STRATFORD Boat Club’s junior 15 squad proved their credentials when they competed at the Wycliffe Big Head over 4,500m on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal.
This was always likely to prove a tough challenge against quality opposition from clubs and schools across the region and beyond and this year was no exception as crews included Radley College (Oxfordshire), King’s School Chester and Ross Rowing Club.
A damp and grey scene greeted the Stratford crews on arrival, but the two boats took to the water with eager anticipation of the race ahead and, as the event began, the spectators’ cheers lifted the performance of the athletes and both crews delivered a superb sculling display.
First across the course was the mixed coxed quadruple scull of Dan Cox, Mili Wilcock, Max Griffiths, Fred Tyler and coxswain Jasmine Mountney. Rowing their own race and well in control, they finished a creditable fourth in their event.
Next up was the women’s coxed quadruple scull of Maiya James, Nixie Brunt, Mya Kenny, Alice Baines and coxswain Naomi Sergeant. Their bows scythed through the water in pursuit of the crew ahead and a final push secured them fourth place too.
In warmer conditions but nonetheless just as energetic were Stratford’s J13 and J14 squads competing in the South of England Indoor Rowing Championships arranged and run by Hinksey Sculling School in Abingdon.
Stratford J13 coach Abi Terry said: “All of Stratford’s J13s achieved personal bests and said they would like to compete there again next year, having all had a great day.”
Stratford won two golds, two silvers and a bronze medal. Golds were secured by Honour Keil in the WJ13B, 3-minute (754m) and Charlotte Syson in the WJ13A, 3-minute (717m).
Silvers were achieved by Harriet Hodgson in the WJ14A, 4-minute (998m) and Sophie Elstone in the WJ14B, 4-minute (1,001m) and bronze came the way of Amelie Sartain in the WJ14A, 4-minute (991m).
Bronze was also won by Stratford Girls’ Grammar School’s Millie Hodgson in the WJ12, 2-minute (489m).
Stratford J14 coach Trevor Tiller added: “We achieved some great four-minute improvements from the J14 squad – everyone with a new personal best – and we now need that inner-confidence to gently coax out some more success. We’re looking forward to a good season.”
Meanwhile, back in cold and damp Stratford, the senior squad continued their Henley Royal Regatta training and WJ15 squad had trials to select the best crew combination for the upcoming Junior Sculling Regatta.