STRATFORD-upon-Avon Boat Club’s head racing season campaign continued on Saturday with Henley Long Distance Sculls Head of the River Race.
Held over three kilometres on the River Thames, this head race is always a high quality and popular event: this year being no different with a record 600-strong entry list and high profile competitors such as Olympian James Cracknell OBE joining the fray.
Stratford’s entries came from senior, masters and junior sections, with strong sculling performances in plentiful supply across the board.
Notable highlights were second place for the women’s junior 15 double scull of Emily Browne and Katie Wellstead, with the duo recording a faster time than most of the junior 16 crews on the day.
Fred Tyler also shone when finishing third in the junior 14 single scull category.
Elsewhere amongst the Stratford athletes, the junior 15 single scullers of Joe Hodson, Jess Wiesheu and Khloe Curnock battled hard in a competitive class.
The junior 15 coxed quadruple scull (Molly Gill-Swift, Gracie Mitchell, Autumn Keil, Katie Phillips and Mimi Hill) and junior 14 coxed quadruple scull (Mya Kenny, Mili Wilcock, Maiya James, Alice Baines and Sophie Neville) pushed hard. There were also plucky performances from Lucy Rouse (novice single scull) and Christine Goodwin (masters single scull) against tough competition showing promise for future events
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Stratford’s seniors continued their winter head racing season with a trip to Stourport for their small boats head race. The event, raced over two four kilometer divisions in windy but otherwise good conditions, offered some challenging racing throughout the day.
First off in the morning division in cold, but beautiful conditions for Stratford was Kjersti Woolley and Thomas Doherty in mixed masters E double sculls.
In their first event since competing at the World Masters Club Championships in Copenhagen in September, they rowed down the four kilometre course rating a powerful 30 strokes per minute in a tough encounter with IM2 double scullers from Loughborough.
They managed to keep them at bay for the whole course to record a time of 15 minutes and 20 seconds which proved
fast enough to win their event giving Kjersti Woolley her first victory for Stratford
Not to be outdone, Stratford’s Explore Rowing section, comprising Nils Purser, Rona Fitzpatrick, Andrea Duxbury and Rosie Stone took on local club Stourport over the full four-kilometre course in their first taste of fully competition racing after their wins at the British Rowing’s West Midland Explore Regatta the previous weekend.
Getting off to a fast start, the crew strode out to gradually overhaul Stourport and by the three-quarter mark at the boathouse they had established a lead of some five lengths. Despite fatigue creeping in, the crew kept their technique to maintain their lead all the way to the finish.
“This was our first foray into full long distance head racing in our Explore class boats,” said Stratford’s Explore crew organiser, Nils Purser.
“Despite it being a big challenge, we were exceptionally pleased to be able to maintain our discipline and record a first win at this level.
“We have now got the racing bug and are looking forward to many more exciting races.”