Scullers’ Head Race Report

Now that the dust has settled from a busy weekend – for racers, organisers and volunteers, it seems a good time to reflect on the fantastic results that were achieved by our scullers.

Vesta is not known as a sculling club so it was a really good to see 21 brave souls take to the water to fight for the prizes at our home event. Some were competing in Scullers’ Head for the first time, whereas others had already competed in the race 30 times. Notable results were achieved by many, including 5 in the top 100.

As the 60th running of the Vesta Scullers’ Head, it was only right that a little bit of history was made, with Harry Bond winning IM1 and following in the footsteps of another famous Harry B. in winning in club colours on the Tideway in a single scull. Harry has kindly provided his thoughts on the race, which are well worth a read – please see below.

Here are the Vesta results in full:

FinishStartScullerCategoryTimeCat PositionGenderOrderNotes
15133H BondIM121:37.02115IM1 winner.
42388R StebbingsIM322:16.25541
8332J BrownIM222:40.97582
8541S WhittleNOV22:41.16484
90121V McGovernMasB22:44.43889
115370R GouldenIM322:58.3915113
118147S CorongiuIM2.LWT23:01.106116
12869M HughesIM123:10.526126
139367R ShawNOV23:16.456136
168325S WachholzMasA.NOV23:31.464164
17177B ClarkeMasB.NOV23:32.822166
247340M MaynardMasC.NOV24:21.552212
273239P SimpsonMasD24:35.9129226
277290P MewMasF24:38.366230
285190A MunseyW.IM224:50.90252
298337P DudleyMasC.NOV25:06.523240
313334J DaviesMasC.NOV25:19.124248
341183A McGregor-MacdonaldW.MasB26:00.39882
359184I LaliberteW.MasB26:49.59997
368341J BaileyMasC.NOV27:46.817265
373318J McKerrellMasH30:43.944266

Q&A with Harry Bond – IM1 Winner

Q. Have you taken part in this event before?

Yes I’ve taken part in Scullers’ Head before, winning the old Sen.2 Lwt pennant in 2006. Since then I have done very little sculling or racing.

Q. Overall, how did the race go?

As in all Head races there were good patches and poor, but overall the race went well and I achieved my aim of maintaining an even split throughout the middle half of the race. After very few outings I was hoping to be able to rate 28 for the course and I mainly achieved that (only seeing 26 sporadically).

Q. Was it a strong field / big entry?

The entry this year was rather small for my category, this, coupled with the fact that the GB trialists were away at trials, meant that I undoubtedly finished a little higher than I could have otherwise expected to.

Q. How did you rate your chances on the start line?

I knew I was capable of racing well; Nick Ireland our coach has been working hard to ensure that we are all very fit at the moment and the excellent weather conditions meant that I was full of confidence up at the start line even though I have spent very little time sculling recently.

Q. How significant a result was it for you?

Because of the lack of trialists and the small numbers within my event, the result itself isn’t particularly significant. However, as a stepping stone towards the rest of the season it has provided a huge boost of confidence; the training programme is obviously paying off and winning can be a nice habit (I was fortunate enough to be part of the winning Sen 2- at Pairs’ Head with Si Woodfine). This part of the season sees the start of the more miserable ‘winter training’ and it will be very nice to have started so positively as the weather closes in. With Fours’ Head just two short weeks away  I will be looking to build on this result and others from the beginning of the year as our four from HRR last summer race in the Sen 4- category.

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!

Vesta in the Diamond Jubilee Pageant

Paul, Robin and Purdie in the Daily MailThe Diamond Jubilee, and specifically the water pageant, saw a good showing from Vesta, with Paul, Robin, Michael and Purdy, leading the ‘rowing contingency’ in Poppet and even making the Daily Mail!

A big shout to our Club Captain, Alex, who had a side-job as a pageant Commander(!), who knew!

Thanks to everyone who helped to make the Jubilee celebrations in the Clubhouse so successful; both those who had volunteered at the bar and BBQ, and those who stepped in when we had more guests than anticipated. The Vesta balcony gave the perfect viewing spot to watch the marshalling crews. Both lunch and post-Met BBQs went off successfully and the firkin of Hope and Glory Jubilee Ale was emptied early. (No suprise there really!)
Thanks particularly to Dick, Sinead and Paul L for organising the special celebrations in the club. It’s much appreciated!

