Squad Update – Senior Men – October 2015


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!





Squad Update – Novice Women – October 2015

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!

Squad Update – Novice Men – October 2015

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.

Pairs Head Pub Crawl

Last weekend an intrepid bunch of Vesta Rowers headed up the Thames and attempted to visit every pub on their way home. . .

Write up by Amelia Munsey


The traditional route

In true Vesta style, we once again proved that we are a Drinking Club with a Rowing problem. 50 or so of our club members embarked upon a brave mission, to survive the Pairs Head Pub Crawl. (Previously billed as the Fours Head Reconnaissance Mission)

Everything started off rather civilised at The Ship in Mortlake with most opting for a pint to reward themselves for their hard mornings’ training. A group of three courageous girls set the bar rather high. Their challenge: to drink a bottle of Prosecco between them at each pub.

The next stop was at the White Hart near to Barnes, which is where we rested our tired legs and watched the racing. The Vesta roar could be heard for miles and you were able to see the Vesta racing crews pick up their pace in response to the calls of the crowd.

The Black Lion in Chiswick was the third pub along the way, this is where Vesta came in to its own. The penny came out and Harry Bond was in his element. Several downed pints later, things were starting to get very merry.
The Old Ship was a chance for us all to catch up on the rugby score, whilst getting another round in. . . At our next stop, The Dove, there simply wasn’t enough space for us all to fit into the pub. So some brave souls passed out shots for others who couldn’t fit inside to consume. This led to an alleyway photograph. . .

Pub crawl

The alley by the Dove

The Rutland was where things started to deteriorate, as we had a premature ‘Slut Drop’ competition between our glorious leader James Hawkins, Deckchair and the latest contender Novice Felix. The competition was, however, inconclusive with all competitors being worryingly talented.

We added one more stop on to our route, and stopped at another friendly tideway club Auriol Kensington. They have a wonderful and friendly bar, and were very accepting of our rather large and rowdy group. We went all the way up to their balcony, which was a chance to reflect on the beauty of Hammersmith Bridge in the dark.

The crowd then began the long journey home to the Vesta Bar, which didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated. One man was challenged to a piggy back race, which led to him tripping over a root with a girl on his back and tearing up his hands. He did the only sensible thing, and had another drink.

I’d carry on this tale of shenanigans, but I fear that it would get too sordid for the purposes of the Vesta website. I can tell you however, that the night ended up with a group of champions dancing the night away in the Fez Club.

Now we have a few short weeks to recover until the Fours Head Party.

See you next time!

Pairs Head of the River 2015

The Pairs Head is the proper kick off to the rowing season, wouldn’t you agree? It’s the race that tells you once and for all that summer really is over and the Head season has begun. A chance to see how effective your summer cross-training really was. . .
This year Vesta fielded six crews in the Pairs Head of the River. Alex Bennett and Tom Foad scored our best result in their first Pairs Head coming 58th overall (out of 470 entrants) and 4th in the IM2.2- category. Nice work!
Second across the line for Vesta was Mike Cannon racing in a Vesta/Army composite, who came 78th overall.
Not to be outdone, Vesta President Jock McKerrell – who is clearly sneaking in some unauthorised training for the Scullers’ Head – doubled up with Michael Maynard to race a Masters F 2x in 18:27.34.
For information on all the Vesta crews who raced hop on over to our Results page.
Thanks also to those who volunteered in launches and timing.

Eat, drink, and be safe. It’s all happening this autumn.

We’re back into the swing of the season at Vesta and there’s lots going on. Make sure to add these dates to your diary so you don’t miss out!

3 October
Big Breakfast – After training on Saturday 3rd October. Come upstairs to the bar for an epic fry up.  All the profits go to paying for your weekend tea and toast, so even if you can’t stay for it, a contribution would be gratefully received. Alex is cooking, so you know it will be good.

10 October
Whole Club Pub Crawl
 –After training, the tradition is to get the train down to Mortlake and do a ‘reconnaissance mission’ to check out the Head course. Naturally we’ll walk back via each pub along the river. Plus it’s a chance to cheer on those crews racing in the Pairs Head that afternoon. Meet at the Vesta Bar.

18 October
Water Safety briefing –
 After training, around 12h30. If you haven’t yet been to a safety briefing this season then this one is a must. The rules along the river are constantly changing, so even if you are a senior rower and you have heard these briefings in previous years, you still need to attend. If you are signed off on the steers list, you also must attend. (Without trying to be too heavy-handed, you will be removed from the steers list if you do not attend). All coaches must also attend a briefing, and there will be a session just for coaches at the rowing committee meeting on 3 October.

Other dates for your diary:
18 December – Remenham Challenge and Christmas Party

29 January – Vesta’s Annual Dinner (which is the hottest ticket going on the tideway)

Vesta Rowing Club London Learn to Row

Want to learn to row in Putney, Summer 2015?

Beginners’ Rowing Course – Summer 2015 Start Date:

  • Monday 22nd June @ 19:30 – Registration at Vesta Rowing Club
  • To register your interest, email Martin Graham: vicecaptain@vestarowing.co.uk
  • 6 week / 4 week course members may start after this date – please contact us.


