THERE was plenty of success for Stratford Boat Club’s J13 squad to savour when they travelled to Blenheim Palace to take part in the regatta organised by Hinksey Sculling School.
Saturday’s event, which took place over 500m and used three lanes for racing, was for athletes aged 14 and under.
First up for Stratford was the double of William Beattie and Harry Trueman who managed to win their heat despite poor steering from their opposition which nearly resulted in a crash.
They headed back up the lake for their final where they met two crews with very tall boys in them. Beattie and Trueman raced well but the other two crews muscled their way down the course, leaving the Stratford duo to pick up the bronze medal.
Next was the turn of the girls’ quad which due to sickness had a last-minute substitution. The crew comprised of Harriet Holmes, Lucy Browne, Honour Keil, Freya Watts and cox Fleur Griffiths.
The girls put in a massive effort in their heat but lost to a strong Headington School crew by less than a foot. This put them into the repechage in which they faced another Headington crew.
This time the Stratford girls were even more determined and led from the start to ensure their place in the final. The quad made their way straight back to the start, only to find the third crew into the final was yet another Headington crew.
The Stratford crew had no chance for a rest and raced back, to be beaten by a boat length by the crew they had raced in the heat, but Stratford picked up the silver medal.
The boys’ singles raced next with both Toby Sartain and Tomi Wilcock in action. Both had just one opponent in their heats and Sartain went first and raced down neck and neck most of the way with his opposition.
As he reached the crowd who were all shouting, he put in a push to see his boat go into the lead to take his spot in the final. Wilcock was unfortunately not so lucky with his opposition as he came up against a very neat sculler who led from start to finish to knock out Wilcock.
Sartain went into the final to race the boy who had beaten Wilcock and another even taller boy. As they came down the course, Sartain did all he could but it was not enough and finished with a bronze medal.
Keil and Griffiths, fresh from the success in the quad, now went on to race in the double and they sailed through their heat to book their spot in the final.
Again racing two crews from Headington School, the Stratford girls knew the race would be tough. With 100m left to go, they put in a massive push to take them from third to second and were moving closer to the first-placed crew.
They did not quite manage to get there and the Stratford girls were elated to receive their silver medals.
Finally, it was the time for Anne Mynors in the girls’ singles race. She raced another girl from Headington in her heat which was really close until her opposition had a problem with her boat and subsequently capsized, meaning Mynors had her place in the final.
She rowed straight back to the start and raced back down the course, fighting her way into second place and finishing Stratford’s day with another silver to add to the total.
J13 coach Abi Terry said: “It was a great day’s racing in the beautiful surroundings of Blenheim Palace and a very good start to some promising careers in rowing.”
All set for action-packed regatta
PREPARATIONS for Saturday’s Rosconn Stratford Boat Club Regatta are now all but complete and organisers are anticipating a superb event.
Jobs have been allocated, the grounds and building have been tidied up, rowing and sculling blades have been painted and boats checked to competition standard.
“A lot of hard work goes into planning the regatta. We put marquees up and get in stocks for our barbecue and tea tent from local suppliers,” said regatta secretary Stephen Rose.
“Additional furniture, equipment and services have to be hired in and this is why we’re so delighted the Rosconn Group is our main sponsor.”
The regatta has been taking place in Stratford since 1879. As well as Stratford’s own crews, the event draws competitors – able-bodied and adaptive – and their supporters from clubs this year such as Bewdley Rowing Club, Cardiff & Vale Schools Rowing Association, Evesham Rowing Club, Nottingham & Union Rowing Club, Royal Grammar School Worcester, Stowe Sculling Club and Warwick Boat Club.
There are also newcomers from Becket School Rowing Club, Cotswold Rowing Club, Holloway Scullers, Leicester Rowing Club, Merton College, Monkton Combe School, Monmouth Comprehensive School and Northwich Rowing Club.
Racing is on the town stretch of the river from Holy Trinity Church to the club grounds by the Tramway Bridge. As well as the rowing contingent, the regatta attracts a lot of interest from visitors to the town who come down to Bancroft Gardens and Recreation Ground to enjoy the racing, barbecue and the beer and tea tent in the club grounds, which are open to all.
Racing will start by 8.30am and finish around 6.30pm, with 162 entries this year.
Stratford BC treasurer Paul Hazelwood said: “The regatta and also the Fun Regatta on Saturday, July 14 are very weather-dependent events and without our sponsors we couldn’t risk holding the regattas.
“We are also amazingly lucky to have help from other river organisations such as Avon Navigation Trust, Sea Cadets, Avon Boating, Environment Agency, Bancroft Cruisers, Canal & River Tours, the Countess of Evesham and also the co-operation of those who make their living on the river.”
President Paul Stanton added: “Stratford Boat Club looks forward to welcoming competing crews, VIPs and guests and especially Stratford and Warwickshire residents and visitors to the town to watch and enjoy what is going to be an action-packed day.”