake and Perkins raced against a strong sculler from Burton Leander. Both raced with their best technique and determination, but this was not enough to progress to the next rounds.
Perkins and Howells then teamed up in the J14 double sculls to race against two boys from Derwent in the final. They steered a fantastic course and pushed right to the end, but this time it was the Derwent duo who claimed the pots.
The final race of the day for the J14s came from the WJ14 double scull of Browne and Watts. Again, they raced brilliantly and by the halfway mark already had a substantial lead over their opposition from Hereford. The Hereford duo tried their best but the Stratford double pushed away further to claim their win.
Stratford’s J14 coach Abi Terry said: “The J14s enjoyed a good event where a lot was learnt about coping in windy conditions and race strategies.”
Overcoming the prevailing wind and impending showers, Conar Aitchison in the single was first on the water for the J15 squad. Despite a good row, a final place became just out of reach during the finishing sprint.
Emma Harrison and Sophie Elstone in the double battled the conditions, comfortably winning a place in the afternoon finals. Shortly afterwards, Elstone took to the water again, this time in a single, easily gaining another finals place in the afternoon.
The afternoon weather improved and the timetable saw Elstone initially competing in the singles final against local competition from Evesham. Gaining the lead from the start, Elstone controlled the race to win confidently with much support from the riverbank.
The final race of the day for Stratford juniors was Elstone and Harrison in the double against a strong crew from Hollingworth Lake. Despite their strong and tidy rowing, fighting hard to the end, the girls were unable to close the gap during the last push to the line, finishing second by only a few lengths.
Stratford’s masters sculler Kjersti Rogneflaten-Woolley also raced at Stourport Sprint Regatta, this time on Sunday. Despite some downpours, the weather had improved massively from Saturday’s stormy weather.
She raced in a women master E double as a composite crew with Derwent’s Gillian Lockhart and they won their first heat against the ladies from Exeter by one length.
The semi-final against Bewdley was more exciting. Despite several warnings from the umpire, Bewdley did not move over into their own lane and thus the Derwent/Stratford crew was forced into the lane for boats going up to the start.
The composite crew registered their objection at the finish and the umpires disqualified the Bewdley crew in what is always a disappointing outcome to a race.
The final was against Hereford Rowing Club and the Stratford/Derwent composite won by two lengths. Rogneflaten-Woolley said: “This was our first regatta in a women’s double this year. A few tweaks with the set-up of the boat and we will be ready for the World Masters Regatta in Hungary in September!”