AS IF 21 miles of hard rowing the previous weekend on the River Thames in the Great River Race was not enough, Stratford Boat Club’s recreational crew turned their hands to eight kilometres of coastal rowing and racing at the weekend.
Enduring sea state conditions and multi-lane highly quality competitive racing, Stratford Boat Club rose to the challenge presented by coastal rowing to secure a first coastal rowing pennant for the club.
Ruth Winter, Stratford’s recreational squad organiser, said: “The day started stormily with rain lashing down during the drive down to Torquay. A particular piece of good fortune was that the rain ceased during our start on the water, however this piece of good luck was soon ‘blown away’ by the harsh wind.
“We were lucky enough to have a lovely cox from Mayflower Offshore Rowing Club who raised our spirits high from the start. Unfortunately we did not set our boat up well and, in order to prevent a collision on the start line, we took our boat half a length across the line when the whistle blew!”
“We were aware of three other boats surrounding us, pushing us forward and the home crew passing us.” said Will MacLeod, crew member.
“All the time we were hearing our cox’s words ringing in our ears…’This is your race! Don’t look out of the boat at the others!’ Our boat sat in the middle of this huddle with all of us fighting it out up until the turn at Thatcher Rock. This was where the titanic tussle with Torquay Rowing Club began!”
Crew member Lucy Honychurch said: “We slowed down on the slide and lengthened our stroke. This paid off as we soon started to gain on the opposition.”
“Digging deep with what remained of our reserves, we breathed deep and thrust our legs with all our might in a neck to neck finale.” said Tom Doherty, crew member.
“As the finish line approached and with 500 metres to go, one final push broke the hearts of the local crew and we returned home victorious with pennant in tow!”
Whilst Stratford’s recreational squad was achieving successes at Thatcher Rock, Stratford’s WJ14s won what was a trio of pots at Worcester Small Boats Head and the club competed in the Pairs Head on the Thames.
Oli Smith, Stratford’s Captain of Boats, said: “A successful weekend all round!”
The victorious Worcester Small Boats Head crew. (s)