{Race Report} Summer round up: Novice girls transform into Dev women

Was summer only a few short weeks ago? It sure feels like a distant memory. . . Here’s our round up covering a summer of racing.

by Lauren Hardcastle

Novice girls complete the metamorphosis to transform into the development women….well almost all of them!

With training camp completed (survived) the novice girls started the summer full of nervous energy fighting for an elusive seat in that Henley 8. Training was stepped up a gear and with the squad whittled down to 9 with two of us proficiently turning a natural hand to coxing! The race was on – so to speak, not only to find that perfect, knee length, dress for Henley Royal (somewhat of a challenge for these tall girls amongst us!) but to get a respectable time in the 2k vomit inducing test and a seat in the boat for Henley women’s!

A few weeks later and there we were on a beautiful balmy Thursday evening paddling down the Henley course with not one head in the boat, I’m not sure any one of us (including James and Chris!) thought we’d be sat there looking into an incredible sunset making all the blood, sweat and tears worth every second! Although our Henley 8 did not make it through the time trial we had the best race of our season and were massively punching about our weight in the big leagues, the experience alone was incredible and it just made us more determined to keep our seats in the intermediates next year!

So – with Henley women’s over for 2016 we put down the AIO and pulled out the dresses for Henley Royal! Not too shabby to be part of the Remenham Club and definitely the way to do Henley Royal, the weather was kind and the champagne very friendly and unbelievably no one missed the bus home. A great few days and a slightly painful liver later it was back to reality and the fun of summer regattas.

We decided to tackle Kingston, Molesey and to finish our season at Henley Town and Visitors Regatta. For some of us the drive to win that shiny first pot made us like magpies flocking to the river. Kingston went well with a nail biting heat and winning by a canvas! We were over the moon until we realised it was the Cambridge Development Squad who were our competitors for the final, we gave it our best and gave them a good race but sadly they pipped us to the post. We drowned our sorrows in a post-race bbq on the Vesta balcony! Not to worry, onwards and upwards to Molesey regatta…where let’s just say it didn’t quite go to plan! We made the rookie error of taking the wrong rigger and as we are all aware one cannot rig a boat with 5 stroke side riggers, we were somewhat screwed until a lovely man from Molesey lent us a boat and the race was on – we located our cox (who had been borrowed by 8 London boys who were intent on keeping her forever – that is a fight they would never win!) we made it to the start with no time to spare in our borrowed boat – alas it was not to be but we sure did learn our lesson!! – Our cox won her pot with the London boys and took a swim in the river for the privilege!!!

And so, all of a sudden it was back to Henley Town and Visitors with a scratch IM3 4+ and a wildcard entry.. We smashed the heat winning by a comfortable 4 lengths and the wait was on to see if we could end the season on a high, once again just being beaten to the pot by a meagre half a length but we were satisfied nonetheless, the glimpse of good things to come ensured we went home happy and contented we couldn’t have tried any harder.


I can honestly say joining Vesta has been one of the hardest, most challenging things we have ever done, there have been friends made for life, everyone has relocated to within a 1 mile radius of Vesta and we have callouses in places we never knew were possible, rowing is not just a sport but a way of life and I think that one that none of us are willing to give up. We are looking forward to embracing the Intermediates, Blackstaffe Day and a few well-earned weeks off.

September is just around the corner and we are not the Novices anymore – one might think we should know better now and can avoid those horrific hangovers and hand blisters but it is Vesta after all, it would be rude not to have a drink in the bar after training and from what I’ve seen so far the learn to row course are already giving us a run for our money with the biggest bar takings Vesta have ever seen last year! It’s a great place to be and with a new Captain and a new influx who knows what might happen next year, one thing for sure the Development Girls aren’t going anywhere….



The 2016/17 season starts week of 5th September – dates for your diary

It’s nearly time to get the new season underway. Both returning and new members are invited to attend our season kick off meetings which will be held upstairs in the Vesta Bar. The Captain will outline plans for Vesta for the coming season and how we’ll be running the club, and each coach will give an overview of training and racing goals for their squads.

Novice Squad kick off meeting: Tuesday 6th September 2016 at 8pm. Bar open from 7pm:)

Senior Squad kick off meeting: Thursday 8th September 2016 at 7:30pm

RSVP here if you’ll be coming along to one of our season kick off meetings. New members are welcome and there is no obligation to join.


First session: Saturday 10th September 2016, 7:30am

Current members: don’t forget the Vesta AGM on Wednesday 7th September 2016 at 8pm!

{News} Wimbledon Challenge Cup returned after nearly 50 years!

This cup dated from 1912 and was raced at the Club Regatta for pairs. The last recorded winners were in 1968, when it was taken to a shop in Bicester for engraving, and never collected, despite phone calls and letters. The shop owner, Lawrence Nash, has now sold his business, and was kind enough not to leave the Cup to an unknown fate.

It has the VRC logo on it, and he was recommended to contact the River & Rowing Museum, who identified Vesta Rowing Club. An email followed, the Cup was collected, and is now behind the bar with the rest of the silverware.

