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

Vesta@150 – Noel Casey

Noel Casey is a figure who features prominently in the history of both Vesta and Thames Rowing Clubs. Originally Noel was a rower with Vesta, joining in 1964. He became involved with Thames when his daughters wanted to learn to scull, but unfortunately, at the time Vesta did not allow female members. Noel went on to be involved at Thames for many years, coaching many international athletes in the 80’s and 90’s. There was a brief interlude during this time, returning to coach a Vesta men’s boat to a 5th place finish at the Head of the River.

Following a further period coaching at Thames, Noel returned to coach the Vesta Women. During this remarkable period he coached the women to their first ever win at Women’s Henley in 2004. This was just 10 years after female rowing members were admitted to the club.  Below he remembers his time coaching the Vesta women.

“I wasn’t involved in coaching for much of the 90’s, but this changed late on the Saturday Afternoon on the Remenham Mound. I can’t remember too much of the discussion with Pete Williams and David White but I woke up the next morning realizing that I had agreed to go back and coach some Vesta Women.

A meeting was arranged their goals were discussed and when told the preparation required nobody blinked and I thought s#*t I’m hooked again. A very strict program was put in place and they carried it out to the letter, I arranged an outing with AK who were looking down on us, so it didn’t go down very well as we took the first two pieces really easily. Then some of the AK crew complained of injury and the rest of the outing was scrapped. This improved confidence so I contacted Rodger Silk and arranged an outing with Cambridge. Again we came out on top with some to spare, confidence kept on improving and a good result in the head was welcome.

Now the thoughts returned to Henley preparation went really well and the result speaks for itself. I suggested that we have ago at the Nat Champs but the desire to continue was fading as one of the crew could not make it. I bumped into Guin Batten at HRR and she agreed to fill the vacant seat no matter which one. When I informed the remaining seven who was filling in the desire to continue was instant, Now to the Champs we won the heat with Thames winning the other so now we are going head to head in lane 3 and 4 The commentary something like this, Vesta by one foot, then they are level, then Thames by one foot this continued all the way until the last few strokes brilliant race very disappointing at only getting the silver.

My biggest problem was remaining a silent neutral throughout the race in between TRC and VRC fans.”


Here are some of the biggest wins of Noels coaching career spanning 5 decades:


1977                       TRC: Scullers Head Junior 1x, 1st

                             TRC: Nat Champs Junior 1x, 1st

1979                       TRC: Nat Champs Junior 2x, 1st



1980                       TRC: Nat Champs Senior 4+, 1st

1981                       TRC: Nat Champs Senior 4+ and 4x, 1st

1983                       GB National Squad: World Champs, Not Placed

1984                       GB National Squad:

WeHoRR  1st & 2nd

Nat Champs 1st

Essen 1st

Olympic Games 5th

1985                       GB National Squad: World Champs, Not Placed

1986                       VRC: HoRR, 1st (Vernon Trophy)

1988                       TRC: WeHoRR, 2nd

                              TRC: Nat Champs, 2nd

1989                       TRC: HWR, 8+ 1st


1990                       TRC: WeHoRR, 1st

                              TRC: HWR 8+, 1st

1991                       TRC: HWR  8+, 1st

1992                       TRC: HWR  8+, 1st

Nat Champs 8+, 1st

Gent 8+ & 4-, 1st

Docklands 4-, 4+, 8+, 1st

1993                       TRC: Nat  Champs  4x  1st, 2nd, 3rd




2004                       VRC: Henley 8+, 1st

                               VRC: Nat Champs, 2nd

2007 – 2011         Muckross RC, Ireland:

Won Eight Senior National Titles

2017                       Kenmare BC: Coup de la Jeunesse 1x, 1st

Vesta@150 – Contributors wanted

Vesta will be celebrating 150 years since the club was founded in 2020. As part of this we are looking for contributors to tell the story of the last 25 years. We have an exciting year of events planned, including an extra special Annual Dinner and a Henley Royal Regatta row past.

Originally Vesta was located on the river Wandle in Wandsworth, approximately 1500m downstream from its current location. We moved to Putney and what is now Ranelagh Sailing Club in 1875 and to our current location in 1890. Over the years there have been many changes to the club, but its unique character has been evident and held true throughout.

