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Enjoyable debut for club’s juniors

HAVING had their wings clipped by so many weeks of bad weather, Stratford Boat Club’s junior and masters’ squads travelled to Bedford Spring Head where the J13 rowers were itching to take make their competitive debut in club colours, reports Chris Best.

The weather and setting combined to deliver a great introduction to racing, and some really confident sculling was on display from the youngest athletes on a complicated course surrounded by quality crews of all ages.

The first quad of Connor Birrell, Charlotte Mansfield, Herbie Shickle and Raya Hothi, calmly piloted by Martina Bruce-Bonilla, made effortless progress down the course and recorded a commendable time despite an issue in the closing stages that would have ruffled far more experienced crews.

Stratford’s WJ17/18 coxed four powering down the course at Bedford.
Stratford’s WJ17/18 coxed four powering down the course at Bedford.

They were followed by a double scull containing Reuben Stanford and Nathan Lebordais who combined power with enthusiasm to deliver a highly creditable result.

The afternoon’s racing saw a second quad of Meredith Paul, Bethany Hammond, Tristan Hammick and Scarlet Wheeler propelled down the course under the guidance of Abi Dunn as coxswain. A tight racing line around the final bend scattered the swans and helped them record a respectable time achieved with minimal fuss.

A final double scull of Dunn and Bruce-Bonilla then returned upriver to deliver a composed and well-measured race that saw them steadily close on the boat ahead of them.

Coach Jon Francis said: “All in all, an excellent day of racing for the whole J13 squad at their first event.”

Rowing their last head race this season, Stratford’s J14s event started with the OJ14x+ of Rory Rowan, Euan Richter, Will Shaw, Rory Jones and cox Ed Appleton rowing well for fourth. The WJ14 coxed quad of Orla Linforth, Erin Appleton, Maria Ntoukaki, Naomi Sime and cox Rory Jones did very well and came second, beating crews from Wallingford and Falcon Rowing Clubs.

Finally, the open J14 double sculls of Seb Happel and Euan Richter, and James Greenwood and Ed Appleton came third and fourth respectively.

The J15 squad competed in both coxed quadruple sculls and double sculls. In the quad it was a Wallingford sandwich with the crew of Bryony Francis, Martha Baines, Maeve Dunn, Becca Smith and Isla Dunn (coxswain) taking the win ahead of Sophie Franklin, Millie Smith, Martha Cooke, Tessa Parkin and Josephine Cooper (coxswain) in third.

When it came to the J15 double sculls, the Stratford girls made their presence felt again in dominant style with the athletes taking first (Bryony Francis/Maeve Dunn), second (Martha Baines/Becca Smith), third (Millie Smith/Sophie Franklin), fourth (Isla Dunn/Martha Cooke) and ninth (Josephine Cooper/Tessa Parkin) places.

The J17/18 squad raced the 2km course twice. Jamie Wilcock put in a very consistent performance in his single scull recording exactly the same time in both runs placing him seventh out of 14. Scarlett Richardson and Aimee Appleton led their event after the first division in their double scull only to be beaten narrowly by three crews from Wallingford at the end of the day. Nancy Davies and Ez Elfwood sculled well to finished eighth in the same event.

Amalia Richardson, Aimee Appleton and Lucy Sartain finished a close J17 single sculls event in seventh, nineth and tenth respectively covered by just thirteen seconds.

The WJ18 coxed four of Maddie Hall, V Vondrak, Uch Nwachukwu, Kate Richardson and cox Imogen Hill won the women’s event by 12 seconds in the morning, then went two seconds quicker in their second run in the afternoon.

Stratford’s men’s masters raced in Division Five with a noticeable tailwind. The quad scull of Ed Lewry, Eric Appleton, Tom Doherty and Nick Sartain attacked the course from the gun to make the best of the favourable conditions. As the finish approached, they found a final sprint for the line to complete the race in 6.36min for a commendable third out of 16.

The ladies’ masters quad of Ellie Davis, Gina Fusco, Christine Goodwin and Emily Sayers had a strong row, finishing second in 8.09mins. Following handicapping adjustments, the crew were placed sixth.

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