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Stratford Boat club juniors excel at Ross-on-Wye Regatta





THERE was plenty of success for Stratford Boat Club's junior athletes at the Ross-on-Wye Regatta over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Stratford’s J13 squad celebrating with their coach Richard Nelson at the Ross Regatta.
Stratford’s J13 squad celebrating with their coach Richard Nelson at the Ross Regatta.

The event marked the close of the 2020-21 season and made a much welcome return to the calendar following a two-year hiatus.

For the Sunday sprints conditions were perfect and representing the masters squad were Tom Doherty and Heather Hayton. They met their double sculls nemesis from Dart-Totnes but were unable to avenge previous defeats.

As for the J13s, the event in Ross was just their second regatta and they demonstrated excellent steering skills by negotiating the long bend and its current without a hitch.

J13 coach Richard Nelson said: "The J13s have come a long way in a short time and their form at Ross Regatta is a tribute to their athletic dedication and strong team spirit throughout this turbulent year.”

Sunday was also a great day for the J14 scullers and for many it was their first-ever competition. The boys did well against opposition from Queens Park High, Upton and Evesham in the 1x and 2x categories while the girls did equally well against Bristol, Evesham, Queens Park High and Staines.

In the WJ14 2x final, Stratford had a strong last 200m and were beaten by a canvas. Meanwhile, in the WJ14 1x final, Stratford were ahead of Evesham after 300m but after clipping a buoy the rower capsized.

For Monday's 750m event, masters stalwart Hayton was again disappointed as her opposition from Bedford withdrew from the event.

Representing the adaptive squad, Jake Blatcher performed well in the single scull but missed out on a place in the final.

In their final regatta as juniors, the J17/18 athletes of Mili Wilcock, Amélie Sartain, Maiya James and Alice Baines represented Stratford in the coxless quadruple sculls, double sculls and single sculls.

Steve Wellstead, J17/18 performance squad coach and junior co-ordinator, said: "The J17/18 squad swept the board in what can only be described in a 'pot-tastic' set of races with all crews winning their events.”

Stratford’s victorious J17/18 performance squad with their pots and coaches Steve Wellstead (left) and Colin Bell (right).
Stratford’s victorious J17/18 performance squad with their pots and coaches Steve Wellstead (left) and Colin Bell (right).

Stratford’s J15 athletes attended the last regatta of the season before the new rowing season as J16s. A full day of racing proved to be successful as they performed over and above expectations.

First up was Uche Nwachuckwa who sculled powerfully to overcome Evesham and Ross to set up a semi-final against her colleague Grace Beason.

Nwachuckwa got the better of Beason to reach the final where she would eventually lose out to Evesham by three lengths.

Stratford’s WJ single sculler giving it her all at the Ross Regatta.
Stratford’s WJ single sculler giving it her all at the Ross Regatta.

Next up was the double boat of Charles Happel and Elliot Baird against a crew from Queens Park High. Despite a strong performance, they lost by a close margin.

The girls quad of Kate Richardson, Maddie Hall, Harriet Noyes and Ruby Brooker-Collins, coxed by Imogen Hill, overcame Queens Park High by one length to reach the final. Here, they would dig deeper to beat City of Bristol by three-quarters of a length.

Happel won his first singles race against Queens Park High by one-and-a-half lengths before beating another QPH competitor by one foot in the next race. He then came up against Evesham in the final but missed out on the race win by one length.

The WJ15 doubles crew of Hall and Noyes sculled well to beat a Queens Park High crew by four lengths to set up a final against Beason and Brooker-Collins.

The final was very competitive but Hall and Noyes had that little bit more power to win by four lengths.

J15 coach Steve Marsden said: "It was a great day with great performances by all to bring home those treasured pots."

An all Stratford final for the club's juniors.
An all Stratford final for the club's juniors.

The J16 squad were lucky enough to row both days at the Ross Regatta. Starting on the Sunday in the junior and masters sprint over 550m, Stratford had the J16 doubles of Tomi Wilcock and Owen Perkins.

They started with a convincing win over Evesham before getting the better of clubmates Will Beattie and Toby Sartain in the final.

Next up was Freya Watts, Ruby Howells, Harriet Holmes and Amelie Sartain in the WJ18 coxless quads. They beat Liverpool Victoria by five lengths in the semi-final before beating Exeter in the final following a fantastic performance.

The afternoon saw Beattie and Wilcock in the J16 singles. Wilcock narrowly lost out on the line to Royal Chester while Beattie lost in the final to Royal Chester by one length in a fantastic race.

Amelie Sartain, Watts, Howells and Holmes, with cox Toby Sartain, returned to the water for the WJ18 4+ where Stratford would win by the narrowest of margins.

Stratford’s WJ quad powering down the course on the Wye.
Stratford’s WJ quad powering down the course on the Wye.

Monday’s longer 750m course saw the J16 squad in action again. Wilcock joined up again with Owen Perkins in the J16 doubles event and faced two of the same crews from the day before. They raced Evesham first with an easy win and then faced Liverpool Victoria in the final. The Stratford duo won by a comfortable three lengths.

The afternoon saw the J16 singles of Perkins and Toby Sartain. Both Stratford scullers were up against athletes from Evesham in the semi-finals and both won to book their places in the final where they would face each other.

On this occasion Perkins was victorious, taking his third win of the weekend. The girls double of Watts and Holmes had a good battle against Exeter, but this time it was Exeter who took the win by just one-and-a-half lengths.

J16 coach Abi Terry said: "It was great to see all of the juniors racing and enjoying their rowing. The J16 squad are looking forward to starting their J17 year with a bang at our own regatta in a couple of weeks time.”



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