Fours Head of the River

Happily for all competitors, the weather forecasts were wrong and the 5th of November offered excellent racing conditions for the Fours Head of the River Race.  The weather was dry and mild (handy when you’re marshalling in the 400s) with a gentle breeze, and the water conditions as good as you’ll find on the tideway. Following the sprinkling of GB squad members racing in the pairs head, there was a large contingent of the current GB squad out competing for their respective clubs and picking up more silverware for their groaning trophy cabinets. (Unlike in training outings I believe they all made it home in one piece as well.)  The Hor4s twitter account disclosed that the race committee run a sweepstake on the number of crews in the top 100 who hit the buoy at Chiswick Pier – and true to form, the crews marshalling in that area enjoyed the sight of crew after non-tideway crew beat up the Chiswick pier buoy.

Fortunately this isn’t a “key target” race for the club, so we had a mere ten crews from Vesta competing across men’s and women’s, scull and sweep, among the 455 crews that completed the course. With some sub-tastic entries, three of the Vesta crews raced for time only. The event saw the usual mixed experiences whereby some crews had an open fairway for about 4 miles – a steering experience never enjoyed during training! – while others fought for space with competitors either side.

There were no wins for the club but good racing throughout, and some notable performances. The men’s IM1 4- finished eighth out of 36, including as it did the winning IM2 pair combination from the pairs head (Richard Lear and Simon Woodfine). The women’s IM1 4x came third in a large, and at the top end very pacy, field of 38 boats. Meanwhile there were two second places, for the women’s senior 4- and the women’s IM1 4-, the latter fighting off a fellow Vesta crew in the same category. Their pace must have had something to do with coach Jamie Low’s advice that as lightweights they should keep it “fast and loose” – probably not the first time such advice has been successful. (Ahem.)

Given the shortage of boats for the vast (in number) senior women’s squad, both the senior and IM2 women’s boats had to be returned to Hammersmith post-race, meaning their crews had a Putney-Chiswick warm up, followed by a Putney-Hammersmith warm down followed by a long walk back to the club. All crews had limited training time in their racing formats, with the luckier crews getting more than one outing before Saturday. The IM2 crew tried to fit in some last minute practise, and so gathered at 5.45am on Friday morning amid heavy rain, thunder and lightning,  only to find that some especially secure locking of the boatshed (Captain, please note) meant a quick borrow of incorrectly geared blades from KCS. Getting up early is such a good idea in theory…

All crews enjoyed taking local scalps, in addition to visitors who may not be so familiar with the stream. However, perhaps the greatest achievement of the day was that of our Communications Officer Aga Siemiginowska (IM1 4+). If anyone deserves a medal, it’s her, for managing to complete the race for the first time out of four (yes, four) attempts, having been defeated in previous years by crew injury, weather and broken steering. Well done Aga!

Well done also and thank you to the efforts in the bar and the kitchen, as marshalled by Ailsa Tremayne, for providing bacon baguettes, cakes, hot drinks and the odd pint or two to many a competitor and spectator over the course of the day.

– Martha K

Nutrition Talk – Tuesday 25 October

One of the fundamental keystones for proper training, staying healthy and winning races is correct nutrition.  Whilst one can find a dizzying array of information on the internet and come to your own opinions, a sports specific briefing delivered by a professional may help to clarify some things and put you on the right track.  To that end it has been organised for a sports nutrition talk to be given at the club on the 25th of October in the front room at Vesta at 1930.  This talk is free and open to all members of the club and as such is a one time offer, don’t miss out!

The talk is being given by Matt Lovell who has been the Sports Nutritionist for the England Rugby Team since before the 2003 World Cup and has also worked with a number of professional rugby and football teams. Don’t miss out on this awesome opportunity to help you achieve your goals over the coming season.

Senior Men Win at Pairs Head!

The senior men had a storming start to the season with an IM2 2- win by Richard Lear and Simon Woodfine. The winning time was 12:53.05, setting a strong benchmark for the year ahead. Congrats and keep up the good work!

