ALTHOUGH ‘virtual’ regattas and competitions have been good during lockdown, nothing beats actual racing on the water!
Last Saturday morning saw members of the Stratford Boat Club junior squad out and ready early to go for their draw in the President’s Sculls.
The original trophy was initially presented by Ian Cartwright, the then captain, to Derek Eardley in 2004 during his tenure as president of Stratford Boat Club to mark his many years of service to the club and was to be raced for annually in coxed fours.
Over the years, the competition faded from the annual calendar and last year was reinstated as an annual sculling competition in three categories – women, men and juniors – and this year there will be the addition of heats for Stratford Boat Club’s ever-expanding adaptive squad.
Paul Stanton, president of Stratford Boat Club, commented: “We hope the President’s Sculls award will continue to inspire all members to continue with sculling at a high level and further contribute to all sections of the club mixing and communicating with each other.”
The President’s Sculls competition is run with side-by-side regatta-style racing from Clopton Bridge to the S-bend on the River Avon.
Theatre-side competitors have half a length handicap to compensate for the bend in the river and racing stations are decided by the toss of a coin before boating and also who is using which boat if there is competition for a preferred boat.
To allow athletes from different junior squads to compete against each other, there is a handicap system based on gold medal times.
The club also has safety launches following the races and one stationed by Clopton Bridge to liaise with any craft going upstream and also safety and time umpires to ensure safety.
The first race was a WJ18 athlete against a WJ15 athlete. The WJ18 athlete was very heavily handicapped by ten seconds and the WJ15 athlete just won by two lengths.
The second race was a straight race between two J18 athletes – the winner being by one length.
The racing continued with a J15 athlete with an eight-second handicap against a WJ16 athlete, with the J15 athlete winning by three lengths.
The last race of the morning was a WJ16 athlete against a J15 with an eight-second handicap and the WJ16 athlete won by just three quarters of a length.
Steve Wellstead, the club’s junior co-ordinator, said: “There was saw some superb racing and some great support from the bank from parents and onlookers!
“The President’s Sculls competition has certain energised the junior squad after a very frustrating year with the lack of water time.
“If this racing is anything to go by, we’re in for some great semi-final and final races in the weeks to come!”