In Memory – Nigel Knight

By Jock McKerrell


It is with great sadness we report the death of Nigel Knight at the age of 72. Nigel had a brain tumour for some years, so we only saw him occasionally, but he was always cheerful, convivial, and the complete gentleman.

He will however, be best remembered, and very fondly, for his eccentricity. A former regular Army officer, he flew helicopters, and was notable for bringing down some power lines during an exercise and plunging a considerable area of West Germany into darkness. He is reported to have said “Oh gosh, did I ? I’m awfully sorry”.

He joined Vesta as a veteran (now called Masters) in the 90’s, and won a number of sculling races in his single and also in crews. At this time, mainly for Henley, he built a river craft. It consisted of an area of decking, supported by two oil drums. He attached an outboard engine which was steered by an old tennis racket, and fixed to the decking was his deckchair. Donned in his panama hat, blazer and whites he would then tootle up and down the Henley course. Needless to say, photos were published in the press.

Nigel was also a qualified umpire, and for a time was in charge of the Veterans’ Head. He once wrote a very funny letter in reply to a competitor complaining about unfair conditions, explaining that until we had more comprehensive rainfall records for the Thames Valley and Chilterns, and could better interpret Moon fazes, then for head races, conditions could be unfair – also published.

To complete his service to Vesta, for a time he was a faithful secretary to the Club.

He was a complete one-off and will be very sorely missed. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife Denise and their family.

The funeral will be on December 20th at the church of St Mary the Virgin at Mortlake at 12.00. And afterwards at the Bull’s Head in Barnes

Race Review – Vesta Scullers Head

Saturday 2nd December saw yet another successful running of the Vesta Scullers Head, with over 450 scullers braving the freezing conditions. In total 13 Vesta scullers completed the course and notably also the row back, given this year’s race was run the “wrong” way.

The Senior Women’s squad had near complete domination of the Women’s Club category, occupying 4 of the top 5 placings. Kirsten Adams was the category winner, by seven seconds from Ruth McKellar in second, with Jamie-Rose Larkin in 4th and Megan Halsted in 5th place.

On the men’s side there were a number of strong results. These included a second place for Si Woodfine in the Men’s Senior category, just five seconds off the winner. There was also a second place for Adrian Turner in Masters A-C Fresher’s category and a 4th place for Gianni Galavotti in Master’s C.

There was also a number of strong results from Vesta masters squads, including a 3rd place for Paul Mew in Masters G, and 3rd place for Isabelle Laliberte in Women’s Masters Freshers.


Race Review – Fours Head

The first major test of the season saw a record 10 Vesta boats producing some strong results, indicating both the men’s and women’s squads are looking to pick up where they left off in the summer.

With the new British Rowing Competition Framework and RPI coming into effect, there were new categories to contend with. Despite some interesting groupings, with the top ranked Vesta crews being categorised with crews that would normally be put in the elite category, the strong results showed an ability to rise to this challenge.

The Senior Women showed some strong early season form, with the Band 1 4- finishing in 7th place in their category and as the 9th fastest women’s coxless four overall. Given Band 1 was won by Leander and contained 2 Cambridge University crews, this strong result showed that last summer’s final at Women’s Henley was only the start. The women also showed exceptional strength in depth, with the coxed four placing 3rd out of 16 in Band 2, and the second coxed four finishing a strong 7th in Band 3.

The Senior Men’s A Crew also had some challenges presented by the new ranking index, with the start order meaning they had overtaken 6 and been overtaken by 2 crews by Hammersmith. At one point this meant rowing almost 4 a breast, with cox Julie Franckh doing an exceptional job of holding the racing line whilst being screamed at to move over from both sides. A promising finish of 7th out of 25 in Band 2, despite the traffic, represented a strong result for the crew. The men also showed exceptional depth, with 3 boats, including 2 coxed, finishing in the top 200 overall.

The Men’s A Crew – Photo – Mark Ruscoe

We also unfortunately had the dubious honour of posting the slowest time in the competition, with one of the Senior Women’s quads finishing 440th out of 440. Unfortunately this was due to a technical malfunction meaning they had no steering and so paddled over the course. No doubt without this they would have added to an exceptional set of results.

Race Review – Pairs Head

Tight racing under Hammersmith Bridge

Pairs Head marks the first race of the new season, with Vesta looking to give strong performances across the board on our home water. The tideway is known for its often brutal conditions, but the day of the race saw perfect weather to put in a good time.

The Women’s Squad had four entries. Ruth McKellar and Louisa Emkes (2- Champ) built on their summer racing in a pair putting in a strong performance finishing as 6th fastest women’s pair overall in a tight field. So tight in fact that they rowed three abreast over the finish line.

Another familiar combination of Kirsty McGregor-Ritchie and Robyn McGregor-Ritchie (2x Lwt) and the newer 2- Inter of Catherine Long and Jamie Larkin both rowed strong races to finish 3rd in their categories.

