THERE was further success for Stratford Boat Club’s junior squads at the Evesham Junior Head on Saturday.
A magnificent win by Fred Tyler and Dan Cox in their J15 double scull, gaining two minutes from their closest opposition over the 1,900m course, was later followed by a further medal win for Fred in the single sculls event with Dan a very close third.
The J14 ‘mixed’ quad crewed by Martha Usselmann, Elisabeth Edwards, William Clarke and Abbey Meggeson, valiantly coxed by Conar Aitchison, fought hard for an impressive against the odds victory.
Overcoming the loss of their rudder shortly after the start, Conar showed admirable composure to control his winning crew over the awkwardly bending course against strong opposition.
Coach Trevor Tiller said: “In some very close racing, there were promising performances from the Stratford squads in preparation for the forthcoming season.”
‘Head’ races are time trials with boats starting individually at 15-second intervals. Originally started with winter ‘off-season’ training in mind, they are competed for over various distances and are now a regular feature in the winter rowing calendar.
Also competing but on the Thames were Stratford masters who showed early national form at this year’s Pairs Head of the River on the Tideway in London.
The club’s masters E pair of Simon Beard and Richard Nelson were in action at the Pairs Head, which is the premier national long distance race held annually for crews of two competitors, raced over 4,500m of the Championship Boat Race course on the Thames.
The first major national event of the winter season, the Pairs Head is unique, combining all age categories from 16-year-old juniors to 80-plus masters. The crews were blessed with ideal weather and water conditions on the day, with almost 500 crews racing up the Thames in a festival of quality rowing.
Competing in the Open Championship category for combined masters D and E age groups and racing against a field of 14 top crews from around the country, Simon and Richard finished in fourth place overall in 15 minutes, 48 seconds, improving on their starting position in the draw by almost 200 places and overtaking numerous other crews.
This puts down a strong marker for Stratford Boat Club’s prospects of success at this early point in the season, particularly as this event was the first to be held under new British Rowing rules pitting older against younger men without any handicap advantage.
Stroke Richard said: “We kept our pace under control and had a good row. It was a great early success to build on as the season progresses.”