GINA Fusco produced the best result for Stratford Boat Club’s masters in the Stourport Winter Head.
The event was held on a fast-flowing, slightly high and in places choppy River Severn in the town and, despite this being only her second singles race and with a torrential downpour just before the start, Fusco kept her nerve and achieved a comfortable win over a Birmingham sculler.
On a river she had not previously raced on, she secured her first ever rowing win in a time of 16 minutes, 28 seconds.
Richard Nelson and Simon Cowley, in his first head race, raced in the open men’s event in their men’s double sculls and acquitted themselves very well in a time of 14mins, 53secs.
However, it was not enough to beat an experienced Trentham crew who finished in 13.22.
Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty had a solid row to finish in a time of 14:43 to win in the men’s masters double sculls event in Division One.
Hayton and Doherty again took to the water in Division Two in the afternoon to race the much-fancied Birmingham mixed double, who had multiple medallists at national championships in their crew.
Birmingham made a fast start but Stratford responded and over the 3.8km course began to slowly pull away to finish in a time of 13:57, with Birmingham clocking 14:29.
“It was great to see Simon Cowley having a good race and Gina having a great event win which hopefully will lead to more success for them both in the future,” said Doherty, masters’ vice-captain.
Stratford junior squad entered a scratch crew in the WJ18 coxless quad event drawn from the J16, J17 and J18 squads.
Katie Phillips, Martha Usselmann and Isabelle and Matilda Watts, with only three previous outings together, gelled on the day to put in a fine performance and beat Evesham by half a second to finish second to Wycliffe.
Building experience from the previous weekend’s racing, J17 Jake Blatcher in his single scull took on his longest event so far. The 3.8km of the River Stour was taken in his stride, finishing the winding course in seventh place in a time of 15:49 minutes.
The Stourport Winter Head was the first opportunity for Stratford’s J14 athletes to test themselves over the long 3.7km distance and they duly proved themselves to be exceptionally capable.
The OP J14 4X+ crew of Louie Beason, Uche Nwachukwa, Grace Beason and Charles Happel, with great coxing from Emily Stobart, finished strongly in a time of 14mins, 50.6secs, but the experience of the older all-boys’ J15 4X+ crew from Hereford Cathedral School told.
The WJ14 4X+ crew of Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes, Millie Hodgson and Amalia Richardson, expertly coxed by Imogen Hill, powered their way down the course in a very impressive time of 14mins, 26.9secs, beating the home Stourport crew into a very distant second place.
Stratford’s J14 WJ 2x of Kate Richardson and Ruby Brooker-Collin had the very worst of the weather with heavy driving rain and wind but this did not deter them. They demonstrated excellent sculling over the course to finish a respectable distance behind a more experienced crew from Evesham in a time of 15:34.
Steve Marsden, J14 coach, said: “It was a very brave effort in extremely poor weather conditions, so well done girls! In fact well done to all our J14 athletes, they never fail to impress.”