STRATFORD-upon-Avon Boat Club welcomed several crews to their Junior Sprint Regatta for an enjoyable event despite the rainy weather.
The regatta had three divisions and 163 separate races starting at 8.30am and running all day through until 5.45pm.
Crews from Evesham Rowing Club, Worcester Rowing Club, AB Severn Rowing Club (Tewkesbury), Cheltenham College, Dragon School Boat Club, King Edward The Sixth Boat Club, King’s School Worcester Boat Club, Magdalen College School Boat Club, Nottingham and Union Rowing Club, Ross Rowing Club and Worcester Royal Grammar School all took part alongside Stratford.
Stratford Boat Club’s Regatta Secretary Dan Warren said: “This year we were very heartened again by the huge turn out from local and distant clubs and the interest from the public.
“A massive thanks to all our hard working Stratford Boat Club members, visiting crews, umpires and officials and especially the public for supporting the event.
“We were especially honoured to have Stratford-upon-Avon Town Council Mayor Gill Cleeve attend our regatta.”
Regatta Water Team Lead Colin Davies added: “It was a long day’s racing, our tea tent was extremely busy dispensing dozens of cakes and snacks.
“What a magnificent day topped by great racing! We decided to stay with the shortened 500-metre sprint course to ensure the safety of all the competitors and river users.
“We ran the regatta under very tight protocols. We were especially grateful for the help and tolerance of those operators who work and make their living on the river.”
First to take to the course were the coxed quadruple scull crew of Martha Cooke, Millie Francis, Sophie Franklin, Isla Dunn and Bryony Francis (coxswain).
The girls made short work of the first round and then faced a quality crew from Nottingham and Union in the final.
However, the quality of the Stratford crew saw them win by three lengths to claim the first pots of the day.
Next down the river was the double sculls event where Cara Berisford-Murray and Poppy Warren dispatched Evesham to face another Stratford crew of Tessa Parkin and Josephine Cooper with the former crew running out eventual winners.
In the single scull event, two J13 Stratford scullers took to the water, and, after receiving a bye in the first round, Maeve Dunn had to wait whilst Bryony Francis raced.
A nail biting run down the course saw Bryony pipped to the post by just one length leaving Maeve to fly the Stratford flag.
And Maeve bravely faced a formidable sculler from AB Severn and made the AB athlete work hard for all of the 500m with the final margin being four lengths to AB Severn.
J13 Coach and Junior Co-Ordinator Steve Wellstead said: “Our home regatta brought more high quality racing from Stratford’s J13 squad to the calm waters of the Avon.”
The WJ15 1x event saw Aimee Appleton row a fantastic first race against her tricky Nottingham and Union opposition to win by three lengths with fine technique.
However, Lucy Sartain lost her first race against the eventual winner from AB Severn and Eloise Cooper had a capsize shortly after the start.
In the WJ15 2x event, Jessica Long and Nancy Davis showed great technique over the sprint course but lost by three lengths to a very powerful AB Severn crew who would take the overall win later on.
And in the OJ15 2x event, Jamie Wilcock and Will Dalrymple-Baker were drawn against their nemesis from Evesham Rowing Club as they rowed well only to fall half a length short of victory.
Following this, the WJ15 4x+ semi-final event saw Scarlett Richardson, Molly Vondrak, Megan Rowan and Esmerelda Elfwood, coxed by Lucy Sartain make a poor start, which was compounded by a missed stroke.
However, the crew recovered well and showed grit and determination but ended up losing by two lengths to the winning finalists from AB Severn.
Stratford’s J16 competition started with Charles Happel competing against a single sculler from Magdalen College and he sculled energetically with stroke precision to cruise home with a four length advantage.
His next race proved to be more of a challenge against another sculler from Magdalen as he lost out by two lengths despite a valiant effort.
In the afternoon it was the turn of the WJ16 double crew of Grace Beason and Charlotte Isbel who, after a lengthy delay, rowed against a very experienced Evesham doubles crew in their doubles finals race.
Having benefitted from a bye to the final, success eluded Stratford in the final despite a spirited and technically good performance losing just by four lengths.
The day started early for the J17/18 squad with Will Beattie and Tomi Wilcock competing in the Open J18 doubles event, one of the first races to set off.
They beat crews from Magdalen College and Worcester Rowing Club comfortably in the heats and finished two lengths ahead of the anticipated King Edward The Sixth Boat Club crew in the final to bring home the win.
Bella Chappelhow and Honour Keil raced in the Women’s J18 doubles and just missed out on the final in their heat against Worcester Grammar School, the crew that went on to win the event.
And it was the same story for the other girls double of Fleur Griffiths and Harriet Holmes who, despite steering an expert line, also finished just short of the final.
The girls’ quad of Freya Watts, Ruby Howells, Amelie Sartain and Lucy Browne raced a straight final against Worcester Grammar School in the Women’s J18 coxless quads event, rowing to a mid-afternoon victory.
And the final effort of the day came from Toby Sartain in the Open J18 singles event where his competitor’s dubious steering contributed to him just missing out on the final.
Alongside racing, J17/18 squad each helped the umpires in their role throughout the day where their assistance was much appreciated.
Elsewhere, away at Henley Women’s Regatta, Stratford’s WJ16 four of Amalia Richardson, Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes, Kate Richardson and coxswain Imogen Hill entered The West End Cup.
Stratford rowed with great skill to finish ninth out of 20 crews in the time trial just missing the top-eight to progress to the knockout stage of the regatta.
J16 coach Sam Hill said: “Henley Women’s Regatta attracts the best crews from clubs and schools across the UK, so to finish in the top half of the time trial is an excellent result!”
Also on the river at Henley Women’s Regatta were some of Stratford Boat Club’s alumna – Talei Dunn and Hermione Hill (Durham), Molly Gill-Swift (Exeter) and Katie Wellstead (Oxford) competing for their respective universities.
Saturday’s busy regatta will be followed by the club’s Fun Regatta on Saturday, July 9 where the club give crews from local companies, clubs and organisations three hours training, a boat and an experienced cox.
Stratford Boat Club’s President Paul Stanton said: “Although we weren’t blessed with good weather for the regatta, there were still crowds watching the racing adding much to Stratford’s atmosphere and vitality.
“We were glad to showcase our sport and demonstrate our part in the success of our town! The support of our sponsors is much appreciated especially from our headline sponsor Stratford Self Store as is the tolerance and help from the other river users and colleagues.”