Introducing – The Vesta Race Day Membership

We are delighted to announce a new group of Vesta membership – The Race Day Membership! The idea is to encourage ex-rowers to get involved in racing, but at a much cheaper rate, rather than the old Legacy Membership.
All you have to do is be an Honourary Member of the Club, and you can then enter any event and become an Active Member for that specific race at a cost of £15. This is obviously dependent on boats. It is the Club equivalent of the old ARA day-pass, for those of you old enough to remember it. Hopefully we will be able to get a good group of people, keen to get back together periodically to race some fun events through the summer, or British Masters, Henley Masters, Vets Head etc.
At the moment we have a very short email list – this is mainly the people involved in Eight’s Head last year. If you can think of anyone do please encourage them to contact – and Harry will add them to the email list! Over the years we’ve all had crew mates that have slipped away and this is a nice opportunity for reunion racing. For instance a 10 years ago we did 8+’s Head in this crew… let’s all enter Vets’ Head sort of thing. We’re especially on the look out for any women’s crews, but no matter how far people have moved away – it would be great to see them back in a boat in Vesta colours once more!
Michael Cannon has put together a quick survey to find out which events people would be interested in entering here:
Any questions please contact and please spread the word!

Vesta Race for Ramen

We are delighted to announce that to celebrate the reopening of their refitted Putney restaurant, Wagamama are sponsoring an internal regatta for Vesta on the 13th of October!
Eagle eyed users of will have already noticed the new session on the afternoon of the 13th: “Wagamama’s: Race for Ramen.” We are looking for 4 men’s eights and 4 women’s eights from the Senior and Development Squads to take part in the afternoon’s event, so please sign up as quickly as you can (Novices; your time will soon come).
We will be meeting Vesta from 13:30 to select crews and boat shells, with the first race starting at about 14:30.
There will be 2 “divisions” each of 4 crews. One division for men, one for women.
Tide: Incoming
Race Start: Along the line of boats (just the same as Blackstaffe Day – outside The Duke’s Head)
Race: two abreast for approximately 350m
Race Finish: Vesta Flagpole
Each crew will race every other boat in their division; staying on the water throughout – making it a test of endurance, ability to race in scratch crews and recovery rates as well as pure sprint power. Bonus points will be awarded for winning by a clear margin.
From these results, the top two crews of each division, will race off in a Cup Final and the bottom two crews will go into a Plate Final. Wagamama will be providing prizes to all those taking part on the day.

Club Notices – Lockers, racked sculls, weights for sale


With the arrival of new rowers this season, and the expansion of our Active membership, there is a significant demand for lockers. As a result of this, we will be auditing the lockers in the next few weeks. Each locker will have a piece of masking tape on it, please be sure to label this with your name by Monday 15th October. Any lockers not clearly named will be reclaimed and the locker gifted to an extremely grateful member of our active squads.

To all those with a Single, or Sculling Oars Racked at the Club:

The Club has recently experienced a dramatic increase in numbers – our squads have expanded in a quite fantastic fashion. As such this has lead to quite a few requests for racking space for new sculls, and to store more fours instead of singles in the boat bays.

Whilst there is no pressure to move on at all, the Club would ask you to check to see if racking a single at Vesta is still necessary. If you no longer use your single; for whatever reason; and feel that owning the rack is no longer needed then please do let the Captain know – the new intake will much appreciate it!

If you would like to keep your single in the Club, and have oars to go with it, can we ask that you clearly label the sculls? There are a very large number in the boat bays, a lot of which have been anonymously donated to the Club over the years (without the Club recording it anywhere).

Over the next few weeks the Captain will be going through these and setting them up for Club use. If you’re unable to make it down then please let Harry know – he’ll happily write your name on your sculls for you – if the blades remain unnamed then they will be repurposed for Club use – with much gratitude!

Collection of Old Tankards & Medals

The Club is collecting old tankards and medals to help decorate the refitted gym. If you have any old ones collecting dust at home (or any other rowing memorabilia) and would like to donate them to the Club then please bring them down; they will be much appreciated

Sale of Weights:

To celebrate the new season, Vesta is refitting its gym! To make way for the new weights, the Club is selling all of it’s old standard size weight plates and bars (dumbbells and barbells), along with a full set of dumbbells (from 5kg to 27.5kg in 2.5kg steps) and a number of weight plates for olympic sized bars. If you have any interest in purchasing any of these, may know someone who would be, or have any questions at all, then please email the Captain.

