{Race Report} Veteran Fours Head of the River 2016

by Peter Simpson
The day after the wet and cold Fours Head we woke to beautiful conditions for the Veteran Fours Head which raced upstream from the  Mile Post to just short of UL. 
The club was represented by a Mas.D 4x quad of Peter Simpson (stroke), Michael Ferguson, Bryan Williams and Michael Maynard (steers) in the first race for this new combination. The training paid off and we had a strong start and steered a good course. Eventually we opened the door for some crews to get past but in the end we were happy with how we raced. 
The result showed where we were and what we need to do to be competitive in the future. At this stage of the season the process has been more important than the outcome; rowing together, doing  ergs and weights, joining the club time trial and doing pieces with Vesta crews has all been part of the experience and we will build on this over the winter.
Thanks to all the coaches who have given comments, the other crews that we have rowed with, the Captain for the boat allocation and to Bryan for organising all the outings.

{Race Report} The head course is a long way in a 4+ . . .

by Neil Fraser

Preparation for the race hadn’t gone to plan with us only being able to get out into the boat together 3-4 times, but our last paddle together went smoothly and gave us a bit of confidence going into the race.

For all of us this was our first time racing Fours Head so we didn’t have much to lose and went into the race hoping to execute the race plan and come through knowing that we’d given it our best shot.

The paddle up to Chiswick was a bit nervy, but Mario did a great job manoeuvring us around the other boats. Fortunately the weather was improving and the water conditions were better than expected – we just had to keep ourselves warm before we could strip down to race kit and get started.

We went under Chiswick Bridge starting to build and get the hands spinning – the rate went up and we were quickly up to race speed as we crossed the start line. Working towards Barnes Bridge was a reminder of how long this first stretch of the race is, but the shouts from the White Hart were soon heard and we pushed on around the bend.

We seemed to hit a bad patch along the island, but tried our best to keep the rhythm and hold onto the crews just ahead of us. Going under Hammersmith Bridge was a big boost – the Vesta shouts kicked us on to the stretch of the course we know best. Going into the last 500 meters we were battling hard to hold off a crew from Kingston RC and just about managed it.

We were pleased to see the finish line, spin and get off the water – it’s a long way in a 4+. Looking at the results we weren’t as competitive as we would have liked, but we took away a lot of experience from the race which we’ll be looking to build quickly upon as the season progresses.

We’ve all got a lot to work on, but look forward to moving into the 8 as the head season progresses.

First time taking on the Fours Head

Crew: N. Sani (Cox), A. Kung, M. Walsh, L. Turner, N. Fraser

{Race Report} Senior men’s top boat takes on the Fours Head of the River

by Joe Casey

On Saturday 12th November four men (and one cox!) formed one of the two crews representing the Vesta RC Senior Men’s Squad in the Fours Head of the River Race. We had trained hard over the previous two months in the gym, on the ergs and in gruelling water sessions in everything from small boats to eights – and in whatever weather the Tideway could throw at us! In the final weekend before the race we were put through our paces alongside the other VRC coxed four and a crew from the University of Southampton. But we came out of it feeling fit and confident.

But our run up to the big day wasn’t perfect. More than once ankle and knee injuries threatened the race. And even sickness tried to spoil our day, with two members of our crew becoming seriously ill in the week before the race. After a brief suggestions of substitutions it was decided that we stick together, row hard and represent VRC as best we can.

On the day we settled our nerves with a warm up paddle and plenty of stretching. Then, after rousing speeches from Captain Harry, our coach Ross and our cox Helen, we pulled on our whites and got hands on our boat. Despite our setbacks, we pushed off from the embankment feeling eager and ready to represent VRC at the first big Head of the season.

The row up was typically frantic with over 450 crews on the water. But our cox Helen showed trademark coolness and got us to our marshal point without a hitch.

Then it was time…

Outside Putney Town RC we pointed our bow into the stream and Helen lined up Chiswick Bridge in her sights. First with pressure through the water, and then on the rate, we built up to that stinging rhythm Ross had asked for. We burst out of Chiswick Bridge at rate 32 and the race was on.

The first stretch was a Remenham affair with us hunting down Twickenham while holding off Kingston. Despite settling into our stride quickly KRC got the better of us just as we approached Barnes Bridge. But we came past the band stand feeling good and the ‘100 stroke charge’ to the island began. We didn’t have many other crews around us so had to rely on Helen’s commands to keep our heads in the game but the boat felt good and the wash was easy to handle.

