STRATFORD Boat Club Masters squad braved inclement weather conditions to gain some much-needed race practice at Gloucester Head on Sunday.
Competing on a canal system avoided the current flooding river problems being suffered by some clubs and enabled a full day’s racing, albeit in very windy and choppy conditions.
Richard Nelson, competing in his long course first singles scull race for over a year in Masters E/F age group, finished in a deserved second place in the morning division.
With a race spent coping with very choppy conditions blowing the boat about on the course as well as pressures from other competitors, Nelson found himself in a tight battle with another sculler but managed to hold him off to finish second behind Warwick Boat Club.
Arne Flood produced an encouraging display in his first race in the open men’s short course sculls. Flood, who has only taken up the sport in the last year, displayed exceptionally calm nerves given the tough conditions and was able to deliver a highly competent performance in choppy waters which promises much more to come in future races.
The mixed Masters double sculls of Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty took on the long course in the afternoon.
With no age group competition, Stratford found themselves in a battle with a mixed Masters B crew from Southampton half their age and some very good quality men’s doubles.
The heavier men’s crews were able to cope with the choppy conditions more favourably but the Stratford pair still finished in a very creditable time.
“It was great to see Arne in his first ever race cope so well in very tough conditions and also to see Richard back racing,” said Tom Doherty, Masters vice-captain.
Stratford juniors were represented by J17 Jake Blatcher in his single scull. With his opposition withdrawn, Blatcher was racing against the clock for a ‘time only’ run.
The 4km ‘warm-up’ row down to the start of the 1,750m (short course) race gave Blatcher plenty of opportunity to get used to being back on the water after a long break due to recent river conditions.
Unfazed by the difficult water conditions and the odd passing shower, he achieved a time of 8:27 – faster than some of the older more experienced scullers and larger-crewed boats over the same distance.