Vesta – Expanding our Horizons as we enter our 150th Year

Our 150th year promises to be our biggest and best yet! We’re starting the season with a bang; expanded squads, new equipment and new coaching setups!

Expanding our provision

To accommodate the expected numbers of new rowers keen to join us, and to expand on the Novices’ fantastic recent successes, including Beginner Pennants at the Head of River Race 2018 and 2019, we’re delighted to announce we’re expanding our provision for both of our programmes.

To do this we’re opening up the Club to training all day on the weekend. This gives us more availability of coaching launches and equipment for both the Seniors (who will form two, larger squads training in the mornings) and for the Novices, who will now train later in the day starting before lunch.

We’re also opening up weekend lunchtime/afternoons to social rowers – if you’d like to get back into a boat but aren’t able to commit to full-time training then this is for you!

Equipment

To build on our successes of the previous season we’ve revamped our gym, which now accommodates 9 brand new Concept2 ergos and 4 new Concept2 bikeergs. These combine with our excellent weights facilities and 10 rp3 rowperfect machines. Vesta’s land training facilities are now some of the best on the Tideway!

In addition to these purchases, a new season calls for a new boat! The Senior Men will receive a brand new Filippi 8+ by the end of September. This is based on the same shell as the Kiwi National Team, with some bespoke modifications for a Tideway crew (and a custom Vesta paint job). Keep your eyes peeled for information about the upcoming Naming Ceremony. This adds to our already exceptional fleet including the new Women’s Filippi 8+ which arrived earlier this year.

Coaching

To help with the expanded numbers, we’re delighted to announce a first for the Club – paid part-time coaching positions for both Senior Squads. After a careful interview process involving a number of applicants from outside the Club, the Senior Women will continue to be led by Leigh Curtis-Green and a combination of Dan Safdari and Jack Elkington will oversee the Senior Men.

Leigh has steered the Senior Women to ever greater successes over the last four years, with crews winning Aspirational Coxless Fours, and regularly making finals and semi-finals at Henley Women’s Regatta. Dan has been our Director of Rowing for the past three years (and has helped us produce some of the fittest squads the Club has ever had) and will be taking over the lead role for the Senior Men, ably assisted by Jack, who took over as Head Coach of the Senior Men from 8’s Head last year.

Thanks to these newly funded positions, all three will be able to commit a lot more time to the Club, and you can expect to see more of them around the Club. Both squads welcome back the rest of their valued volunteer coaching teams from last year too – we now have a wealth of experience to draw on for all of the rowers of our Senior Squads.

Finally, due to the strength and size of the Club, we’re on the lookout for coaches passionate about bringing the sport to new people, who might be keen on developing their coaching CV and get a genuine joy in seeing complete beginners compete on the largest of domestic stages. Whether you’re a qualified coach, experienced at coaching novices, or are completely new to this sort of role but want to give it a go, then we want to hear from you!

If you’re willing to periodically give a few hours of your time, or are excited by the prospect of running one of our Novice Squads yourself, then please get in touch by messaging the Captain, Harry Bond, on captain@vestarowing.co.uk

Vesta is entering our 150th season, prepared with our best ever prospects – we hope you’re looking forward to being a part of it!

Start of Season Dates

Row with Vesta in our 150th Year

We are happy to confirm the date of the start of season squad meetings:

Senior Women – Tuesday 27th August
Novice Men/Women – Wednesday 28th August
Senior Men – Thursday 29th August

If you are interesting in rowing this year please do pop along at 7.30pm on the above dates. The first training day of the season for seniors will be Saturday 31st August, followed by Blackstaffe Day festivities

Vesta Bar Update

With the new season just around the corner, there are lots of social events to look forwards to over the coming weeks:

Big Fat Post Henley Quiz of the Year 2

Monday 19th August
After last months stonkingly successful quiz, superstar host Mike Benson returns at 8.15pm next Monday. To enter a team of 6 please contact bargroup@vestarowing.co.uk.

Blackstaffe Day

Saturday 31st August
Our start of season extravaganza in honour of perhaps Vesta’s greatest ever rower, 1908 Olympic Champion Harry Blackstaffe. Expect mixed 8s racing, love doubles, Learn to Row pasts and lots of off the water activities as well.

There will be a pop up cocktail bar from 1pm and offers on pitchers of beer and lager. The evening theme will be “Shirts of a questionable standard”. To sign up for a bar shift please email deputybar@vestarowing.co.uk

Last Night of the Proms

Saturday 14th September
Join us at the club for a screening of the last night of the proms. Pack your Union Flag (or other flag of choice)

Rugby World Cup

September/October
All home nations games and the final will be shown at the club, more details to follow.

Vesta Ski Trip

W/C 5th January
We are currently exploring the possibility of a Vesta Ski Trip to Megeve. Please contact deputybar@vestarowing.co.uk to declare your interest.