Vesta awarded grant for extension

Vesta awarded grant for extension – by Jock McKerrell

Following the announcement at the AGM, I am delighted to inform you that we have secured a grant to build a first floor extension to the clubhouse. This will contain a corridor to run over the flat roof from the front end of the women’s changing, along the existing outside wall, to come in to the front of the clubhouse through what is at present the “office”.

This will result in alterations at both ends to ensure there is no loss of necessary facilities and fixtures. At the front end the new build is to be extended over the beer cellar to house replacement toilets for the ones directly off the bar.

This will enable us to have a much needed larger kitchen, which will be refitted. To complete the project, the entrance lobby will be opened up by removing the false ceiling and re-instating the window over the front door.

The main object is to give our women direct access to the Club’s public rooms from their changing, like the men enjoy, and it is great to at last have the funds for this.

The project is being run by our very own architect Michael Hughes, using his local builder. We hope to be able to confirm a start date soon, depending on planning permission and fitting with the rowing calendar.

Jock McKerrell


Vesta Rowing Club

2018/19 – Start of Season and Social Update

As you are hopefully already aware, last season was one of the most successful in recent times for Vesta. Our Women won the Aspirational Coxless Fours at Women’s Henley and both our Men’s boats getting through a round at Henley Royal, including a Friday appearance. Perhaps an even greater achievement was our record entries across the board in the major head races.

All the while we’ve had a great time, maintaining our reputation as one of the friendliest and best supported clubs around, whilst obviously putting on the best parties on the Tideway.

And so, not one moment too soon, it is time to embark on a new season. With ambitious plans to keep building into the future which we’d love you all to be a part of, we’ve also got a number of social events planned, from the traditional to the more, shall we say,upmarket.

Start of Season Meetings

We will be holding information sessions for new and returning members to come down, meet the coaching teams and find out about plans for the year ahead. The dates are:

Senior/Intermediate Women – Wednesday 29th August at 7.30pm
Senior/Intermediate Men – Thursday 30th August at 7.30pm
Novice (beginner) Women and Men  – Wednesday 5th September at 7.30pm

If you can’t make these meetings, feel free to get in touch here

Blackstaffe Day – Saturday 1st September

On the social side, Blackstaffe Day will be taking place this Saturday, 1st September, from 2pm. Come along to help us kick off the new season in style. The theme for the party in the evening will be 1920’s, so dress to impress, at least at the start of the night. Think Great Gatsby, Flappers, and maybe even our very own Harry Blackstaffe.

As ever, Vesta events are only possible thanks to those of you who put yourselves forwards to help out. Please email to volunteer for a shift.

Special Catering Event – Saturday 8th September

In addition to this, we have great pleasure to announce Vesta’s first special catering event of the season!

Our current Deputy Captain, Andrew Carson, has been shortlisted for competing in a well known television cooking show. In light of this he is organising a special one off meal for 35 people on Saturday 8th September. Joining Andrew in the kitchen will be Shiv Sadir, a Le Cordon Blue trained chef who is currently working for the Shangri-la Hotel in The Shard.

Andrew will be cooking a four course meal and each dish will be paired with wine throughout the night.

The cost per person is £55 and to sign up, preview the menu and prepay for your seat simply follow this link.

Rowing under the Sun – Novice Men Training Camp 2018

Rowing under the Sun – Novice Men Training Camp 2018

By Chris Ruddick

After the long winter months, and with the regatta season in touching distance, the day had finally come for the Novice squads to embark on the journey from a rather overcast Putney to Totnes for their training camp. Some had been before and knew what to expect, whilst the majority of the squad were new to the rowing tourist fraternity. As the advance party of 16 squad members, along with coaches Wendy and Nick, cox Cat, and the Novice squad’s number one fan Elliot, arrived in Totnes, the skies cleared and the sun started to shine. Was this a sign of the week to come? We certainly hoped it was!   

