The Women’s Corridor – Official Opening 12pm Saturday 11th May

Vesta Rowing Club has evolved in many ways over the past 149 years. No change in that time has had a greater positive impact than the introduction of Women’s rowing at the club almost 25 years ago. We are proud to announce that finally, thanks to a grant from the Fairbairn Trust, women will have equality in access to the bar facilities, with a corridor directly from their changing rooms.

The grand opening of the Women’s corridor, and the new kitchen facilities, will take place on Saturday 11th May at 12pm, hosted by our President Jock.

This recent work marks the final change to what has been a complete transformation for the club. At one time Women were only allowed in the Vesta bar at certain times and on certain days. As unbelievable as this may be now, Vesta in fact once displayed awards such as “chauvinist club of the year” as a mark of pride. Now the club could not be further from this, with great pride in being one of the leading clubs for Women’s rowing in the UK. We strive for equality in the sport of rowing in everything we do.

There was much controversy amongst members when the club first admitted members, with arguments including “where will we put them”. We have come a long way since those days.

We are proud of our progress in women’s rowing over the past 25 years, it is impossible to imagine Vesta without women’s rowing at its core. We have now taken the final step and the women of the club are given at least an equal footing with the men.

Race Review – Head of the River Race

It was yet another successful end to the head race season for Vesta Rowing Club at the Head of the River Race. This included the Novice Men retaining the Beginner Pennant for the second year running. Following the cancellation of the Women’s Head of the River Race, this also included women racing alongside men in the race for the first time. The Vesta A boat finished as the 3rd fastest Women’s Boat.

The winning Novice Men’s Crew

The Men’s Senior Squad showed their considerable progress this year with the highest finish for the squad in five years, coming in 63rd place in exactly 19.00.0. Many members of the boat were disappointed with this result, showing just how far the standards have increased this year.

The strength in depth was displayed in the Vesta B and C boats. Vesta B finished with the highest placing for a Senior Squad second eight in over ten years, 102nd. For a boat which formed in earnest just over a week before, there were extremely promising signs for the summer season to come. On top of this, the third eight finished in 165th, also the best result by a Vesta third eight in over 10 years.

This said, the performance of the day was from the Novice Men, who finished in 194th place. This was the best finish by a Vesta Novice boat in living memory, and in at least the last 30 years. The secured the Beginner Club pennant for the second year running. This remarkable feat shows the massive talent being developed at the club. There will surely be even greater things in store for the members of this crew in the future.

In the Women’s event, the first boat finished in 3rd place, less than 15 seconds off the overall winners. The second boat finished an extremely credible 11th place. Again, this strong show sets the squad up for an exciting summer season as they look to build on their successes in previous years.

Women’s Head Preview

Saturday the 16th is Women‘s Head, where 320 crews will descend on Putney to race over the 7.2km Championship Course at 11:30. 

This is the first of the series of major head races this month including the Vesta Veterans Head on Sunday 31st March. Please sign up to join the army of volunteers we need to successfully run the event here.

For our Women’s Senior and Novice squads, the upcoming weekend is a chance to show what their dedication, hard work and effort through the long dark months can produce. It is the final long distance event prior to the start of the regatta season and marks the culmination of the head season for them.

This year is a record for Vesta. We have a total of 6 crews representing us at Women’s Head. Making us, for the second year running, the largest entry in the competition. The six crews are from the Novice, Club and Senior squads and have been entered in the following positions:
Vesta A: 29 (Senior Club)
Vesta B: 49 (Challenge Club)
Vesta C: 104 (Challenge Club)
Vesta D: 166 (Challenge Club)
Vesta E: 285 (Beginner Club)
Vesta F: 319 (Beginner Club)

For those of you new to the updated points system, and the relative rankings/category changes. Beginner has replaced Novice with the remainder of the categories going from Challenge, to Senior and finally Open. Events have been further split between Academic and Club competitions.

I’m sure every Vesta member will join me in wishing everyone good luck and to cheer them on from the Vesta balcony on one of the rare occasions in sport that allows complete novices to compete against Olympic champions. Whatever their level of athleticism, background or sporting history, all of the crews over the weekend will line up to race the same course at the same time. It is one of the very few events where everyone’s time can be compared; and a rare opportunity to measure oneself against the best.

The Novices face their longest race of the season. Their first truly national event and their most gruelling test to date; one that will require every aspect of their training in order to succeed and I have every confidence that they will do themselves and the Club proud.

For the Second, Third and Fourth Eights; it is a chance to finish a tough winter season on a high, and an opportunity to turn over the boats ahead of them. To demonstrate the hours of time they have worked both on land and on water. To carry each other through the hard yards and back to the waiting club.

For the First Eights; the race provides an opportunity to chase down crews on our water; racing in our backyard. To back up their excellent recent form and achieve a result that will stand for itself when the rankings are released, especially when compared to our neighbours.

For the First Eights especially, the race will represent something more; something longer lasting than the immediate fury of the event itself.