Vets Open Summer Racing Season with Gold

Paul and Roy celebrate with an obligatory pint

Congratulations to Paul Mew and new member Roy Brook on winning Mas F 2x at Borne at Chiswick Regatta to claim the club’s first win of the summer. In Roy’s first ever regatta they defeated the home Mortlake  crew after a re-row. Rowing in heavy rain Vesta were behind on the start but came back and the crews were neck and neck when the race was stopped with 200m to go due to a huge wash from the rescue boat. The second race was very close but in the end Paul and Roy’s superior fitness showed and they won by a length.

It’s a double celebration for Roy who also won his category at the British and European Indoor Rowing Championship held at the NEC on 25th March. Roy finished first out of 19 to claim the 60 to 64 year old Hwt Mens category in a time of 6.50.0 which has put down a solid marker for the rest of the Masters squad.

To see the splits of the race, please click here (thanks Concept2!).

Vesta Triumphant in Vet’s Head

The battleground was chosen and as high noon drew close, the meanest cowboys in the (south)west came to meet the bravest Indians on the tideway. The Vet’s head had never seen such a battle before, the stakes were high- honour, pride and of course bragging rights for the year…scratch crews were formed and the Indians lined up at number 179 to be chased down the course by the Cowboys at 185.

The Indians had a surprise standing start after crews in front just weren’t quick enough off the draw- the charge was led to Barnes Bridge with 4 crews passed and only the Italians not understanding the roar of the Big Chief cox to ‘move out of my water’. The feather’s proved to be aerodynamic as we faced a headwind for a good chunk to Hammersmith, but having Thames right behind us and the threat of the cowboys charging down after that meant that the battle cries from Big Chief pushed everyone through to pass another 3 crews. Thames put in a good fight, but it was not enough, the dying headwind and a new start off Hammersmith bridge meant the Indians charged the rest of the way down the course home to finish fastest women of the day, 55th overall and Vet A winners well clear of any opposition.

Crew: (Big Chief to Little Running Water); Julia Hedley (cox), Emily Trant (s), Natalie Prew, Stine Keys, Anna Brown, Kat Astley, Rahma Barclay, Athene McGregor-MacDonald, Sybille Schorm (b)

Observing the marshalls’ lengthy efforts to corrall the 4th division above Chiswick bridge, the cowboys thought about lending their lasso to hurry things along, however at long last we were pointing in the right direction – albeit halted opposite Putney Town steps. From a standing start, the cowboys leapt into action and by the power of our fine bushy moustaches we started hunting down the opposition. Now we know why men have Movember: the power of the “mo” was epic, definitely giving the scratch crew the oomph needed to overhaul two Vet A crews and a handful of mixed-masters. Facial hair and glittery cowboy hats rippling in the breeze of our top racing speed, we were whipped into action by head-honcho-in-the-poncho Ro, who has perhaps found the key to sitting comfortably in the cox seat of a filippi VIII: a giant, semi-inflated cactus. Passing our last crew at Hammersmith Bridge (where stern advice from cox’n Thompson was given to “use your rudder!!”) we rode through a vacuum to the finish line – closing down all the time on the crazy in’juns – but despite hot pursuit the little critters were just too fast for us, and we finished a little saddle sore but pleased with a strong performance, coming third in Vet A behind the Vesta Injuns and the Wehorr-winning Thames crew. There has to be a better way to settle this anyway… water pistols at dawn! YEE-HAW!

Crew: (Quick draw to bucking bronco); Rohanne Thompson (cox), Ellie Dorman (s), Kitty Lowings, Emma Dyson, Kat Hedges, Natalie Demblon, Aga Siemiginowska, Isabelle Laliberté, Martha Walshy Kelly.

Not forgetting our Vet men who went off at 114, racing Vet E, and wisely avoided fancy dress to finish a very respectable 134th and 35th in their category.

Pictures to follow shortly!

Overseas Crew Racing Vets Head? Important Race Information Available

Are you an overseas/foreign crew racing in Vesta’s Vets Head this weekend?! If so, please check out the Vets Head website which has new and extremely important race information in Spanish, French, Italian and German. All documents and race information can be found here. If you have any further questions or concerns, please email vets.head@vrc.org.uk Otherwise, safe travels and see you Sunday!