The Novice lads had arrived at camp two days early to take part in the local head race on the Saturday. Unlike the previous races the squad had entered, the Head of the Dart, at 15km, was more than twice the distance of ‘The Head’; a gruelling prospect. Over breakfast, the talk was of would we make the finish line? However, thanks to Dodds Gin, who kindly sponsored our entry into the race, the prospect of the very large gin and tonic at the finish line was enough to spur everyone on. We had two eights entered, with the Dev VIII rowing in Vesta’s own Blackstaffe, while the Nov VIII,  having left Derek ‘the indestructible’ in Putney, were rowing in a boat loaned to us by our hosts, Dart Totnes Amateur Rowing Club. In what can only be likened to an F1 pit-stop, both crews boated at speed, successfully avoiding the chain ferry. Our first taste of the week to come, and the clear blue waters of the River Dart, started with warm up laps of the harbour. As we circled among the moored fishing boats, any nerves were wiped away by the scenic surroundings of Dartmouth; we realised we were a long way from Putney and the Tideway.

Vesta Novice Head of the Dart Crews 2018

According to the race draw, the Nov boat was to be starting 4th and the Dev boat 5th. As the time to race approached, an attempt was made to line up in race order. However, in the expanse of Dartmouth Harbour, this proved rather difficult, and the two Vesta boats ended up leading the charge across the start line. The Novices valiantly held off the Dev boys for the early stages but, as was expected, they soon passed in a great overtaking manoeuvre by their cox Cat. As we passed Agatha Christie’s House at Greenway, the River Dart opened up into a vast 1km wide stretch of water full of moored boats and several dead-end inlets. With no marshals in sight, the question was which way was the exit? Being one of the first boats through, the novice boat’s cox Wendy used all of her local knowledge from previous years, and headed on a course through the line of moored boats: thankfully this was the correct route, and after what seemed like an eternity she eventually spotted the boat which marked the exit. At this point we had been racing constantly for over half an hour, and the training we had done on the Tideway was coming into its own. Then, all of a sudden, Wendy screamed “Duncannon, I know where I am now!” over the cox box. At this point we were more than two thirds of the way in and the river started to narrow and become extremely bendy. As we progressed round the sharp bends, the Novice boat successfully held off another boat, and their presence behind us proved to be the inspiration to dig deep for the sprint to the finish. As the Dart Totnes clubhouse came into site and we passed the finish line, the sense of elation could be felt throughout the boat. Not only had we just rowed 15km but, we all agreed, it was our best row as a crew to date. In true Vesta fashion, as soon as the race was finished we headed for the Club’s bar to find a well needed drink and await the results. After a tense hour the results were announced. The Dev boat had finished 5thoverall with a time of 48:38, less than a minute off the winning crew, and the Novice boat was not far behind with a time of 53:24. Two very respectable results, and a good foundation for the rest of the week.

Following the hard work of Saturday, and a typical Vesta post-race celebration back at Pitt Farm, Sunday brought a well-earned (and for some – Will – well needed) rest day, with most of the squad enjoying a trip to Salcombe, while some stayed back at the farm to relax in the swimming pool. The Vesta laundry was also in full swing. Sunday also saw a changing of the guard, with some members of the squad heading back to Putney because of work commitments, and other members of the squad arriving for the main training camp. In order to fuel the week ahead, Wendy and Nick spent their Sunday preparing roast beef and all the trimmings for 20 people. Nick’s post-it note plan was a piece of art, and proved essential to a very successful, and on-time, meal.

Monday was soon upon us, and training camp started in earnest with the tried and tested pattern of 06:40 breakfast at the farm, leaving for Totnes at 07:00, with the first water session starting promptly at 07:30. First sessions were always a long steady state row. Little did we know that the 15km of the Head of the Dart was merely a warm up for the standard first session row of 16km! First session was always followed by a most welcome second breakfast at the club, consisting of toast, baked beans and scrambled eggs, washed down with large a cup of tea. Following this, a shorter water session would be held, concentrating more on technique. During these sessions we would also practise race starts and suspension drills. The time of low tide meant that lunch was always back at Pitt Farm, after which a few hours relaxation could be found. Some slept, some took time to further top up the sun tan, some played tennis, and others visited the myriad of farm animals around Pitt Farm. One member of the squad well and truly showed his city roots when he had to be informed that you couldn’t milk an alpaca! Our day’s work was not over, however, and we would return to Totnes around 16:00 for the third and final water session of the day. This third session concentrated mainly on high rate pieces, giving us vital preparation for the shorter regatta races ahead of us. We would then return to Pitt Farm for dinner, which was ably prepared by members of the squad.

