Vesta ladies enter Parliament (and eat very small sarnies)

By Kerry Evans

Rigging on the other side of the river

Rigging on the other side of the river

It was with no small amount of nerves that I arrived at Vauxhall station to take part in this year’s Parliamentary Boat Race (against Thames!) on the 10th of July.

After rigging Tommy our next challenge was to attempt to look glam in the matching t-shirts and caps we were to wear! Once we had made it across the very busy Vauxhall cross hauling an eight, we had to boat on some of the roughest water I had ever seen (up to that point in the day!) whilst dodging very grumpy Duck tour drivers!

So the adventure began! We spent about half an hour warming up, laughing, dodging waves and fruity remarks from a lively Molesey men’s eight!

We lined up with Thames and we were off! We were with them for a while at the start but it wasn’t long before they had the best of us – our secret weapon of a ‘tenth man’ (our 3 girl is 14 weeks pregnant at the time of the race!) was not enough to conquer the water or Thames on the day.

In the rough Julia is boss!

In the rough Julia is boss!

Race over – it was time for an amazing couple of hours rubbing shoulders with Lords, Ladies, MP’s and rowing types on the House of Lords riverside terrace! There was an amazing view of the Eye, champagne, tea, delicious mini sandwiches and cakes (I think food always tastes slightly better when it’s mini!) and as much strawberries and cream as you could eat!

The event was to not only raise awareness of rowing, but to raise money for charity. Once cheques had been handed out, an unexpected treat was a competitor’s medal presented by Lord Carey so apart from the blue blueness of the free kit, we will always have a memento of our day.

I think had we known what was to come next; we may have decided to leave a little earlier. The tide had turned and I think the row back was the closest I’ve ever come to ocean rowing (I had the theme to Captain Pugwash going round my head for a couple of hours after we got back!!). We took on so much water we had to ask some chaps to help us lift Tommy out of the Thames! More Duck Tour dodging and another trip across the road and it was all over bar the de-rigging of our noble steed!

All in all a great day with the girls and a fun thing to do on a Wednesday afternoon, thanks for the invitation Vesta!

Wins for double sculls at Kingston Regatta

Congratulations to Zena and Sybilla who won their Novice Double Sculls final on Sunday at Kingston Regatta.

 

The pot was rather hard fought, so gave some extra satisfaction. The ladies had to complete an emergency boat repair just as they were ready to boat and were assisted by Peter and Janet Simpson, along with Homer the dog.

 

Kingston3In their first race they were cut up horribly by a crew who were weaving in a manic fashion,  but they kept our course, upped the rating and beat them. In the final, the crew was in the outside lane – with all manner of craft bobbing around at speed  – the swell was horrendous  – meanwhile their opponents from Furnival were very big strong girls and had the inside calm lane by the bank.  It was neck and neck, then half way down the course, they steered into the bank, so we legged it!

 

Kingston1The girls were awarded their novice pots and want to say that “if it hadn’t been for Peter (and Janet and Homer) coming to support us and helping, they would never have raced!!”

Vesta takes to the ocean

By Nic Neveling & photos by Nikki Cox

Who needs Lycra. The lads work the speedos with sweep Khalil

Who needs Lycra? The lads work the speedos with sweep, Khalil

At 23:45 on warm Friday evening, 12 July, a small group of Vesta rowers met at Paddington Station and boarded the last train leaving London for the night.
Nine hours later they set foot on Portreath beach on the Cornish coast and began preparing for a day of rowing nothing like whey they were used to.

A Vesta crew of Michael Hughes, Jon Brown, Nicholas Neveling and Brad Lawson, supported by Nikki Cox, had entered a boat into round 3 of the UK Surf Rowers’ League Summer Series. They were certainly in for something different to the standard weekend at Dorney.

The stroke in a surf boat is like a stroke in a flat water shell, but that is about where the similarities end. Surf boats are large, wide craft designed for rolling through swells and crashing through breaking waves. There is no fin and no rudder. Instead the “cox”, or sweep in surf boat parlance, stands on the back of the boat and uses a flat wooden oar to steer and balance the the shell.