Welcome back !

(A token of our very sincere appreciation has been sent to Mr & Mrs Nash – it was her email that led us to the cup.)

{Race Report} Vesta Novice Ladies do WeHoRR!

By Lauren Hardcastle and Cathy Hare

Another day, another race, and another eventful marshalling up to Chiswick! The Vesta Novice Ladies came out in force for the WeHoRR!

Borrowing a boat, we managed to get 16 excited (nervous) ladies on the Tideway raring to go. Again we were lucky enough to be looked after by the fabulous cox’ns Cat and Jack. We certainly couldn’t have done it without their cheery dispositions and endless supply of Jelly Babies!

The sunny start to Saturday lured us into a slightly false sense of security so, thankfully, when the rain started, we quickly scurried back upstairs for another three layers!

The A Boat – a tale of broken blades, revenge fantasies and time penalties

We set off from Vesta with many cries of “wait – I still need to pee!” Nothing like 3 hours in a boat to realise that one extra coffee may have been a bad idea!

2 minutes into the paddle there were other cries from 2 seat of “s**t my blade is broken” – once again Jack coming to the rescue with a stone and some muscle (don’t ask!) – once a teacher always a teacher – and a makeshift solution to get us through the race.

It was a slow paddle upriver, making some friends with nice crews along the way – bonding over the chaos and eventually creating a flotilla of boats with the cox’ns standing on the beach – again Jack being wonderful this time, entertaining the masses with a quiz of what’s the capital of Peru??

Finally, we’re at Chiswick and it’s our turn! We step on the gas and we’re off – trying our hardest to remember everything we’ve been taught, whilst stamping on the footplate like it’s the face of every guy who never called us back – as it was so aptly described by Jack. We followed our race plan, and slowly started to pick off the crews ahead. In no time at all we came around the bend and Vesta flagpole was in sight.

We fought for every stroke and actually thought we might vomit at the end! But we did it, with a impressive rate of 30+ the entire race! A disappointing (dubious) time penalty for the A boat, but a satisfying result nonetheless.

The B Boat – a classic Head Race story of a failed coxbox and a dodgy gate

The Vesta Novice B boat had a rather memorable race on Saturday, beginning from the moment we set off from Vesta and realised our coxbox was on the blink.

With a lot of shouting down the boat to bow and 2, we somehow survived marshalling, which was pretty uneventful…until we got pushed into a tree by another boat and nearly spun out onto the race course. This nerve-wracking moment was dealt with amazingly by Cat, with the marshals congratulating her for managing to save us from ruining the race!

We’d endured what felt like an eternity of waiting about in the freezing cold, and had just stripped down to our race kit ready to go. Shivering violently, we turned the boat round, into a Putney Town crew, accidentally breaking their number into several pieces. This awkward little incident sort of set the tone for the race, as we pushed past them rather aggressively early on… with only 7 of us rowing! Shanice at stroke very nearly lost her blade when her gate came open early in the race, but with her remarkably quick recovery, and Cat screaming at us to keep on rowing, the race was not over for the courageous B boat.

We may not be the fastest Vesta boat, but right now we’re probably the most famous, with an album titled “99 Problems – #1 The Gate” by Rowing Photography, dedicated to us on Facebook.

Despite these setbacks, we sat tall, stamped down and gave it our all, spurred on by the cheers we heard down the course. WeHoRR 2016 was a race we will never forget!

And that’s a wrap

So… Finally after all the hard work, sweat and tears (and a few swear words along the way) here are the cold hard facts:

  • It’s the first time since 2010 Vesta has had 2 novice crews entered in WeHoRR
  • The Novice A boat beat last year’s placing by 8 places, 15 if it wasn’t for the time penalty
  • And it’s the highest finish by a Vesta novice crew since 2012.

Not too bad at all ladies; here’s to sunnier days, blades working and in the gate, and roll on regatta season!!!


{Safety Alert} Using your mobile to call for help

British Rowing Safety Alert

You may find yourself in a remote location and needing to summon help. It is useful to know how to do this using your mobile phone.

If you need help from the Emergency Services (Police, Fire, Ambulance, Coastguard, Mountain Rescue, etc.) then use a mobile phone and dial 112.

112 has some very special features, dialling it will:

  • Access every available network, you are not limited to your network provider
  • Take precedence over all other calls
  • Work even if the phone has no credit
  • Over-ride any security settings on the phone
  • In more modern phones, may work even if there is no SIM card in the phone

112 works throughout the European Union and in many other countries. If you cannot get through using voice then send a text. Text messages use a different bandwidth to voice messages. Texts are sent in small packets of data and will work even if the signal is weak and intermittent.

You will need to register with 112 first but this is easy.

To register simply text the word register to 112. You will be sent a text message, simply read it and reply with the word yes .

When you call or text please include the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your location
  • The nature of the distress
  • The type of assistance that you need
  • The number of people who need help
  • Any other relevant information

Watch the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPZv_8dABfU. This has more advice on the use of 112. You may never need to call for help but you may, and it is important to know how.

