ROWING - Stratford Boat Club scullers compete against country's best at National Schools' Regatta - The Stratford Observer

ROWING - Stratford Boat Club scullers compete against country's best at National Schools' Regatta

Stratford Editorial 4th Jun, 2024 Updated: 5th Jun, 2024   0

STRATFORD-upon-Avon Boat Club athletes took on the highest quality crews from schools and clubs across the country at the National Schools’ Regatta.

The National Schools’ Regatta is the United Kingdom’s premier rowing event for junior athletes with the action held over three days on Dorney Lake.

Stratford’s J14 and J15 crews took to the water on day one with the club entering both the first and second boat events for ladies coxed quadruple sculls in the latter age group.

The first boat of Tessa Parkin, Bryony Francis, Maeve Dunn, Sophie Franklin and Isla Dunn (coxswain) powered down the course to finish 21st of 45 crews and secure a place in the D final.

In the time trial for second boats, the crew of Poppy Warren, Becca Smith, Martha Baines, Millie Smith and Josephine Cooper (coxswain) made their intentions clear after finishing second of 23 crews to earn a place in the A final.

The first WJ15 boat crossed the line second in their final before the second boat stormed to victory in the A final to lift the county trophy.

Stratford’s junior coordinator and J15 coach, Steve Wellstead, said: “In the A Final for second boats, Stratford’s girls took on such rowing luminaries as Headington School, Sir William Perkins’s School and Marlow Rowing Club with aplomb and rowed through the last of them at the 1000m marker to take the win and in the process collect the County Trophy, a first for Stratford in many years.”

Competing in their first-ever National Schools Regatta, Stratford’s J14 girls and boys coxed quads finished 22nd and 32nd respectively out of 48 crews.

The girls’ qualified for the D final, with the boys just six seconds short of reaching a final of their own, as James Greenwood coxed the girls’ quad of Orla Linforth, Naomi Sime, Maria Ntoukaki and Erin Appleton to a fourth-place finish.

J14 coach, Hugo Happel, said: “The J14 athletes did really well, they really enjoyed this regatta, they gave 100 per cent and were able to benchmark themselves against the best of the best. Plenty of learning points were taken away from Dorney and we now move our focus to the Stratford Regatta.”

The Stratford J16 boys coxed four, comprising Theo Richter, Xavier Sissins-Rofey, Seth Vondrak, Ollie Rowlands and cox Meg Nuttall, secured an impressive top-12 finish out of 24 crews.

Competing in the B final, Stratford clinched fourth place ahead of Walton Rowing Club in a thrilling finish over the last 500 metres.

J16 coach, Colin Bell, said: “Their success is a testament to their hard work, where every stroke counts and the will to win can make all the difference at the finish line.”

Stratford’s coxless quad, featuring the quartet of Lily Warren, Alexandra Francis, Sophie Evans, and Poppy Baines, secured a place in the B final.

And the crew battled hard in the final to cross the line in fifth place, missing out on a place on the podium by just two seconds in a nail-biting finish.

The WJ17 coxless quad of Aimee Appleton, Megan Rowan, Scarlett Richardson and Lucy Sartain placed 19th in one of the most competitive boat classes.

That meant the crew had to compete in the repechage as they finished fourth in their heat to qualify for the semi-finals where they crossed the line in second to reach the C final.

And the crew produced a spectacular row in the final to finish second, rowing past Becket Rowing Club and Oundle to finish 18th overall out of 32 crews.

The J17/18 squad saw Maddie Hall, Molly Vondrak, Uch Nwachukwa, Kate Richardson and cox Imogen Hill take part in the Championship Girls Coxed Fours event.

The girls finished eighth in the time trial before pipping arch rivals Shrewsbury to victory in the final in the last five strokes by just two hundredths of a second.

Coach Sam Hill, said: “The girls executed the perfect race with great skill and huge determination.”

Elsewhere, Stratford’s adaptive squad travelled to the Trentham Regatta to compete in three events.

Andy Morris won his singles event with victory against old rival Sean Bailey of Runcorn by a couple of lengths.

And 14-year-old Issac Clarkson defeated adult competition in his singles final, beating another Runcorn sculler by a significant margin.

The doubles event saw three crews containing Stratford rowers, an all-Stratford crew plus two crews made up of one Stratford rower and one Runcorn rower.

Clarkson and Bailey beat the full Stratford crew of Dave Day and Gillian Middleton in a semi-final and met Morris and Hopley (Runcorn) in the final.

The final was level over the first half of the course before Clarkson/Bailey pulled away to claim a deserved victory.

Stratford’s head adapative coach, Mark Dewdney, said: “This was the first time Trentham had offered adaptive races at their regatta. The knowledge and experience of the Stratford’s Boat Club team, before and on the day, again made this happen.”

Lastly, in the masters C/D singles, Stratford’s Nick Sartain finished third in his race by less than a second in a quick field over the 1km course.


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