Scullers’ Head Cancelled

Message from the organising committee:

THE RACE IS OFF

We know this will cause immense disappointment to our competitors and supporters, but the forecast wind speeds have been high all week and it was not felt that this was showing any sign of changing significantly for the better. 

With wind warnings in place for much of the country we were also aware that longer journeys would also have presented dangers to our travelling competitors. 

We considered other options, including shortening the course to finish at Hammersmith, but given that the likely worse section of the course would be the stretch between Harrods and the Mile Post, it was not felt that this was any safer than running it over the full course. 

We wanted to wait as long as possible before making this decision, but in the end felt that this was the only decision we could safely make. The organising committee was unanimous in this choice. 

Vets 4s Head Race Report (or, how to turn up still drunk from the 4s Head party and win a pennant)

By Vincent McGovern

So. What seemed like a bright idea a couple of weeks before didn’t seem such a bright idea as we placed ‘Villain’ on the water 50 minutes before the start of the 2015 Vets Fours Head Race…

In true Vesta fashion preparation on race day started exceptionally well with three of the four crew members being kicked out of Vesta at the conclusion of the rather good Fours head party.
Bleary eyed, still slightly drunk, and not in the slightest bit regretting signing up to do it we reconvened at Vesta later that morning to race a composite VRC/LRC Masters B quad.

As with the Fours head of the river the day before conditions were a mixture of excellent and challenging. While the first part of the race was relatively flat with a tail wind it became quite clear that the stretch from Hammersmith bridge home would be an altogether different matter.

The first part of the race proceeded according to plan with a steady 32/34 rate in decent conditions. We gradually reeled in the boat that started in front of us and put distance on the crews behind us.
Things however got complicated from about the Bandstand onwards… it was here that the first of us, a senior squad member at his club for the past seven years with numerous Henley appearances under his belt, realised… that you can’t go off super hard at the start of a head race like a senior squad member… when you ain’t a senior squad member and haven’t done the training. The rest of the crew were whacked hard by this fact at various points from there to Hammersmith Bridge.

All crew members giving excellent race face.

All crew members giving excellent race face.

Should this crew ever take to the water again we know now who our nemesis is. Its name is Monmouth and will not be forgotten. From the top of the island right through to Harrods the Monmouth crew that started ahead of us blocked, obstructed and really quite annoyed us as they repeatedly weaved into our path as we tried to pass sometimes on the inside sometimes on the outside.
The Gods of Luck were with us though… firstly as we came through Hammersmith Bridge in ensuring that the marshal stationed on the Surrey side was a London RC stalwart who… somehow managed not to hear the colourful cries of frustration emanating from all four seats in the boat.
And secondly when our ‘friends’ in the Monmouth quad caught a monumental boat stopper of a crab as we both, rowing side by side, hit the rough water just before Harrods… (see also Highlights of the race bullet point four for the third reason the Gods of Luck were with us…)

Vesta / London were ahead and it was coastal rowing from there on to the Black Buoy and down the line of boats to the finish.

Highlights of the race were:

  • the white horses between the Black Buoy and Harrods (on the way to the start and again during the race)
  • both the LRC members of the crew mildly objecting to being called Vesta by marshalling umpires
    the rhythmic thud of the four cans of Kronenberg in the watertight compartments as they banged against the hull in time with each stroke
  • the “aw sh***” as one member of the crew momentarily lost control (but importantly didn’t crab!) of a blade as we entered the rough water side by side with Monmouth
  • the impressive range of race faces caught on camera

and last, but not least,

  • collapsing across the finish line in a time of 19:52.07 beaten only by a veteran Imperial College crew (containing three children and one ex Dutch Olympian) and a Wallingford crew which sported a suspiciously large amount of Xchanging kit in the boat, to an overall placing of third and the Masters B pennant.

