THERE were plenty of successes for Stratford Boat Club to savour at both Henley and Stourport over the weekend.
Stratford’s head racing campaign continued on Saturday with the Henley Long Distance Sculls Head of the River Race, held over three kilometres on the River Thames.
This head race is always a high quality and popular event, with this year being no different as a record 600-strong entry list including high profile competitors such as Olympian James Cracknell OBE joined the fray.
Stratford’s entries came from senior, masters and junior sections, with strong sculling performances in plentiful supply across the board.
Notable highlights were second place for the women’s junior 15 double scull of Emily Browne and Katie Wellstead (recording a faster time than most of the junior 16 crews on the day) and Fred Tyler in the junior 14 single scull category with a commanding performance to achieve an excellent third place.
Elsewhere among the Stratford athletes, the junior 15 single scullers of Joe Hodson, Jess Wiesheu and Khloe Curnock battled hard in a competitive class.
The junior 15 coxed quadruple scull (Molly Gill-Swift, Gracie Mitchell, Autumn Keil, Katie Phillips and Mimi Hill) and junior 14 coxed quadruple scull (Mya Kenny, Mili Wilcock, Maiya James, Alice Baines and Sophie Neville) pushed hard and there were plucky performances from Lucy Rouse (novice single scull) and Christine Goodwin (masters single scull) against tough competition.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Stratford’s seniors continued their winter head racing season with a trip to Stourport for their small boats head race.
The event, raced over two, 4km divisions in windy but otherwise good conditions, offered some challenging racing throughout the day.
First off for Stratford in the morning division in cold but beautiful conditions was Kjersti Woolley and Thomas Doherty in the mixed masters E double sculls.
In their first event since competing at the World Masters Club Championships in Copenhagen in September, they rowed down the 4km course, rating a powerful 30 strokes per minute in a tough encounter with IM2 double scullers from Loughborough.
The Stratford duo managed to keep their rivals at bay for the whole course to record a time of 15 minutes, 20 seconds, which proved fast enough to win their event and gave Woolley her first victory for the club.
Not to be outdone, Stratford’s Explore Rowing section comprising Nils Purser, Rona Fitzpatrick, Andrea Duxbury and Rosie Stone took on Stourport over the full 4km course in their first taste of full competition racing after their wins at the British Rowing West Midland Explore Regatta at Stratford the previous weekend.
Getting off to a fast start, the crew strode out to gradually overhaul Stourport and by the three-quarter mark at the Stourport boathouse had established a lead of some five lengths.
Despite fatigue creeping in, the crew kept their technique to maintain their lead all the way to the finish and clock a very good time of 19 minutes.
A delighted Purser, Stratford’s Explore crew organiser, said: “This was our first foray into full long distance head racing in our Explore class boats and, despite it being a big challenge, we were exceptionally pleased to be able to maintain our discipline and record a first win at this level.
“We have now got the racing bug and are looking forward to many more exciting races.”