STRATFORD-upon-Avon Boat Club masters duo Heather Hayton and Thomas Doherty were victorious at the Veteran Fours Head on the tideway on the River Thames in London.
The race took place over the 6.8km championship course from Mortlake to Putney as 233 crews from across the United Kingdom took part in the premier long-distance race for four person crews.
Hayton and Doherty raced alongside friends and long-time rowing partners, Tabatha and Julian Scrivener, from Upton Rowing Club in the masters mixed quad.
The quad are current national champions in their age group and were beaten by arch rivals Molesey Rowing Club in this competition last year by a mere one tenth of a second.
And the Stratford/Upton crew started two boats ahead of Molesey with T Scrivener at stroke laying down an excellent rhythm, the crew powered down the course settling into a strong rhythm at 33 strokes per minute.
The crew settled into their race plan as their age group competitors began to fall away before Molesey positioned themselves directly behind the Stratford/Upton boat.
Conditions were fast on the river with a strong stream as J Scrivener tried to keep the boat positioned correctly in order to maximise race conditions.
Molesey were still in pursuit of Stratford/Upton after 5km of rowing however, the latter crew steered a great racing line past Fulham Football Club into the final stages at Putney.
Competitors were greeted by crowds of rowers outside the Putney boat houses as the Stratford/Upton crew produced one last push for the line.
Results were released later in the day as Stratford/Upton’s victory was confirmed in a time of 21 minutes 6.8 seconds – just six seconds ahead of Molesey.
Hayton said: “A year of hurt and hard training has paid off! I could not be more proud of my crew mates and in particular Julian who brought all his Tideway experience to bear in steering a magnificent course.
“It was essential we had a good first kilometre as we knew Molesey would be fast out of the blocks and needed to hold them off.
“We are shattered but happy!”
Former GB international rower J Scrivener added: “That was one of the best quad races I’ve ever been in!
“As soon as we passed the start, I felt the boat surge and I knew we were all on it from the first stroke.”
Doherty added: “We knew it was game on and we came under sustained pressure from Molesey
who knew they were in a race and were determined to catch us.
“The slightest mistake, even for one stroke, would have cost us the race – the pressure was immense!”