Vets Head Entries Closed

The entries for Vets Head of the River have no closed! Please check out the updated site for further details relating to boating, Tideway navigation, and general instructions, by clicking HERE

Storming Results for Vesta Women at WEHORR

Anyone who has walked through the club over the past several months has no doubt seen the Vesta women training hard and training often. Last Saturday, the women were finally able to ‘cash in’ all the hard work, which resulted in the best WEHORR performance in Vesta’s history:

Women’s Senior Squad:
Vesta RC A 4th Overall (3rd Fastest Domestic Crew Overall)
Vesta RC B 16th Overall (Fastest 2nd 8 in event and fastest Domestic Elite Crew)
Vesta RC C 28th Overall (Fastest 3rd 8 in event)
Vesta RC D 77th Overall (Fastest 4th 8 in event)

Women’s Development Squad:
Vesta RC F 181st Overall (improved on starting position by 114 places beating 50 non-novice crews)
Vesta RC E 248th Overall (only lost a few places despite kit failures and the heaviest cox in the event)

VESTA WEHORR – Images by Iain Weir

A huge congrats to all the girls and coaches, and all the Vesta volunteers and members who provide the support to make results like this possible. Below are the race recaps from each of the Senior crews. Enjoy!

Vesta A

Pushing off from the Vesta hard at exactly 10am the Vesta A crew had one Ambition, to race hard, row fast and come in the top 10.  Arriving in the marshalling area there was time for a quick drink and relax; the calm before the storm. Paddling off 15th,one behind a strong Molsey WCS crew and two behind old rivals from Quintin Head, Durham Uni, the chase was on.  Off the start long and strong, Molsey had a lead of 1 1/2 lengths. Using the advantage of being able to see the VRC crew coming the MBC girls put in a good fight before being overtaken off the end of the Island. Flying through Hammersmith Bridge with a perfect racing line the Vesta crew honed in on the Durham crew, now only a length away. Cox Ro’s nerves of steel held off an aggressive push from the Durham cox who attempted to get back her line at Barn Elms, and kept the girls flying in the stream towards home. Fuelled by the crowd on the Vesta balcony the last 50 strokes saw the A boat pass the Durham crew and collapse in a heap on the finishing line.  Rock On. The official result was 4th, in a time of 20:25.

Vesta B

The “B for Ballsy” crew line-up consisted the two Helens (Edwards and Ellison), Anna, Aga, Vicky, Rahma, Martha and Sybille, coxed by Julia, and after coming third in Hammersmith W&J Head the crew were excited about tackling the full course. Starting at number 28, we enjoyed taking our first scalp (Queen’s University Belfast) as we exited Chiswick Bridge – despite easying twice on the approach to give them room. With Barnes Bridge Ladies on our tail we set off to hunt down Latymer, inching closer until we succeeded in moving through them just after Hammersmith Bridge. Sitting up into the head wind along Harrod’s Wall, our next targets were Imperial C and Thames B, and we shortened the gap to only a couple of lengths, all the while as BBL crept closer. A final push along the embankment, fired up by the famous Vesta roar, helped to empty the last drops in the tanks, and a finish place of 16th – the highest Vesta B crew finish ever, and the highest B crew finish in the event. We were also pleased to hold off all schoolgirls, including the only GB crew in the event (under 18s). Robust debate over a few bottles of Cava later on centred around whether we deserved a pennant, being the first non-overseas elite crew home – WeHORR organisers, you know where we are if you change your mind!

Vesta C

Learning from previous mistakes, Vesta’s C – or ‘Crackpot’ – crew boated before anyone else so as not to miss the start of the race. Holidays, work commitments, illness and unspeakable last-minute foot infections meant this was the first time all 9 crew members had been in a boat together. Undeterred by this (practice, after all, is cheating), and buoyed by a rousing crew chat by adopted coach Jeremy Rose, the Crackpots set off in a positive frame of mind and with their trademark sense of humour in tow.

