STRATFORD Boat Club smashed their pre-race target at the annual Head of the River Race in London.
The event is rowed over four-and-a-half miles on the Tideay from Chiswich to Putney, effectively the reverse of the upcoming Oxford versus Cambridge Boat Race.
For the first time in many years, Stratford entered a men’s eight, with the target of finishing in the top 100.
The crew, made up of cox El Willets, stroke man Alastair Collier, Tom Coles, Ben Twiney, Mike Hourigan, Ed Lewry, Ed Press, Edwyn Brighty and Stuart Lyons exceeded those expectations by finishing 70th overall after a great race.
Starting off number 131, the crew got off to a strong start and hit their racing rhythm soon after Barnes Bridge.
By the time the crew had reached Hammersmith Bridge, they had caught up with three of the crews in front of them.
Cox Willets took a tight line on the inside bend to sweep the Stratford men through the competition and then stroke Collier wound-up the rate at Craven Cottage to bring the crew home in style.
After the race, their coach Bill Sullivan said: “It’s a terrific performance by the whole crew. Breaking into the top 100 at the Head of The River is a key target for any serious rowing club, breaking into the top 70 exceeds expectations.
“At a small club like Stratford-upon-Avon, we don’t always have the resources that other clubs are lucky enough to have, so this result is an indication of the commitment and the focus of a group of full-time working men and women who are also exceptional part-time athletes.”
The squad now head off to the South of France for a training camp at the end of March before targeting some of the major summer regattas, including Henley Royal Regatta.
Meanwhile back at Stratford, indoor training for Stratford-upon-Avon Boat Club’s J14 squad reached a milestone with the presentation of Concept 2 100,000 metre Distance Awards.
In the last six months, squad members have individually rowed in excess of 100,000 metres and the Distance Awards acknowledge the training they have undertaken.
In addition to club training, the squad has successfully raced at events such as the British Rowing Indoor Championships at the Olympic velodrome and most recently the South of England Indoor Rowing Championships in Abingdon.