    The crew: Ash Maitland (LRC) [bow], Vincent McGovern [2], Harry Bond [3] and Dom Wilson (LRC) [Stk]

    MasB 4x winning crew

    MasB 4x winning crew

Mat Cooper

It is with sadness that we report that Mat Cooper, a Vesta member from the early Seventies, died last month at his home in Sydney. After numerous record-breaking, medal-winning Henley campaigns in the late Sixties with Derby RC, ULBC and Tideway Scullers, Mat joined Vesta. With Pat Wright, Mat won the Pairs Head as Vesta in 1971 and he went on to be selected for the 1972 Olympic Games, again rowing as Vesta, in the coxless pair, along with Jerry McCarthy from Argosies (the National Dock Labour Board rowing club). They came 3rd in their heat behind W. Germany and Romania, 5th in their semi-final and unfortunately last in the 7-12 race.

UL have published their obituary.

Lifetime Achievement for Vesta Member Matt Stallard

Longtime Vesta Member, Matt Stallard, was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Rowing Conference in October.

In case you don’t know Matt, he’s the same ‘vintage’ as Vesta President Jock McKerrell and as well as rowing in some of Vesta’s best ever crews, was a Henley winner, and has for many years served in a variety of roles with British Rowing.

Currently he is Chairman of the Sport Committee.

Since retiring, his club involvement has been with Broxbourne, in Hertfordshire, the club local to his home.
Congratulations Matt, you’ve done Vesta proud.

What’s happening at The Vesta Bar

November – December 2015

Upcoming events:
. 6th November – Fireworks – bar 6.30pm-11pm
. 7th November – 4s Head
. 8th November – Vets 4s Head
. 5th December – Scullers Head
. 15th December – Scullers Head Prize-giving – 7pm-11pm
. 16th December – Vets Xmas Lunch at the clubhouse
. 19th December – Remenham Challenge & Christmas Party

After a great start to the season with the Pairs Head and the Vesta pub crawl, we have the next two major events coming up in the calendar:

7th November – 4s Head – Race Start @ 12.45 pm
8th November – VET 4s Head – Race Start @ 12.00 pm

4s Head (7th November)

Food will be served from 11.00 am through to 5.00 pm. A selection of sandwiches and cakes will be on offer at the food table in the front room.

The bar will be open all day! The fancy dress theme will be anything beginning with the letters V, R or C. Bonus points if you can pull off a costume that covers all three bases. Fancy dress, whilst not mandatory, is always strongly encouraged at Vesta parties 🙂

Importantly, volunteers are needed for the below times on Saturday. If you are able to help please get in touch with Dick, Sven or Thea. Helping out on the food table/in the bar is a great laugh! You can get to know more Vesta members and also take pleasure in refusing to make fancy drinks for non-Vesta members. (Overheard on a bar shift: “You want a white wine spritzer? No. This is the Vesta Bar. We don’t do spritzers. I’ll sell you a white wine and I’ll sell you some soda water and you can mix it yourself.” )

Food – 11.00am – 5.00pm
Bar – 12.00pm – 1.00am 

VETs 4s Head (8th November)

VETs 4s Head will take place the next day at 12.00 pm and food will again be provided from 11.00 am till 5.00 pm with the bar open all afternoon.

Again, volunteers are needed to make this work so dust off your hangovers and get ready for some hair of the dog. If any of you can help on the below times it would be much appreciated.

Food – 11.00am – 5.00pm
Bar – 12.00pm – 5.00pm

Food for 4s Head and Vets 4s Head

In a time honoured tradition all active members are called upon to provide sandwiches and cakes to donate to the food table. Some people take this as a challenge to come up with the most creative sandwich fillings or impressive cakes; others pop into the Sainsbury’s up the road and grab a tub or two of flapjacks. Both approaches are very much welcome!

Please can all squads make sandwiches and cakes to donate to the food table. To provide an even split of sweet and savoury food we are asking the Novice Men and Senior Women provide sandwiches, bagels, etc. and the Novice Women and Senior Men to bake cakes and biscuits. However, if your signature dish happens to not be a cake, feel free to make something else and vice versa. Again, all profits will go towards the boat buying fund.

