Saturday the 16th is Women‘s Head, where 320 crews will descend on Putney to race over the 7.2km Championship Course at 11:30.
This is the first of the series of major head races this month including the Vesta Veterans Head on Sunday 31st March. Please sign up to join the army of volunteers we need to successfully run the event here.
For our Women’s Senior and Novice squads, the upcoming weekend is a chance to show what their dedication, hard work and effort through the long dark months can produce. It is the final long distance event prior to the start of the regatta season and marks the culmination of the head season for them.
This year is a record for Vesta. We have a total of 6 crews representing us at Women’s Head. Making us, for the second year running, the largest entry in the competition. The six crews are from the Novice, Club and Senior squads and have been entered in the following positions:
Vesta A: 29 (Senior Club)
Vesta B: 49 (Challenge Club)
Vesta C: 104 (Challenge Club)
Vesta D: 166 (Challenge Club)
Vesta E: 285 (Beginner Club)
Vesta F: 319 (Beginner Club)
For those of you new to the updated points system, and the relative rankings/category changes. Beginner has replaced Novice with the remainder of the categories going from Challenge, to Senior and finally Open. Events have been further split between Academic and Club competitions.
I’m sure every Vesta member will join me in wishing everyone good luck and to cheer them on from the Vesta balcony on one of the rare occasions in sport that allows complete novices to compete against Olympic champions. Whatever their level of athleticism, background or sporting history, all of the crews over the weekend will line up to race the same course at the same time. It is one of the very few events where everyone’s time can be compared; and a rare opportunity to measure oneself against the best.
The Novices face their longest race of the season. Their first truly national event and their most gruelling test to date; one that will require every aspect of their training in order to succeed and I have every confidence that they will do themselves and the Club proud.
For the Second, Third and Fourth Eights; it is a chance to finish a tough winter season on a high, and an opportunity to turn over the boats ahead of them. To demonstrate the hours of time they have worked both on land and on water. To carry each other through the hard yards and back to the waiting club.
For the First Eights; the race provides an opportunity to chase down crews on our water; racing in our backyard. To back up their excellent recent form and achieve a result that will stand for itself when the rankings are released, especially when compared to our neighbours.
For the First Eights especially, the race will represent something more; something longer lasting than the immediate fury of the event itself.
On Tuesday the 12th, the crew, consisting of:
Cox: Rob Fellows
8: Robyn McGregor-Richie
6: Amber Mayall
5: Francesca Lidlow
4: Louisa Emkes
3: Rebecca Kelly
2: Ruth McKellar
1: Kirsty McGregor-Richie
were presented with one of the Vesta First Eight Blazers, some for the first time. These mark out the club’s respect and gratitude to the rowers representing us at our highest level in the toughest race of the winter season. They are a badge of honour, ‘The Vesta Blue,’ and a symbol of everything that is required to make it into a top Vesta boat.
Each owner acts as a steward for the blazer until the next Women’s Head of the River, whereupon they will be handed on to the next First Eight. Like a baton passed through time, these blazers will move from generation to generation of the Vesta Senior Squads and represent the sheer amounts of effort, dedication, commitment and willpower necessary to represent our Club at the highest level. Each blazer comes with a legacy, a legacy I’m sure the new stewards will be proud to be a part of, and do everything in their power to enhance.
I hope to see as many of you as possible cheering on the crews as they race on Saturday and celebrating with them afterwards.