We are monitoring the weather and plan to make an official announcement regarding the operational status of the event on Thursday evening, Friday morning and Friday evening. If the forecast is looking bad we aim to make a decision before people travel on Friday night.
By Vincent McGovern
So. What seemed like a bright idea a couple of weeks before didn’t seem such a bright idea as we placed ‘Villain’ on the water 50 minutes before the start of the 2015 Vets Fours Head Race…
In true Vesta fashion preparation on race day started exceptionally well with three of the four crew members being kicked out of Vesta at the conclusion of the rather good Fours head party.
Bleary eyed, still slightly drunk, and not in the slightest bit regretting signing up to do it we reconvened at Vesta later that morning to race a composite VRC/LRC Masters B quad.
As with the Fours head of the river the day before conditions were a mixture of excellent and challenging. While the first part of the race was relatively flat with a tail wind it became quite clear that the stretch from Hammersmith bridge home would be an altogether different matter.
The first part of the race proceeded according to plan with a steady 32/34 rate in decent conditions. We gradually reeled in the boat that started in front of us and put distance on the crews behind us.
Things however got complicated from about the Bandstand onwards… it was here that the first of us, a senior squad member at his club for the past seven years with numerous Henley appearances under his belt, realised… that you can’t go off super hard at the start of a head race like a senior squad member… when you ain’t a senior squad member and haven’t done the training. The rest of the crew were whacked hard by this fact at various points from there to Hammersmith Bridge.
Should this crew ever take to the water again we know now who our nemesis is. Its name is Monmouth and will not be forgotten. From the top of the island right through to Harrods the Monmouth crew that started ahead of us blocked, obstructed and really quite annoyed us as they repeatedly weaved into our path as we tried to pass sometimes on the inside sometimes on the outside.
The Gods of Luck were with us though… firstly as we came through Hammersmith Bridge in ensuring that the marshal stationed on the Surrey side was a London RC stalwart who… somehow managed not to hear the colourful cries of frustration emanating from all four seats in the boat.
And secondly when our ‘friends’ in the Monmouth quad caught a monumental boat stopper of a crab as we both, rowing side by side, hit the rough water just before Harrods… (see also Highlights of the race bullet point four for the third reason the Gods of Luck were with us…)
Vesta / London were ahead and it was coastal rowing from there on to the Black Buoy and down the line of boats to the finish.
Highlights of the race were:
- the white horses between the Black Buoy and Harrods (on the way to the start and again during the race)
- both the LRC members of the crew mildly objecting to being called Vesta by marshalling umpires
the rhythmic thud of the four cans of Kronenberg in the watertight compartments as they banged against the hull in time with each stroke
- the “aw sh***” as one member of the crew momentarily lost control (but importantly didn’t crab!) of a blade as we entered the rough water side by side with Monmouth
- the impressive range of race faces caught on camera
and last, but not least,
- collapsing across the finish line in a time of 19:52.07 beaten only by a veteran Imperial College crew (containing three children and one ex Dutch Olympian) and a Wallingford crew which sported a suspiciously large amount of Xchanging kit in the boat, to an overall placing of third and the Masters B pennant.
The crew: Ash Maitland (LRC) [bow], Vincent McGovern , Harry Bond  and Dom Wilson (LRC) [Stk]
It is with sadness that we report that Mat Cooper, a Vesta member from the early Seventies, died last month at his home in Sydney. After numerous record-breaking, medal-winning Henley campaigns in the late Sixties with Derby RC, ULBC and Tideway Scullers, Mat joined Vesta. With Pat Wright, Mat won the Pairs Head as Vesta in 1971 and he went on to be selected for the 1972 Olympic Games, again rowing as Vesta, in the coxless pair, along with Jerry McCarthy from Argosies (the National Dock Labour Board rowing club). They came 3rd in their heat behind W. Germany and Romania, 5th in their semi-final and unfortunately last in the 7-12 race.
UL have published their obituary.
Longtime Vesta Member, Matt Stallard, was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Rowing Conference in October.
In case you don’t know Matt, he’s the same ‘vintage’ as Vesta President Jock McKerrell and as well as rowing in some of Vesta’s best ever crews, was a Henley winner, and has for many years served in a variety of roles with British Rowing.
Currently he is Chairman of the Sport Committee.
November – December 2015
. 6th November – Fireworks – bar 6.30pm-11pm
. 7th November – 4s Head
. 8th November – Vets 4s Head
. 5th December – Scullers Head
. 15th December – Scullers Head Prize-giving – 7pm-11pm
. 16th December – Vets Xmas Lunch at the clubhouse
. 19th December – Remenham Challenge & Christmas Party
After a great start to the season with the Pairs Head and the Vesta pub crawl, we have the next two major events coming up in the calendar:
7th November – 4s Head – Race Start @ 12.45 pm
8th November – VET 4s Head – Race Start @ 12.00 pm
4s Head (7th November)
Food will be served from 11.00 am through to 5.00 pm. A selection of sandwiches and cakes will be on offer at the food table in the front room.