At r30 now we sped towards Dove Pier. While Twickenham were still within striking distance, we had allowed a strong Warwick BC crew to slowly creep up on us. But just as fatigue threatened to creep in Hammersmith Bridge appeared round the corner. We flew underneath, powered on by cheers from the crowd overhead. But we now had a battle on our hands. Warwick were trying to get past and Twickenham were stubbornly maintaining clear water on us (just).

But this was the home stretch. Our home stretch. With a rate change from Helen we increased the intensity and battled alongside the other crews. We powered past Craven Cottage with renewed force and started to wind up for the big finish. By this time my legs felt like jelly and my arms like lead but as we heard the roar from the VRC clubhouse a new strength found us and we crossed the line with our chins held high.

Unfortunately the final results didn’t reflect the work we had put in in the months leading up to the race – a modest 14 out of 16 (at IM1 mind!). But we rowed well and given the injuries and sickness that had plagued us so recently prior to the race we hit the bar feeling proud of our paddle.

The top boat puts on the whites

Still looking good in the whites after a tough race!

{Race Report} Summer round up: Novice boys find success both on and off the water

By Neil Fraser

On the whole it’s been a successful regatta season for the squad. In our usual manner though, it took us a while to get going.

Having heard how special winning your novice pot is we went into the opening regattas based up around Chiswick with a lot of hope. We kept getting left on the start line though – our competition would be half a length up as we were mid-wind. Needless to say, our races ended with a long row straight back to Putney.

We didn’t have any success in the eight and with availability for training becoming an issue we decided to switch to the 4+. Twickenham Regatta was the first breakthrough for the squad with a win coming for Alex B, Luca T, Neil F, Mike W and Cat (cox) in the 4+. It was scrappy and nervy, but after a few clashes with the Kingston boat we crossed the line first. Celebrations were heard.

Up next came Henley qualifiers. We didn’t have the numbers to enter our own boat, but a couple of the squad teamed up with the remaining Seniors and entered the VRC Amalgam 8. We learnt a huge amount from the lead up to qualifiers and the event itself. We fell short, but it was a humbling and memorable experience which we took a lot from.


Novice wins came at Molesey Regatta for Andrew C, Felix X-L, Nick H, Jerry K and Coach Wendy (cox) in the 4+. The win was bitter sweet though when the guys were presented with medals instead of pots…seriously, Molesey? It was a successful day for the squad with the IM3 4+ boys taking a win in the morning session. Beers were drunk back at Vesta.

Special mention to Oli Chapman (C2) who has been referring to himself as ‘quite the sculler’ for the last few months. He’s been through more races than all of us and found a win at HT&V, his last race of the season – very well deserved. Oli didn’t stop there though and continued all the way to Blackstaffe Day with a win in the Love Double.

Congrats to the Novice girls for a successful season. Your first win came well before ours, thanks for celebrating so modestly. Our biggest joint success though must be the mingling of squads and for introducing Felix to his Little Pixie. Cute.

An enormous thanks to Wendy for supporting us throughout the summer season. The new intake of novices are very lucky to have you. Special thanks as well to co-Coaches Ben and Zara plus Cat and Jack for coxing us throughout the year. Lastly, to our late Italian signing, Mario, who took us through our last races and fed us spaghetti bolognese.

We’ve had a memorable first year at Vesta with many of us looking forward to continuing when the new season starts and keeping the Vesta bar profits healthy (see 2015-2016 accounts).

See you in September.


{Race Report} Summer round up: Novice girls transform into Dev women

Was summer only a few short weeks ago? It sure feels like a distant memory. . . Here’s our round up covering a summer of racing.

by Lauren Hardcastle

Novice girls complete the metamorphosis to transform into the development women….well almost all of them!

With training camp completed (survived) the novice girls started the summer full of nervous energy fighting for an elusive seat in that Henley 8. Training was stepped up a gear and with the squad whittled down to 9 with two of us proficiently turning a natural hand to coxing! The race was on – so to speak, not only to find that perfect, knee length, dress for Henley Royal (somewhat of a challenge for these tall girls amongst us!) but to get a respectable time in the 2k vomit inducing test and a seat in the boat for Henley women’s!

A few weeks later and there we were on a beautiful balmy Thursday evening paddling down the Henley course with not one head in the boat, I’m not sure any one of us (including James and Chris!) thought we’d be sat there looking into an incredible sunset making all the blood, sweat and tears worth every second! Although our Henley 8 did not make it through the time trial we had the best race of our season and were massively punching about our weight in the big leagues, the experience alone was incredible and it just made us more determined to keep our seats in the intermediates next year!

