CHALLENGING conditions greeted Stratford Boat Club rowers at the Stourport Sprint Regatta at the weekend – but the crews did not let that dampen their spirits as they came away with some fantastic results.
First up on Saturday was the junior J13 double crew of Charles Happel and Louie Beason who did well against Derwent Rowing Club, missing out on the race win by just three lengths after running out of steam following a powerful start.
Next on the Severn was the WJ13 coxed quad of Ruby Brooker Collins, Grace Beason, Uche Nwachukwa and Imo Hill who were admirably coxed by Emily Stobart against Stourport Boat Club in their first heat race.
The girls provided a very impressive and controlled performance, starting strongly and extending their lead to finish with a very satisfying victory.
The next heat was the final against a crew from Burton Leander in the strong and blustery conditions.
Despite the adverse weather, the Stratford crew delivered a stunning performance to land the win by two lengths.
From the J14 squad, Stratford BC had four athletes competing, with Owen Perkins and Ruby Howells both competing in their first singles events and were joined by Lucy Browne and Freya Watts.
Watts was first up and despite a strong effort, she didn’t quite manage to overcome her opposition from Derwent RC.
The Derwent sculler then went on to race against Howells, who was beaten by just two lengths.
Browne then took to the water to race against a young woman from Hollingworth Lake and Perkins raced against a strong sculler from Burton Leander.
Both raced with their best technique and determination, but it wasn’t enough to progress to the next rounds.
Perkins and Howells then teamed up in the J14 double sculls to race against two boys from Derwent in the final.
They steered a fantastic course and pushed right to the end, but this time it was the Derwent duo who claimed the winning pots.
The final race of the day for the J14s came from the WJ14 double scull of Browne and Watts.
Again they raced brilliantly and by the halfway mark the duo already had a substantial lead over their opposition from Hereford.
The Hereford duo tried their best to claw the gap back, but the Stratford double pushed away further to claim the win.
Overcoming the prevailing wind and impending showers, Conar Aitchison in the single scull was first on the water for the J15 squad.
Despite a good hard row, a finals place was just out of reach during the finishing sprint.
Emma Harrison and Sophie Elstone in the double battled the conditions comfortably, winning a place in the afternoon finals.
Shortly after, Elstone took to the water again, this time in a single, easily gaining another finals place in the afternoon.
The afternoon weather improved and the timetable saw Elstone initially competing in the singles final racing against local competition from Evesham.
Gaining the lead from the start, Elstone controlled the race to win confidently.
The final race of the day for Stratford juniors was Elstone and Harrison in the double against a strong crew from Hollingworth Lake.
Despite their strong and tidy rowing, fighting hard to the end, the girls were unable to close the gap during the last push to the line, finishing second by only a few lengths.
Meanwhile, Stratford masters’ sculler Kjersti Rogneflaten Woolley also raced at Stourport Sprint Regatta, this time on Sunday.
She raced in a Women Master E Double, as a composite crew with Derwent’s Gillian Lockhart.
The pair won their first heat against Exeter by one length.
The semi-final against Bewdley proved to be an exciting and contentious affair.
Despite several warnings from the umpire, Bewdley did not move into their own lane which led to the Derwent/Stratford crew forced into a lane for boats going up to the start.
The composite crew registered their objection at the finish and Bewdley were consequently disqualified.
The final was against Hereford RC and the Stratford/Derwent composite won by two lengths.