WATER conditions for the Blenheim Palace Junior Regatta proved to be a headache for the organisers and competitors alike as winds swept across the lake overlooked by the splendid palace.
With entries from schools across the country, the competition alone was going to be fierce at best and, with the wind being such an influence, the day added its own challenges.
However, fighting through choppy waters, Stratford Boat Club’s J13 2x combination of Will Clarke and Conar Aitchinson claimed gold and Amelie Sartain silver in the WJ13 1x as she braved the blustery conditions in a boat weighing only 14kg.
The WJ13 4x+ claimed more silver. Crewed by Elisabeth Edwards, Martha Usselmann, Harriet Hodgson and Sartain, coxed by Mary Walton, they finishing gallantly ahead of crews such as Eton and Putney.
Closely out of the medal placings was the mixed J13 4x+ crew of Julia Gurden, Emma Harrison, Abbey Meggeson and Clarke and the WJ13 2x crew of Sienna Rawlings and Hodgson, who all showed great effort in the most challenging of conditions.
WHILST the Stratford BC junior squad were achieving at Blenheim Palace, Stratford’s adaptive crew were at Marlow Town Regatta being represented by visually impaired athlete Mark Sanders and Joe Moore, his steersman.
Glorious sunshine and strong winds made for an entertaining and exciting day’s racing. Stratford were entered in two events – the assisted double sculls where one para-rower and one able-bodied rower race over a 500m course and single sculls in which Sanders was guided by a walky-talky from a following launch.
The doubles final was hotly-contested in extremely choppy and windy conditions between Stratford, Marlow and Worcester. Worcester took an early lead, with Stratford holding them to a length until the last 100m when Worcester pulled away to take the gold medal, with Marlow third.
The singles final was between Sanders and an opponent from Marlow who took an early lead and looked to have the race in the bag.
However, the Stratford sculler held on through the rough water, keeping a steady rhythm and was able to take the lead in the last few strokes to claim his winner’s medal.
STRATFORD BC’s masters descended on the National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham for the pinnacle of the masters’ regatta racing season – the British Rowing National Masters Championships.
The event, raced over a 1,000m multi-lane course, promised some exciting racing with the best crews from around the country and Ireland in competition.
In blustery but dry conditions, first off representing Stratford was the men’s masters D coxless four crew of Richard Nelson, Simon Beard, Tim Lunel and Tom Doherty.
In a tightly fought race in a strong headwind involving high quality crews from Walton, Grosvenor and City of Oxford, the finishing positions were only decided in the last few metres with a mere four seconds separating all four crews, with Stratford gaining a slight edge over City of Oxford to secure a place in the final.
In an increasingly strong wind, the Stratford women’s Masters C double scull of Kjersti Woolley and Vicky Brennan had a very tough battle in their heat against some quality opposition from Warwick, Kingston and Weybridge. After a confident start, the crew put in a gutsy performance but were unable to secure a place in the final.
With the wind speed continuing to increase and the water conditions resembling coastal conditions, the Stratford masters D coxless four men’s crew braved the elements again for their six-lane final.
By now conditions were so rough that it was proving impossible to start crews from the starting pontoons and a free start ensured racing was able to continue.
Following an excellent start in a race with some very high quality crews some ex-internationals, Stratford stormed off at a high rating and were able to hold second place to the 250m mark.
Settling into a smooth rhythm, the crew were able to push hard for the whole race, beating both Walton and Grosvenor to finish in a creditable fourth position.
With weather conditions still worsening and winds of 35mph on the course, the Stratford masters coxed crew of Stephen Haighton, Wallace Brown, Tim Lunel, Tim Hayer and cox Jen Carey battled their way up to the starting area.
In a well fought race with quality opposition from London, Upper Thames and Reading, the crew maintained a powerful rhythm to finish in a creditable third place in their heat, beating Worcester and Reading. Unfortunately, this was not quite enough to qualify them for the final later in the day.
By now conditions had continued to worsen with the organisers having to take the unpalatable decision to cancel further racing on safety grounds. This was a blow to the other Stratford crews who were waiting to race in the eights event and particularly to single sculler Christine Goodwin, who was hoping to build on her run of good form going into the championships.
Stratford coach Helen Smith said: “The crews that raced acquitted themselves very well in testing conditions against some very good opposition, but we are all very sad for those that missed out on a chance to compete.
“Let’s hope for better weather at our own regatta this coming Saturday!”