Excellent Esme steals the show at Abingdon

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STRATFORD-upon-Avon Boat Club travelled in force to Abingdon’s Spring Head, with two full trailers and athletes from all squads.

Together, with their sister club King Edward VI School, there were more than 30 crews to one of the last head races of the year, prior to the start of the regatta season.

The conditions were warm and sunny, with a variable wind on a wide stretch of the Thames.

Stratford and KES came away with nine race wins and fastest times in many categories.

The racing was of the highest standard, with Stratford and KES crews racing against many of the local clubs and experienced Thames rowers.

A stand-out performance was delivered by Stratford’s WJ 17 coxless quad comprising Theo Mordaunt, Claire Teakle, Lauren Willis and Sofia Ward.

They were the fastest boat in a competitive event, beating City of Oxford and Evesham by four and seven seconds respectively.

Stratford’s J13 entries, a girls’ coxed quad (Julia Gurden, Elizabeth Edwards, Emma Harrison, Abbey Meggeson and cox Mary Walton) and double scull (Martha Usselmann and Sienna Rawlings) competed for only the second time having been rowing for just six months.

Both crews gave it their all over the two kilometre course against the stream and coped well with the notorious ‘Abingdon bend’.

Lara Davies had a good row to finish runner-up in the W16 single scull category.

Junior highlight of the day was Stratford rower Esme Booth, rowing in KES colours in the junior women’s single scull event, where she won her event and achieved the fastest female junior sculler of the day, also winning the RF Wilson Trophy.

KES went on to win three events out of four races — KES 1st junior boys’ coxed four consisting of Pieter Skuse, Alex del Principe, Kit Gallagher, Joe del Principe with cox Charlie Waters finished a creditable third place in the men’s band three event.

The KES 2nd junior boys’ four of Kit Gallagher, Robert Cadden, Keiran Pope, Alex del Principe and cox Charlie Waters finished in first position for a win in the men’s band four event.

Not to be outdone, the KES junior women’s coxed four of Africa Jones, Esme Booth, Liv Hansen, Caitlin Britt and cox Simran Gil, competing in the Open Women’s event, took another fantastic win against senior opposition.

Four of Stratford’s senior men’s squad raced in a coxless four as well as a quad, winning both events and ending with some of the quickest times of the day.

Ed Lewry and Harpreet Mander from the four also took their singles out coming in second in band two and second in band three respectively.

Stratford’s masters’ E4+ also won convincingly over Evesham in eight minutes and six seconds, while the club’s masters C/D/E 2- also won in 8.22, handicapped from an actual time of 8.48 by a narrow margin of three seconds over City of Oxford, who they will be meeting again in the upcoming regatta season.

Stratford’s W2x saw another convincing win in their band two race and the club’s MX4+ managed a time of 8.38 and have great potential for the mixed events in the summer coxed or coxless.