A pennant win came in the 2x Fresher category rowed by Clare Wood and Chloe Symmonds. “Being at the lower end of the crew list, we began our 2 hour wait giving a cheer to the Vesta crews of the first division as we marshalled by the start line. It was great to eventually get going, and with a large gap to make up between us and the crew infront as we wound up under Chiswick bridge, the holler’s for Vesta from the bank spurred us on as we stormed down the course.”

Women’s Fresher Doubles Winners Chloe and Claire

The Men also had four crews entered (and half a composite). Harry Bond and Si Woodfine finished 10th overall in their double, less than 20 seconds off the lead time. In the pairs Ols Lumley and Chris Clements, competing in and steering their first races in a pair respectively, finished 7th of 16 in their category. Our Masters were also represented in the Open Masters D/E 2x, facing some tough opposition finishing 10th out of 14 in their category.


Chris and Ols approach the start line

It was a great start to the season, and accompanied by our annual Vesta pub crawl, was a fun day for all.

Captain’s Race Preview – Fours Head

Captain Harry Bond previews the first major race of the season, Fours Head:

In only four days time we will see the first of the major events of the racing calendar. On the 11th and 12th of November we have both the Veteran Fours and Fours Heads. I’m delighted to say that Vesta will be represented by a number of crews racing across the whole of the weekend and to celebrate this I have asked for all members, especially the racing athletes to make the club dinner on Thursday the 9th a priority.

When a Vesta member puts on our ‘jersey’ and goes out to race they do so representing, in order of importance; themselves, their crew, their squad and their Club. They are part of a vitally important whole that stretches back many generations. A whole that includes everyone from Olympic and European Champions, through Henley winners, to people have have won their novice pot. No matter how great or humble their previous success, all of our members share one thing in common; the sense of pride and community associated with putting on the Vesta all-in-one.

Thursday the 9th will be the first opportunity for the club as a whole to meet the athletes representing Vesta in a major event this season. After training has been completed and whilst dinner is being served, I have asked that a member of each boat stands and gives a brief introduction to their crew members, previous racing experience and aims for the current race, along with the category they are competing in and their crew number. It will also be announced which two crews will be “Pulling on the White;” and representing the top end of both the Senior Men’s and Women’s Squads. The differentiation between the two top crews, marked by white short/long sleeves, and the rest of the club serves to highlight the aspiration all racing crews should have; to be in the top boat.

The Masters Squad will be ably represented on Saturday at 10:00 by:

Masters E 4x

(No. 47)

Peter Simpson
Bryan Williams
Michael Maynard
Tom Moisley

Both Senior Squads have crews racing on the Sunday at 12:20

From the Senior Men, we have a record five crews:

4+ Band 2

(No. 338)

4+ Band 1

(No. 309)

4+ Band 2

(No. 345)

4- Band 2

(No. 238)

4- Band 2

(No. 257)

Rob Donald Ed Roe Seb Wachholz Joe Casey Rob Alexander
Adrian Turner Rory Baggot Garrett Speers Henry Primaolo Oliver Chapman
Chris Clements Gianni Galavotti Chris Goodfellow Nicholas Roll Alex Küng
Oliver Lumley Will Pearson Alan Huton Matt Webb Mike Benson
Julia Franckh Rob Hamilton Lauren Hardcastle

From the Senior Women, we also have a record of five crews

W4- Band 1

(No. 278)

W4+ Band 2

(No. 426)

W4x Band 1


W4+ Band 3

(No. 453)

W4x Band 1

(No. 140)

Robyn McGregor-Ritchie Cathy Long Kirsty McGregor-Ritchie Hannah Futter Isella Rigoulet
Ruth McKellar Sarah Thompson Megan Halsted Alice Hoskins Jenni Pearson
Louisa Emkes Cameo Choquer Clare Wood Cherry Fermor Claudia Afeltra
Chloe Symonds Paula Rozenlauka Charlotte Lennox Shelley Rowlett Emily Robinson
Lauren Owens Kate Keough

I hope to see as many of you as possible on Thursday, and over the weekend cheering on our crews.

Masters take on America

The masters crew of Mew,  Maynard, Williams and Furgueson

A Vesta Masters 4x recently competed in the Head of the Schuykill Regatta, Philadelphia, one of the U.S major regattas alongside the Head of the Charles.

Michael Maynard, Paul Mew and Bryan Williams flew into Newark the Thursday before to meet Mike Furgueson who recently returned to his native US. Two hours after landing they were on the water at the Nereid Boat Club, Rutherford N.J doing a solid 10k on the Passaic River. Friday morning saw more practice time with a 12k workout.

On Saturday, the group drove two hours to Philadelphia and were hosted by University Barge Club.

Thankfully, the dire weather predictions proved to be wrong and the quad had good conditions for their mid afternoon race. UBC loaned a new Fillippi to the crew for the 2.5 mile long course. The boat was stroked by Mew, powered by Maynard in 3 & Williams in 2 and steered by Furgueson.

They rowed at a strong and controlled pace throughout the race and crossed the line finishing a respectable third in their category.