{Race Report} Senior Women win Hammersmith Head

By Charlotte Lennox
Hammersmith head was our final race in the run up to WeHoRR and the senior women’s first 8 were setting off second last in IM2. The race plan, as dictated by our coach, was to have an aggressive rhythm and ‘smash it’.
We set off from Putney with our standard warm up of all 8 square blades, bodies only – definitely not a way to scare the opposition! Whilst sitting marshalling in the cold wind we could only dream about our early start position for next Saturday.
And then we were off.
Through the start we built up to rate 36 and maintained this through to Barnes Bridge, easing through the crew ahead of us. The Vesta supporters at the White Hart reported us looking aggressive, although even our coach doubted whether we could maintain that rhythm for the duration of the race – we were to prove him wrong! With the rate not dropping below 35 we had a strong row through the middle part of the course, powering down the island before starting to wind up (not that there was much ‘up’ left) for the finish as we came off the end of the island. The full crew was definitely relieved to be finishing at Hammersmith bridge! It was only once we had easied did our cox Robyn, tell us to look behind for us to see how much we had caught up with the 3 crews ahead.
After a gentle paddle back home we were eager to see the results …… 3 days later it was confirmed –  WE WON! A first win in Vesta kit for many of the crew and first ever win for our 3 girl, Buffy.
Next stop ….. WeHoRR!

{Race Report} How to row faster than schoolgirls

By Neil Fraser

Quintin Head was a bit of a wake-up call for the Novice Boys. The U14 Kingston High School Novice Girls might know how to row, but Vesta men shouldn’t be losing to them. We’ve made good progress since Quintin with the boat moving a little smoother and faster in the water – things were shaping up well for Hammersmith.

In typical Novice Boys fashion, Saturday morning started well with the rigger at three-seat splintering in the pre-paddle. It was too late to fix things so we taped it up and set off on the paddle up to Chiswick Bridge. Choppy, cold, wet, windy – it wasn’t much fun but we got up there to be welcomed by Judith, ‘Novice Boys, put your dry clothing on NOW’. We didn’t have any, so sat tapping on for the next hour while the crew, all but stern pair and the cox, passed an Oasis bottle (wide rim) back and forth to get down to race weight.

Dev men race in skins in February!

Marshals made the call to start stripping down – we did. Our turn came to spin and we started to build – the crew locked in at rate 29-30 and everything felt good. We were letting the boat run, there was power, the slide wasn’t rushed and we still had eight riggers. Our strokes were confident and they remained throughout.

This set the building blocks for a strong race, where the boys put the power down in the legs (some for the first time!) and Cox Cat made the calls to catch the crew ahead who we were ‘slowly’ closing in on. Water conditions were better than we were expecting and we were quickly approaching Hammersmith Bridge. We held off the Imperial Novice 8 at the finish and went under the bridge with the feeling that we’d been in a race.

Arrived back at Vesta where Wendy met us to say how pleased she was, but also how stupid we were for not dressing appropriately.

Finished 7th out of the 17 novice crews – a respectable result which gives us a boost leading up to the Kingston Head and Head of the River.

Thanks to Coaches and Coxes for their on-going commitment and patience. They really do put up with a lot.

Novice Boys 1 – Kingston High School Girls 1

{Race Report} Dev Women take on Hammersmith Head

By Lauren Hardcastle

At the start of the season Wendy warned that Head racing on a cold, wet February morning will sort out the strong from the weak. She wasn’t kidding! Whilst us dev ladies played it safe in five layers plus hats we were a tad surprised to see the novice boys (or development men as they like to be known!) boating in bare legs and only race suits! Brave or crazy was yet to be determined!

We were lucky enough to have borrowed cox Jack for the race, who was amazing and kept morale high despite the loss of feeling to our fingers and toes!
So we set off from Vesta full of beans and raring to go but quickly realised that we were in for a long wait. Of course that’s when the rain started! Other than a little incident which nearly lost our cox to the Thames, we arrived at Chiswick relatively unscathed! Now what will 8 women + Jack do to pass the time in the freezing cold, wet Chiswick waters?? Well… jelly babies and a game of “who would you rather shower with later” certainly made us laugh! Even if I was shaking the boat from shivering so much!
Dev women getting it done at Hammersmith Head.

Dev women getting it done at Hammersmith Head.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity in the Arctic, we set off – warming up pretty quickly and pushing through to  Hammersmith Bridge! The ‘come on Vesta’ calls (James’s voice really does carry!) at the White Hart pub were uplifting, and spurred us on, and we finished strong with no crabs and a respectable 6th place. Onwards and upwards to the WeHoRR, and hopefully pushing up the pack and, finally – fingers crossed for a sunny (warm) Saturday next time!

The Vesta Quiz Night Returns

The Vesta Quiz Night is back! Quizmaster Gordon Barnes returns on Tuesday 23 February 2016.

For one night only, see who has the brains to match their brawn.

Put together your ultimate quiz team and take a crack at the intros round, some geography, a smattering of current events and much more. Always fun and always informative, the quiz starts at 8pm.


Scullers’ Head Cancelled

Message from the organising committee:


We know this will cause immense disappointment to our competitors and supporters, but the forecast wind speeds have been high all week and it was not felt that this was showing any sign of changing significantly for the better. 

With wind warnings in place for much of the country we were also aware that longer journeys would also have presented dangers to our travelling competitors. 

We considered other options, including shortening the course to finish at Hammersmith, but given that the likely worse section of the course would be the stretch between Harrods and the Mile Post, it was not felt that this was any safer than running it over the full course. 

We wanted to wait as long as possible before making this decision, but in the end felt that this was the only decision we could safely make. The organising committee was unanimous in this choice. 

Vets 4s Head Race Report (or, how to turn up still drunk from the 4s Head party and win a pennant)

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.

All crew members giving excellent race face.

All crew members giving excellent race face.

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 [2], Harry Bond [3] and Dom Wilson (LRC) [Stk]

    MasB 4x winning crew

    MasB 4x winning crew

Mat Cooper

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.