SPRING arrived just in time to welcome the first regatta of the season at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham, where Stratford rowers helped the West Midlands squad to third place in the Junior Inter-Regional Regatta.
Host to the World Rowing Championships the previous weekend, the 2,000m lake staged the Junior Inter-Regional Regatta in which crews representing 12 regions across the country came together vying for the coveted Victor Ludorum title.
Stratford Boat Club junior members formed five of the crews in the West Midlands squad following successful performances at the Regional Championships and, as the spring sunshine fell on the lake, the athletes began their preparations.
First to the stake boat was Fred Tyler in the J15 single scull and a strong performance in the heats secured him a place in the A Final. Sculling well, he continued his progress to achieve fifth place overall.
Next to step up was Amelie Sartain in the WJ14 single scull. A composed performance in the heats saw her miss the A Final by just a tenth of a second, such was the ferocity of competition.
Sartain then dominated the B Final with a fine sculling demonstration and showed the rest of the field the way as she won by ten seconds.
No sooner had the single scull action subsided, the Stratford crews were back in action with the WJ15 coxed four of Alice Baines, Mya Kenny, Nixie Brunt, Maiya James and Naomi Sergeant.
In their first season of sweep rowing, the crew delivered a performance sufficient to secure a place in the A Final despite entanglement with the stake boat at the start. Regrouping, the four delivered a great row in the final and achieved sixth place overall.
It was onwards to the WJ14 coxed quadruple scull of Abbey Meggeson, Martha Usselmann, Elizabeth Edwards, Sienna Rawlings and Julia Gurden who battled hard for their place in the finals.
In the end, a stronger row second time around gave them fifth place in the B Final and provided a platform for them to work from in the events ahead.
Last to race but by no means least mighty in spirit was the WJ16 coxless four of Katie Wellstead, Molly Gill-Swift, Khloe Curnock and Jess Wiesheu. Third in their heat and with a faster time in the A Final, they delivered sixth place overall.
Steve Wellstead, Stratford’s junior co-ordinator, said: “Such performances, and with more speed to come, bode extremely well for the Stratford crews for the regatta season ahead.
“Thanks to the performance of Stratford’s junior rowers and the others representing the region, the West Midlands took third place in the Victor Ludorum.
“This was a performance to be justifiably proud of and shows the strength of junior rowing across the region.”
To see pictures, go online at www.stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport.