Parliamentary Boat Race report

Vesta RC’s senior women’s squad were invited to race again in this year’s Parliamentary Boat Races on July 13th, an annual event sponsored by Siemens to raise awareness of our sport and raise money among MPs for charity.  A women’s VIII (formed primarily from the HWR winning crew) attempted to make it four wins in a row for the squad. On a windy afternoon, the crew set about rigging “Tommy” in the slightly insalubrious surroundings of a broken glass-strewn layby behind the arches at Vauxhall, with only the close vicinity to a Majestic Wine Warehouse helping us to feel more at home. The safety briefing brought news of a revised race course and cancellation of the youth crews’ events; given the high water and wind against tide, the conditions were choppy even by usual Tideway standards. With a carefully marshalled crossing of the Albert Embankment to the London Duck Tours slipway (or, “next to MI6” as we prefer), and with just time enough for at least half of us to bury flip-flops in the deceptively deep, sticky mud on the shoreline, the crew boated, ready to face the opposition – Mortlake Anglian & Alpha.

Spies in the enemy camp hadn’t been wrong about how stacked the crew was, as the 8th-placed crew from WeHoRR reformed for the occasion, including as it did three Olympians, including Sarah Winckless (bronze, Athens) and a couple of Beijing silver medallists, and individuals who attended GB trials this year. Of course this wasn’t enough to deter the intrepid Vesta women, and we got stuck straight into our total race preparation – three 7-stroke starts – as we made our way to the start line.  With our usual strong start, we kept in touch with the oppo throughout the sprint course and when the “wind down!” call came we were a mere half-length down – not too shabby considering the competition!

With that, we performed our “row past” for the spectators and were off to the reception held on the terrace of the Houses of Parliament, with the honour of entering Parliament from the river via the Black Rod Steps, and the slightly more dubious honour of parading around the high offices of government in mud-slicked lycra. The women’s race was followed by a men’s race between London RC and Thames RC (won by London), and the finale was a race between the House of Commons and the House of Lords with a decisive win for the Commons – helped along no doubt by the superb coxing of our own Helen Arbuthnot.

The reception was attended by MPs, Lords, and a number of representatives from the world of rowing – Di Ellis, David Tanner, and some members of the GB squad, to list a few. As well as being a great day out, it was as usual a great opportunity to show the club in a positive light. And with that, all that was left was the return journey, including an unchaperoned crossing by Tommy of the Albert Embankment during rush hour – well done Vicky Taylor for demonstrating excellent lollipop lady skills!


Crew: (cox to bow) Vicky Taylor, Hilary Blandy, Holly de Gay, Stine Keys, Liane Higgins, Nell Pascal, Vicky Brock, Natalie “Red” Demblon, Martha Kelly (yes, that’s 6 strokesiders…)

Henley Masters Regatta 2011

Vesta had an extremely successful weekend of racing at Henley Masters Regatta.  George Fieldhouse and Barry Clarke won Masters B 2- and then doubled up with Helen Gray, Jamie Halliday and Michael Hughes to win the Masters B 4+.

Photo copyright BigBlade Photography: http://www.bigblade-photos.com

In the 2- George and Barry overcame the current National Masters Champions, 2010 Pairs Head divisional winners (who finished 46th overall in a Masters 2-) ex-GB internationals and Henley Royal medal winners en route to an eventful final against a strong Oporto University crew. The final was extremely close, with Vesta recovering from a slightly wayward start to begin draw ahead of Oporto before the Oporto crew clashed with the booms mid-way down the course. Distances of Easily, 2.5 Lengths and 2.5 Lengths gave the pair immense satisfaction and have made all the season long 5.30am outings and endless bench-pulls worthwhile.

The 4+ has just come together over the last couple weeks but the experienced individuals adapted well and surprised all the competitors (and themselves) by being extremely dominant in all races.  Inch perfect steering by Helen set the scratch crew up for strong performances in their semi and final.  Jamie swapped his Elite single for the stroke seat where he set a fantastic pace and rhythm.  Michael literally jumped out of the Thames Cup 8o and provided a massive amount of power and strength in the bow seat.

There were many comments from officials and competitors that it was great to see Vesta back on a Henley Masters presentation pontoon.

Henley Masters is an extremely well run event over an abridged Henley Royal course.  Competition is of the highest standard with a large number of international crews, Henley Royal medal winners, Olympians and ex-Internationals competing.  Both the Vesta crews can pay testament to the quality of entry but also the manner in which the opposition carried themselves.  The opposition were extremely magnanimous in defeat with the threat to be training even harder to try to keep up.  No doubt the 2- and 4+ will be back next year to defend their titles and hope to be bringing more Vesta crews along with them.  In the meantime, roll on the Winter Head season!