The bar will be open all day! The fancy dress theme will be anything beginning with the letters V, R or C. Bonus points if you can pull off a costume that covers all three bases. Fancy dress, whilst not mandatory, is always strongly encouraged at Vesta parties 🙂
Importantly, volunteers are needed for the below times on Saturday. If you are able to help please get in touch with Dick, Sven or Thea. Helping out on the food table/in the bar is a great laugh! You can get to know more Vesta members and also take pleasure in refusing to make fancy drinks for non-Vesta members. (Overheard on a bar shift: “You want a white wine spritzer? No. This is the Vesta Bar. We don’t do spritzers. I’ll sell you a white wine and I’ll sell you some soda water and you can mix it yourself.” )
Food – 11.00am – 5.00pm
Bar – 12.00pm – 1.00am
VETs 4s Head (8th November)
VETs 4s Head will take place the next day at 12.00 pm and food will again be provided from 11.00 am till 5.00 pm with the bar open all afternoon.
Again, volunteers are needed to make this work so dust off your hangovers and get ready for some hair of the dog. If any of you can help on the below times it would be much appreciated.
Food – 11.00am – 5.00pm
Bar – 12.00pm – 5.00pm
Food for 4s Head and Vets 4s Head
In a time honoured tradition all active members are called upon to provide sandwiches and cakes to donate to the food table. Some people take this as a challenge to come up with the most creative sandwich fillings or impressive cakes; others pop into the Sainsbury’s up the road and grab a tub or two of flapjacks. Both approaches are very much welcome!
Please can all squads make sandwiches and cakes to donate to the food table. To provide an even split of sweet and savoury food we are asking the Novice Men and Senior Women provide sandwiches, bagels, etc. and the Novice Women and Senior Men to bake cakes and biscuits. However, if your signature dish happens to not be a cake, feel free to make something else and vice versa. Again, all profits will go towards the boat buying fund.
I am very proud to say that safety has taken a leap forward into the modern age with the unveiling of our online navigation test. If you would like (or are required) to take it please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the link. The test should take around 30 – 40 minutes to complete and relies upon a working knowledge of the latest Rowing Code and our club-specific safety policies.
The latest Rowing Code is an excellent piece of work from the PLA and well worth the time spent reading it. I strongly encourage all active members of Vesta to read it, particularly if you’re new to rowing or the tideway.
This coincides with a general tidying up of the steers list, which will be updated in early November 2015. If you weren’t able to attend any of the safety briefings and don’t want to be removed you can now save your bow seat by taking the test.
Vesta Water Safety Advisor
by James Hawkins
Over the past month or so many a Vesta old hand has remarked to me that there has been a resurgence of the old Vesta spirit. What’s more, the eagle eyed amongst you will notice a return of some old faces. Pete Williams and Dave Clinton are coaching the Vesta senior men, Wendy Armstrong returns for another year in charge of the Vesta novice boys, and, ahem, I am making a reappearance working with Chris Clements coaching the novice girls. But while it is great to tap into some of that old expertise, the club spirit is driven by the rowers, and that’s what I really want to celebrate.
The senior squads
The four main squads are operating at near maximum capacity, including both novice squads. The senior squads have been bolstered by many new members, and with the top boats from previous seasons departing the scene, all seats are up for grabs and the squads are thriving with that new sense of competition.
While both senior squads train as whole units, they are each streamed into senior and intermediate components, allowing for a more tailored approach to the coaching, and also, which will become more apparent as we enter the summer season, with their own goals and targets.
As I said, while competition is fierce to be selected as the new top boats at the senior end, the intermediate components are laying the groundwork to ensure that our squads over the next few years have greater depth and breadth. Gratifyingly, the novices that graduated to the intermediate ends of the senior squads are amongst those who are impressing the most, which is a great endorsement for the efforts made in the previous year to nurture real home grown talent.
The novice squads
That same ambition, to sow the seeds of future squads through a competitive novice programme is back in full swing. Each squad has around twenty members, around half of whom started with the excellent summer programme which has meant that we were able to hit the ground running in September. Wendy, Ben and Zara (on the boys’ side) and myself and Chris (on the girls’) have been rather taken aback by how swift progress has been – and while we have had some interesting moments where you realise that rowing lingo at times is a somewhat different language (bow four sit the boat, two and four raise your hands…err two and four why are your hand in the air?… Oh right, mmm, not is not quite what I meant…) it certainly looks like we have around forty people who have got the rowing bug – certainly helped by not yet having a rainy cold weekend – which I have no doubt just jinxed.
The Vesta spirit
Enthusiasm for training, for rowing, making and rekindling friendships is the bedrock of what makes any rowing club a club, but at the outset I talked about the resurgence of the Vesta spirit which many have remarked on. It is not just that there are more people staying behind for a beer after rowing at the weekends, not just because Thursday club meals are as busy as I can remember them (and taking a lot more profit for future boat buying), not just that we have full squads, forgettable and eyebrow raising parties – I say forgettable because the next day I can never remember quite what happened and my eye brows are invariable raised when I learn about everyone’s antics – it is all of those things and more. A return to that quiet ambition which means that a great season and head races and regattas beckons and a knowing nod to that sense of mischievous fun – and with Harry Bond in possession of a bar key, well need I say more?