The most striking difference the Vesta clan found, however, was the surf boat “racing kit”. Surf boats do not have sliding seats so rowers have to wear speedos, which are then “wedgied” to expose the skin. The flat seats are then lubricated with water and aqueous cream to allow the rowers to slide on the recovery as they would on a seat with wheels. The rowing lycra, itself not exactly famed for its modesty, is Victorian by comparison. After an initial period of awkwardness, however, the lads soon embraced the budgie smugglers and pre-race “lubing up” routine.

After a warm up row with sweep Khalil Isaac in a boat kindly provided by Porthtowan Surf Lifesaving Club, the Vesta crew, dubbed “The Vikings”, were ready to race. The course was approximately 800m to 1000m long. Crews had to start on the beach, race to a buoy out at sea, turn their buoy and then charge home. Once the crews were in shallow enough water the bowman had to jump out of the boat and sprint to a flag on the beach to finish.

There were three heats, with the best performers across those three races going into a final.

Pre-race briefing at the start. It beats Dorney

Pre-race briefing at the start. It beats Dorney

Conditions could not have been more ideal, with blue sky, 28 degree temperatures and no wind. It was a day of endless summer. This fine conditions meant flat water, which favoured the less-experienced Vikings boat. Racing in lane one in the first round, the Vesta Vikings took advantage of the flat water and good conditioning from the Henley season to come in first.

For the next two races the boat was drawn in lane five, which because of the vagaries of tide and current was a longer haul. The Vikings finished third in race two and had to come from way behind after a botched start to claw their way into the top three in round three.

Two thirds and one win was enough to put the crew into the final for a showdown with the highly-rated Porthtowan crew.
Despite a bad start which saw the Vikings drop more than length, the crew settled into a powerful rhythm and began to inch back. A sharp turn put Vesta right back in the hunt and as the crews approached the beach Vesta had drawn almost level with Porthtowan at the front of the field. The local surf club just managed to keep ahead as the bowmen launched themselves out of the boats and onto the beach in the sprint for the flags. They touched first just ahead of the Vikings.

Although disappointed to just miss out on a win, the Vesta crew were pleased to come close despite their inexperience in a bigger boats and different racing format.

Not a bad after party venue

Not a bad after party venue

After hauling the surf boats back up the beach (loading a trailer is a breeze in comparison), the group made their way to the neighbouring village Porthtowan for a BBQ and after party at the Porthtowan club house, right on the beach.
As the sun slowly died over the Atlantic Ocean and the beer flowed, the party kicked off in style with some great tunes laid down by the Vikings sweep for the day, Khalil. After dancing on the beach until well after midnight, exhausted, the Vikings finally called it a night, strolling up the street through the warm summer night to their accommodation The perfect ending to a perfect day.

Many thanks to the UK Surf Rowers League and Porthtowan Surf Lifesaving Club for their warm hospitality and the the use of a boat. The Vikings hope to be on the beach again soon.

Excitement galore at Henley Royal 2013

Well that was one helluva Henley! Vesta had three boats in the competition, after the development men unfortunately didn’t get through qualifying. Next year lads!

Vesta rowers showed their pride and absolute intention of giving it all, whether winning or losing. And the club showed what a fabulous supportive and fun bunch of people we have, taking up residence in the usual haunts. We ♥ Remenham Club.

Beloved Remenham Club

Beloved Remenham Club

The Thames Cup crew had a great start, beating Cambridge ’99 soundly on Wednesday. However they came up against the eventual winners in Griffen BC, old boys and quality rowers from Abingdon School on Thursday.

Satisfying win against Cambridge '99

Satisfying win against Cambridge ’99

With Rob Shaw, Phil Haddleton, David Blows, Helen Gray, Michael Patrick Hughes, Jonathan Brown, Richard Stebbings, Sam Lindsay and Robbie Hynes at Henley Royal Regatta.

The Vesta ladies, who did not have to qualify for the Remenham Challenge Cup this year for the first time ever, had a pure grit battle against Molesey BC, clawing up against the opposition’s lead the whole length of the course. Despite a blood and guts wind at the finish, the eventual verdict was painfully close at just 1/4 length to Molesey.

Nice catches

Nice catches!

With Rachel Dixon, Helen Ellison, Hana McEwan, Rowan Mckellar, Christina Duffy, Laura Daisy Jones, Elizabeth Crighton, Chloe Symmonds and Anna Brown.

