Stratford rowers show steel at Ironbridge

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Stratford Boat Club’s victorious crew with cox Lucy Berkswell from Bridgnorth Rowing Club.

FOLLOWING the excellent performance of Stratford Boat Club’s senior men at Henley Royal Regatta’s qualifying competition, it was the turn of the rest of the club to showcase Stratford’s rowing ability at Ironbridge Rowing Club Regatta on Saturday.

Held at the world famous Ironbridge in Shropshire, the regatta attracts crews from all over the country for a two-day exhibition of keenly-fought competition raced over a 1,000m course.

Stratford Boat Club was represented by a number of men’s and women’s crews from across club throughout the day’s full racing programme.

First for Stratford were the women’s novice double scullers of Christine Goodwin and Emily Barret, in only their second ever competitive event.

The duo recorded a well deserved and first win against Minerva Bath in their first race.

In a hotly-contested semi-final, Stratford were just beaten by two lengths by a quality Swindon Rowing Club crew.

It was then the turn of the Masters men’s events, which saw two crews competing in coxed fours competitions with the E crew of Gary Clay, Richard Nelson, Tom Doherty and Simon Beard recording a good win by two lengths in the final over Evesham Rowing Club.

This was closely followed by the D crew of Tim Lunel, Simon Skillings, Glyn Hawkins and Wallace Brown just missing out on a win in a closely fought final to a strong Huntingdon crew by only one and a quarter lengths.

In an afternoon interrupted by spectacular torrential rain showers, it was the turn of the small boat crews which saw Victoria Ward returning to the water for her first race of the year following a serious knee injury.

Racing in a competitive Women’s IM3 single sculling event, Ward was narrowly beaten by the eventual event winner from Grosvenor Rowing Club by three lengths.

The final event of the day for Stratford saw the double scull of Chris Straw and Joe Moore fresh from their victory at Stratford Regatta the week before, contesting the final with Derwent/Derby Rowing Club, only to be squeezed out of a win by only a length.

Helen Smith, women’s racing crew co-ordinator, said: “It was fantastic to see the women’s novice crew of Christine and Emily record their first ever race win and to see Victoria return to competitive racing following a long period of injury.

“Coupled with a strong showing from the men’s crews, it all bodes well for success at future events.”

On Friday, Stratford Boat Club’s men’s seniors coxed four have been drawn against Kingston Towing Club in the Britannia Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta, having pre-qualified in previous regattas.

Crew captain, Ben Twinney, said: “Last year it was a great privilege for the club to be back at Henley after so many years. This year we are determined to do even better.”