Vesta Men win Senior 2- at Pairs Head

This year’s Pairs Head brought a rainy, windy, and pretty grim start to the Tideway Head Season. However, the Vesta rowers were eager to race, delivering a strong performance and a solid start to the season.

Harry Bond and Si Woodfine racing Senior 2- to a pennant win at Pairs Head 2013

Harry Bond and Si Woodfine racing Senior 2- to a pennant win at Pairs Head 2013

The crew to watch was the senior men’s pair, stroked by Si Woodfine and steered by Harry Bond, who raced aggressively and won the Senior 2- Pennant.  Their finishing time of 12:31.46 also placed them as the overall fourth fastest pair in the Head.  Richard Lear and Robbie Hynes raced in IM2 2-, and narrowly lost out on the pennant win by 0.2s to Cardiff City, in a time of 13:18.71.  Vesta newcomers, Louis Marengo and Tom Hayward comprised another IM2 2-, finishing the race in 13:52.35.  The only senior men brave enough to race in the double were Rob Shaw and Richard Stebbings, who raced IM3 2x in a time of 13:12.34. The senior men are coached by Nick Ireland, Matt Pierpoint, Andrew MacMillan and Morgan Bailey.

The Vets had three crews entered in the Masters categories. Michael Maynard and Peter Dudley raced MasC2x in a time of 14:46.45, narrowly beating the other Vesta MasC2x crew of Bryan Williams and Jonathan Davies who finished in 14:48.63. The ladies W.MasC2x of Paula Cardwell and Zena Howard finished in 15:40.46.

The senior women had one crew stroked by Jess Smith and steered by Lizzie Ingram, who raced W.Sen2- for time only due to last minute changes. The crew of Anna Brown and Kat Hedges had to scratch due to a broken finger.

The full results can be found by clicking here. A very big congrats to the winners and all the racing crews. Here’s to some hard training ahead of Scullers Head and Fours Head next month!

Bittersweet HRR

Henley Royal Regatta means different things to different people. For some it is a social event involving nice hats and daytime drinking with people in boats in the background. For others it is an annual opportunity to catch up with old crew mates and support friends and family who are racing.

For us it is the pinnacle of a year’s training and preparation.

Just to qualify to race is a challenge in itself, one that many crews fail to achieve despite hours slogging on ergos and many cold mornings down on the river. This year, the achievements of the Vesta men throughout the year were recognised by the Stewards, who pre-qualified both the Wyfold 4- and the Thames Cup 8+ crews.

The phrase “luck of the draw” has never rung so true as it did in the Henley Town Hall this year. Both the Wyfold coxless four and the Thames Cup eight were drawn against seeded crews. It is a huge knock to a squad’s morale to know that you will not face one of the many crews in the event that you have comfortably beaten all year, or even those with whom you’ve had close races. Instead you must race a crew who has all the statistics on their side. Despite this, both crews continued to train hard down the Henley course in the days preceding the first day of racing, ready to put up one hell of a fight on race day.

At 9am on Wednesday, the eight faced Upper Thames, one of the four seeded crews in the 32 strong Thames Cup. The Vesta boys went off the start with fire in their legs, giving Upper Thames a fright and taking a small lead in the first 20 strokes. Unfortunately as the two crews hit their race pace, the Upper Thames boys moved through and took a comfortable lead. Nonetheless, Vesta fought to the line, with a powerful push in response to the “Remenham Roar.” They came across the line, gracious losers to an elite crew.

A few hours later, the coxless four faced London A in the Wyfolds, again one of the four seeds in the event. They put their foot to the floor and gave everything to try and get themselves a race on Thursday. The London boys took the lead, but like the eight, the Vesta four fought to the line, never ones to back down easily.

Both crews commiserated the results together, a united squad, but also celebrated the successes of the year. Many of the squad will be returning in the autumn, ready to do it all again, hungry for the results they deserve.

– Morgan

Two Wins for Italy!

Preceding England’s loss on penalties to the Azzurri, English rowers had to first face a loss to Italy as one of Vesta’s several Italians, Stefano, crushed some rowing dream by winning IM3 1X at Richmond Regatta.
With a burgeoning reputation, Vesta’s Sardinian sculler took to the water for his heat and despite the rain and being drawn on the outside of the bend paddled down the course at a leisurely rate 28 winning easily. The final was run on a turned tide but made little difference to the result. A quick start meant Stefano was ahead comfortably by the bend….making a point he moved further inside to take the shortest line round the bend but then continued on a straight course towards the bank and tree. A quick re-adjustment in direction and he crossed the line to secure another pot and 2 points. Next stop Kinsgton!

Vesta Prepares for Henley Royal

With Henley week finally upon us, most of us are keeping our fingers crossed for good weather, while the rowers undertake their final preparations. The Vesta men pre-qualified two boats, one for the Thames Cup (8+) and one for the Wyfold (4-), thereby not having to endure Friday’s qualifiers which were held in conditions not dissimilar to last week’s HWR. Jamie Halliday joined forces with Harry Bond (of Thames!!!) to row the appropriately named Vodka in an attempt to qualify for the Double Sculls. Unfortunately, the not so lightweight lightweights were at a disadvantage in the strong gusty winds and heavy stream and were the fastest non-qualifying boat. The senior women joined the ranks of the 10 other qualifying boats for 3 available places, in what looks like the toughest Remenham Cup in a long time. The girls had a stonking race battling tough conditions and resulting in some amazing ‘pain face’ photos, but narrowly missing out on a qualifying spot.