While the daily pattern remained the same, the type of boats we used regularly changed. At the start of the week we mainly used an 8 and coxed 4, with the remainder of the squad starting to get experience in singles, doubles and pairs. Most days, the single scullers would produce a swimmer of the day, a badge of honour proudly worn, as a swim in the cooling clear waters of the River Dart was most refreshing. As the week progressed, the weather seemed to get better and better, with the sun beaming down on Totnes for almost all of the week. All but one session went ahead as planned, with the high winds on the Tuesday preventing the middle session of the day. Due to a change in boat storage at Dart Totnes we would become proficient in rigging and de-rigging boats to a level where an 8 could be derigged in 10 minutes. Despite the hassle, Wendy assured us that this was vital practise for the summer regatta season. As the week progressed we would move to using smaller boats, with us concentrating on a coxed four, coxless four, double, pair, and singles. Enough progress had been made by Thursday for the 2nd session to become a knock-out race session, with some people racing in a boat which they had only had 2 sessions in. Some interesting crew combinations brought close racing, and proved that competitive spirit was rife within the novice squad.

Before we knew it, it was Friday. The final day provided the best rowing of the week, with everyone agreeing that improvements were clearly visible. A last minute race piece against the novice girls drew the rowing to a close. After derigging and trailer loading, we returned to Pitt Farm for a celebration barbeque and awards for the week. Some categories were close fought, with examples of pushing off with the wrong blades on the wrong side of boats, multiple examples of people taking a swim, and some people with visible signs on their hands that they had been rowing for constantly for almost 5 days straight.

The coaches agreed unanimously on the main winners of the week. The Spartan Award went to Will, who rowed on throughout the week despite having developed a large blister in an unmentionable place during the Head of the Dart. Oarsman of the Week went to Colin, who remained calm and happily took people out in boats for the first time, helping them to relax and gain confidence. Matt was awarded Most Improved oarsman of the week. And finally, Steven won Tourist of the Week for contributing the most throughout the week to any task that was required.  

Special mention must also go to Chris C, who through the use of his GoPro captured some fantastic moments of the week. Together with footage from Paul’s drone, this has been edited into a great video, which can be seen here:

Novice camp 2018 was a truly memorable week for all, and truly was a week of Rowing under the Sun!  


The week’s survivors !

Race Review – Wallingford Regatta

Strong start to the summer at Wallingford

Women’s Eight at Wallingford Regatta

Wallingford regatta saw a strong statement of intent from Vesta crews, with promising early season results to build on through the summer. This included a win in Women’s Challenge Coxless Fours, which will earn the crew members a prestigious Vesta Red Cap for winning in the highest category. The women followed this up with a second place finish in the Women’s Challenge Eights, finishing as the top club eight. On the men’s side, the coxed four also established themselves as contenders for the rest of the season with a third place finish in the Challenge event.

In total Vesta had 14 crews racing, showing the strength and depth in both the Men’s and Women’s squads, with many athletes making their first appearance in a multi-lane regatta.

The top women’s coxless four set the tone for the day by registering the fastest heat time by almost ten seconds. The other two Vesta crews also showed the strength in depth of the squad, registering competitive times with the B crew just missing out on reaching the final with a third place finish in the repechage. In the final the A crew dominated from the start, reaching a lead of 3 seconds by the 500m mark before going on to take the event in impressive fashion, 8 seconds ahead of the pack. As winners of the Lorcha Challenge Cup, Robyn McGreggor-Ritchie, Ruther McKellar, Lousia Emkes, and Jamie-Rose Larkin will earn the prestigious Vesta Red Cap for winning in the highest category.

The victorious Womens Coxless Four

On the men’s side, the draw was not kind to the Challenge Coxed Four, who were up against the all-conquering St Paul’s School in the heat. They were unfortunate to be pipped at the line by less than a second in a tough race, meaning the extra toil of a repechage in the searing afternoon heat. Whilst they came through this test, they were not able to push St Paul’s quite as hard in the final, finishing in 3rd place behind Tideway Scullers School. None the less, they showed exceptional promise for a crew that will no doubt be competitive towards the business end of the season.

