Scullers Head to offer para-rowing categories

The Scullers Head, the largest single scull processional race in the world, is for the very first time offering para-rowing events. The 61st edition of the race, which is organised by Vesta Rowing Club, will be held on 29th November on the Championship Course from Mortlake to Putney.

Entries have now opened on BROE and organisers are hoping to attract enough LTA and TA entries to run these events, for both men and women.

“We’re not the first Tideway head race to offer para-rowing categories, but we hope to be the first to actually hold them – getting enough entries is critical to making this happen. Para-rowing is on the increase in the UK and while we have fantastic success at the GB level, we’d love to see more events available for club scullers,” said Vesta Rowing Club Chairman, Chris Harrison.

Previous winners of the event include Sir Steve Redgrave, Mahe Drysdale, Alan CampbellBeth Rodford and Imogen Walsh. The GB Rowing Team’s Walsh, 2011 Scullers Head winner and 2013 Wingfield Sculls winner, said, “It’s such an iconic race, 500 odd boats giving it all they’ve got down the tideway. There aren’t many head races where you get to line up and test yourself against so many other scullers, and it’s part of what puts it on the bucket list of races for many rowers. It’s about line and position, about pacing yourself and knowing when to push, as well as how technically well you scull – it’s a true test of sculling the river. I only wish I got to race it more often!”

Race categories this year include all open and Masters categories, as well as events for Lightweights, J18s and Masters Novices along with LTA and TA. The race attracts over 500 entries, making it one of the largest single division sculling races in the world. Where exactly the para-rowing categories will be included in the much-heralded draw will be established depending on the entries received, and those interested should contact the organisers on to discuss logistics. Final details will be included in the instructions to competitors, to be published in early November. Entries close on 15th November or when 550 paid entries have been received.

Follow this year’s Scullers Head:
Twitter: @scullershead

By Martha Walsh 

This article originally appeared on the British Rowing website.

Rusty Williams confirmed as Vesta’s new Director of Rowing

Former GB coach Rusty Williams has confirmed that he will be Vesta’s new Director of Rowing for the 2014/15 season, overseeing coach and athlete development and training.

Rusty’s appointment follows a markedly successful year for the Vesta senior men’s squad which saw three boats pre-qualify for Henley Royal Regatta, with the coxed four competing until the Saturday and wins at Wallingford, Metropolitan and Reading Regattas. He has also previously assisted the Vesta senior women’s squad, which between 2010-12 won successive events at Henley Women’s Regatta.

Rusty will be overseeing a strong coaching team for 2014/15 with thirteen coaches already confirmed. These include: Nick Ireland, Tony Reynolds, Helen Grey, and Andy MacMillan coaching the senior men’s squad; Nic Neveling, Ray Sullivan and Chris Clements coaching the senior women’s squad; Martin Graham, Wendy Armstrong and Alex Foreman looking after the novice men and Judith Howell, Stewart Button and Harriet Caldwell-Nichols the novice women – with a few more names to be confirmed.

Vesta’s 2014/15 season starts early September with the senior women’s introductory meeting taking place on Wednesday 3rd September (at 7pm at Vesta), senior men the following day on the 4th with rowing starting on Saturday 6th September for both squads. The novice squads have their introductory meeting on Thursday 11th September (at 7pm at Vesta) with the novice men starting on Saturday 13th September and the novice women a week later on Saturday 20th September. Please keep looking at our website and twitter account for further updates and contact details or any questions you may have. It already looks to be an exciting year ahead!

Vesta Rowing Club is running new men’s and women’s novice / beginner squads for the 2014/15 season


Want to learn to row? Beginner rowers are invited to join our men’s and women’s novice rowing squads kicking off this September in Putney, London. The best bit is that the first month is free!



Who – can join?

We are looking for individuals with the desire and attitude to become ambitious club rowers or coxes. You will need to have a good base level of fitness, be aged 18 or over, be able to swim and some previous experience of competitive sport is a definite advantage.

What – is rowing and Vesta like?

