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Stratford Boat Club masters settle some old scores at British Rowing Masters Championships

STRATFORD Boat Club’s masters crews made a welcome return to competitive action at the British Rowing Masters Championships on Saturday.

Young rowers get stuck into Stratford BC's internal young coaches’ assistant course.
Young rowers get stuck into Stratford BC's internal young coaches’ assistant course.

Following the junior squad’s successful return to racing the previous week, the masters squad headed to Nottingham to compete on the multi-lane course at Holme Pierrepont.

The mixed double crew of Heather Hayton and Tom Doherty, competing in their first national competition together in their age group race, found themselves in a field of four other boats, all of whom had previously won championship golds.

Blessed with a strong headwind, the Stratford crew gave it everything off the start to stay with the field over the 1,000m course.

At 600m they were still in the mix, but the experience and power of the other crews saw them pull away over the last third of the race.

A satisfied but shattered crew were pleased to have been able to race and to have been competitive against some of the best crews in the country.

Masters vice-captain Tom Dohety said: “The weekend’s race was a real baptism of fire for Heather in her first national standard completion and multi-lane race, and she passed with flying colours.

“The experience gained over the weekend will be very beneficial as we look to further races as lockdown is hopefully reduced in the future.”

Also competing at Nottingham at the weekend in the Open Masters E single sculls was Tim Lunel.

Not holding out for much more than a competitive day out, Lunel was surprised to find himself leading at the 500m mark in the first round with the comforting knowledge that the first three go through to the final.

Former Stratford BC member Piers Copham went on to snatch first place from Lunel.

Lunel’s and Copham’s fears that the other heat contained the fastest sculler in the field was then confirmed in the A final where those rowers took the podium positions, with Denis Crowley from Commercial Rowing Club of Ireland hopping over the Irish Sea to record a fast winning time of 4:08.

The only race that really mattered in the final, though, was the one between Lunel and Copham and it was the former who prevailed by a margin of 2.6s.

Lunel said: “It was a great day of racing after an 18-month gap, celebrated by one of those really rare events, a sunny day with a moderate breeze rather than a howling gale at Holme Pierrepont.”

While the masters were battling to gain honours, the junior squad and others were at home battling the very busy ungoverned river to achieve their weekend river outings.

Sunday saw the second Stratford Boat Club internal young coaches’ assistant course, which consisted of technical classroom-based sessions and much appreciated outdoor practical sessions.

Club president Paul Stanton said: “We are so grateful to Abi Terry, our very successful J16 coach, for delivering these courses.

“The potential coming through our junior squad, not only our athletes but also their talented coaches, gives us some much confident for the future.

“We are delighted with the local and regional response to our junior summer camps for August which are now full.”

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