Christchurch Rowing Club hosted the annual Head of the Stour race on Saturday. This is a timed race for rowing boats from Mudeford spit to Christchurch Sailing Club competed by youngsters from the age of thirteen through to seasoned veterans that are into their seventies. Whilst a lack of wind normally means perfect conditions, competitors from along the south coast turned up to thick fog covering the harbour and the river Stour. This persisted for most of the morning and delayed the start for 45 minutes.
This was the first race of the season between the clubs that compete for the Hants and Dorset Championships and would demonstrate the hard work that had gone on over the winter’s training. The first boat down was the Christchurch eight which had extended the gap to their opposition and come home in the fastest time of the day. The crew of Sean Cooney, Marcus Lewis, George Robinson, Kit Mersey, Jake Glass Hooper, Isaac Gaston, Jack Gaston, Tom Mahy and cox Danni Elmy Liddiard won the open 8+ event by 12 seconds before splitting up to enter the afternoon race in different boats. The Christchurch double of Franc Canalas and Alex Ratcliffe put in a very strong performance to win the J16 double category. Christchurch had a very strong ladies novice squad with the A crew coming in third place but only 4 seconds off the winning crew from Ryde.
The afternoon session provided some excellent battles. The fastest coastal four time was again picked up by Christchurch with the crew of Kit Mersey, Isaac Gaston, Marcus Lewis, Jack Gaston cox Sam Erwin who romped away from the opposition in what will be a highly competitive Junior section. They were closely followed by another Christchurch crew who picked up the junior/senior trophy comprising of Tom Mahy, Jake Glass Hooper, George Robinson, Richard Quinn cox Danni Elmy Liddiard. The J16 Womens Coxed Quad also bought home a win, with Katya cherskova (stk), Lisa Berriage , Hannah Smailes, Emma Cheetham and cox Charley Wederburn. Not to be outdone by the bigger boats, the father and daughter team of John and Stephanie Dodsworth picked up wins in their respective sculling categories. John Dodsworth maintained his form throughout the course to beat his opposition by 6 seconds whilst Stephanie Dodsworth showed her class by opening up a large gap to the next J16 sculler.
The excellent weather allowed for some very clean racing and for clubs to demonstrate their potential for the upcoming 2016 season.