PS: if the novice girls squad is lacking in one thing it is a constant cox. If anyone is interested in coxing please let me know. My very bruised hips will thank you as I really don’t fit.
by Pete Williams
Per athlete there is an average of 1.6 rowing and 0.2 sculling points in the squad, so we are definitely in a development phase but we have already seen great improvements in rowing technique and 5k ergo times.
A standing order of, “every stroke is at 80% maximum unless instructed otherwise”, a few pink lodge runs under our belt and hundreds of tonnes lifted in the gym has banished the red faced wheezing we saw from the launches the first weekend in September when we spun at ULBC. Laying down this solid foundation in the basics will enable much greater gains over the rest of the season.
Enthusiasm and motivation is high in the squad and we regularly boat 25 people per outing consisting of a healthy mix of established Vesta rowers and new blood which is encouraging the athletes to push each other as the pecking order is established!
Overall the attitude of the rowers to the training and the approach of the coaches (Pete Williams, Dave Clinton, Helen Arbuthnot and Martin Hindshaw) is that we are fostering a squad that is learning to stand on its own two feet with a strong ethos of internal competition.
We are very encouraged by the first two months of training and are quietly getting excited about the regatta season.
Upcoming Races: The Four’s Head, Wallingford Head, Walton Small Boats, The Remenham Challenge
Good stuff lads, keep it up!
Ramblings of some slightly shell-shocked VRC Novice Women. . .
by Lauren and Jess
It seemed like a good idea at the time
So, it was a random Friday night at the end of summer when my housemate and I decided to go for a few drinks down in Putney and let’s just say after one or two (ahem) we happened upon a “Vesta Rowing Novice Rowers Welcome” sign on Putney Embankment. Surely this is a great idea – we thought – we’ll get fit, we’ll meet new people (+ hot men) and it’s just down the road. It’s cool that it’s heading into winter when it’s cold, dark and wet, of course work won’t get in the way. We can do this!!!
We rocked up 2 weeks later after our welcome meeting, full of energy and super excited, only to be faced with 20+ girls and the circuits of death; not sure what we feared more. Let’s just say we had our asses handed to us during circuits (who knew that shins could sweat!) and we now have 20 new friends.
Vesta RC works hard and plays hard
Our friends think we’ve regressed 10 years and are crazy for getting up at 6.30am every weekend, but it’s addictive. You can’t beat a sunny Saturday morning down in Putney and other than being yelled at by our own little drill sergeant it’s a great feeling when you only catch a crab 3 times on the outing instead of 10!! (small things!). We blame James for the early starts.
We blame James for lots of things these days; the fact that we can’t walk without looking like John Wayne and that we can’t remember the 2nd half of the inaugural pub-crawl is just the beginning. I actually thought James’s sheet-white face from the coxes seat gripping for dear life and swearing under his breath would be the last thing I saw whilst he steers us toward the passenger ferry and a near death experience – we survived and it’s a learning experience, right??? And where would he be without his right hand man, aka river wife, Chris ‘man the f**k up’ Clements? He certainly can handle 20 women (despite the rumours!).
The bottom line
In seriousness: over the past 8 weeks we have made some amazing new friends (even the novice men), killed a little of our liver and showered with other women more times since school! We can fit into our skinny jeans and now can honestly say we REALLY want a seat in the boat for the race, despite the oh-so-attractive race suit! We are enjoying almost every minute (circuits are still a bitch) and we can say with certainty joining VRC was a very good wine fuelled idea!
What, exactly, the novice men have been up to this season. . .
by Wendy Armstrong
We’ve had a really good start to the season. The squad is a combination of people who did the summer beginners course, a couple who have done a little rowing in the past, and complete new beginners. Ably assisted by Ben and Zara, we’re making excellent progress, so much so that the inital training programme has had to be revised several times to accommodate progression. Our two coxes, Jack and Cat, have transitioned from rowing with last year’s novices, and are shaping up to be quite nifty coxes.
I’ve never come across a bunch of people so keen to train, on the water and on the land. They’ll follow up an hour-long circuit session with an erg – for fun! And we’re definitely seeing the first signs of intra-squad competitiveness. Their first erg test, in a few weeks time, should prove most interesting. The playlist they’re currently putting together for said erg test even more so.
Our first race will be the Remenham Challenge, on 19th December. We may even enter two eights!
The squad have embraced everything there is about the Vesta Bar. They are now a fixture on Thursday nights, and can usually be found having a post-training pint (or two) on Saturday and Sunday lunchtimes. Talking of Thursday nights, it turns out we’ve some budding chefs in our midst. Amos played a blinder when it was our squad’s turn to cook – the most profit taken from Thursday food since records began. We’ll see how Mike does when our turn next comes round on 26th November.
There was a strong turn out from the Novice Men’s squad for the pub crawl a few weeks back – and we were the only squad to train the following morning, at the squad’s insistence, as I was prepared to give them the day off. That said, Felix did manage to sleep through training…in his car, parked meters away from the Club. He only woke up when a passing dog walker tapped on the window at lunchtime on the Sunday. Costumes are already being planned for the big Fours Head party.