Publications have documented the club history on all major anniversaries, with the most recent being the 125th. As we build towards the 150th anniversary we are looking for contributors to offer to write the next chapter in the history of the club through stories of those they shared their time at Vesta with. This might just be for a select period of one or two years but ideally we are looking for sub-editors for each 5 year period.

Please contact us at comms@vestarowing.co.uk if you would like to know more about contributing.

Vesta biggest club at Remenham and Quintin

Following on from a successful start to the season, the club has gone from strength to strength with record numbers racing at Remenham Challenge and Quintin Head.

Remenham Challenge

The Remenham Challenge saw the first competitive action, and wins, for this year’s novice intake. All beginners, with the majority having only taken up the sport in September, both Men’s and Women’s crews took home the Novice Pennants. Both Senior squads also had strong showings, particularly showing great strength in depth across the board. Particularly notable results included a 3rd place for the Women’s A boat in the Elite category and 4th place out of 14 for the Men’s B boat in Intermediate.

Quintin Head

A strong showing at Quintin Head indicated that Christmas was anything but a break. All squads produced strong showings indicating some hard work had taken place over the festive period. Highlights included the Women’s A boat posting the 6th fastest women’s time of the day, closing the gap on key rivals considerably. With just 8 seconds separating them and near neighbours Thames, the inaugural Casey Challenge in February promises to be an enthralling race.

Novice women racing away from Hammersmith Bridge

The Men’s squad showed strong progress, with the A boat finishing 4th of 23 in Intermediate, and the B boat 3rd of 24 in Development. These results reiterated the competitive nature of the squad this year which is sure to drive further success as the season progresses.

Quintin also saw a first win of the season for our Masters, with the familiar faces of H Arbuthnot, M Cannon, M Hughes, M Warren, G Galavotti, J Cox, B Goulden, J Wetherstone and T Helliwell taking victory in the Masters B category. We will try not to mention slightly older crews which may have posted faster times on the day…

The Novice Squads also produced strong showings, all be it coming up against more experienced rivals . The Men’s Novice boat came within 2 seconds of taking the scalp of the Senior 4th boat. The Women’s squad also produced a strong result. They beat 10 crews in their category despite a very dramatic crab perfectly timed for the crowds at Hammersmith Bridge.

All in all, it has been a fantastic start to the season, with all squads growing in size and competitiveness as the season goes on.

Vesta has biggest ever Fours Head

Saturday 3rd November saw a record number of Vesta crews racing the Fours Head, with results showing exceptional strength in depth following a strong start to the season. Credit is due to all crews racing, with the majority finishing in the top half of their category, with many rowers completing their first Fours Head.

The standout result was the Women’s Coxed Four – VRC (G) – coming in second place in the highest Championship category. The crew of Sarah Thompson (bow), Louisa Emkes, Vesta debutant Amber Mayall and Robyn McGregor-Ritchie, coxed by Kate Keough finished in 22.27.5, as the third fastest women’s club coxed four overall.

There was also a strong result for the VRC (N) Men’s coxed four, with a 4th place finish in the Challenge Coxed Fours. The crew, resorting to a bucket at a very early stage of the season, of Adrian Turner (bow), Wojciech Markowski, Graham Hunter and James King, coxed by Robert Hamilton, finished in 21.14.9, also making them the fastest Vesta crew of the day.

The aforementioned strength in depth was epitomised by the Women’s Challenge Quads, where VRC (F) of Kirsty McGregor-Ritchie, Cameo Choquer, Carmella Brown and Kate Austin narrowly edged out the VRC (E) crew of Harriet Lowe, Shelley Rowlatt, Clare Wood and Alba Pellaroque by 6 seconds, with the crews finishing 4th and 6th respectively out of the division of 21 crews.

Sunday 4th November also saw three Vesta crews and a number of Vesta members in composites competing in the Vets Fours Head.

The full results are available here.

Blades of Remembrance

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Each year Vesta RC undertakes an Act of Remembrance to commemorate those club members who did not return from the World Wars.  This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1 and as such is of particular poignancy.

During the Great War of 1914-1918, 78 members went to war, and of those 12 lost their lives. More background on the names on the War Memorial can be found on the Vesta website and on the club during this period on Hear The Boat Sing

Vesta will be joining with clubs along the Putney Embankment, and all round the country, taking part in Blades of Remembrance.this Sunday, at the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month. Club President, Jock McKerrell would like to invite all present members to join this slightly extended event, providing a powerful link between those who enjoy rowing with Vesta today as much as those previous members did in the past.