  • 8 weeks
  • Course ends – Saturday 15th August


  • £125 for full learn to row course
  • £110 for 6 weeks
  • £90 for 4 weeks

Course Days:

  • Monday – evening
  • Wednesday – evening
  • Saturday – morning
  • 1 x land/fitness session, 2 x water/technical sessions


  • Mixed groups
  • Maximum size of each group – 20

Nov Women

The Vesta Beginners’ Course:

The course is aimed at men and women who are looking for a new challenge and want to learn to row. If you have played other competitive sports or regularly attend a gym and want to test yourself in a team environment then rowing is the sport for you.

The course will work on your fitness whilst teaching you the core rowing technique. Sessions will take place both on the land and river and you will always be supervised by a coach who will lead the sessions.

There is no obligation to continue or sign-up as a member after the course but we hope you will have enjoyed your time enough that you are interested in joining our Novice Squads in September for the start of the 2015/16 season.

Please go to the Novice Squad page for further information.

Vesta wins Best Dressed Crew at this years’ Veterans Head of the River Race

Race report by Amelia Munsey, Masters A cox

Over 200 crews took to the Thames on Saturday 28 March for the 2015 edition of the Vesta Veterans’ Head of the River. The weather stayed pleasant and not too windy, despite concerns from the weather reports!

The race was won by the Austrian Alumni, a crew containing representatives from RV Gmunden, RV Villach and London Rowing Club amongst others, who raced the course in 19:01.

Composite crews saw the majority of the top places in the event. The Masters B category was won by a crew containing no less than seven clubs, a remarkable feat in itself.

The fastest Women’s boat of the day was a strong crew from Tideway Scullers School who retained their headship and finished the course in an impressive 20:40.

Vesta had 3 crews racing in the competition, two Women’s Masters A crews and a Composite Masters F with Thames, Abingdon and London RC. The Composite Crew put on a good performance coming 3rd in their category in a field of 18.

The Women’s Masters A crew had a great day, racing in fancy dress. The “school girls” managed to finish second in their category and were the third fastest Women’s boat of the day. The Women had another guest appearance from Olympic Medal holder Sarah Winckless.

vesta vets head

Veterans head showed a second strong performance for the rejuvenated Vesta Vets Squad that’s currently being championed by Captain James Hawkins.

Of course Vesta are indebted to the many people that gave up their Saturday to make Vesta’s Veteran’s Head of the River Race a huge success.

Vesta novice women become “true team” at WEHORR

Jane Middleton reports on the novice women’s first crack at Women’s Head….

Vesta Novice Women

The Novice ladies squad were well prepared, we had trained hard, we were focused and we felt ready.  Our coaches gave us the biggest race briefing of our novice existence.  It was race day, this was it – it was now, this is what we had been working towards.

It was a huge relief when we finally left the pandemonium, threw our wellies in a bucket and got Tommy on the water.  All that was left were some final photos, good luck messages from our awesome coaches Judith, Stuart, Kat and Leigh (all of whom resembled anxious parents sending their children off to boarding school for the first time) they could do nothing more now!

We rowed up to the start and had a 90 minute wait – it was painful and somewhat surreal but within that interminable wait we were calm and disciplined.  Then suddenly it was time to spin and get underway…..in an instant we were pushing forward and cranking up the pace towards the starting post.  The next 25 minutes passed by in a flash, we had got away cleanly, had gathered a strong steady pace as we reached Barnes Bridge and then the wind hit us.  Mario steered us well through the course and it wasn’t long before we were approaching the island and then he had Hammersmith Bridge in his sights.  The pace felt strong, confident and calm, we had long strokes, good clean catches, early squares and we weren’t rushing up the slide (for once).  Hearing the roars of the crowd from Putney Embankment was unforgettable, the tanks were empty but the feeling of rowing past the Vesta balcony will never leave us from that infamous WEHORR experience.

We set off in position 293 and finished in position 261, which meant in real terms we were faster than 32 other boats of which 7 were in a higher category.

We did it and as we took Tommy back into the boathouse I for one felt we had become a true team…

A strong performance at WEHORR for Vesta with two crews finishing in the top 50

Race report by Amelia Munsey, Masters A cox

Last weekend saw the 75th Women’s Eights Head of the River Race held on the Tideway. It is raced on the River Thames over 4 miles and 374 yards, from the start at the University Pole in Chiswick to the finish at Putney Pier. This year saw more than 300 crews compete from across the world.

The overall winners were a GB composite Elite 8+ who finished in a time of 18:58.6. The crew included Olympic gold medalists Helen Glover, Heather Stanning and Katherine Grainger, along with GB teammates.

Vesta fielded three 8s this year, comprising the senior squad’s IM2 8+, a Masters A entry and a crew from the Novice squad. Vesta landed two top 50 spots – no easy feat with a strong field!

The IM2 8+, coached by Nic Neveling and Chris Clements, placed 48th in a time of 22:00.2, beaten by only a handful of club IM2 crews.

The Masters A crew had a guest appearance from honorary lifetime member Sarah Winckless who helped the crew to achieve their impressive 41st place, making them the fastest Vesta boat of the day in a time of 21:48.0. Sarah Winckless herself is an Olympic medal holder and twice World Champion. This performance is a strong start for a rejuvenated vets squad, an initiative led by Captain James Hawkins.

The Novice women also had a good day finishing 10th out of the Novice club crews with a time of 25:05.4. The novice squad is coached by Judith Howell, Kat Burnell and Stewart Button, and their performance bodes well for the summer season and beyond.

Overall, I’m very proud to be part of a club where we have 3 womens’ 8s representing the club, not least with 2 of these finishing in the top 50. Well raced Vesta!