On Tuesday the 12th, the crew, consisting of:

Cox: Rob Fellows
8: Robyn McGregor-Richie
7:Charlotte Orrell
6: Amber Mayall
5: Francesca Lidlow
4: Louisa Emkes
3: Rebecca Kelly
2: Ruth McKellar
1: Kirsty McGregor-Richie

were presented with one of the Vesta First Eight Blazers, some for the first time. These mark out the club’s respect and gratitude to the rowers representing us at our highest level in the toughest race of the winter season. They are a badge of honour, ‘The Vesta Blue,’ and a symbol of everything that is required to make it into a top Vesta boat.

Each owner acts as a steward for the blazer until the next Women’s Head of the River, whereupon they will be handed on to the next First Eight. Like a baton passed through time, these blazers will move from generation to generation of the Vesta Senior Squads and represent the sheer amounts of effort, dedication, commitment and willpower necessary to represent our Club at the highest level. Each blazer comes with a legacy, a legacy I’m sure the new stewards will be proud to be a part of, and do everything in their power to enhance.

I hope to see as many of you as possible cheering on the crews as they race on Saturday and celebrating with them afterwards.

The Noel Casey Challenge – Saturday 16th February

We’re delighted to announce that this upcoming Saturday, will see the inaugural Noel Casey Challenge Race! The event, running over the Championship Course, will see the top three Vesta Women’s Eights compete against the top three Thames crews in a side by side battle to determine tideway dominance!
All three races will be from Chiswick Bridge to the Vesta Flag Pole and approximate timings are:
Second Eights: 12:30 Start Time (Marshalled by Sarah Winckless – VRC)
Third Eights: 12:45 Start Time (Marshalled by Caroline Smith – TRC)
First Eights (and for the Noel Casey Trophy): 13:00 Start Time (Marshalled by Guin Batten – TRC).
Presentation ceremony in Vesta Rowing Club after the final race and food will be available for purchase.
We warmly invite all members, past and present, to come down and support our crews (especially women from previous years) as the two racing Clubs seek to cement their rivalry and dominance as two of the best Clubs in women’s rowing.

The Noel Casey Trophy

The Noel Casey Trophy
Named after the legendary coach Noel Casey; Noel coached at both TRC and VRC, winning many events with both Clubs over the years. You can read more about Noel here.
The crews representing Vesta will include:
Vesta 1st 8:
Cox: Alice Sewell
Str – Robyn Mcgregor-Richie
7  – Charlotte Orrell
6 – Amber Mayall
5 – Fran Lidlow
4 – Louisa Emkes
3 – Rebecca Kelly
2 – Ruth McKellar
Bow – Kirsty Mcgregor-Richie
Vesta 2nd 8:
Cox – Kate Keough
Str – Imogen Knibbs
7 – Mikaela Blowing
6 – Helen Carswell
5 – Sarah Thompson
4 – Sarah Campbell
3 – Kerry Price
2 – Claudia Williams
Bow – Mairead Flannery
Vesta 3rd 8:
Str – Katie Baulkwill
7 – Jess Bromley
6 – Harriet Farquharson
5 – Alba Pellaroque
4 – Becky McDermott
3 – Sophie Jones
2 – Kate Pulling
Bow – Aileen Rice-Jones

Vesta@150 – Noel Casey

Noel Casey is a figure who features prominently in the history of both Vesta and Thames Rowing Clubs. Originally Noel was a rower with Vesta, joining in 1964. He became involved with Thames when his daughters wanted to learn to scull, but unfortunately, at the time Vesta did not allow female members. Noel went on to be involved at Thames for many years, coaching many international athletes in the 80’s and 90’s. There was a brief interlude during this time, returning to coach a Vesta men’s boat to a 5th place finish at the Head of the River.

Following a further period coaching at Thames, Noel returned to coach the Vesta Women. During this remarkable period he coached the women to their first ever win at Women’s Henley in 2004. This was just 10 years after female rowing members were admitted to the club.  Below he remembers his time coaching the Vesta women.

“I wasn’t involved in coaching for much of the 90’s, but this changed late on the Saturday Afternoon on the Remenham Mound. I can’t remember too much of the discussion with Pete Williams and David White but I woke up the next morning realizing that I had agreed to go back and coach some Vesta Women.

A meeting was arranged their goals were discussed and when told the preparation required nobody blinked and I thought s#*t I’m hooked again. A very strict program was put in place and they carried it out to the letter, I arranged an outing with AK who were looking down on us, so it didn’t go down very well as we took the first two pieces really easily. Then some of the AK crew complained of injury and the rest of the outing was scrapped. This improved confidence so I contacted Rodger Silk and arranged an outing with Cambridge. Again we came out on top with some to spare, confidence kept on improving and a good result in the head was welcome.