Vesta Wins Club 8+ HWR 2011!

Vesta Wins Club 8+ HWR 2011!

I’m extremely pleased to report that Vesta Rowing Club was once again triumphant at Henley Women’s Regatta.

We won the Club Eights, beating Mortlake Anglian and Alpha Boat Club by 3L in a time of 5 minutes 9 seconds, having dispatched Thames RC A, Royal Chester and Cantabrigian in the previous rounds, with no verdict less than three lengths.  Our winning crew was Aleksandra Kurek, Martha Kelly, Liane Higgins, Vicky Brock, Susan Atkinson, Kirstine Keyes, Holly De Gay, Hilary Blandy and Rachael Dixon (coxswain), coached by James Parris, Matt Gilliver & Paul Fitzwilliam.  A fantastic result for the crew, squad and their coaches.

In other events, Lara Brock and Ellie Dorman fought a strong field to make it to the final of elite pairs eventually losing out in the final to a Reading University/Nottingham RC composite who are also the GB European Champs crew for this year.  Our Vesta ladies also made the semi-finals in the elite pairs (Ailsa Tremayne and Kat Hedges) and the club coxed fours (Aga Siemiginowska, Nell Pascall, Helen Edwards, Caroline Newbury and cox Rohanne Thompson) where we lost in a well fought semi-final against the eventual winners, Upper Thames RC.  We also had an excellent representation earlier in the regatta in senior doubles,  and in the Club eights with our Development Women beating Barnes Bridge Ladies in their first round and eventually losing to Thames A, and with our senior squad Club B eight losing to Curlew.

We were the most successful Tideway Club at the regatta, and after last year’s success in the Senior Eights, we have now have demonstrated that our success in women’s competition is becoming well established.

Andrew

Captain, Vesta Rowing Club

Vesta Girl’s Squad Hit Mulhouse in Style

The Vesta girls squad hit Mulhouse in style

 The regatta season is looming and as usual, at this time of year, the Vesta girls set out on training camp. The destination of choice:  Mulhouse, an industrial town in Eastern France, which is home to a 32km stretch of canal – perfect for lengthy steady state paddles and very little distraction, unless you are a budding train spotter or Peugeot fanatic. 

 After a long day of driving we checked into the sports centre, which was to be ‘home’ for the next 7 days.  Our gruelling programme for the week consisted of three training sessions a day, a lot of food (including copious amounts of Princes biscuits) and some much needed sleep.  After the first couple of days, it seemed we had fallen into some kind of groundhog day, as each day replicated the last, with just a slight deviation in terms of the length of the pieces we had to do each day, which were determined on the number of beers amount of sleep our coaches had had the night before.

Of course, no training camp would be complete without a ‘bad kit’ day and the Vesta girls certainly didn’t hold back!  Congratulations to Martha and Kim who won the prestigious award for the worst ‘bad kit’, it must have been a proud moment! 

Congratulations should also go to Stine, who won the ‘pick me coach’ award for the most improved rower of the week and also to Caroline who won the ‘oarswoman of the week’ award for the most effective boat mover.   

The girls would all like to say a huge thank you to our three coaches, James, Matt and Paul for giving up their time to coach us – we really appreciate it and hope to do you proud this summer!

– Tammy Bernard

Womens’ Head of the River Race 2011

Vesta entered four crews in the WeHORR this year and for the first time ever we had two crews finish in the top 35! 

The IM1 crew, consisting of (from stroke to bow) Ellie Dorman, Helen Edwards, Ailsa Tremayne, Lara Brock, Nell Pascall, Aga Siemiginowska, Caroline Newbury, Kat Hedges and Ro Thompson (cox) finished an amazing 17th out of 279 crews, with a time of 19mins 37.

The IM2 crew, consisting of (from stroke to bow) Tammy Bernard, Kitty Lowings, Liz Crighton, Susan Atkinson, Vicky Brock, Liane Higgins, Hilary Blandy, Holly De Gay and Julia Hedley (cox) finished 32nd, with a time of 20mins 03.  The race was eventful from start to finish, with the first over taking done before Barnes bridge, including a clash that prevented the other crew from finishing the race and an almighty dash for the finish line, over taking 3 more crews as they passed Vesta.

