STRATFORD Boat Club’s masters squad braved the inclement weather to gain some much-needed race practice at the Gloucester Head on Sunday.
Competing on a canal system avoided the current flooding river problems being suffered by some clubs and enabled a full day’s racing, albeit in very choppy conditions.
First up for in the morning division was Richard Nelson, competing in his long course first singles scull race for over a year in the E/F age group.
With a race spent coping with conditions blowing the boat about on the course as well as pressures from other competitors, Nelson found himself in a tight battle with another sculler, but managed to hold him off to finish in a deserved second place.
The morning division also saw the first ever race for Arne Flood in the open men’s short course sculls.
Flood, who has only taken up the sport in the last year, displayed exceptionally calm nerves to deliver a competent performance in choppy waters which promises much more to come in future races.
The afternoon division saw a strong wind become even stronger as the mixed masters double sculls of Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty took on the long course.
With no age group competition, Stratford found themselves in a battle with a mixed masters B crew from Southampton.
A hard race saw Stratford hold off the men’s crews for some distance, but eventually had to give way to the heavier crews who coped with the choppy conditions more favourably.
They still finished in a very creditable time, though.
Masters vice-captain Tom Doherty said: “It was great to see Arne in his first ever race cope so well in very tough conditions and also to see Richard back racing.”
Joining the masters at the event, Stratford’s junior section was represented by J17 Jake Blatcher in his single scull.
With his opposition withdrawn, Blatcher was racing against the clock for a time only run.
The 4km row down to the start of the 1,750m (short course) race gave Blatcher plenty of opportunity to get used to being back on the water after a long break due to the recent River Avon conditions.
The sun continued to shine, however, the steady wind driving down the canal caused some choppy waters.
Unfazed by the difficult water conditions and the odd passing shower, Blatcher achieved a time of 8:27, faster than some of the older more experienced scullers, and larger crewed boats over the same distance.