Vesta is a mixed, very friendly, welcoming club, with a great fleet of boats and an excellent bar! We are a true members club run by volunteers. There is every opportunity to progress in the club based on your merit (and your willingness to enjoy the club’s social life!).

Rowing is the ultimate team sport and is highly competitive.  It requires high levels of fitness and strength combined with technique and so consistent attendance at training is important to progress. If you like the idea of testing yourself and working in a team to achieve goals then rowing is definitely the sport for you!

Where – do you train?

There will be regular land training sessions based at the club on Putney Embankment and weekend sessions on the water. At Vesta, you’ll have access to our gym, quality boat fleet and a dedicated coaching team.


Novice Squads kick-off meeting: Thursday 11th September @ 7pm (upstairs in the club)

Men’s Novice squad first session: Saturday 13th September

Women’s Novice squad first session: Saturday 20th September

The season runs from September – July with both winter and summer racing.

The first month is FREE and designed to find those with the potential to succeed in rowing. Membership fees are approximately £450 for the year.


If you have any questions or would like to register your interest in advance, please contact

Novice Men’s Coach, Martin Graham:

Novice Women’s Coach, Judith Howell:

Interested in joining Vesta?

The 2014/2014 season kick-off dates for each squad is as follows:

Senior women intro meeting: Wednesday 3 September, 7pm

Senior men intro: Thursday 4 September, 7pm

Senior squads start: Saturday 6 September, 7am

Novice men and women intro meeting: Thursday 11 September, 7pm

If you are curious about any of our squads and what they involve, all are invited to come along to to the club to meet the coaches at the intro meetings. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact:

Novice and Masters winning streak continues at Twickenham

IM3 4+

Vesta had two wins out of two at Twickenham Regatta. The four from the novice squad who won their novice pots by a foot at Putney Town last week continued their strong form by winning IM3 at Twickenham. With a little help from super-sub Hawkeye, and with Debs steering instead of Wendy, they beat Twickenham and then Royal Holloway to win their second pots. Congratulations to the crew of Debs Croshaw (cox), Sean Hegarty (stroke), James Hawkins, George Clements, Stephen Tate.

Paul Mew also continued his impressive form with a comfortable win over Putney Town with Zena Howard in the Mixed Masters Doubles. This followed on from the successful previous weekend when he beat “Rocket” Roy Brook, a reigning world champion indoor rower from LRC, at Putney Town Regatta on Saturday and then won the gold medal in the Masters G 1x at the National Masters Championships at Holme Pierrepoint on the next day. Three wins in three events over two weekend is not bad going for him.

Paul and Zena

Congratulations also to Kat Hedges and Anna Brown who won Mas A W 2- at the National Masters and to the mens senior squad who won IM2 8+ at Putney Town.

Vesta win Horton Cup for Senior 4- at Met Regatta

Met Regatta came to a barnstorming conclusion for Vesta yesterday as the coxless four of Harry Bond, Richard Lear, Si Woodfine and Richard Stebbings bagged the historic Horton Cup for Senior Coxless Fours.

Horton Cup 2.1

Vesta had a large number of crews competing over the weekend at the Metropolitan Regatta at Eton Dorney, one of the big events of the summer season. The Club had a good weekend all round with both men’s and women’s crews racing in multiple finals, including IM1 8+, IM2 8+, IM2 4- W.ELI 2x, W.SEN 2x, W.ELI 2- and W.ELI 4-.

The weekend was topped by a win in the Senior Mens Coxless Four of Harry Bond, Richard Lear, Si Woodfine and Richard Stebbings who won the Horton Cup on Sunday evening. The same four joined by cox Jo Street competed in Elite and Senior Coxed Fours on the Saturday, coming a close 3rd in Elite against fast crews from Oxford Brookes and Sport Imperial, and 3rd in Senior against strong combinations from IC and Molesey (who the guys beat later in the elite final). Three of this crew reached the semi-finals of the Wyfold Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta in 2013, and they look set for a strong challenge again this year in either the Wyfolds or Britannia Challenge Cup.

The Horton Cup is an exact replica of the Australian Open lawn tennis champs trophy and the prestigious regatta trophy is housed at Chatsworth House, the home of the Duke of Devonshire. Vesta have won the trophy twice in its history- first by Harry Blackstaffe in 1909 and most recently in 1955 by Harry Prior and Tommy Thompson.

