THE SUN shone and the crowds flocked to the riverside as Saturday’s 2017 Rosconn Stratford Boat Club Regatta proved a roaring success.
There was excellent racing as crews from as far afield as Cardiff & Vale, Holloway (London) and Monkton Combe School (Somerset) were joined by newcomers AB Severn, Bridgnorth and Bedford.
This year’s regatta, featuring numerous local clubs, had four divisions, 34 events and 135 separate races, starting at 8am and running all day until 6.30pm.
Stratford BC regatta secretary Stephen Rose said: “This year we were so pleased to have Mencap Heart of England as our nominated charity. Stratford Boat Club have an outreach in teaching customers of Mencap and other adaptive athletes how to scull and this was a natural extension for this outreach.
“We were very heartened by the huge turnout from local and distant clubs and the interest from the public. A massive thanks to all our sponsors, especially the Rosconn Group, hardworking Stratford Boat Club members, visiting crews, umpires and officials and especially the public for supporting the event.”
President Paul Stanton said: “Some 400 beefburgers, 45lb of sausages, 25lb of bacon, 20kg of sliced onions and 750 buns – all from local suppliers – were consumed as well as dozens of cakes and snacks. What a magnificent day topped by great racing!
“Based on our success last year, we decided to stay with the shortened 650m course to ensure the safety of all the competitors and river-users. We were especially grateful for the help and tolerance of those operators who work and make their living on the river.”
Treasurer Paul Hazelwood added: “Stratford Boat Club’s next event is the Fun Regatta on Sunday, July 9. This is a much more ‘relaxed’ event with scratch teams from Stratford and across Warwickshire and area companies and organisations.
“We give them three hours’ coaching, a boat and cox and organise a regatta for them! There are bound to be thrills and spills, so come and see the ‘other side’ of rowing!”
WHILST Stratford crews were competing hard at their own regatta, two senior Stratford crews were at Marlow Regatta on Dorney Lake in their quest to qualify for Henley Royal Regatta which starts on Wednesday.
Rowing in championship coxed fours against many of the top London clubs and universities from around the country, the top Stratford boat qualified for the B final in which they finished fifth.
The crew made up of Eleanor Willetts, Chris Thomas, Dr Ben Twiney, Tom Coles and Ed Lewry finished fourth fastest club crew of the day and did enough to satisfy the Henley stewards and so have been pre-qualified for Henley Royal Regatta.
This is the third year that Stratford have been represented at Royal Henley regatta. They are now looking forward to training hard on the course, famous both for its beauty as well as its toughness. Their progress can be followed live on YouTube.
The second Stratford boat, the coxless four, found the going a little tougher, not helped by an equipment failure to a rigger halfway through their first race and finished fifth in their D final.
They attended Henley Qualifiers today (Friday), racing off against 41 other crews for just 14 places in the main draw.
Seniors coach Bill Sullivan said: “Racing at Royal Henley Regatta is the pinnacle of the rowing season as every competitive rower wants to be there competing at the highest level.
“For Stratford to have one crew that has qualified and another crew with great potential for entry says a lot for their determination, training and focus.
“Crews come from worldwide to compete. It’s not going to be an easy couple of weeks’ training!”
Visit www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport for action pictures from Stratford Regatta.