So – with Henley women’s over for 2016 we put down the AIO and pulled out the dresses for Henley Royal! Not too shabby to be part of the Remenham Club and definitely the way to do Henley Royal, the weather was kind and the champagne very friendly and unbelievably no one missed the bus home. A great few days and a slightly painful liver later it was back to reality and the fun of summer regattas.

We decided to tackle Kingston, Molesey and to finish our season at Henley Town and Visitors Regatta. For some of us the drive to win that shiny first pot made us like magpies flocking to the river. Kingston went well with a nail biting heat and winning by a canvas! We were over the moon until we realised it was the Cambridge Development Squad who were our competitors for the final, we gave it our best and gave them a good race but sadly they pipped us to the post. We drowned our sorrows in a post-race bbq on the Vesta balcony! Not to worry, onwards and upwards to Molesey regatta…where let’s just say it didn’t quite go to plan! We made the rookie error of taking the wrong rigger and as we are all aware one cannot rig a boat with 5 stroke side riggers, we were somewhat screwed until a lovely man from Molesey lent us a boat and the race was on – we located our cox (who had been borrowed by 8 London boys who were intent on keeping her forever – that is a fight they would never win!) we made it to the start with no time to spare in our borrowed boat – alas it was not to be but we sure did learn our lesson!! – Our cox won her pot with the London boys and took a swim in the river for the privilege!!!

And so, all of a sudden it was back to Henley Town and Visitors with a scratch IM3 4+ and a wildcard entry.. We smashed the heat winning by a comfortable 4 lengths and the wait was on to see if we could end the season on a high, once again just being beaten to the pot by a meagre half a length but we were satisfied nonetheless, the glimpse of good things to come ensured we went home happy and contented we couldn’t have tried any harder.


I can honestly say joining Vesta has been one of the hardest, most challenging things we have ever done, there have been friends made for life, everyone has relocated to within a 1 mile radius of Vesta and we have callouses in places we never knew were possible, rowing is not just a sport but a way of life and I think that one that none of us are willing to give up. We are looking forward to embracing the Intermediates, Blackstaffe Day and a few well-earned weeks off.

September is just around the corner and we are not the Novices anymore – one might think we should know better now and can avoid those horrific hangovers and hand blisters but it is Vesta after all, it would be rude not to have a drink in the bar after training and from what I’ve seen so far the learn to row course are already giving us a run for our money with the biggest bar takings Vesta have ever seen last year! It’s a great place to be and with a new Captain and a new influx who knows what might happen next year, one thing for sure the Development Girls aren’t going anywhere….



The 2016/17 season starts week of 5th September – dates for your diary

It’s nearly time to get the new season underway. Both returning and new members are invited to attend our season kick off meetings which will be held upstairs in the Vesta Bar. The Captain will outline plans for Vesta for the coming season and how we’ll be running the club, and each coach will give an overview of training and racing goals for their squads.

Novice Squad kick off meeting: Tuesday 6th September 2016 at 8pm. Bar open from 7pm:)

Senior Squad kick off meeting: Thursday 8th September 2016 at 7:30pm

RSVP here if you’ll be coming along to one of our season kick off meetings. New members are welcome and there is no obligation to join.


First session: Saturday 10th September 2016, 7:30am

Current members: don’t forget the Vesta AGM on Wednesday 7th September 2016 at 8pm!

{News} Wimbledon Challenge Cup returned after nearly 50 years!

This cup dated from 1912 and was raced at the Club Regatta for pairs. The last recorded winners were in 1968, when it was taken to a shop in Bicester for engraving, and never collected, despite phone calls and letters. The shop owner, Lawrence Nash, has now sold his business, and was kind enough not to leave the Cup to an unknown fate.

It has the VRC logo on it, and he was recommended to contact the River & Rowing Museum, who identified Vesta Rowing Club. An email followed, the Cup was collected, and is now behind the bar with the rest of the silverware.

Welcome back !

(A token of our very sincere appreciation has been sent to Mr & Mrs Nash – it was her email that led us to the cup.)

{Race Report} Vesta Novice Ladies do WeHoRR!

By Lauren Hardcastle and Cathy Hare

Another day, another race, and another eventful marshalling up to Chiswick! The Vesta Novice Ladies came out in force for the WeHoRR!

Borrowing a boat, we managed to get 16 excited (nervous) ladies on the Tideway raring to go. Again we were lucky enough to be looked after by the fabulous cox’ns Cat and Jack. We certainly couldn’t have done it without their cheery dispositions and endless supply of Jelly Babies!

