CONDITIONS at Wycliffe on Saturday were challenging for all Stratford Boat Club junior crews as a head and crosswind greeted athletes, but there was no doubting their commitment as a string of impressive results were secured racing down the 2.5km course on the Sharpness Canal.
Autumn Keil, Matilda Watts, Molly Gill-Swift and Katie Phillips put in a strong performance to finish sixth in the WJ18 coxless quad event. Considering they had not sculled together as a crew before the event, it was a very good result.
Joe Hodson, representing King Edward VI School in his single scull, demolished his opposition to take the gold medal and the women’s junior 18 coxed four of Katie Wellstead, Emily Browne, Khloe Curnock and Molly Gill-Swift, coxed tremendously by Mimi Hill and also racing in the women’s senior event, left the competition in their wake to win gold in both events.
Racing over the course for a third time was Katie Wellstead, partnered by Emily Browne in the senior women’s double sculling event. A great race developed with Wycliffe College and Stratford came over the finishing line eight seconds ahead of the opposition to take another gold medal.
The morning division saw the four J15 girls’ singles of Amelie Sartain, Elisabeth Edwards, Harriet Hodgson and Sophie Elstone race strongly against a constant headwind and competitive opposition over the 2,500m course.
Just over two minutes divided the race’s 14 competitors as Elstone won bronze, closely followed by Sartain, Hodgson and Edwards.
The J14s had a fantastic start to the day as the WJ14 coxed quad of Harriet Holmes, Freya Watts, Fleur Griffiths, Honour Keil and cox Toby Sartain finished in third place and gained themselves the bronze medal out of ten crews, less than 30 seconds behind the winners.
Next up was the J14 double racing against five all boys’ crews. Will Beattie and Lucy Browne had a fantastic row, again finishing less than 30 seconds behind the winner and just 1.2 seconds behind Ross to pick up the bronze medals.
The weather for Division Two maintained its constant headwind, with bouts of sun and drizzle now thrown into the mix. Unperturbed, the boys’ double of Conar Aitchison and William Clarke firmly pressed on into sixth place against a large field of strong competition.
The WJ14 doubles raced against a strong field of six crews and there was a very respectable fourth place for Lucy Browne and Fleur Griffiths and fifth for Harriet Holmes and Anne Mynors.
The final division’s racing saw the squad’s four girls’ doubles compete in an 18-boat field with the headwind still playing its energy-sapping part.
Due to a last-minute illness in the squad, J14 sculler Lucy Browne, despite already having competed twice in the day, bravely stepped in to row up an age group in the bow seat and partnered Sophie Elstone.
The remaining boats in the day’s final division were crewed by Amelie Sartain and Harriet Hodgson, Abbey Meggeson and Julia Zampronio Gurden and Elisabeth Edwards and Emma Harrison.
As the light began to fade, the remaining headwind failed to diminish the crews’ resolve as they vigorously made their way down the course. Sartain and Hodgson finished in bronze medal place and Browne (J14) and Elstone only 16 seconds behind them in an outstanding fifth place.
Slightly further down the field, Meggeson and Zampronio Gurden and Edwards and Harrison finished less than two minutes from the medals.
J14 coach Abi Terry said: “Given the conditions, the WJ14 singles did a fantastic job to complete the course, let alone to finish so well in the field of 11 scullers.
“Freya Watts and Honour Keil both put in amazing performances to finish in fourth and sixth respectively.”
The J14 coxed quad raced against three all boys’ crews. The crew of Will Beattie, Bella Chappelhow, Anne Mynors, Toby Sartain and cox Harriet Holmes finished just 6.3 seconds behind the winners to bring home silver medals in what was a fantastic way to end the day for the J14 squad at only their second head race.
J15 coach Trevor Tiller said: “It was a good performances all-round on a very demanding day.”