The Wyfold crew had a tremendous, exciting Henley and were credited in the Royal Regatta’s own report as having lit up the competition. They raced Upper Thames ‘B’ on Wednesday, leaving it a little close for comfort for us spectators, with a lead of just 1/3 length at the finish. The crew were confident though and raced through one of the fancied crews of London RC ‘A’ on Thursday. They clashed blades at the start, went down a length against LRC and then finally reeled them in passed the enclosures. The final verdict was 2/3 length. Their Friday row was a bit more straightforward against Agecroft, leading throughout, with a final verdict of 2 lengths. And so, Vesta once more reached a Saturday semi-final row, unexpectedly to some! Here they raced Tyrian Club, which is the University of London old boy club, and they took a lead off the start and held it passed Fawley, but Tyrian has some very big gears, and put down the gas and took a 3 length lead at the finish. Tyrian went on to beat Rob Roy in the final, the two crews cutting times that no other boats came close to in the competition.

Guns!

Guns!

With Harry Bond, Si Woodfine, Richard Lear and Steve Whittle.

 
Club results are here.

HRR results, which include the times to Fawley and the Barrier, are here.

All photos courtesy of Sam Lindsay – thank you!

 

Fred’s surprise leaving do

The masters squad held a surprise reception for Fred Beaud of Tuesday 25th June and presented him with a club blazer to thank him for his extraordinary contribution to club life over the past three years. Fred joined Vesta when he relocated from Lyons to London and unfortunately he now has to return to France with his employer.

In his time with the club Fred was always keen to row any crew and leaves with three regatta wins and good placings in the Scullers’ Head and other events. He has helped organize the masters group and has give much good advice on and off the water. We wish him, Soline and their children good luck in Lyons and look forward to welcoming them back at club events in the future.

The Mixed Vets squad honour their club-mate

The Mixed Vets squad honour their club-mate

Bryan writes:

Fred Beaud, the dapper little Frenchman, will be leaving us in a couple of weeks to return to France with his family. To show our appreciation our squad threw him a surprise leaving party last Tuesday 25th June.

Fred and I have trained, competed and, above all, supported each other during the past three years and I cannot think of a more highly regarded person within our squad – he is kind, dedicated yet always finds time to help others with their training.

Fred and I formed the mixed vet squad just under a year ago. Well, it sort of happened organically, one Saturday morning when we were a body short for an outing and Peter suggested we ask Sophie who was in the gym. From there Sophie mentioned it to Lisette and so the mixed vet squad grew in size and in strength.

We are a dedicated, happy squad who enjoy our rowing, are keen to improve, take our training seriously on the water, debrief  but don’t get het up beyond that! Our availability is noted on a Thursday, crews are organized on a Friday and outings are planned for the Saturday and Sunday and we organize our own weekday land training and outings at the club.

We are a bit short on bow steers  at the moment, especially now that Fred is leaving us, but we are confident that this will change for next season. (Actually, we don’t have a season as we are planning to train through the summer to take part in the late summer regattas!)
We welcome members from within the club (ex seniors) unless there are special circumstances – i.e. someone from outside who wants to come down and coach us.

If you have an interest in joining the squad, please drop me a line: bryan.williams099@gmail.com

Anyway, back to the surprise party…

Fred and I did a gym and erg session whilst everyone had been informed to go up the outside staircase so as not to be noticed. During our session Fred had to go upstairs to get some water and later on to go to the loo and like a lovesick puppy I followed him everywhere! I then made up some cock and bull story that an outside coach was visiting us and wanted to see us in the bar at 7.30pm.

When I was given the all clear that everyone had arrived for the party I told Fred that the coach was here and we were to go up to see him now. I also said that Alex had insisted we could not go into the bar area in our kit.
“But why?”, protested the confused Frenchman, “When we are going out for ze outing straight afterwards?”

“Ah, it’s Henley fortnight”, I countered, “And it’s traditional to be in proper civvies at all times in the bar during this time. We can put our kit back on after the meeting”.

He was even more perplexed when he saw David splashing on some aftershave.
“What are you doing, Davide? Why are you putting on perfume for ze coach??”

