A LARGE junior contingent from Stratford Boat Club impressed over 3km at the Henley Long Distance Sculls.
Raced over an extended Henley Royal Regatta course, the event is attended by many of the top clubs and schools in the country. Junior athletes ranging from J14 to J18 represented Stratford over two divisions with a strong headwind early on presenting challenging conditions for competitors.
The event, a major competition on the pre-Christmas winter racing calendar, attracted almost 600 entries primarily from the London and the south east areas of the country, providing very high levels of competition for Stratford crews throughout the day.
This was a step up on anything the junior squad have done before, especially for two Stratford J14 quadruple sculling crews who enjoyed a good row and gave a fine account of themselves.
The J14 girls’ crew of Elisabeth Edwards, Sienna Rawlings, Sophie Elstone and Abbey Meggeson, coxed by Mary Walton, finished sixth of 12 boats and in the open category a mixed crew of Amelie Sartain, Harriet Hodgson, Will Clarke and Conar Aitchison, coxed by Julia Gurden, produced a good time to finish third against four other all-boy boats.
J14 coach Trevor Tiller said: “It’s great to see our young athletes developing their technique and stamina to the point they are able to come to Henley and compete with the best young rowers in the United Kingdom.”
There were some strong performances across the older age groups with both the J15 (Dan Cox and Max Griffiths) and J16 (Fred Tyler and Joe Hodson) boys’ double sculls achieving good results with each finishing sixth in fields of 16 and 17 respectively.
The J16 girls also produced some excellent sculling with Emily Browne, Jessica Wiesheu and Katie Wellstead finishing fourth, eighth and ninth respectively in single sculls and Molly Gill-Swift and Khloe Curnock achieving a very good time to finish fourth in a large and high quality field of 21 double sculling boats.
Stratford boats competed well in other categories including J16 Geoffrey Flambert (24th), WJ15s Nixie Brunt (eighth) and Jasmine Mountney (tenth) in single sculls and Maiya James, Mili Wilcock, Mya Kenny, Alice Baines and Naomi Sergeant in a J15 girls’ quadruple scull (13th) and Theo Mordaunt, Claire Teakle, Maddie Griffiths and Sofia Ward in a J18 coxless quad (tenth).
Meanwhile, a change in the weather from a glorious late autumnal week of sunshine and mild temperatures to cold and continuous rain greeted Stratford’s masters squad as they also competed in the Henley Long Distance Sculls Head.
First up for the masters squad was a head-to-head between Neville Hand and Gary Clay against Kjersti Woolley and Thomas Doherty in the masters E double sculls. With no mixed event, Kjersti and Tom were rowing in the men’s event but still gave Neville and Gary a good fight, just being overtaken at the finish.
The good row by Gary and Neville saw them just fail to take the top prize by seven seconds to Bradford on Avon in a time of 13 minutes, 38 seconds, with Kjersti and Tom finishing in 14 minutes, 28 seconds.
The afternoon division saw Tim Lunel competing in the very competitive masters D single sculls event in a field including former Olympian Guy Pooley. Tim produced a very good row to finish in a time of 13 minutes, 56 seconds and an overall mid-field position of sixth.
It remained for Christine Goodwin to complete the masters entries racing in the open women’s second level sculls. In a strong field of 11 competitors, Christine put in a greatly improved performance from last year to finish mid-field in a time of 15 minutes, 52 seconds in seventh position.
Masters vice-captain Tom Doherty said: “It was great to see Gary and Neville racing together for the first time and to also see continual improved performances from Christine and Tim.”
THERE was a change of river for the Stratford masters squad on Sunday when they competed in the Stourport Small Boats Head.
There was a much-needed improvement in the weather with sunshine, higher temperatures and local competition making for a good day’s racing over a 4km stretch of the Severn.
With a following wind and a positive stream, fast times were the order of the day.
Stratford were represented by their mixed masters crew of Kjersti Woolley and Tom Doherty in the masters E division and they put in a much-improved race from the previous day’s effort at Henley to beat a number of the men’s and women’s crews.
Kjersti said: “Although no official times have been released, we were very pleased with our improved performance.”