Riding high on their earlier success, the Women’s squad embarked on their eights heat in a similarly impressive manner to the four, overcoming a challenge from near neighbours Thames to win by two seconds. They did an exceptional job of holding off the Thames crew in the final, ensuring they were the fastest club eight by just 0.25 seconds, despite this being the fourth race of the day for many in the crew. Unfortunately they came up against an exceptionally well drilled and fresh Lady Eleanor Holles School in the final, finishing second overall.

Only 2 of the 14 crews racing finished in the bottom two in their heat, emphasising the strength in depth across the club. Of these the Development Men will have taken great experience from their first multi-lane regatta, whilst the other was due to illness in the crew. There was also a final appearance of the Women’s Club Double, finishing a credible 5th and a repechage appearance for the Men’s Club Coxed Four.

Full results are available here

The start of the Mens Eights

Race Review – HORR – Novice Pennant Win

By Carl Esdaile

Gruelling training, illness, injury, and the bite of a cold winter culminated on an arguably average and cloudy March Sunday morning, when the 2018 Novice Men’s squad tackled the championship course in the Head of the River Race. After the WeHoRR, our sisters in the Novice Women’s squad advised us it would be anything but easy… little did we know.

Fuelled by chilli, all of the carbs, and a delightful apple crumble at the Coach’s the evening before, the squad arrived to a hive of activity; oblivious to everything except individual preparation. Bidding our Intermediate brothers in Blackstaffe good luck, Vesta E walked ‘Derek the Indestructible’ out of the shed to a heart-warming round of applause from the Club.

Slotting into our position as crew 231, we set in for a long wait. Never fear… encyclopaedic knowledge regarding the differences between ‘purple’ and ‘palatinate’ or between ‘pink’ and ‘cerise’ poured out of the cox box, keeping us sharp. The bags (plural) of jelly babies kept us alert.

Novice Men Marshalling

Shedding to our club and luminous squad colours, other crews shied back (more over concern for their vision than fear) as we built up speed and flew past the start.

Beyond this point, the all-encompassing vortex descended. How many bridges did we go under? Probably two… Was it raining? Who cares!

Writing this two days after the event, only two things can be clearly recalled. First is we responded very very well to the call “Bend and SNAP!” at the black buoy; a reference to the movie Legally Blonde and a squad member’s very elegant squatting technique. Secondly, the roar as we passed Vesta… by far and away the loudest and most rousing support on the river that day.

One additional thing we do know for absolute certain is that we gave it our all… the faces in the photographs emerging are not pretty.

Back in the bar, battered hands soothed by a chilled beer, the preliminary results suggested we did very respectably. At 22:51.4, we were the fastest Tideway Club Beginner entrant, and fourth in the Club Beginner Pennant. An excellent achievement, and worth the ropey head in work on the Monday morning.

In a plot twist over the ensuing days, it emerged questionable administration by other clubs meant Vesta E were actually the fastest of six actual Club Beginner entries, and overall Club Beginner Pennant winner by 0.4 seconds! We’re hugely proud of ourselves and our cox Wendy; we just powered the boat, she raced it. Indeed, we owe a huge debt to all of our coaches and coxes… it is they who forged us anew through the winter.

Here’s to building on the weekend, moving forward, and beers in the summer sun… for the boys, for Vesta and (most importantly) for Wendy!

Novice Men post-race

Race Review – HORR – Development Men

By Paul Corby

A few of us had been here before. More had not. HORR: the culmination of a tough winter’s work, of countless thousands of metres on ergos, of seemingly endless paddling up and down the Tideway. The biggest race of the season. To a man, the Development Squad had given their everything in the months leading up to this race. Recently buoyed by some PBs in the previous weekend’s 5K tests, the crew was quietly excited in anticipation of a hard-fought race.

The morning started slowly; no pre-race paddle, no huge psyche-up in the gym with loud music, no thundering war-cries. Just a bit of innuendo and some special porridge today. Then, after boating, the paddle up. Finally, a chance to see those who would be racing around us. Sighting crews with similar numbers to ours, we warmed up with a few bursts, appreciating the sun and flat conditions the rowing Gods had gifted us this day.