For each of the 12 members that the club lost during the First World War, we will be displaying a blade in front of the club, and at 11:00 there will be a two minute silence. Jock will read out the names of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Record number of Vesta Crews to race Fours Head

We are pleased to announce that this weekend a record number of Vesta crews pulling on the Crimson and Black at the Fours Head. In total 15 crews will be racing this Saturday, 3rd November, the largest senior entry of any club by some way. We will also have 3 full Vesta crews and a further 2 composites racing the Vets Fours Head on Sunday.
When a Vesta member puts on our ‘jersey’ and goes out to race they do so representing, in order of importance; themselves, their crew, their squad and their Club. They are part of a vitally important whole that stretches back many generations. A whole that includes everyone from Olympic and European Champions, through Henley winners, to people have have won their novice pot. No matter how great or humble their previous success, all of our members share one thing in common; the sense of pride and community associated with putting on the Vesta all-in-one.
It is with great pride that we will have so many members new and old racing. This is a fantastic testament to our progress in recent years. The 8 Women’s and 7 Men’s crews are racing across all categories, in Quads, Coxless and Coxed Fours. Our first Vesta crew down the course will be the Women’s Championship Coxless Fours at 123. Our final Vesta crew will be one of the Men’s Intermediate Coxed Fours going off 477 out of 483.
You can see the full draw for Fours Head here, and for the Vets Fours Head here . The racing starts at 12pm on Saturday and 1pm on Sunday.

Introducing – The Vesta Race Day Membership

We are delighted to announce a new group of Vesta membership – The Race Day Membership! The idea is to encourage ex-rowers to get involved in racing, but at a much cheaper rate, rather than the old Legacy Membership.
All you have to do is be an Honourary Member of the Club, and you can then enter any event and become an Active Member for that specific race at a cost of £15. This is obviously dependent on boats. It is the Club equivalent of the old ARA day-pass, for those of you old enough to remember it. Hopefully we will be able to get a good group of people, keen to get back together periodically to race some fun events through the summer, or British Masters, Henley Masters, Vets Head etc.
At the moment we have a very short email list – this is mainly the people involved in Eight’s Head last year. If you can think of anyone do please encourage them to contact Captain@VestaRowing.co.uk – and Harry will add them to the email list! Over the years we’ve all had crew mates that have slipped away and this is a nice opportunity for reunion racing. For instance a 10 years ago we did 8+’s Head in this crew… let’s all enter Vets’ Head sort of thing. We’re especially on the look out for any women’s crews, but no matter how far people have moved away – it would be great to see them back in a boat in Vesta colours once more!
Michael Cannon has put together a quick survey to find out which events people would be interested in entering here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc3rtUjKurP2FY1JBSjkAcq9nY70ZyQMKR0ehdtiX6iKKDumQ/viewform?fbzx=7108702609937278000
Any questions please contact Captain@VestaRowing.co.uk and please spread the word!

Vesta Race for Ramen

We are delighted to announce that to celebrate the reopening of their refitted Putney restaurant, Wagamama are sponsoring an internal regatta for Vesta on the 13th of October!
Eagle eyed users of Rowe.rs will have already noticed the new session on the afternoon of the 13th: “Wagamama’s: Race for Ramen.” We are looking for 4 men’s eights and 4 women’s eights from the Senior and Development Squads to take part in the afternoon’s event, so please sign up as quickly as you can (Novices; your time will soon come).
We will be meeting Vesta from 13:30 to select crews and boat shells, with the first race starting at about 14:30.
There will be 2 “divisions” each of 4 crews. One division for men, one for women.
Tide: Incoming
Race Start: Along the line of boats (just the same as Blackstaffe Day – outside The Duke’s Head)
Race: two abreast for approximately 350m
Race Finish: Vesta Flagpole
Each crew will race every other boat in their division; staying on the water throughout – making it a test of endurance, ability to race in scratch crews and recovery rates as well as pure sprint power. Bonus points will be awarded for winning by a clear margin.
From these results, the top two crews of each division, will race off in a Cup Final and the bottom two crews will go into a Plate Final. Wagamama will be providing prizes to all those taking part on the day.