 

New Online Navigation Test

Fellow Athletes,

I am very proud to say that safety has taken a leap forward into the modern age with the unveiling of our online navigation test.  If you would like (or are required) to take it please contact me at safety@vestarowing.co.uk and I will send you the link. The test should take around 30 – 40 minutes to complete and relies upon a working knowledge of the latest Rowing Code and our club-specific safety policies.

The latest Rowing Code is an excellent piece of work from the PLA and well worth the time spent reading it. I strongly encourage all active members of Vesta to read it, particularly if you’re new to rowing or the tideway.

This coincides with a general tidying up of the steers list, which will be updated in early November 2015.  If you weren’t able to attend any of the safety briefings and don’t want to be removed you can now save your bow seat by taking the test.

Alex Brown

Vesta Water Safety Advisor

Captain’s log – Autumn 2015

by James Hawkins 

Familiar faces

Over the past month or so many a Vesta old hand has remarked to me that there has been a resurgence of the old Vesta spirit. What’s more, the eagle eyed amongst you will notice a return of some old faces. Pete Williams and Dave Clinton are coaching the Vesta senior men, Wendy Armstrong returns for another year in charge of the Vesta novice boys, and, ahem, I am making a reappearance working with Chris Clements coaching the novice girls. But while it is great to tap into some of that old expertise, the club spirit is driven by the rowers, and that’s what I really want to celebrate.

The senior squads

The four main squads are operating at near maximum capacity, including both novice squads. The senior squads have been bolstered by many new members, and with the top boats from previous seasons departing the scene, all seats are up for grabs and the squads are thriving with that new sense of competition.

While both senior squads train as whole units, they are each streamed into senior and intermediate components, allowing for a more tailored approach to the coaching, and also, which will become more apparent as we enter the summer season, with their own goals and targets.

As I said, while competition is fierce to be selected as the new top boats at the senior end, the intermediate components are laying the groundwork to ensure that our squads over the next few years have greater depth and breadth. Gratifyingly, the novices that graduated to the intermediate ends of the senior squads are amongst those who are impressing the most, which is a great endorsement for the efforts made in the previous year to nurture real home grown talent.

The novice squads

That same ambition, to sow the seeds of future squads through a competitive novice programme is back in full swing. Each squad has around twenty members, around half of whom started with the excellent summer programme which has meant that we were able to hit the ground running in September. Wendy, Ben and Zara (on the boys’ side) and myself and Chris (on the girls’) have been rather taken aback by how swift progress has been – and while we have had some interesting moments where you realise that rowing lingo at times is a somewhat different language (bow four sit the boat, two and four raise your hands…err two and four why are your hand in the air?… Oh right, mmm, not is not quite what I meant…) it certainly looks like we have around forty people who have got the rowing bug – certainly helped by not yet having a rainy cold weekend – which I have no doubt just jinxed.

The Vesta spirit

Enthusiasm for training, for rowing, making and rekindling friendships is the bedrock of what makes any rowing club a club, but at the outset I talked about the resurgence of the Vesta spirit which many have remarked on. It is not just that there are more people staying behind for a beer after rowing at the weekends, not just because Thursday club meals are as busy as I can remember them (and taking a lot more profit for future boat buying), not just that we have full squads, forgettable and eyebrow raising parties – I say forgettable because the next day I can never remember quite what happened and my eye brows are invariable raised when I learn about everyone’s antics – it is all of those things and more. A return to that quiet ambition which means that a great season and head races and regattas beckons and a knowing nod to that sense of mischievous fun – and with Harry Bond in possession of a bar key, well need I say more?

PS: if the novice girls squad is lacking in one thing it is a constant cox. If anyone is interested in coxing please let me know. My very bruised hips will thank you as I really don’t fit.