TWO Stratford Boat Club girls’ junior 16 crews prospered at the Schools’ Head of the River Race – the prestigious annual event run over the Oxford and Cambridge boat races course in reverse from Mortlake to Putney with the stream.
This was the first experience of racing on the Tideway for both crews and it was particularly challenging for the coxswains steering the coxed four – Mimi Hill – and the coxless quad – Talei Dunn.
They both did a sterling job by staying in the stream and resisting challenges from other coxes trying to gain advantage by pushing them into slower water.
In the coxless quad, regular J16 squad members Jess Weisheu, Autumn Keil and Talei Dunn were joined by J15 Alice Bains rowing up a year, who sculled with great skill and determination.
The crew’s superb technique and powerful rhythm resulted in a highly creditable seventh place out of 18.
The coxed four of Katie Wellstead, Molly Gill-Swift, Khloe Curnock, Emily Browne and coxswain Hill got off to a flying start, overtaking the crew in front by Barnes Bridge.
They dug in for the long haul to Hammersmith Bridge, holding off a challenge from Kingston and Emanuel. The girls held their composure in a superb display of sweep rowing as Kingston just edged past in the final 500m to take victory, ahead of Emanuel in second and Stratford in third.
Stratford coach Sam Hill said: “The Schools’ Head is the first national event of the 2018 season and both crews measured exceptionally well against strong opposition crews, many of whom were rowing on their home water.
“Clearly the long winter training is paying off and the J16 squad has the potential to perform very well in 2018.”
Stratford’s sister squad King Edward VI Grammar School also took part with both girls’ and boys’ crews.