STRATFORD Boat Club’s Masters squad impressed when they descended on the beautiful town of Bewdley at the weekend for the home club’s two-day summer regatta.
The event attracts crews from all over the country and is held on the River Severn, finishing in the town itself watched by large crowds.
On a hot Saturday, it was the turn of the Stratford mixed Masters crew of Kjersti Woolley and Tom Doherty on the 800m course.
In their semi-final they recorded a comfortable win over the local Bewdley crew.
In the final they faced much tougher opposition from Derwent who were fresh from winning a bronze medal at the National Masters Championships a few weeks beforehand.
In a close race in which the lead changed several times, Derwent just squeezed through on the finish to win by half a length.
Temperatures were again warm on Sunday when Stratford crews arrived in force for the 500m sprint races.
The first competitors were the men’s Masters D coxed four of Stephen Haighton, Tim Lunel, Glyn Hawkins and Wallace Brown and, in a close race against a high quality Monmouth crew, Stratford was narrowly beaten by half a length.
Next up was Mike Atkins racing in a single scull in the Masters G category following his earlier victory over a younger Monmouth sculler by one length.
In a close final later in the day, in which the lead changed several times, Atkins was just beaten by a length by a Bewdley sculler.
The mixed Masters crew of Woolley and Doherty then had a repeat of their Saturday final against Derwent in their semi-final.
It was another very close race and Stratford were again being pipped at the line by half a length.
The Masters D coxless pair of Richard Nelson and Simon Beard restored Stratford’s pride with an excellent semi-final win against a quality Stourport pair by a third of a length and then went on to record a comfortable event win over Loughborough.
Not content with his efforts in the single, Atkins was joined by Chris Straw in the Masters men’s F double sculls.
An incident-packed race with local rivals Evesham ended in a mid-course crash between the crews as they fought for the centre of the river and it was Stratford who were unfortunately disqualified.
Stratford finished off the day’s racing with Nelson, Beard and Doherty in a composite eight with Bridgnorth.
The crew, which enjoyed a very successful winter’s head season, were on their first regatta outing and, despite having no pre-race practice, powered off the start at 45 strokes a minute before settling to 40 strokes a minute and pulling away from Monmouth to win the event by three lengths.
Beating the Monmouth eight crew containing the rowers who had beaten Stratford earlier in the day in the coxed fours proved a fitting end to a well run regatta.
Masters men’s vice-captain Doherty said: “It was fantastic to see six Masters squad crews competing here, which shows the continuing growth in strength of the Masters squad at Stratford.
“They were ably assisted by great support and encouragement from Stratford’s Helen Smith and Christine Goodwin throughout the day.”