The timetable for Wednesday’s racing has been released and is available by clicking here. The Vesta Thames 8+ will race Upper Thames in race 6 at 9:00. The Wyfold 4 will race London in race 34 at 11:45. Hope to see a good Vesta contingency providing the Remenham Roar for the boys!!

Men Post Solid Showing at Marlow Regatta

Despite the numerous disruptions to Marlow’s “International” Regatta caused by preparations for the Olympics, the Vesta Senior Men put in a fantastic performance. In the heats of the IM1 race the Vesta boys hit it hard off the start, sticking with the pack. The two schoolboy crews pushed ahead leaving Southampton Uni battling with Vesta for a place in the final. The winter training shone through as the Vesta mid-race pace pushed them through to a comfortable third place. Coming into the last 500m, Bristol, Newark, Eton and Brunswick were left in their wake and the Vesta boys decided not to settle for third. They took a length off Southampton, putting them in second place and only half a length off St Edward’s School, the winners of the heat.

This was followed by the Senior 8 heat, by which point the conditions had really picked up (providing the coaching team with much entertainment as the J14 octuples attempted to line up at the stake boats in a perpendicular gale force cross wind…) Vesta finished fourth, missing out on a place in the final to Durham, Queen’s Belfast and Newcastle’s top eights, and top crews at BUCS this year). However, the Vesta men were still a good length or so up on the other Thames Cup eligible crews in the division.

The Im1 final was the last race of the day, where they came in fourth to the (never to be underestimated) schoolboys. They battled through the rough conditions, still head and shoulders ahead of the other Thames Cup eligible crews, thus securing their well deserved place in the list of pre-qualified crews at Henley Royal Regatta next week. Bring it on!

– Morgan

Side-by-side and round the bend at Reading!

Vesta engaged in some spectacular racing yet again at Reading Regatta. Possibly one of the best river regattas in the country, just a week ahead of Henley Women’s and two weeks ahead of the qualifiers for Royal, it provides some great side-by-side experience for our crews.

The men gave Winchester School boys a good fight and then proceeded immediately to the start for the final of IM1 8+ against Curlew. The race was a proper spectators’ treat – side-by-side racing all the way down the course, with Curlew inching out a win by three feet.

The senior women came off with another win beating Bucknell University of the USA by three feet in Elite 8+. This was an encouraging result as Vesta faces Bucknall in the first round of Elite 8+ at 11:07 on Saturday at Henley Women’s Regatta.

 

Quintin Head Round Up


Fastest Women from cox to bow, Julia Hedley, Kat Astley, Holly deGay, Caroline Newbury, Lara Brock, Stine Keyes, Kitty Lowings, Emma Dyson, Kat Hedges

The 2012 VIIIs Head Season began on Saturday 28th January with Quintin Head, raced from Chiswick to Harrods Wall. Vesta had a dominant showing with three Senior Women crews, one Dev Women crew, one Senior Men crew, and one Vet Men crew entered. All crews performed strongly, despite some blade clashes which made for harrowing rowing.

The senior women layed the marker for the months ahead, the girls won the Senior division and brought back the pennant for fastest women.  Having moved away from Barnes Bridge Ladies off the start, the race focused on chasing down the Elite boat of Durham University just in front.  Some brilliant coxing forced them way out of the racing line and Vesta eased past them just before Hammersmith Bridge (with the fabulous call ‘Move out of my way, I’m faster than you’), to finish 20 second ahead of them and the rest of the field.

The Dev Women raced what was for some of them not only their first ever rowing race, but also the first time to have rowed all the way up to (and back from!) Chiswick. Well done for a stellar performance!

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

Summer 2011 Regatta Summary

With the three big Henleys out of the way, members of various Vesta squads have been busy enjoying the delights of the Great British Summer regatta circuit. The following are the Vesta wins recorded this summer.

  • The women’s development squad followed up a fantastic season with a win at Richmond Regatta in W.IM3 8+ (crew:  A. van Den Berg, S. Schorm, S. Barton, S. Head, S. Schlosser, V. Harvey, R. Withers, T. Hudson, V. Taylor (cox)).
  • CORRECTION: Kingston Regatta passed with a few entries and at least TWO wins:
  • o    Mas C 4- Peter Simpson, James Weatherstone, Fred Beaud, Bryan Williams beat Kingston GS Associates
  • o    Nov 2x James Ulner and Nico Russman
  • … Fortunately we were back on winning form at a rainy Molesey Regatta, with no less than four wins – all in sculling:
  • o   Gianni Galavotti finally popped his novice sculling cherry in style, with wins at both Nov 1x and IM3 1x
  • o   Athene McGregor-Macdonald and Natalie “Red” Demblon also lost their novice status, in the W.Nov 2x
  • o   Martha Kelly notched up a win in W.IM3 1x
  • Back in Henley-on-Thames (for Henley Town and Vistitors) Vesta claimed more silverware, this time with some help from our friends:
  • o   Emi Furuhata lost her novice status in the W.Nov 4+ in conjunction with HSBC RC
  • o   Kat Hedges defended her quad title in the W.IM2 4x with alma mater club Eton Excelsior.
  • And last but not least, in the Barnes and Mortlake Regatta, Mas C 2x was won by Peter Simpson and Frederic Beaud who beat Putney Town in the semi-final and Cygnet in the Final to win.

Well done Vesta! Now back to the ergos to prep for the new season ahead!!

Martha and Aga

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)