{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!

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

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!


2015 Vets Head

The 2015 Vets Head, unusually taking place the day before the Men’s HoRR due to tide and sunset times, will be raced in the traditional direction from Chiswick to Putney on Saturday 28 March, starting at 1100 GMT.

More information, when available, will be on the Vets Head page.

Scullers Head to offer para-rowing categories

The Scullers Head, the largest single scull processional race in the world, is for the very first time offering para-rowing events. The 61st edition of the race, which is organised by Vesta Rowing Club, will be held on 29th November on the Championship Course from Mortlake to Putney.

Entries have now opened on BROE and organisers are hoping to attract enough LTA and TA entries to run these events, for both men and women.

“We’re not the first Tideway head race to offer para-rowing categories, but we hope to be the first to actually hold them – getting enough entries is critical to making this happen. Para-rowing is on the increase in the UK and while we have fantastic success at the GB level, we’d love to see more events available for club scullers,” said Vesta Rowing Club Chairman, Chris Harrison.

Previous winners of the event include Sir Steve Redgrave, Mahe Drysdale, Alan CampbellBeth Rodford and Imogen Walsh. The GB Rowing Team’s Walsh, 2011 Scullers Head winner and 2013 Wingfield Sculls winner, said, “It’s such an iconic race, 500 odd boats giving it all they’ve got down the tideway. There aren’t many head races where you get to line up and test yourself against so many other scullers, and it’s part of what puts it on the bucket list of races for many rowers. It’s about line and position, about pacing yourself and knowing when to push, as well as how technically well you scull – it’s a true test of sculling the river. I only wish I got to race it more often!”

Race categories this year include all open and Masters categories, as well as events for Lightweights, J18s and Masters Novices along with LTA and TA. The race attracts over 500 entries, making it one of the largest single division sculling races in the world. Where exactly the para-rowing categories will be included in the much-heralded draw will be established depending on the entries received, and those interested should contact the organisers on scullers.head@vestarowing.co.uk to discuss logistics. Final details will be included in the instructions to competitors, to be published in early November. Entries close on 15th November or when 550 paid entries have been received.

Follow this year’s Scullers Head:
Twitter: @scullershead
Facebook: facebook.com/scullershead
Instagram: instagram.com/scullershead

By Martha Walsh 

This article originally appeared on the British Rowing website.

Vesta Rowing Club is running new men’s and women’s novice / beginner squads for the 2014/15 season


Want to learn to row? Beginner rowers are invited to join our men’s and women’s novice rowing squads kicking off this September in Putney, London. The best bit is that the first month is free!



Who – can join?

We are looking for individuals with the desire and attitude to become ambitious club rowers or coxes. You will need to have a good base level of fitness, be aged 18 or over, be able to swim and some previous experience of competitive sport is a definite advantage.

What – is rowing and Vesta like?

Vesta is a mixed, very friendly, welcoming club, with a great fleet of boats and an excellent bar! We are a true members club run by volunteers. There is every opportunity to progress in the club based on your merit (and your willingness to enjoy the club’s social life!).

Rowing is the ultimate team sport and is highly competitive.  It requires high levels of fitness and strength combined with technique and so consistent attendance at training is important to progress. If you like the idea of testing yourself and working in a team to achieve goals then rowing is definitely the sport for you!

Where – do you train?

There will be regular land training sessions based at the club on Putney Embankment and weekend sessions on the water. At Vesta, you’ll have access to our gym, quality boat fleet and a dedicated coaching team.


Novice Squads kick-off meeting: Thursday 11th September @ 7pm (upstairs in the club)

Men’s Novice squad first session: Saturday 13th September

Women’s Novice squad first session: Saturday 20th September

The season runs from September – July with both winter and summer racing.

The first month is FREE and designed to find those with the potential to succeed in rowing. Membership fees are approximately £450 for the year.


If you have any questions or would like to register your interest in advance, please contact

Novice Men’s Coach, Martin Graham: vicecaptain@vestarowing.co.uk

Novice Women’s Coach, Judith Howell: vesta@vestarowing.co.uk