Development men – post race

As we mustered with the hundreds of other crews, watching the Elite category fly past, the sun faded and the wind began to return; first the Gods giveth, then they taketh away. Jack the Cox kept spirits high, before the moment came to turn and face down those crews around us. Familiar with some of the clubs, we knew we were in good company and would have to earn every inch in this race. Winding up, the usual Power Tens were called. The Powerhouse of middle four was called forward to give 10, immediately followed by bow four being called for the same, immediately followed by three and four internally crying “WHAT!? WHY US?!” We were chasing 208 and 209, with both crews seemingly forever half-a-length ahead, before our bowman finally caught a glimpse of white in his starboard peripherals. Simultaneously we were being pushed from behind by a strong Christchurch crew, who were holding us tight along the seemingly unending length of river. This was the driver we needed as we raced three-abreast past Hammersmith Bridge and all the way through to the Black Buoy, helping to push us onward through the final third of the race.

Coming away from the water, there was a feeling of a good job well done, with room for improvement as we head into the shorter, and warmer, summer races. Congratulations were passed between crews and coaches. Only when we saw the times were we truly made-up. 20.20.4. We had defied expectations and come in as a respectable third Vesta crew. Wendy, squad coach, was potentially seconds away from erupting, before her joy was controlled back down to a happy boil with a well-timed gin & tonic. At this point, the clarity fades as the afternoon became evening and the Vesta bar churned out seemingly endless pints of various liquids.

Now we have all been there, the notorious HORR, and all will hopefully return to do so once more in the infamous Crimson & Black.

Race Review – Remenham Challenge

The Remenham Challenge offered the first opportunity for all the Vesta squads to test themselves in eights this season, with ten boats representing the club. For some this meant a first ever race, while others it was a checking point for the year ahead. There were some solid results all round against strong opposition from the other Remenham clubs and, for the first time Wadham College.

Competitors at Remenham Challenge 2017

The Senior Women particularly impressed, with the first boat winning the Intermediate category, and less than two seconds from taking the scalp of Thames Elite eight. There was no doubt of the club with the best support at the prize giving ceremony, with the roar as their win was announced in Thames Rowing Club by far the loudest of the day.  Catherine Long, four seat in the first boat reflected:

“We had a strong race where the main aim was to keep the Molesey and Thames boats off. With the noise and support from Vesta cheers we had a huge push off Hammersmith Bridge. It was a well earnt win for our top boat and our results secure our place as one of the top women’s squads on the tideway and the new ‘ones to watch’”

Winners of the intermediate women’s category

The Second Boat was equally chasing down fellow tideway crews, shining bright in their pink base layers, and were rewarded with fourth place finish in the Women’s Intermediate category. We hear the pink may well see a revival for the Vets Head.

The Men’s squad, hit slightly by absence and illness, still recorded some credible results, with the first boat finishing in fourth place in the Intermediate category. Having chased down the London RC boat in front of them, they were unfortunately unable to turn the screw, overtake and push on, something they will look to put right in the coming head races. The second crew hit a solid row to finish within 20 seconds of the first crew, a margin they will be looking to maintain and reduce as both crews move forwards in 2018.

There were two crews representing the Novice Women, an impressive achievement in itself, and they will no doubt be proud of their achievements. The first crew finished in second place in the Novice Women’s category, just behind Thames Rowing Club, and also triumphing over a Staines Masters Women’s crew. Whilst they may have recorded the slowest time of the day, the second crew will take pride in completing their first race despite the majority only taking up the sport two months previous.

Remenham flag flying from Vesta marking the finish line

The Novice Men have written their own account of the race, which you can find here. They had two boats racing, one development boat in the Intermediate category, and the other in Novice. The Development crew finished just three seconds of the winners in the Novice Men’s category and 15 off the Senior Men’s second boat.

Vesta also had two masters’ boats competing. The “Young Vets” finished in a very respectable time to achieve a time adjusted 6th place in the category. They were just pipped by the slightly older vets competing in a composite boat with Thames, who finished in 5th place, three seconds ahead of the younger boat after time adjustment.