Vesta Women Show Strong Start in Pairs Head

With clement weather conditions to no doubt appease the assortment of GB rowing gods taking part, the 2011 pairs head saw the Vesta Senior Women squad represented by six fine crews across a range of categories. All crews enjoyed relatively incident free races, returning home dry and safe – unlike some of the other boats on the river.

With big competition in the senior and elite categories from competitors that (sometimes literally) eclipsed the Vesta crews, all three boats finished with respectable times, even if they were placed (let’s be honest!) last in their categories. The elite pair of Kat Hedges and Martha Kelly finished 6th out of all the women’s pairs, in a close race (at one point four boats abreast) that was won by crew members of the GB under 23 women’s VIII. The senior pair of Sarah Wood and Alex Johnson were beaten by a strong City of Oxford crew, while the senior double of Kitty Lowings and Emma Dyson were beaten by the rather curious Leander combination of Debbie Flood (of GB fame) and a cox (sculling as opposed to coxing) – who themselves were beaten by a speedy London RC crew. As Kitty and Emma had only very recently come together as a crew, and were impeded during the race by a men’s double (chivalry, much?), their time was commendable.

The IM3 doubles event was, as usual, the largest women’s category and had two Vesta crews – sibling duo Lara / Vicky Brock and Athene McGregor-Macdonald / Natalie Demblon. The Brockmobile cranked out the fastest squad time of the day, finishing in an excellent fifth place in the category. Meanwhile another new combination, Hayley Beer and Anna Ven Den Berg in the IM2 pair, enjoyed their first race in a pair despite seasonal sniffles.

In Matt’s words this was a “voluntary, fun” head race, and at a mere 4k was a good afternoon out. The (presumably mandatory, not fun?) Fours’ Head is the next race for the squad, on the 5th November.

– Martha Kelly

Vesta Quiz!

Ladies and Gentleman,

On Wednesday 19th October, the honorable quizmaster Gordon Barnes will be hosting the first Vesta Quiz of the season. Start time is 8:30, food should be provided, and the bar will of course be open.

Get a team together or just turn up, the more the merrier. Who knows, we may even see a return of the ‘Will Tilbury’ question?!?!?!

Safety Briefing!

Rowing on the Tideway can be an adventure, especially in the winter. As such, there will be a club safety briefing on Tuesday 11 October in the front room at 1930. This briefing will last about 30 minutes and is compulsory for all new club members. It is also heartily recommended for all coxes and steersmen.

Tour du Lac licked

Vesta Rowing Club returned to Geneva on Saturday 24th September to compete in the longest inland rowing race in the world.  Emily Trant, Kitty Lowings, Alex Johnson, Freya Johnstone and Cheryl Gilliver sculled 160km in a coxed quad around the circumference of Lac Léman, finishing in a heroic time of 17 hours and 42 minutes at 2:42am on Sunday morning.

The girls will be writing a full race report next week, so look forward to tales of bravery, extremes and utter mentalness.

Coxes wanted

Vesta is recruiting coxswains for the forthcoming 2011-12 season. Would you like to cox? Or do you know someone who wants to?

We have a very healthy number of rowers in our women’s senior squad and are in need of one or two more coxes to take them through to success at major head races, Henley Women’s Regatta, Henley Royal Regatta and the National Championships in 2012.  This is a great opportunity to train and race at the highest club level, make lots of new friends and enjoy the social side of the friendliest club on the Tideway.

You will be fully supported by an experienced coaching team of Matt, Paul, Jeremy, Henry and Jamie; you’ll train in top quality boats and have every chance to take your crew to trophies.

Please email Matt Gilliver if you are interested.

New Stash!

Time to order some new kit kids! No one wants to be the stinky one in the gym, so order up! The Crewroom is ONLY open from Wednesday 14 September – Thursday 22 September. The next kit order won’t be until 2012, so don’t miss this one, which will ensure we have new kit for 4s Head. Check out the Kit Page for details.