The sunny start to Saturday lured us into a slightly false sense of security so, thankfully, when the rain started, we quickly scurried back upstairs for another three layers!

The A Boat – a tale of broken blades, revenge fantasies and time penalties

We set off from Vesta with many cries of “wait – I still need to pee!” Nothing like 3 hours in a boat to realise that one extra coffee may have been a bad idea!

2 minutes into the paddle there were other cries from 2 seat of “s**t my blade is broken” – once again Jack coming to the rescue with a stone and some muscle (don’t ask!) – once a teacher always a teacher – and a makeshift solution to get us through the race.

It was a slow paddle upriver, making some friends with nice crews along the way – bonding over the chaos and eventually creating a flotilla of boats with the cox’ns standing on the beach – again Jack being wonderful this time, entertaining the masses with a quiz of what’s the capital of Peru??

Finally, we’re at Chiswick and it’s our turn! We step on the gas and we’re off – trying our hardest to remember everything we’ve been taught, whilst stamping on the footplate like it’s the face of every guy who never called us back – as it was so aptly described by Jack. We followed our race plan, and slowly started to pick off the crews ahead. In no time at all we came around the bend and Vesta flagpole was in sight.

We fought for every stroke and actually thought we might vomit at the end! But we did it, with a impressive rate of 30+ the entire race! A disappointing (dubious) time penalty for the A boat, but a satisfying result nonetheless.

The B Boat – a classic Head Race story of a failed coxbox and a dodgy gate

The Vesta Novice B boat had a rather memorable race on Saturday, beginning from the moment we set off from Vesta and realised our coxbox was on the blink.

With a lot of shouting down the boat to bow and 2, we somehow survived marshalling, which was pretty uneventful…until we got pushed into a tree by another boat and nearly spun out onto the race course. This nerve-wracking moment was dealt with amazingly by Cat, with the marshals congratulating her for managing to save us from ruining the race!

We’d endured what felt like an eternity of waiting about in the freezing cold, and had just stripped down to our race kit ready to go. Shivering violently, we turned the boat round, into a Putney Town crew, accidentally breaking their number into several pieces. This awkward little incident sort of set the tone for the race, as we pushed past them rather aggressively early on… with only 7 of us rowing! Shanice at stroke very nearly lost her blade when her gate came open early in the race, but with her remarkably quick recovery, and Cat screaming at us to keep on rowing, the race was not over for the courageous B boat.

We may not be the fastest Vesta boat, but right now we’re probably the most famous, with an album titled “99 Problems – #1 The Gate” by Rowing Photography, dedicated to us on Facebook.

Despite these setbacks, we sat tall, stamped down and gave it our all, spurred on by the cheers we heard down the course. WeHoRR 2016 was a race we will never forget!

And that’s a wrap

So… Finally after all the hard work, sweat and tears (and a few swear words along the way) here are the cold hard facts:

  • It’s the first time since 2010 Vesta has had 2 novice crews entered in WeHoRR
  • The Novice A boat beat last year’s placing by 8 places, 15 if it wasn’t for the time penalty
  • And it’s the highest finish by a Vesta novice crew since 2012.

Not too bad at all ladies; here’s to sunnier days, blades working and in the gate, and roll on regatta season!!!


{Safety Alert} Using your mobile to call for help

British Rowing Safety Alert

You may find yourself in a remote location and needing to summon help. It is useful to know how to do this using your mobile phone.

If you need help from the Emergency Services (Police, Fire, Ambulance, Coastguard, Mountain Rescue, etc.) then use a mobile phone and dial 112.

112 has some very special features, dialling it will:

  • Access every available network, you are not limited to your network provider
  • Take precedence over all other calls
  • Work even if the phone has no credit
  • Over-ride any security settings on the phone
  • In more modern phones, may work even if there is no SIM card in the phone

112 works throughout the European Union and in many other countries. If you cannot get through using voice then send a text. Text messages use a different bandwidth to voice messages. Texts are sent in small packets of data and will work even if the signal is weak and intermittent.

You will need to register with 112 first but this is easy.

To register simply text the word register to 112. You will be sent a text message, simply read it and reply with the word yes .

When you call or text please include the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your location
  • The nature of the distress
  • The type of assistance that you need
  • The number of people who need help
  • Any other relevant information

Watch the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPZv_8dABfU. This has more advice on the use of 112. You may never need to call for help but you may, and it is important to know how.