New Committee and Membership Changes

Following the conclusion of the AGM, we are pleased that the club is well positioned as we enter our 150th year with your new committee listed below. There is also a short statement from our new President, Dick Welch.

The club has grown significantly in recent years, with senior squads totalling almost 100 rowers, a large novice section and a very active masters group. Our Learn to Row course has been massively oversubscribed and we have had more than double the number of enquiries regarding membership since HRR than in previous years.

It is important to us all that Vesta continues to be a welcoming and fun place, as well as an increasingly successful rowing club. Careful investment is required to ensure that we have the necessary rowing resources and that the fabric of the building is maintained and improved. Alongside various investments made in the past number of months, we are working with the Captain to review the rowing infrastructure and you will see further improvements in the coming weeks.

In addition to a focus on sponsorship and fundraising, the Committee reviewed the membership subscriptions needed to run the club day to day and the AGM voted in favour of the following 2019/2020 membership rates:

Active Rowers                      £49 per month

Honorary Members             £7.50 per month

Graduate Members             £42.75 per month

Student Members                £24.50 per month

Racking Fee                           £15 per month

Coaches & Coxes                 £4 per annum (in exchange for a bar token)

Should any member wish to discuss the fees or the need for a payment plan, please contact the Captain in the first instance.

We will shortly be sharing the dates for a number of fantastic events to celebrate our 150th anniversary. Please keep an eye out for these as we want as many members and former members as possible to help us mark what is certain to be a memorable year.

Statement from the new President, Dick Welch:

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for electing me as President of Vesta Rowing Club. Personally and on behalf of the Club I would like to thank and pay tribute to my predecessor, Jock McKerrell, who has performed the role for the past 5 years with wisdom, wit & warmth. I am honoured that you have asked me to fulfil this position, particularly as we enter Vesta’s 150th season. I was a young rower at Vesta when we celebrated our club’s centenary and hope that young and old across the club will enjoy participating in events to mark this new milestone in our history. More of that to come.

The purpose of bringing forward the AGM to July this year is to prevent the hiatus between the natural end of the rowing season and the “new term” situation we usually find ourselves in by the time a new committee is elected in September. The success of the Learn to Row programme means we have a new group of athletes ready to hit the water well before that; this year your committee is also ready to roll. Let’s make the 2019/20 season a truly memorable one for Vesta both on and off the water”

2019/20 Committee:

President:                             Dick Welch

Chairman:                              Paul Baldwin

Captain:                                 Harry Bond

Hon. Treasurer:                    Killian O’Sullivan

Hon. Secretary:                    Victoria Carroll

Hon. Bar Steward:                Lauren Hardcastle

Communications Officer     Chris Clements

House Captain:                     Rob Alexander

Entries Secretary:                  Charlotte Lennox

Membership Secretary:     Alex Brown

Deputy Captain:                   Andy Carson

Water Safety Advisor:         Judith Howell

Assistant Treasurer:            Clare Wood

Assistant Bar Steward:        Chris Ruddick

Chairman, VOEC:                  Chris Harrison

Treasurer, VOEC:                 Killian O’Sullivan

Paid Coaching Positions Available

We are pleased to announce that applications are open for 2 paid coaching positions to lead our Men’s and Women’s squads in our very special 150th Anniversary year.

After strong results this summer, we will be aiming for bigger and better things next year. Active membership of the club is currently the biggest it has ever been. With masses of potential in both our Men’s and Women’s squads, and an unprecedented interest from potential new joiners, these are extremely exciting times.

For more details please see the link below or contact Harry at Captain@Vestarowing.co.uk

https://rowingadverts.co.uk/listings/single/4318

Henley Women’s and Henley Royal Regatta

Both our men and our women enjoyed successful Henley regattas.

First up the women had over 20 squad members racing in the main draw, with 3 crews qualifying for the Quarter-Finals. One of those crews, the Aspirational Club Eight, made it through to the Semi-Final, coming closer to the eventual winner than any other in the regatta.

On to Henley Royal Regatta, where the Men had an Eight Pre-Qualified in the Thames Challenge Cup and a Four successful in qualifying for the Britannia Challenge Cup, with the top Wyfold crew narrowly missing out.

The Eight comprehensively beat Auriol Kensington on the Wednesday posting a margin of 3 1/2 lengths. This meant they joined the Four in racing on the Thursday, with the Britannia being restricted to 16 entries. Unfortunately both crews came up against strong foreign opposition on the Thursday. The Eight was defeated by Cercle De L’aviron De Lyon, the margin 1 1/3 lengths and the Four by Rudern, Tennis und Hockey Club Bayer Leverkusen, the margin 2 1/2 lengths.