I then led the dressed but confused Frenchman into the bar where, to his surprise, his friends and wife launched into ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’ before Jock gave a marvellous send off speech. We then presented Fred with a Vesta blazer which we all chipped in for. Drinks flowed and lovely food (supplied by Fred’s wife, Soline) was enjoyed. We did the leave the club very late. I won’t say what time exactly except that a few people did turn into pumpkins!

Wear your Vesta blazer with pride, Fred and remember us petit ros beoufs here in the drizzle. We hope we have done our bit in strengthening Anglo – French relationships!
We shall miss you but hopefully this is just a bientot and not au revoir.

Bryan Williams

Richmond Regatta Results

Mas C 4x

Two masters crews represented the club at Richmond Amateur Regatta on Saturday 29th June. A Mas C 4x of Paul Mew, Michael Maynard, Bijan Hedayati  and Fred Bead had a solid scull in a straight final but could not get back the lead they gave to the older Ardingly crew off the start.

The Mas B 4+ crew of Phil Longstaff, Dave Gibney, Bryan Williams, Fred Beaud and Verity Ansell (cox) had a good start in the semi-final against X-Press BC of Cambridge and had the lead going into the final bend, but a slight wobble let the other crew take a close win.

Mas B 4+

Mas B 4+

Three crews pre-qualified for Henley Royal Regatta

The only Vesta crew named in the list of Crews Required To Qualify published on Sunday was the development men’s crew. For the first time in the nine years since Vesta women first entered the Remenham Challenge at HRR, they have not been asked to qualify. Major achievement ladies! SWEET!

Similarly the Wyfold Challenge Cup and Thames Challenge Cup Vesta (A) crews have both pre-qualified after being consistently competitive at a club level in the major summer regattas.

The development boys were allowed to enter the Thames Challenge Cup at Henley after they had cracked the 6:30 marker in the IM3.8 event on the Sunday at Met. So now they can experience for the first time the tension and excitement of visiting the Henley Royal boat tents and pushing off for that gritty, long, unforgiving time trial.  This is also a major achievement for the crew and their coaches who were all novices last summer. Well done!

There are 35 crews from which 12 will qualify. For those who can support, Vesta Rowing Club (B) will be the 2nd last crew in the group starting at 5:21pm on Friday. Good luck!

The list of crews asked to qualify and schedule are available here.

Semi’s for some at Henley Women’s Regatta

Vesta women raced with tremendous guts and tenacity at HWR this year, but came up against some tough competition and came home empty handed.

Vesta took four boats: a Senior VIII, a Club VIII, a Senior 1x and an Elite 2-. AND they took some warm-hearted, loud-lunged supporters, who did a great job lifting the rate and spirits over the weekend!

Friday’s weather was fairly benign, warm with a tailwind mostly, and rain pretty much held off. The club eight looked very sharp boating and meant business ruthlessly knocking out their first opposition, Thames RC (B), beating them Easily.

C8_boating

Club 8 boating in the sunshine

C8

Club 8 looking sharp on Friday

On Saturday the wind picked up and up throughout the day, which slowed the times, probably by at least 15 seconds, and who knows what effect it had on the different stations, also depending on how the coxswains and crews coped I imagine. Vesta members and supporters also turned up in numbers to cheer on the girls, which was much appreciated by the crews.

The club eight continued along the same way, picking off City of Oxford with a five length lead, ready the semi-final on Sunday.

Liz moves away from her oppo in the quarter finals

Liz moves away from her oppo in the quarter finals. Photo by Sam Lindsay

Liz Crighton, off the back of her Reading win, raced in her single twice on Saturday and showed very strongly against her competition, beating Isle of Ely by three lengths and a dutch competitor by three and half lengths.

Vesta’s ladies pair headed out to see what they could do against Molesey, but they didn’t have the firepower to trouble them, losing Easily. (Racing a pair is probably the hardest boat along the Henley course as well, so all credit for not hitting the booms, which might have been a nerve-wracking thought after Reading!)

Sophie and Jessica give it their all in the pair

Sophie and Jessica give it their all in the pair. Photo by Sam Lindsay

For the senior eight there has been a hard run up to Henley with an intense battle for places in the crew and the perennial problem of a lack of racing competition at their level, providing little race practice. However, there were nine entries at HWR, supplied by four visiting crews from the USA and one from Ireland, plus two UK uni crews and the only other UK club was Star. Vesta took on Trinity Col (A), Hartford, USA late on Saturday afternoon, as the wind was at its most blustery, and pushed and pushed down the course, but could not break them. They trailed by just 1/4 length at the finish, which was a devastating blow for the girls. OUWBC were the hidden gems in the mix, beating GVSU, USA in 5:12, just 2 seconds slower than the winning GB U23 Elite VIII division crew.