A huge well done to all the racing crews and best of luck in the coming few weeks!

HORR 2014: Is this the unluckiest man in rowing?

As you will have all undoubtedly heard, the Head of the River Race was again cancelled this year – but not until all 390 crews had made it to their marshaling positions and around 100 had tried to complete the race. In the event only 75 completed, with a handful of sinkings, crashes and 20 odd crews stopped mid-race.

Unsurprisingly, no pennants were awarded this year. Vesta’s 1st VIII raced and managed to return to Vesta still afloat. Finishing in 42nd position was a respectable result considering the conditions. Vesta’s 2nd VIII were less fortunate, with the race abandoned as their division were preparing to set off.

Sam Lindsay was sitting in the stroke seat of the 2nd VIII, his 7th failed attempt to row the Eights Head. Is he the unluckiest man in rowing?


Please enjoy reading his story (cry for help?) below…

“For most typical club and student rowers, the Head of the River held on the Tideway each March is the pinnacle of the winter rowing season. It is the biggest head race of the year, guaranteeing competition across every level of ability, from all over the UK and even some from abroad. It is their personal Boat Race, raced over a historic course, against the clock, and against all of their fiercest rivals.

In the 7 and a half years since I started rowing at Imperial, I’ve had my fair share of great rowing experiences, with IC and in the last 18 months with Vesta: winning a load of BUSA/BUCS medals for Imperial, racing against Oxford blues at an invitational regatta in Poland, a couple of glorious Henley Wednesdays (and back in the bar on Thursday evening). But my curse, my motivation to keep rowing for another season, and also my hint that maybe the sport just doesn’t want me, is that I have never raced the Eights Head!

2007 – After an incredibly successful novice winter season, trading 1st and 2nd place finishes throughout head season with Oxford Brookes, my crew boated for the head, ready for a fight, looking for a top 100 finish and a Novice pennant. What we got in the end, in our Empacher 8 borrowed from the women’s squad, was a hull full of water, almost sinking in awful conditions which saw the race abandoned after the 1st division had raced. We bailed out enough water to get our boat home from Chiswick, but lost our Novice status 6 weeks later and our chance for the pennant was gone.

2008 – Now living at the IC boathouse, and well into the senior squad ranks, I was in the 2nd student 8 when I got food poisoning a few days before the race, was quarantined in my room, and in the end my crew didn’t even get to race. They watched the race from our balcony and I spent the night in my room, at least with some company from my girlfriend at the time, who had been coxing the novices. I went on that season to struggle with a heavy exam schedule and a seemingly unsympathetic coach. I petulantly told Steve Trapmore I quit, 5 mins before he was about to announce that I was in the bow seat of the IC ‘A’ for the Temple Challenge Cup at Henley Royal. About a month later, my friend in the B crew roped me into coming back and helping them to qualify. We didn’t. I got a 2:2 that year….

2009 – I decided not to row in the final year of my MSci, and did much better academically, although I did miss rowing, and again ended up being invited to help an underdog B crew attempt to qualify for Henley that summer. We didn’t.

2010 – This time rowing as an alumnus, without the stress of university work, and only working about 25 hours a week at a gym, I was in the best shape of my life, and rowing well. Alas, having a better ergo than anyone in the 2nd 8 (and a few of the 1st 8) wasn’t enough for Mr Trapmore, and I was left languishing at 6 in the 3rd 8. I’d have been OK with it if he’d at least got all the entries in! Alas, my crew, and the Novice 2nd 8 weren’t given the opportunity to race this year. At least I got to finally race at Henley Royal that year, stroking a Sport Imperial 4- through qualifiers and through to Thursday.