Thanks to feisty stroking by resident ‘shire horse’ Becs Packer, ably assisted by Sarah ‘Shetland’ Wood in the 7 seat, the girls stormed off the start, starting to pick off crews shortly after Barnes Bridge. Determined and aggressive coxing by Rachael Dixon ensured the crew held the racing line even despite some kamikaze steering by a slower Kingston crew. Unfortunately even a massive push from powerhouses Gemma Etherington and Martha Walker couldn’t quite edge the boat past the speedy City of Bristol crew that had set off just ahead; but Vesta retained hot on their heels the whole way down. A fantastic finish saw the girls overtaking several more crews as they charged past the boathouses.

All crew members hoped their performance had enabled them to achieve the top 50 result they were aiming for – and received the news of their stonking 28th place finish with amazement. Lively celebrations (ahem) ensued. Coach Jeremy’s delight with the result was tinged with relief that the Crackpots hadn’t finished 8 places higher – he’d promised to wear a dress if they made the top 20. Think they had him scared for a minute.

Vesta D

The WIM3 ‘Dynamos’ took to the Tideway on Saturday with their newly acquired boat buoying the journey up to the start. Sadly, super seven seat Hayley had to pull out on the morning of the race, so we had to call upon Vesta’s own super sub Jenny Cann. The row up proved a chance to get used to our new crew and our new boat. We all gave a shout for the Vesta crews (which must have been a factor in their impressive results…) and got slightly starstruck as Anna Railton, of ‘There’s something about Rowing’ fame, started in the Cambridge A boat. She was kind enough to make us some snazzy mugs, so we thought the least we could do was to give a shout. After having to easy just ahead of the start line, we got off to a speedy start, overtaking crew 120 within a couple of hundred metres of the start line and chasing down the next crew. We felt like we had a quick race to Hammersmith, grateful for the many loud supporters cheering us along the course. As we pushed off Hammersmith Bridge, the wind picked up, although we still managed to overtake a crew passing Harrod’s, in spite of the other crew’s steering. From then on in, it was hanging on for dear life until the black buoy and the cries from the Vesta balcony. It was a well-fought race, passing five crews with aggressive and inspiring coxing from Jamie Wooller and a determined row from all the girls. For many in the crew, the result was the highest placing they have achieved at WEHORR and, alongside coming 10th in our category, something we consider an achievement in itself.

Hammersmith W&J Head Report

Three crews in top six women; Good performances by Vesta senior and development squads

Sunday, 19th February – a brilliant blue sky and fierce breeze were perfect conditions for our sailing neighbours, but less so for us rowers and as we watched the choppy brown Tideway being moved chunk by chunk under scudding clouds, the planned technical pre-race outing was abandoned in favour of tea and coffee and giving our boats some much-deserved TLC. The C crew (racing in “Happy” – they really do challenge the Happy Heavies as one of the happiest crews Vesta has known) spent so much time getting their boat set up just right that they missed the start of the race and had to tag on to the end of the procession, offering opportunities to take some schoolchild scalps – hey, we’re not fussy.

Vesta B overtaking Mortlake A

Up at the start by Chiswick, the water conditions had calmed down with the turn of the tide and now presented a fast stream, plus a minor wind tunnel effect for the bows further down the course along the ait. The B crew were so excited that immediately after turning, the whole crew – as one mind, of course – took up rate and pressure to near race pace before a “seriously guys, chill out” call from Julia settled the crew back down.

The A crew was off first, alone in their category, the only opposing crew in Senior failing to show up (we can only draw one conclusion from that, having been resoundingly beaten by Vesta at Quintin). Unfortunately with a gap either side in the procession, the crew raced in a vacuum, with only the eventual appearance of a determined B crew on the horizon to push them into securing second place of all women’s crews. Fastest women of the day were Thames, racing further down in IM1 – we look forward to meeting some strong competition on a start line again soon!

The B crew set off behind Mortlake, and enjoyed a nice row alongside former crewmate Lianne, eventually pushing through the crew and finding clear water shortly before the Chiswick Pier crossing point. After that, they too were rowing their own race with Vesta A on their mind. Next over the start line for Vesta was the D crew, guest-starring Issy, who with a good row finished 5th in IM3, a pennant won by a fast UL crew who also won Quintin. Finally came the C crew, overhauling octoples and scattering Dulwich schoolboys as they stormed down the course to an overall 6th place among all women’s crews.

Martha Kelly

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