Now the thoughts returned to Henley preparation went really well and the result speaks for itself. I suggested that we have ago at the Nat Champs but the desire to continue was fading as one of the crew could not make it. I bumped into Guin Batten at HRR and she agreed to fill the vacant seat no matter which one. When I informed the remaining seven who was filling in the desire to continue was instant, Now to the Champs we won the heat with Thames winning the other so now we are going head to head in lane 3 and 4 The commentary something like this, Vesta by one foot, then they are level, then Thames by one foot this continued all the way until the last few strokes brilliant race very disappointing at only getting the silver.

My biggest problem was remaining a silent neutral throughout the race in between TRC and VRC fans.”

 

Here are some of the biggest wins of Noels coaching career spanning 5 decades:

1970’s

1977                       TRC: Scullers Head Junior 1x, 1st

                             TRC: Nat Champs Junior 1x, 1st

1979                       TRC: Nat Champs Junior 2x, 1st

 

1980’s

1980                       TRC: Nat Champs Senior 4+, 1st

1981                       TRC: Nat Champs Senior 4+ and 4x, 1st

1983                       GB National Squad: World Champs, Not Placed

1984                       GB National Squad:

WeHoRR  1st & 2nd

Nat Champs 1st

Essen 1st

Olympic Games 5th

1985                       GB National Squad: World Champs, Not Placed

1986                       VRC: HoRR, 1st (Vernon Trophy)

1988                       TRC: WeHoRR, 2nd

                              TRC: Nat Champs, 2nd

1989                       TRC: HWR, 8+ 1st

1990’s

1990                       TRC: WeHoRR, 1st

                              TRC: HWR 8+, 1st

1991                       TRC: HWR  8+, 1st

1992                       TRC: HWR  8+, 1st

Nat Champs 8+, 1st

Gent 8+ & 4-, 1st

Docklands 4-, 4+, 8+, 1st

1993                       TRC: Nat  Champs  4x  1st, 2nd, 3rd

 

 

2000’s

2004                       VRC: Henley 8+, 1st

                               VRC: Nat Champs, 2nd

2007 – 2011         Muckross RC, Ireland:

Won Eight Senior National Titles

2017                       Kenmare BC: Coup de la Jeunesse 1x, 1st

Vesta@150 – Contributors wanted

Vesta will be celebrating 150 years since the club was founded in 2020. As part of this we are looking for contributors to tell the story of the last 25 years. We have an exciting year of events planned, including an extra special Annual Dinner and a Henley Royal Regatta row past.

Originally Vesta was located on the river Wandle in Wandsworth, approximately 1500m downstream from its current location. We moved to Putney and what is now Ranelagh Sailing Club in 1875 and to our current location in 1890. Over the years there have been many changes to the club, but its unique character has been evident and held true throughout.

Publications have documented the club history on all major anniversaries, with the most recent being the 125th. As we build towards the 150th anniversary we are looking for contributors to offer to write the next chapter in the history of the club through stories of those they shared their time at Vesta with. This might just be for a select period of one or two years but ideally we are looking for sub-editors for each 5 year period.

Please contact us at comms@vestarowing.co.uk if you would like to know more about contributing.

Vesta biggest club at Remenham and Quintin

Following on from a successful start to the season, the club has gone from strength to strength with record numbers racing at Remenham Challenge and Quintin Head.

Remenham Challenge

The Remenham Challenge saw the first competitive action, and wins, for this year’s novice intake. All beginners, with the majority having only taken up the sport in September, both Men’s and Women’s crews took home the Novice Pennants. Both Senior squads also had strong showings, particularly showing great strength in depth across the board. Particularly notable results included a 3rd place for the Women’s A boat in the Elite category and 4th place out of 14 for the Men’s B boat in Intermediate.

Quintin Head

A strong showing at Quintin Head indicated that Christmas was anything but a break. All squads produced strong showings indicating some hard work had taken place over the festive period. Highlights included the Women’s A boat posting the 6th fastest women’s time of the day, closing the gap on key rivals considerably. With just 8 seconds separating them and near neighbours Thames, the inaugural Casey Challenge in February promises to be an enthralling race.

Novice women racing away from Hammersmith Bridge

The Men’s squad showed strong progress, with the A boat finishing 4th of 23 in Intermediate, and the B boat 3rd of 24 in Development. These results reiterated the competitive nature of the squad this year which is sure to drive further success as the season progresses.

Quintin also saw a first win of the season for our Masters, with the familiar faces of H Arbuthnot, M Cannon, M Hughes, M Warren, G Galavotti, J Cox, B Goulden, J Wetherstone and T Helliwell taking victory in the Masters B category. We will try not to mention slightly older crews which may have posted faster times on the day…

The Novice Squads also produced strong showings, all be it coming up against more experienced rivals . The Men’s Novice boat came within 2 seconds of taking the scalp of the Senior 4th boat. The Women’s squad also produced a strong result. They beat 10 crews in their category despite a very dramatic crab perfectly timed for the crowds at Hammersmith Bridge.

All in all, it has been a fantastic start to the season, with all squads growing in size and competitiveness as the season goes on.

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.