THE trip to Stourport gave Stratford Boat Club’s juniors a chance to return to competitive action as well as giving the masters rowers the opportunity to taste the experience of long distance head racing.
Held on a fast flowing, slightly high and choppy River Severn, the event was split into two divisions, with the early risers on the water at 9am for a 4km row to the start for Division One.
In the masters’s event, first off for Stratford were Richard Nelson and Simon Crowley in their men’s double sculls racing in the open event.
This was Crowley’s first head race and he acquitted himself very well to see the crew come home in a time of 14:53.
However, it was not enough to beat an experienced Trentham crew who finished in 13:22. Following them down the course was Heather Hayton and Thomas Doherty in the men’s masters double sculls event.
The crew had a solid row to finish in a time of 14:43 to win the event.
Hayton and Doherty were back on the water again in Division Two where they took on the much-fancied Birmingham mixed double.
The Birmingham crew featured a number of national championship medallists, but they proved no match for the impressive Stratford crew that finished in 13:57.
The best result of the day for the masters’s entries went to Gina Fusco in her single scull in the afternoon division.
Despite this being only her second singles race, Fusco kept her nerve and achieved a comfortable win, overtaking the Birmingham sculler right in front of the boathouse.
On a river she had not previously raced on, Fusco clocked a time of 16:28 to secure her first ever rowing win.
Masters’s vice-captain Tom Doherty said: “It was great to see Simon Crowley having a good race and Gina having a great event win which hopefully will lead to more success for them both in the future.”
Stratford’s junior squad entered a scratch crew in the WJ18 coxless quad event.
Katie Phillips, Martha Usselmann, Isabelle Watts and Matilda Watts with only three previous outings together gelled on the day to put in a fine performance to finish second.
Building on experience from the previous weekend’s racing, J17 rower Jake Blatcher in his single scull took on his longest event so far.
Blatcher took the 3.8km stretch of the River Severn in his stride, finishing the winding course in seventh place in a time of 15:49.
The Stourport Winter Head was the first opportunity for Stratford Boat Club’s J14 athletes to test themselves over the long 3.7km distance and they duly proved themselves to be exceptionally capable.
The first crew to challenge the course was the OP J14 4X+ crew of Louie Beason, Uche Nwachukwa, Grace Beason and Charles Happel with great coxing from Emily Stobart.
They were racing against an all boys’ J15 4X+ crew from Hereford Cathedral School and although the Stratford crew finished strongly in a time of 14:50.06, the experience of the older crew told.
Next on the water was the WJ14 4X+ crew of Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes, Millie Hodgson and Amalia Richardson, who were expertly coxed by Imogen Hill.
The crew powered their way down the course in a very impressive time of 14:26.9 to claim first place.
Last up was the J14 WJ 2x of Kate Richardson and Ruby Brooker Collin, who demonstrated excellent sculling over the course to finish in a respectable time of 15:34.
J14 coach Steve Marsden said: “It was a very brave effort in extremely poor weather conditions – well done girls. In fact, well done to all our J14 athletes, they never fail to impress.”