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Stourport Regatta 2022

Monmouth Rowing Club undertook a return trip to the West Midlands on 13/14th July 2022, this time to take part in the 2-day Stourport Regatta on the river Seven. 

Coach Tim Male continued with his selection policy of giving race experience to as many athletes as possible, and as he did at Bewdley gave debuts to a number of rowers. 

On Saturday, 9 crews raced on the 1,100m course. The inexperienced crew of debutante Ewart Birkett, Harry Beech, club captains Darren Cooper and Geoff Hitt, coxed by debutant P J Pompl took on a much the much younger home crew from Stourport. On the day, the home crew were able to cope with the race pressure better, leading to a win for Stourport. 

That race was quickly followed by the women’s 8 of Kate Hooton, Sara Part, Helen Tilley, debutante Bonita Birkett, Jan Watkins, Sarah Cripps, Jayne Smith, Amanda Snelson and cox Liz Lewis [ladies captain] had a great race against local club Worcester. Both crews dealt with the heat very well, and despite a late charge the Monmouth crew were beaten by Worcester. 

The experienced men’s E4 [average age over 55] crew of Mark Stewart-Woods, Nick Hooton, Colin Lewis and James Allison proved too powerful for their opponents from Worcester, winning by a couple of lengths.  

In division 2, in his second regatta for the club, former Wyedean School pupil, Stuart Bruton took on a very experienced Upper Thames rower. Despite pushing all of the way the Upper Thames oarsman took the spoils. 

An experimental line up of James Allison, Eric Froggatt, Alex Mitchell and Scott Hazeldine raced in the Maters E quad [average age over 55]. Some steering issues when racing against local club Hereford resulted in an agreed re-row. Given the heat, a second race in a short space of time was a big ask. Both crews raced well, with Monmouth claiming the honours. In their final against Worcester it appeared legs were unsurprisingly heavy; and with a head start, the older crew of Worcester were able to manage the race, ultimately claiming victory.

At the request of the organisers, a newly formed 8 took on a composite crew of visitors from the Netherlands and Stourport. Coach Male took this opportunity to field the mixed crew of Toby Harding, Mike Smith, Ewart Birkett, Bonita Birkett, Harry Beech, Darren Cooper, Geoff Hitt, Sarah Cripps and cox P J Pompl. It was clear form results earlier in the day that the Dutch crew were very experienced, so despite a valiant effort from the Monmouth crew they were beaten into second place. 

As a warm up for the forth coming World Masters Rowing Regatta in September [in Libourne, France] the experienced pair of Stewart-Woods and Hooton raced to victory over home club Stourport. 

In the women’s E4- of Louise Allison, Dawn Brace, Kate Hooton and Liz Lewis against London club, Furnivall. Due to a lack of opposition the race was a senior category, allowing the young Furnival crew to have an age advantage over the master’s crew from Monmouth. Another exciting race, including a clash of blades as the London club’s steering went array; as a consequence, Furnivall were disqualified, handing the victory to Monmouth. 

They were quickly followed by the women’s F4 [average age over 60] racing in the younger E category [average age over 55] of Jayne Smith, Sara Part, Helen Tilley, Amanda Snelson and cox Jan Watkins lost to a younger Worcester crew.

On Sunday, as tradition goes, Stourport shortened the course to 650m. Again, coach Male was able to ring the changes, selecting 12 crews. 

A change from Saturday’s men’s E quad line up saw Harding replace Allison, joining crew mates Froggatt, Mitchell and Hazledine, and despite a great push were eventually beaten by Burton Leander.

Following their success at the recent Bewdley regatta, husband and wife pair Jamie and Kathryn Diserens raced against the all-male pair from Hereford. A very good race, but the youngsters, fresh from success with Wales and national Schools Championships proved too powerful, winning by a couple of lengths.

A new look women’s E4 [average age over 55] of K Hooton, Brace, Watkins, Sheron Dean-Lucas and cox Liz Lewis, an equipment malfunction close to the start halted the Monmouth crews progress, giving their opponents from Worcester an unassailable lead, which they converted into the victory.

Providing rowers new to the sport some competition, the event organisers offered an open event to those rowers who had limited/no experience of racing. In rowing, athletes gain points when they win/do well at an event, so the next race was for those with few/no points. Taking advantage of this opportunity the men’s 4+ of E Birkett, Hitt, Cooper, Beech and cox Pompl, took on another crew from Worcester. Worcester took an early lead and were able to hold on to victory.

Another low points crew of A Hazledine, Cripps, B Birkett, L Allison and cox Pompl took the opportunity to race in a quad [swapping the more familiar single blades used in sweep rowing for a pair of blades each in the sculling race], the women’s crew looked very strong for the first half of the race, but a lack of experience meant their opponents were able to push past and win.

Despite being a masters crew, next up was a men’s 8, competing against Hereford. Like Monmouth, Hereford fielded a mix of masters and seniors. The experienced crew of Stewart-Woods, N Hooton, J Diserens, Bruton [the only non-master], Male, J Allison, C Lewis, Peter Kelsall and cox Kathryn Diserens were able to get to a lead early in the race and despite being challenged throughout the race were able to hold off Hereford to claim the win. 

Women’s E quad of Brace, Watkins, B Birkett, Dean-Lucas gave a good account of themselves but were unable to match the power of the crew from Evesham.

Froggatt and Mitchell in a double raced against Pengwern, and despite some very good rowing technique, were beaten by the river Seven based club.

An exciting looking double of Olympian Tim Male and youngster Bruton, won their quarter final quite comfortably, and repeated the result in the semi-final. In the final, up against a strong looking Gloucester double, a missed stroke gave the Gloucester crew an advantage which they held onto to claim an impressive victory.

The newly formed mixed E quad of Harding, Cripps, A Hazledine and S Hazledine started well, and looked strong against their opponents from Loughborough. Much to the delight of the supporters, Cripps was able to claim a second pot at her second regatta and Harding managed a success he has been waiting 30 years for!

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