STRATFORD Boat Club para-rowers Mark Sanders and Steve Binns competed in their first races at Oxford City Royal Regatta at the weekend.
There were eight disabled rowers in the morning event from Stratford, Marlow, Peterborough and Oxford itself.
Binns, a paraplegic, had a tough first round against a sculler from Marlow Rowing Club and lost by two lengths.
Sanders, however, defeated a spirited sculler from the City of Oxford Rowing Club by the same margin.
In his semi-final Sanders, a visually impaired rower, had a tremendous race with another sculler from Marlow.
He was behind until the final few strokes before finally winning by just three feet.
This put him through to the final in which he was to tackle a familiar face, Kingsley Ijomoh, who until recently was a Stratford para-rower.
Ijomoh moved down to the South East last autumn and is now racing for Marlow Rowing Club.
An epic final resulted in another tight fight and after the crews crossed the line there was an agonising minute-long wait for the result to be announced.
Again, Sanders had won by just three feet, steered by Joe Moore from Stratford Boat Club.
Binns competed in the afternoon Plate event and was again beaten by two lengths, this time by an Oxford sculler.
Mark Dewdney, Stratford Boat Club’s adaptive coach, said: “The regatta was applying a new system to try to ensure close racing across a range of disabilities and this proved hugely successful with a large number of very close finishes.
“Stratford Boat Club welcomes adaptive rowers with all disabilities.”
After the disappointment of the cancellation of Warwick Boat Club Regatta at the weekend due to high winds and inclement weather, Stratford Boat Club are gearing up for a busy Bank Holiday weekend at Ross Rowing Club Regatta. All squads will meet local and national rivals.
Closer to home, Stratford Boat Club launch drivers will be assisting Stratford Rotary Club’s evening group with their charity fund-raising duck race at 2pm on Saturday at the weir by Holy Trinity Church.