The IM3 (A) crew, consisting of (from stroke to bow) Anna Vandenberg, Sybille Schorm, Sabine Schloesser, Vanessa Harvey, Sian Withers, Pernille Sahl, Emily Hartley, Charlotte Lamping and Rachel Dixon (cox) finished an amazing 77th with a time of 20mins 52. Considering that some of the crew members were essentially novices and had not rowed at WeHORR before, this was an outstanding achievement.

Thanks go to Vanessa Harvey who sat in at the last minute for a disappointed Sarah Head who was suffering from an injured back.

The IM3 (B) crew, consisting of (from stroke to bow) Sophie Hanson, Philippa LeRoux, Deborah Crowshaw, Janet Kidner, Maria-Elena Nilsback, Thea Hudson, Emi Furuhata, Anneke Van Heteren and Vicky Taylor (cox) finished 177th with a time of 21mins 56. This was another particularly fine performance with the crew taking nearly a minute off their course time.

Congratulations go to all of the Womens’ Development Squad for their approach to and competition within the event.

– Tammy Bernard & James Unler

Photos copyright Nick Ablitt & Birdman Photography

Henley 4s and 8s Head & OUWBC 19th/20th February

The girls squad hit Henley in force, competing in all three divisions.   The women’s novice 4+ (Maria-Elena Nilsback, Sarah Head, Sian Withers, Pernille Sahl & Laura Forsyth (cox)), kicked off the racing and despite unfortunately catching a crab, they finished fourth in their division (out of 10) with a time of 14mins 52.  The development squad also entered an IM3 4+ (Deborah Crowshaw, Janet Kidner, Emily Hartley, Charlotte Lamping & Victoria Taylor (cox)) , which finished in 14mins 15, putting them in third place in their division.  These two crews then joined forces to compete in an IM3 8+ (Sophie Hanson, Sybille Schorm, Sabine Schloesser, Sarah Head, Anna Vandenberg, Pernille Sahl, Sian Withers, Thea Hudson & Victoria Taylor (cox)) which finished the course in 12mins 42, beating Reading,  UL, Trinity College Oxford and the University of Surrey.

The girls IM2 4x put in a strong performance, winning their division easily, 22 seconds ahead of the next crew, with a time of 12mins 21.   The crew from stroke to bow consisted of Liz Crighton, Ailsa Tremayne, Lara Brock, and Kat Hedges.

 

The IM1 8+ crew, from stroke to bow;  Liz Crighton, Lara Brock, Ailsa Tremayne, Vicky Brock, Kat Hedges, Kitty Lowings, Hilary Blandy, Helen Edwards and Rachel Dixon (cox) finished in 11mins 45, putting them in third place in their division.


The IM2 8+ crew, from stroke to bow; Tammy Bernard, Liane Higgins, Caroline Newbury, Aga Siemiginowska, Sarah Gutsell, Vanessa Harvey, Kim Ledger, Holly de Gay and Ro Thompson (Cox), finished with a time of 11mins 44, putting them in second place in their division, just 6 seconds behind the Oxford Women’s blue boat.

The following day, the girls squad were invited to race against the Oxford blue boat, their second boat and the light weight 8+, in Henley; home to the women’s’ Oxford vs Cambridge boat race.  The crews were pretty evenly matched, which made for some great raced pieces.  While Oxford had some very fast starts under their belts, the Vesta crews held their own with strong rhythm and power through the water.  The day was topped off with a little star spotting as Steve Redgrave turned up to offer some words of wisdom to the Oxford blue boat, as his daughter was sat at 6 in the crew.

– By Tammy Bernard

(Photos copyright Sliders)

Quintin Head, Saturday 29th January

The Quintin Head course is a familiar stretch of the river for us, running from Chiswick Bridge to Hammersmith Bridge.

The women’s squad entered WIM3 and won the category convincingly with a time of 12.59.4.  Moreover, they were the fastest women’s crew of the day, beating 30 other women’s crews and a few men’s crews along the way!   The crew, from stroke to bow, consisted of:  Tammy Bernard, Helen Edwards, Nell Pascall, Aga Siemiginowska, Vicky Brock, Liane Higgins, Natalie Demblon, Sandy Kurek and Ro Thompson (cox).


The men’s squad entered IM1 and came third out of 7 in this category, with a finish time of 11.42.7.  The crew, from stroke to bow, consisted of Daniel O’Dowd, Robert Shaw, Samuel McCarthy, Michael Hughes, Nicholas Neveling, Jonathan Brown, Alister Campbell, Gianni Galavotti and Helen Gray, (cox).

– Tammy Bernard

(Photos copyright Birdman Photography)