Vesta has biggest ever Fours Head

Saturday 3rd November saw a record number of Vesta crews racing the Fours Head, with results showing exceptional strength in depth following a strong start to the season. Credit is due to all crews racing, with the majority finishing in the top half of their category, with many rowers completing their first Fours Head.

The standout result was the Women’s Coxed Four – VRC (G) – coming in second place in the highest Championship category. The crew of Sarah Thompson (bow), Louisa Emkes, Vesta debutant Amber Mayall and Robyn McGregor-Ritchie, coxed by Kate Keough finished in 22.27.5, as the third fastest women’s club coxed four overall.

There was also a strong result for the VRC (N) Men’s coxed four, with a 4th place finish in the Challenge Coxed Fours. The crew, resorting to a bucket at a very early stage of the season, of Adrian Turner (bow), Wojciech Markowski, Graham Hunter and James King, coxed by Robert Hamilton, finished in 21.14.9, also making them the fastest Vesta crew of the day.

The aforementioned strength in depth was epitomised by the Women’s Challenge Quads, where VRC (F) of Kirsty McGregor-Ritchie, Cameo Choquer, Carmella Brown and Kate Austin narrowly edged out the VRC (E) crew of Harriet Lowe, Shelley Rowlatt, Clare Wood and Alba Pellaroque by 6 seconds, with the crews finishing 4th and 6th respectively out of the division of 21 crews.

Sunday 4th November also saw three Vesta crews and a number of Vesta members in composites competing in the Vets Fours Head.

The full results are available here.

Blades of Remembrance

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Each year Vesta RC undertakes an Act of Remembrance to commemorate those club members who did not return from the World Wars.  This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1 and as such is of particular poignancy.

During the Great War of 1914-1918, 78 members went to war, and of those 12 lost their lives. More background on the names on the War Memorial can be found on the Vesta website and on the club during this period on Hear The Boat Sing

Vesta will be joining with clubs along the Putney Embankment, and all round the country, taking part in Blades of Remembrance.this Sunday, at the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month. Club President, Jock McKerrell would like to invite all present members to join this slightly extended event, providing a powerful link between those who enjoy rowing with Vesta today as much as those previous members did in the past.

For each of the 12 members that the club lost during the First World War, we will be displaying a blade in front of the club, and at 11:00 there will be a two minute silence. Jock will read out the names of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Record number of Vesta Crews to race Fours Head

We are pleased to announce that this weekend a record number of Vesta crews pulling on the Crimson and Black at the Fours Head. In total 15 crews will be racing this Saturday, 3rd November, the largest senior entry of any club by some way. We will also have 3 full Vesta crews and a further 2 composites racing the Vets Fours Head on Sunday.
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.
It is with great pride that we will have so many members new and old racing. This is a fantastic testament to our progress in recent years. The 8 Women’s and 7 Men’s crews are racing across all categories, in Quads, Coxless and Coxed Fours. Our first Vesta crew down the course will be the Women’s Championship Coxless Fours at 123. Our final Vesta crew will be one of the Men’s Intermediate Coxed Fours going off 477 out of 483.
You can see the full draw for Fours Head here, and for the Vets Fours Head here . The racing starts at 12pm on Saturday and 1pm on Sunday.

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