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Winning ways for crews at Oxford

STRATFORD Boat Club’s J13 and adaptive crews took on the 500m sprint course at the City of Oxford Regatta and returned with a number of victories.

The morning began with the WJ13 2x event and although the doubles of Orla Linforth/Erin Appleton and Maria Ntoukaki/Naomi Sime steered a good course they were beaten by Oxford City and eventual winners Thames Scullers.

In the afternoon division, competing in the J13 1x event, Rory Rowan, Euan Richer, Seb Happel, Noah Rutter and Ed Appleton also sculled well but were beaten by more experienced scullers from Falcon Boat Club and Oxford City, rowing on their home waters.

Stratford’s medal-winning ladies
Stratford’s medal-winning ladies

The women’s J15 double of Lily Warren and Alexandra Francis won their first round against Upton but lost their semi-final to a strong Wallingford crew by three-quarters of a length after a close race and a commendable sprint finish.

In the open J15 doubles, Xavier Sissins-Roffey and Theo Richter lost to a formidable Falcon crew who eventually took first place while the mixed double of Poppy Baines and James Albrighton did well in their first event together before finally losing to a Wallingford crew.

Seth Vondrak won his initial race against a Falcon single by a comfortable four lengths. He then showed great sportsmanship in requesting to race his opposition from Wallingford in the semi-final even though he had been initially disqualified. After a close contest, Vondrak just missed out.

Also competing in the singles was Alexandra Francis who beat two Wallingford rowers to win the women’s J15 singles event.

Stratford’s J16 squad entered two crews. The quad of Aimee Appleton, Eloise Cooper, Esme Elfwood and Lucy Sartain rowed against a senior Abingdon crew and lost by just a quarter of a boat length ahead.

In the same division Molly ‘V’ Vondrak enjoyed success in the WJ16 single sculling category, beating Wallingford in the semi-final and then a sculler from the Exeter club to claim victory.

Stratford’s senior women’s squad of Amelie Sartain and Alice Baines, racing together as a combination for the first time in over two years, had a strong first race against Bentham Boat Club in which they found their rhythm halfway through to power to a four-length win. In the final they trailed a strong crew from Reading Rowing Club but stuck to their plan and rowed through the competition on the inside of the bend to win in style.

Stratford’s adaptive section also took part at Oxford and there were several really good performances with Andy Morris winning his event against a local City of Oxford Club rower by several lengths. This was followed by 13-year-old Isaac Clarkson beating an adult opponent from Marlow.

Rob Pedley competed in two events, losing narrowly in the first but winning his second over a Sudbury sculler.

Adaptive sculler Rob Pedley ahead of his race along the Thames
Adaptive sculler Rob Pedley ahead of his race along the Thames

Jess Dowdeswell had the hardest task, competing against a Paralympian from Kenya and although she was beaten, she produced her best performance of this, her first summer of racing.

The doubles produced three adaptive wins for Stratford. Andy Morris and Isaac Clarkson beat Guildford by a few lengths before Daniel Browne and his support rower, Neville Hand, won their event in the most exciting final of the day, defeating Marlow by a mere two feet.

The last win was in an all-Stratford final between James Bastin/Neville Hand and Phil Startin/Andy Morris with the latter winning by two lengths to give Startin his first ever event success.

Mark Dewdney, head adaptive coach at Stratford Boat Club, said: “With the exception of a few races on the bank holiday, this wraps up another very successful regatta season for our adaptive squad.

“We will be visiting Turin for an international event in early October and we have many exciting projects in hand to bring rowing to a wider audience of adaptive rowers.”

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