{Race Report} Senior Women win Hammersmith Head

By Charlotte Lennox
Hammersmith head was our final race in the run up to WeHoRR and the senior women’s first 8 were setting off second last in IM2. The race plan, as dictated by our coach, was to have an aggressive rhythm and ‘smash it’.
We set off from Putney with our standard warm up of all 8 square blades, bodies only – definitely not a way to scare the opposition! Whilst sitting marshalling in the cold wind we could only dream about our early start position for next Saturday.
And then we were off.
Through the start we built up to rate 36 and maintained this through to Barnes Bridge, easing through the crew ahead of us. The Vesta supporters at the White Hart reported us looking aggressive, although even our coach doubted whether we could maintain that rhythm for the duration of the race – we were to prove him wrong! With the rate not dropping below 35 we had a strong row through the middle part of the course, powering down the island before starting to wind up (not that there was much ‘up’ left) for the finish as we came off the end of the island. The full crew was definitely relieved to be finishing at Hammersmith bridge! It was only once we had easied did our cox Robyn, tell us to look behind for us to see how much we had caught up with the 3 crews ahead.
After a gentle paddle back home we were eager to see the results …… 3 days later it was confirmed –  WE WON! A first win in Vesta kit for many of the crew and first ever win for our 3 girl, Buffy.
Next stop ….. WeHoRR!

{Race Report} How to row faster than schoolgirls

By Neil Fraser

Quintin Head was a bit of a wake-up call for the Novice Boys. The U14 Kingston High School Novice Girls might know how to row, but Vesta men shouldn’t be losing to them. We’ve made good progress since Quintin with the boat moving a little smoother and faster in the water – things were shaping up well for Hammersmith.

In typical Novice Boys fashion, Saturday morning started well with the rigger at three-seat splintering in the pre-paddle. It was too late to fix things so we taped it up and set off on the paddle up to Chiswick Bridge. Choppy, cold, wet, windy – it wasn’t much fun but we got up there to be welcomed by Judith, ‘Novice Boys, put your dry clothing on NOW’. We didn’t have any, so sat tapping on for the next hour while the crew, all but stern pair and the cox, passed an Oasis bottle (wide rim) back and forth to get down to race weight.

Dev men race in skins in February!

Marshals made the call to start stripping down – we did. Our turn came to spin and we started to build – the crew locked in at rate 29-30 and everything felt good. We were letting the boat run, there was power, the slide wasn’t rushed and we still had eight riggers. Our strokes were confident and they remained throughout.

This set the building blocks for a strong race, where the boys put the power down in the legs (some for the first time!) and Cox Cat made the calls to catch the crew ahead who we were ‘slowly’ closing in on. Water conditions were better than we were expecting and we were quickly approaching Hammersmith Bridge. We held off the Imperial Novice 8 at the finish and went under the bridge with the feeling that we’d been in a race.

Arrived back at Vesta where Wendy met us to say how pleased she was, but also how stupid we were for not dressing appropriately.

Finished 7th out of the 17 novice crews – a respectable result which gives us a boost leading up to the Kingston Head and Head of the River.

Thanks to Coaches and Coxes for their on-going commitment and patience. They really do put up with a lot.

Novice Boys 1 – Kingston High School Girls 1

{Race Report} Dev Women take on Hammersmith Head

By Lauren Hardcastle

At the start of the season Wendy warned that Head racing on a cold, wet February morning will sort out the strong from the weak. She wasn’t kidding! Whilst us dev ladies played it safe in five layers plus hats we were a tad surprised to see the novice boys (or development men as they like to be known!) boating in bare legs and only race suits! Brave or crazy was yet to be determined!

We were lucky enough to have borrowed cox Jack for the race, who was amazing and kept morale high despite the loss of feeling to our fingers and toes!
So we set off from Vesta full of beans and raring to go but quickly realised that we were in for a long wait. Of course that’s when the rain started! Other than a little incident which nearly lost our cox to the Thames, we arrived at Chiswick relatively unscathed! Now what will 8 women + Jack do to pass the time in the freezing cold, wet Chiswick waters?? Well… jelly babies and a game of “who would you rather shower with later” certainly made us laugh! Even if I was shaking the boat from shivering so much!
Dev women getting it done at Hammersmith Head.

Dev women getting it done at Hammersmith Head.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity in the Arctic, we set off – warming up pretty quickly and pushing through to  Hammersmith Bridge! The ‘come on Vesta’ calls (James’s voice really does carry!) at the White Hart pub were uplifting, and spurred us on, and we finished strong with no crabs and a respectable 6th place. Onwards and upwards to the WeHoRR, and hopefully pushing up the pack and, finally – fingers crossed for a sunny (warm) Saturday next time!

The Vesta Quiz Night Returns

The Vesta Quiz Night is back! Quizmaster Gordon Barnes returns on Tuesday 23 February 2016.

For one night only, see who has the brains to match their brawn.

Put together your ultimate quiz team and take a crack at the intros round, some geography, a smattering of current events and much more. Always fun and always informative, the quiz starts at 8pm.