2011 – Having started a PhD at University of Hertfordshire, the commute to Putney, and finding the time to row was going to become difficult. I continued to train and race at IC until Fours Head, then raced a couple of times for Hertfordshire before going on the IC training camp that easter. I raced 4 times for UH, and in 2 of those races 1/4 of the crew was female (a 4x and an 8+). I finished one of those races rowing inside arm only, with the 7 man, giving a gun show to onlookers on the bridge overhead. No Eights Head for us that year…

2012 – Into the heart of a PhD, with all the work and extensive travel involved, I didn’t touch a rowing boat for a whole season! I tried rugby, attempting to relive my childhood, but this time with the 6′ 5″ frame to back it up. I injured both shoulders and played 4 matches all season. Maybe rowing wouldn’t be so bad…

2013 – Having been invited along by Ben Anstiss, my former crew-mate at IC and now terrorizing Vesta, I made a gradual return to rowing at a new club, more understanding of my limited availability and fitness. By mid-winter, I had a little bit of fitness back, and managed to earn a seat in the 1st 8 (a new experience in itself), and had a great head race season, capped off with a victory at Kingston Head, a week before the big one on the Tideway! Excited to be in a genuinely speedy crew, the last thing I wanted was 4-man JB to be hospitalized by an infection and would unable to race. Downhearted by the inevitable crew change, and a loss of pace in the boat, I was buoyed by the thought of at least competing in my first HoRR! A few days later, the inclement weather conditions resulted in the race being cancelled anyway. ‘ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!’

2014 – This season, I have been coming to the close of my PhD, and couldn’t decide whether to quit entirely, or to keep going and inevitably lose fitness and/or form, while also jeopardizing my studies. I went for the latter, after being reassured by Nick that I was still a valuable member of the squad. Despite some diabolical seat racing, I was thrown a lifeline, clinging onto a seat in the 1st 8 (I rowed at stroke, 5, 3 and 2 in Richard Burnett between January and March) until the last minute, losing a fight over the 2 seat to Alex Foreman. Charged with stroking the 2nd 8, I had the chance to prove my worth all over again, and spent my few weeks in Killerwal trying to help us exceed the sum of our parts. We really did make great strides with the Eights Head approaching (along with my thesis deadline), and I thought at least if it is my last race, it’ll be the big one! We made it to the start, the sun was shining, and we cheered the 1st 8 as they turned and took the rate up through Chiswick Bridge. Kit off, game face on, let’s get ready to turn into the middle…. “STAY WHERE YOU ARE, THE RACE HAS BEEN ABANDONED”, a marshall interrupted. Not again!!!

I’ve raced the Scullers Head, Pairs Head, Fours Head, Henley Royal, and had a fairly full and enjoyable rowing career (and that’s the important bit, right?). But I have still never raced the Eights Head, after 7 and a half years, and 6 winter seasons of rowing. On the one hand, this makes me more determined that I have to carry on for another season, and take care of unfinished business. But after reading this, what crew would want me?! Maybe I should try rugby again….”

…we still love you Sam! 🙂


Vets Head results


This year’s overall Vets Head results were severely impacted by the effects of the tide. We realised several weeks before the event that the scheduled start time was too early and that the low tide was going to be later than we originally calculated. After discussions with the PLA over the river closure, they insisted that the original Notice To Mariners could not be changed. We shifted the start to be as late as that window allowed.

Additionally, after the cancellation of yesterday’s HoRR, we could not risk the safety of our competitors and officials by holding marshalling crews any longer before we actually started the race.

The end result is that the later you started the more assistance you got from a very strong flood tide. All the categories raced together so the category positions are meaningful. The overall positions are not as trustworthy as we would have liked.

A couple of boating locations misplaced some competitors’ numbers, these crews raced with spare numbers and this has had an effect on one or two categories (notably Men’s Masters C) where a crew raced significantly out of position.

We appreciate that these results do not look great, but in the interests of openness and transparency we present them as recorded by our timing teams.

A category ordered set will be published in due course, which we’re sure will look more reasonable than reading the overall results in isolation.

– Chris Harrison, Chairman, Vesta Open Events Committee


Click here for results:   PDF   spreadsheet   (with sequence information )

VETS HEAD: new start time is 11:30

CHANGE OF START TIME – the start is now at 11:30 BST.  All other race details remain unchanged.  This is in response to feedback that 10:30 is too close to the turn of the tide for fair and equal racing