The Women’s Corridor – Official Opening 12pm Saturday 11th May

Vesta Rowing Club has evolved in many ways over the past 149 years. No change in that time has had a greater positive impact than the introduction of Women’s rowing at the club almost 25 years ago. We are proud to announce that finally, thanks to a grant from the Fairbairn Trust, women will have equality in access to the bar facilities, with a corridor directly from their changing rooms.

The grand opening of the Women’s corridor, and the new kitchen facilities, will take place on Saturday 11th May at 12pm, hosted by our President Jock.

This recent work marks the final change to what has been a complete transformation for the club. At one time Women were only allowed in the Vesta bar at certain times and on certain days. As unbelievable as this may be now, Vesta in fact once displayed awards such as “chauvinist club of the year” as a mark of pride. Now the club could not be further from this, with great pride in being one of the leading clubs for Women’s rowing in the UK. We strive for equality in the sport of rowing in everything we do.

There was much controversy amongst members when the club first admitted members, with arguments including “where will we put them”. We have come a long way since those days.

We are proud of our progress in women’s rowing over the past 25 years, it is impossible to imagine Vesta without women’s rowing at its core. We have now taken the final step and the women of the club are given at least an equal footing with the men.

Race Review – Head of the River Race

It was yet another successful end to the head race season for Vesta Rowing Club at the Head of the River Race. This included the Novice Men retaining the Beginner Pennant for the second year running. Following the cancellation of the Women’s Head of the River Race, this also included women racing alongside men in the race for the first time. The Vesta A boat finished as the 3rd fastest Women’s Boat.

The winning Novice Men’s Crew

The Men’s Senior Squad showed their considerable progress this year with the highest finish for the squad in five years, coming in 63rd place in exactly 19.00.0. Many members of the boat were disappointed with this result, showing just how far the standards have increased this year.

The strength in depth was displayed in the Vesta B and C boats. Vesta B finished with the highest placing for a Senior Squad second eight in over ten years, 102nd. For a boat which formed in earnest just over a week before, there were extremely promising signs for the summer season to come. On top of this, the third eight finished in 165th, also the best result by a Vesta third eight in over 10 years.

This said, the performance of the day was from the Novice Men, who finished in 194th place. This was the best finish by a Vesta Novice boat in living memory, and in at least the last 30 years. The secured the Beginner Club pennant for the second year running. This remarkable feat shows the massive talent being developed at the club. There will surely be even greater things in store for the members of this crew in the future.

In the Women’s event, the first boat finished in 3rd place, less than 15 seconds off the overall winners. The second boat finished an extremely credible 11th place. Again, this strong show sets the squad up for an exciting summer season as they look to build on their successes in previous years.

Women’s Head Preview

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
7:Charlotte Orrell
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.

The Noel Casey Challenge – Saturday 16th February

We’re delighted to announce that this upcoming Saturday, will see the inaugural Noel Casey Challenge Race! The event, running over the Championship Course, will see the top three Vesta Women’s Eights compete against the top three Thames crews in a side by side battle to determine tideway dominance!
All three races will be from Chiswick Bridge to the Vesta Flag Pole and approximate timings are:
Second Eights: 12:30 Start Time (Marshalled by Sarah Winckless – VRC)
Third Eights: 12:45 Start Time (Marshalled by Caroline Smith – TRC)
First Eights (and for the Noel Casey Trophy): 13:00 Start Time (Marshalled by Guin Batten – TRC).
Presentation ceremony in Vesta Rowing Club after the final race and food will be available for purchase.
We warmly invite all members, past and present, to come down and support our crews (especially women from previous years) as the two racing Clubs seek to cement their rivalry and dominance as two of the best Clubs in women’s rowing.

The Noel Casey Trophy

The Noel Casey Trophy
Named after the legendary coach Noel Casey; Noel coached at both TRC and VRC, winning many events with both Clubs over the years. You can read more about Noel here.
The crews representing Vesta will include:
Vesta 1st 8:
Cox: Alice Sewell
Str – Robyn Mcgregor-Richie
7  – Charlotte Orrell
6 – Amber Mayall
5 – Fran Lidlow
4 – Louisa Emkes
3 – Rebecca Kelly
2 – Ruth McKellar
Bow – Kirsty Mcgregor-Richie
Vesta 2nd 8:
Cox – Kate Keough
Str – Imogen Knibbs
7 – Mikaela Blowing
6 – Helen Carswell
5 – Sarah Thompson
4 – Sarah Campbell
3 – Kerry Price
2 – Claudia Williams
Bow – Mairead Flannery
Vesta 3rd 8:
Str – Katie Baulkwill
7 – Jess Bromley
6 – Harriet Farquharson
5 – Alba Pellaroque
4 – Becky McDermott
3 – Sophie Jones
2 – Kate Pulling
Bow – Aileen Rice-Jones