ROWING - Stratford Boat Club's masters and junior squads thrive in Bedford - The Stratford Observer

ROWING - Stratford Boat Club's masters and junior squads thrive in Bedford

Stratford Editorial 18th Apr, 2024 Updated: 26th Apr, 2024   0

STRATFORD-upon-Avon Boat Club’s junior and masters’ squads travelled to the Bedford Spring Head with the J13 squad making their competitive club debut.

The rowers displayed confident sculling on a complicated course surrounded by quality crews of all ages.

The first quad of Connor Birrell, Charlotte Mansfield, Herbie Shickle and Raya Hothi, calmly piloted by Martina Bruce-Bonilla, made effortless progress down the course and recorded a commendable time despite an issue in the closing stages that would have ruffled far more experienced crews.

They were followed by a double scull containing Reuben Stanford and Nathan Lebordais who combined power with enthusiasm to deliver a highly creditable result.

The afternoon’s racing saw a second quad of Meredith Paul, Bethany Hammond, Tristan Hammick and Scarlet Wheeler propelled down the course under the guidance of Abi Dunn as coxswain.

A tight racing line around the final bend scattered the swans and helped them record a respectable time achieved with minimal fuss.




A final double scull of Dunn and Bruce-Bonilla then returned upriver to deliver a composed and well-measured race that saw them steadily close on the boat ahead of them.

J13 coach, Jon Francis, said: “All in all, an excellent day of racing for the whole J13 squad at their first event.”


Rowing their last head race this season, Stratford’s J14s started the Bedford Spring Head with the OJ14x+ of Rory Rowan, Euan Richter, Will Shaw, Rory Jones and Ed Appleton (c), rowing well and finishing fouth.

The Women’s J14 coxed quad of Orla Linforth, Erin Appleton, Maria Ntoukaki, Naomi Sime and Rory Jones (c) did very well and came second, beating crews from Wallingford and Falcon Rowing Clubs.

Finally, the Open J14 double sculls of Seb Happel and Euan Richter and James Greenwood and Ed Appleton came third and fourth respectively.

Stratford’s J14 coach, Hugo Happel, said: “The athletes gained valuable experience here, which they will take into their next events.”

A total of 25 Stratford crews made the trip to Bedford held over 2000m on the Great Ouse course which runs through the town centre making a theatre of rowing for the day.

Stratford’s J15 squad competed in both coxed quadruple sculls and double sculls.

In the quadruple sculls, it was a Wallingford sandwich with the crew of Bryony Francis, Martha Baines, Maeve Dunn, Becca Smith and Isla Dunn (coxswain) taking the win ahead of Sophie Franklin, Millie Smith, Martha Cooke, Tessa Parkin and Josephine Cooper (coxswain) in third and Wallingford Rowing Club in between.

When it came to the J15 double sculls event, the Stratford girls made their presence felt again in dominant style with the athletes taking first (Bryony Francis/Maeve Dunn), second (Martha Baines/Becca Smith), third (Millie Smith/Sophie Franklin), fourth (Isla Dunn/Martha Cooke) and ninth (Josephine Cooper/Tessa Parkin) places.

The Junior 17/18 squad raced the 2k course twice. Jamie Wilcock put in a very consistent performance in his single scull recording exactly the same time in both runs placing him seventh out of 14 in the J17 event.

Scarlett Richardson and Aimee Appleton lead their event after the first division in their double scull only to be beaten narrowly by three crews from Wallingford racing at the end of the day.

Nancy Davies and Ez Elfwood sculled well to finished eighth in the same event.

Amalia Richardson, Aimee Appleton and Lucy Sartain entered the J17 single sculls event finishing a very close race in seventh, ninth and 10th respectively covered by just 13 seconds.

The WJ18 coxed four of Maddie Hall, V Vondrak, Uch Nwachukwu, Kate Richardson and cox Imogen Hill won the women’s event by 12 seconds in the morning, then went two seconds quicker in their second run in the afternoon.

J17/18 coach Sam Hill said: “Bedford has been a successful event for the J17/18 squad who have shown they all have potential to perform well in the regattas to come this summer.”

For Stratford’s masters men racing in Division 5, where a noticeable tailwind had picked up compared to the morning racing, the quadruple scull of Ed Lewry, Eric Appleton, Tom Doherty and Nick Sartain attacked the course from the gun to make the best of the favourable conditions.

Initially striking 36 strokes per minute, the pace was frantic until they settled into a steadier race-pace after a minute.

The crew held a solid rhythm as they ticked off the many bridges which cross the course as it curved through the town.

As the finish approached, they found a final sprint for the line to complete the race in 6 minutes 36 seconds and a commendable third out of the sixteen men’s quads present.

The ladies’ masters WMD4x quad of Ellie Davis at stroke, Gina Fusco at three, Christine Goodwin at two, and Emily Sayers in bow, had a strong row, finishing second place on raw time, in 8.09mins.

Following handicapping time adjustments, the crew placed sixth.

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