THERE were numerous success stories for Stratford Boat Club members to savour at Nottingham City Regatta in their ongoing quest to qualify for Henley at the end of June.
After a positive Easter camp and some good early season performances at Wallingford Regatta, Stratford’s senior men were again keen to impress and two crews took to the water – the coxed and coxless four.
In tough headwind conditions one novice four overturned their boat, but the Stratford coxless boat were first into action and won their morning Intermediate 2 heat.
Unfortunately they could not replicate that result in the final, coming fifth after struggling in the worsening conditions. They raced again later in the day, coming fourth in their heat of IM1 coxless fours but just missed out on the final.
The highlight of the day was the performance of the coxed four who built on their very solid third place at Wallingford Regatta by taking the win at Nottingham City in the final of the IM1.
The crew pulled away from their competitors in the last 1000m, winning comprehensively by some nine seconds in the end.
The crew – Chris Thomas, Ben Twiney, Tom Coles, Ed Lewry and expert cox Eleanor Willetts – always looked in control.
Coach Bill Sullivan said: “Both crews will now head to Dorney Lake, scene of the rowing finals during the 2012 Olympics, for Metropolitan Regatta in early June.
“Until then the two crews are looking forward to even more intensive training and our own Stratford Boat Club Regatta on Saturday, June 17.”
SUNDAY brought day two of the major Nottingham Masters and Club Regatta held at the multi-lane National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont and a chance for the Stratford masters crews to emulate the previous successful day’s racing of the seniors.
After heavy overnight rain the weather cleared to provide a gloriously sunny, albeit windy day, for a full calendar of racing.
For Stratford’s masters it was an opportunity to give some of their developing crews a first taste of multi-lane racing and Nottingham’s notorious windy conditions!
The day started early with a chance for the single scullers to brave the conditions. Leading the charge for Stratford was Jane Connolly in women’s category F singles against strong opposition from Eton Excelsior and Exeter.
A strong and steady row from Jane – in her first multi-lane race in choppy waters – allowed her to record a very creditable third position behind some quality opposition.
With no masters men brave enough to take on the conditions in a single scull, it was left to another woman – Christine Goodwin – to fly the flag again for Stratford in women’s masters novice category C singles.
In a field of five rowers and again with choppy conditions making starting from the pontoons too difficult for some competitors, Christine powered down on her opponents.
With her strength beginning to tell in the conditions, she overtook three of her competitors and put in a great finish to push the eventual winner from Eton Excelsior very close for an excellent second place.
This is her best result in her short racing career to date and a sign of good things to come.
The double sculls races led the midday racing division with Stratford again represented by their women’s double sculling crews.
In sunny but still challenging conditions for the small boats, Vicky Ward and Sian Maher in a full field of six boats in women’s IM3 doubles delivered a high quality performance of technical skill and power to overcome the majority of their opponents to finish a close second to an experienced Exeter crew.
Following hot on the heels of this successful performance, the double scull of Kjersti Woolley and Vicky Brennan in women’s novice doubles were up against much younger opposition from across the country. Although beaten into fourth place, the crew put in a gutsy performance.
With the midday division now completed, it was time for the men’s crews after their early morning lie-in to get down to some work.
The club’s developing men’s masters novice four of Richard Field, Graham Cann, Dave Edwards and Richard Anderson and new cox Jane Connolly took on allcomers in the men’s novice coxed fours.
With Jane expertly taking them off from a tricky start, the inexperienced crew, although significantly older than some of their more youthful and fitter opposition, were able to utilise their greater strength to stay in touch with the leading crews.
By the 750m mark and with only 250m to go, the crew was nicely positioned to threaten second place. With two of their opponents well beaten, a crew member unfortunately had his blade caught in the water but, despite this, a prompt recovery enabled the crew to hold on to a well earned third place and record their best ever regatta result of their short careers.
It was left to the most experienced masters crew to finish proceedings. Racing in masters category C/D coxless fours, the crew of Richard Nelson, Tom Doherty, Richard Shepherd and Simon Beard had a rematch with a very high quality Grosvenor crew.
Having raced the crew in eights earlier in the season, with both crews having recorded very close wins over the other, the stage was set for a very close race and so it proved.
With conditions more benign than earlier in the day, a good start by Stratford saw them lead by the halfway mark by two-and-a-half lengths.
Grosvenor closed the gap to a length approaching the final 250m but Stratford did not panic and were able to take the rating up to 36 strokes per minute and maintain a comfortable lead to finish a length ahead.
Men’s masters vice-captain Tom Doherty said: “It was very pleasing to see so many developing crews put in such good performances. Clearly having the experience of this type of event will give them encouragement for the rest of the season.
“Great thanks go from all the squad to Shan Stokes who gave up her Sunday morning for a very early start to transport all our boats to Nottingham.”