STRATFORD-upon-Avon Boat Club’s scullers rounded off the season with a trip to Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire.
The J13 doubles of Seb Happel and Rory Rowan and Ed Appleton and James Greenwood took on the 550m sprint course for the first time and made the semi-finals where they lost to crews from City of Bristol and Queens Park High.
In the afternoon division, the WJ13 doubles of Maria Ntoukaki and Naomi Sime and Orla Linforth and Erin Appleton proved equally adept at steering the tricky course, but were narrowly beaten by a powerful Hereford double by half a length.
Also in the afternoon, the same four J13 boys took to the quad and, expertly coxed by Rory Jones, took victory in the OJ13 4x+ event by 1.5 lengths against Hereford Rowing Club.
Stratford’s J13 coach, Hugo Happel, said: “Overall, it was a brilliant day for the J13s, their last competition before they transition to J14, armed with even more learning and desire to develop and have fun.”
The traditional end of season event for Stratford arrived over the Bank Holiday weekend with 39 crews travelling to the Ross Regatta.
The event is considered a classic on the club racing calendar with two days of racing on the River Wye.
And the sprint regatta on day one saw J13, J14, masters and adaptive athletes compete over the 550m course.
In the masters G single sculls, Stratford’s Julian Foster took an early scalp with a solid win in the first round against Thames Tradesmen.
Ross Regatta attracts competitors from far afield and in the final Stratford’s Foster lined up against the bronze medallist from the British Championships.
Undeterred, Foster gave chase to the Star Club athlete but was unable to cause an upset and finished second.
Stratford’s J14 squad were out in force at Ross with entries across all categories in their age group.
First to go were the single scullers in both band one and band two events.
And an all Stratford final was assured in band two as Tessa Parkin romped past Queens Park High School and Millie Smith recorded a narrow win against her squad mate Poppy Warren.
The band two final did not disappoint with Tessa and Millie battling it out before Smith eventually claimed the race win.
The band one final was less dramatic as Stratford’s Sophie Franklin left the City of Bristol Sculler in her wake to record victory.
Next to go was the WJ14 coxed quadruple scull of Bryony Francis, Martha Baines, Josephine Cooper, Isla Dunn and Martha Cooke (coxswain) who executed a superb race to take the win against Queens Park High School.
Stratford’s J14 girls coxed quadruple scull of Martha Cooke, Tessa Parkin, Millie Smith, Poppy Warren and Sophie Franklin (coxswain) took to the water to race against Liverpool Victoria in the boys event.
Another great race saw the girls delight the crowd by chasing the boys hard down the course and just a quarter of a length margin put the Liverpool boys through to the next round.
Finally, in the WJ14 double sculls event, Stratford fielded crews of Martha Baines and Isla Dunn and Josephine Cooper and Bryony Francis.
The crews swept their competition aside in the semi-finals to deliver another all Stratford final.
Stratford’s J14 coach, Steve Wellstead, said: “And what a final.
“The two crews passed the assembled crowd bow ball to bow ball, the Wye boiling with heat of competition.
“In the final analysis, some classy steering from Dunn saw the Dunn and Baines combination take the win and round off a pot-tastic day for the squad.”
In the open J15 doubles, despite having issues with their start, Seth Vondrak and Xavier Sissins-Roffey missed out on a place in the final by a metre to eventual winners Queens Park High.
Also competing in this event, the double of Oliver Rowlands and James Albrighton comfortably won their semi-final but unfortunately lost in their final against Queens Park High.
In the junior 15 women’s coxed quad was the quad of Lily Warren, Poppy Baines, Sophie Evans and Alice Jones, cox Lucy Yang, who in a close race against yet another Queens Park High crew, lost by less than a boat length.
And in the junior 15 women’s singles event, Alexandra Francis raced against a strong sculler from AB Severn and after establishing a lead relatively early on, went on to win the event.
The doubles of Alice Jones and Lily Warren and Sophie Evans and Poppy Baines competed in the women’s J15 double sculls.
Jones and Warren raced well in their heat but unfortunately lost to a double from Queens Park High.
The double of Evans and Baines won their heat by a comfortable margin but in their semi-final against an Evesham double, lost out by a small margin after some very close racing.
In the open junior 15 singles Xavier Sissins-Roffey raced a very experienced sculler from Black Sheep Rowing Club and despite being very close for the majority of the race, unfortunately clipped a buoy before the finish line allowing his opposition to pull away and take the win.
In the open J15 coxed quads, the quad of James Albrighton, Oliver Rowlands, Seth Vondrak and Alexandra Francis, coxed by Lucy Yang, raced a quad from Queens Park High and quickly established a considerable lead over their opposition, winning the event by five lengths.
First up in the senior women’s doubles event were Amélie and Lucy Sartain who sculled strongly despite minimal practice but fell to a close defeat in the first round.
In the WJ18 singles event, Freya Watts rowed a brilliant race to come home just short of a win against a previous national champion from Evesham.
The OJ18 double of Charles Happel and Toby Sartain then took on a straight final against a crew from Evesham Rowing Club in what would be their last of many races as a pairing this season and they cruised home to take the win by a margin of four lengths.
Next up, the WJ18 coxed four of Kate Richardson, Maddie Hall, Uchenna Nwachukwu, Harriet Noyes and cox Imogen Hill took to the water.
However, the crew were unfortunate to fall short to a crew from Black Sheep Rowing Club in the first round.
Will Beattie followed in the senior men’s singles category and, after taking a superb win in the first round by four lengths, he fell to an extremely close loss in the final by only one quarter of a boat length.
Beattie was soon to race again though, this time alongside Toby and Amélie Sartain and Freya Watts in the senior mixed quads event.
In another straight final against a crew from Queen’s Park High School, the four scullers put in an immense performance with no prior training in the boat to turn the race around in the last 100-metres, coming from behind to take an unexpected and special victory.
Finally, Charles Happel took to the water one last time in the J18 singles event, and rounded off a victorious day for the squad with an effortless win in his final.
Stratford’s J18 coach, Abi Terry, said: “As the final race for the J18’s as juniors, it was a great way to end the season.”
Ross Rowing Club recently launched a mixed ability section which follows Stratford Boat Club’s example.
Mixed ability rowing seeks to integrate adaptive rowers with able bodied club members.
A Mixed Ability event took place at Ross Regatta between ladies doubles from each club with Stratford’s more experienced crew of adaptive athlete Gillian Middleton and buddy rower Jackie Joesbury winning by four lengths.