THERE were some highly impressive performances from Stratford Boat Club juniors at Saturday’s annual Long Distance Sculls held at the spiritual home of rowing, Henley on Thames.
Contested over 3km on Henley Reach, the event attracts top clubs and schools from around the country. Athletes from J14 up to J17 represented Stratford over two divisions.
As the sun blessed the course, division one got under way and first to go was the women’s J16 double scull of Mili Wilcock and Alice Baines who enjoyed the conditions and made their mark with a solid seventh place.
Next up was masters women sculler Kjersti Woolley who tackled the course but a lack of competition meant her row formed part of her training for later in the season as opposed to a competitive measure.
The J15 squad began their season strongly in the morning division with a mixed quad of Martha Usselmann, Sienna Rawlings, William Clarke and Conar Aitchison, coxed by Mary Walton, finishing a respectable seventh against strong competition from the boy crews of Henley and Wallingford.
Later in the division, the two WJ15 double scull boats of Amelie Sartain and Sophie Elstone and Emma Harrison and Abbey Meggeson raced well, with Sartain and Elstone winning third place and Harrison and Meggeson 17th.
The action continued in the afternoon, but conditions had deteriorated significantly as the skies opened. All athletes contended with hail, rain and a strong headwind as they lined up to race.
The women’s J16 single sculls of Nixie Brunt and Jasmine Mountney battled hard to make it back to the boating rafts in 18th and 20th places respectively.
The WJ15 quad of Rawlings, Sartain, Elstone, Usselmann and cox Walton – all rowing the distance a second time – fought hard through the worsening conditions to finish a commendable sixth.
The squad’s final race of the day featured Harriet Hodgson and Will Clarke in their double scull up against not only the hail and wind, but strong competition from the boys of Henley and Shanklin and they finished in an admirable fifth place.