Pain and determination written on the faces of the S8

Pain and determination written on the faces of the S8. Photo by Sam Lindsay

Sunday brought the semi-finals and finals for Liz and the Club VIII,  but unfortunately neither would make it beyond the day’s first hurdle. The C.8 had a spirited battle against Galway RC, who had already knocked out Royal Chester and Twickenham. The girls also showed their feisty hearts pushing Galway hard to lose by just 1/3 length. Galway went on to lose in the final against Lea RC, who had posted a very fast time of 5:16 in the semi-finals against Thames RC (A). The Lea it seems are a cut above all the rest this year, so congratulations and well done to them.

Liz came up against Hart of Nottingham RC in her semi-final, and similarly she met her match in the overall winner. Hart beat Liz by 1 and 1/4 lengths in 6:38, but went on to win in her final with an easily verdict in a time of 6:31, aptly the fastest time of the S.1x event.

Most importantly…

To sum it up: well done Vesta ladies and coaches on your amazing work this season. You’re all a credit to the club and we’re very proud of all you’ve achieved this season. I’m sure it’s been a good journey, lows and highs included and you’ve learnt loads in the process. The coaches have worked superbly hard, put in their all and deserve every thanks. It takes a while to lift your spirits, but Henley Royal helps! So here’s to all the ice creams, pink champagne and Pimms that you are obliged to eat and drink at HRR for those not racing. And for those who are: SMASH IT! Let’s look forward to some awesome rowing days ahead!

The club results are available here.

The HWR results in full are here.

 

Henley Women’s Regatta starts tomorrow!

HWR Medal

Henley Women’s Regatta Medal

It’s that time of year again! The Vesta women are all set for this weekend’s racing and we urge all club members and supporters to make a visit to the course to cheer on our crews.

Racing this year we have an Intermediate Club 8, Senior 8, Senior 1x and an Elite 2-. To make things a bit easier, here are the timings for confirmed and potential Vesta races each day:

Friday:

15:03  – Race 11 –  Club 8s – Vesta vs Thames B

Saturday:

11:04 – Race 132 – Club 8s
12:04 – Race 147 – Senior 1x – Vesta vs Isle of Ely
16:48 – Race 218 – Senior 1x
17:04 – Race 222 – Senior 8s – Vesta vs Trinity College, Hartford, USA
17:12 – Race 224 – Elite 2- – Vesta vs Molesey

Sunday:
Semi-Finals
10:46 – Race 320 – Elite 2-
11:42 – Race 334 – Club 8s
12:10 – Race 341 – Senior 1x
13:52 – Race 334 – Senior 8s

Finals
14:24 – Race 368 – Elite 2-
15:35 – Race 377 – Club 8s
15:50 – Race 380 – Senior 1x
16:25 – Race 387 – Senior 8s

The forecast at the moment is looking a bit iffy, so make sure to bring your brollies along with your picnics and loudest Vesta cheers. It definitely helps to find the extra gear when the Vesta roar is the loudest!

For those of you who can’t make it, you can watch the racing live online by clicking the following link: http://www.hwr.org.uk/spectators  We’ll also work hard to make sure we keep the Vesta webpage and twitter feed are up to date.

Best of luck to all the girls and coaches! Have fun and race hard!

Women’s novice win at Barnes and Mortlake Regatta

Many congratulations to the Vesta women’s novice coxed four for their first regatta win on Saturday 8th June at Barnes and Mortlake Regatta. The WN4+ took a clear victory winning by three and a half lengths over Putney Town and Barnes Bridge ladies. Congratulations and thanks also to their coaches! Well done all!

Victorious novice women's crew:S- Eleanor Simpson3- Clare Walker2- Sonya HartiganB- Thea SaundersC- Isabel Marks

Victorious novice women’s crew: S- Eleanor Simpson, 3- Clare Walker, 2- Sonya Hartigan, B- Thea Saunders, C- Isabel Marks