STRATFORD Boat Club ended the 2018 campaign with squads testing their mettle and stamina against the clock with juniors taking part in the season’s last time trial.
Steve Wellstead, Stratford’s junior squad co-ordinator, said: “December is a challenging month for training with many junior squad athletes taking important mock exams and the weather often restricts us to indoor and land training.
“To finish with the upstream time trials sets the mood for a great 2019 season.”
In contrast, the club’s Boxing Day Scratch Regatta has become a firm fixture on the calendar, allowing athletes to blow away the over indulgence of Christmas, have fun and set their sights firmly on serious training for the 2019 season
More than 40 athletes from the club traditionally brave the cold and damp to take part in the Scratch Regatta, competing in fours and quads over a short sprint course from the ferry to the club grounds on the town stretch of the River Avon.
Oli Smith, Stratford’s captain of boats, said: “We pick club crews from names entered into a draw based on gender, age and ability so that all the crews are more or less equal, ranging from members of the junior squad right through to masters.”
To ensure fair play and safety, starters, umpires, spotters and the safety launch will all be in place while crowds can watch and cheer from the Recreation Ground, The Royal Shakespeare Terrace, Bancroft Gardens and The Tramway Bridge.
Bill Sullivan, Stratford’s coach for the elite senior squad, added: “The training schedule will be back on target the first weekend after the New Year.
“2018 is going to be a great season for Stratford in all categories and we’re going for gold at next year’s Royal Henley Regatta.”
Stratford Boat Club also said goodbye to Jo Wyles, who has been an active club member for a number of years.
Until the end of last season, Jo was the club’s honorary secretary, a post she covered as a volunteer for over six years.
She also acted as launch driver, regatta secretary and has held other voluntary positions in recent times.
One of the main tasks Jo will be remembered for is most ably supervising of the setting-up of the club’s marquees for the regatta season.
She was seen each year with her partner Tony manning the race control station and radio allocations at the club’s own regatta events.
Club president Paul Stanton said: “Jo and Tony are relocating to their ‘home region’ of Kent and we will certainly miss them both as well as the enthusiastic and willing support they have given our club over the years.
“Volunteering is the heart of Stratford Boat Club and Jo and Tony have certainly exemplified this ethos.”
Jo was presented with a leaving gift and token of the club’s appreciation – a travel bag with a specially engraved ‘Bon Voyage Jo Wyles – from your friends at SuABC’.