STRATFORD-UPON-AVON BOAT CLUB’s J16 squad won their race at Stourport Boat Club’s Small Boats Winter Head this past weekend.
The squad, competing in their first event this year, swept to victory in a time of 14 minutes 8 seconds, coming home 59 seconds in front of their nearest challengers.
Stratford’s J16 crew of Amalia Richardson, Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes, Kate Richardson and coxed by Imogen Hill eased past their competition from Trentham Boat Club.
J16 Coach Steve Marsden was delighted with his squad’s achievement but was left frustrated after the coxless quad were unable to compete.
Marsden said: “The girls provided a great demonstration of sweep rowing at pace, guided expertly by the cox to accelerate across the finish line in front of a large group of spectators.
“Unfortunately, the girls’ coxless quad were unable to compete and this slightly dampened the day.”
Elsewhere, the J18 Club squad of Martha Usselmann, Isabella Sandland, Hannah Broome, and Elisabeth Edwards competed in the WJ18 coxless quads.
This was the first race for half of the crew and started off well with Stratford putting a good distance between them and the next crew.
Passing the Stourport clubhouse, Stratford overtook an eight and in the last few metres of the race were overtaken by another quad in a dramatic race to the finish.
Despite finishing fourth, the girls greatly enjoyed the race and hope to be back again soon at the same venue.
And both Stratford Boat Club WJ15 4x+ crews performed extremely well on the 3.8km Stourport course downstream, narrowly missing out on Gold against Trentham Boat Club.
The WJ15x+ squad beat crews from Evesham, AB Severn and Stourport after a long wait in the marshalling area, they sustained their technique for the complete distance, rating at up to 35spm.
J15 Coach Hugo Happel said: “The girls did Stratford proud with some very fine technique sustained over 3.8km. They should reflect on their achievement and celebrate until Tuesday at least, when some more character-building land training awaits once more!”
It was the first ever head race for some of Stratford’s J14 athletes and a lengthy 3.8km course meant for a baptism of fire and due to logistical challenges, the J14’s had one crew race up an age category in the Open J15 coxed quad facing challenging competition.
Despite this, the crew of James Albrighton (cox), Alexandra Francis, Seth Vondrak, Xavier Sissins and Poppy Baines got off to a flying start, holding their own against the older boys’ crews the whole way down the course, not making it easy for their competition right the way to the final stroke.
They were shortly followed by the WJ14 coxed quad of Sophie Evans (cox), Alice Jones, Meg Nuttall, Lily Warren and Lucy Yang which was their first outing in the combination.
The squad produced a gutsy row, going hard off the start and showing off their technical skill even at the tail end of the course when their competition were faltering.
In the second division with the cold creeping in, the open J14 coxed quad of Alexandra Francis (cox), James Albrighton, Ollie Rowlands, Theo Richter and Sophie Evans proved they were made of tough stuff, holding off a strong crew for over half the course and powering through to the finish with their heads held high.
Stourport Winter Head marked the first race for King Edward The Sixth School Boat Club for 23 months, the crew competed with an entirely new squad and it was the first race for the boys in the coxed four (J. Mitchell, T. Wheeler, E. Craig, R. Macdonald, E. Rose), three of whom only started learning to row last September.
With some excitement and a bit of nerves, the crew took everything in their stride, they were the third crew off in their category so had two targets ahead of them.
Half way down the course, they successfully picked off the first of their opposition putting in a push to power past the crew from Hereford which left them with our friends from Stratford Boat Club to chase down. They didn’t have enough water to catch Stratford but the squad finished in an impressive time winning their category by just over one minute.
Not to be outdone, Stratford’s Masters were also at Stourport competing in a coxed four.
Masters’ Vice Captain Dave Edwards said: “In fairness, we beat the other masters in that group by over a minute, so not too bad a row even though we were beaten by a very much younger crew!”