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!

VPs Host Athletes’ Reception

A fantastic Vesta tradition continued this year with the Vice Presidents of the club hosting a drinks reception for the Henley Royal Regatta and the Henley Women’s Regatta athletes.

On Wednesday the 4th of July, the members of Vesta turned their dry cleaning post Henley of club blazers around quickly to ensure they were looking sharp for the annul VP drinks. There was a great turn out of both athletes and VP’s, all there to enjoy an evening of bubbles, canapés, mingling, speeches and of course all that Vesta Bar can provide.

The evening, which has continued since 2009 was created to give the VP’s a chance to mingle with the current athletes in the squad and ensure that Vesta Club spirit is passed on through the generations of Vesta. We were lucky enough to enjoy a beautiful dry evening which meant utilising the balcony and also giving the opportunity for our in house photographer Richard Bryan a chance to capture some great club images.

It was also an excellent occasion for the coaches to give a celebratory reflection of their seasons and the athlete to thank them for all their hard work. Nick Ireland represented the men’s coaching group with a recap of all things related male rowing during the 2011/12 season and thanked all that has helped to create it. Matt Gilliver, the Women’s head coach also gave an entertaining recap of the season that was, thanking his team of coaches and took the opportunity to “officially” retire from coaching. Matt has been involved in the Women’s squad since 2008 and has lead the group to it’s most successful years of Women’s rowing at Vesta. He has helped the squad obtain a Senior Henley Women’s 8+ medal in 2010, the same year the squad represented Vesta on the Saturday at Henley Royal Regatta in the Remenham Challenge. These fantastic results were followed by victories in the Club 8+ category in both 2011 and 2012. Along with very successful years at both Royal Henley Regatta and Women’s Henley, the squad under Matt has had it’s most successful years at The Head of River and have brought home swags of medals every time they loaded up the trailer and ventured to another race. Matt- Thank you for all your hard work! We hope you have enjoyed it as much as we have.

A very large thank you must go out to the VP’s for being so generous and hosting the evening. The VP’s bring a huge amount of spirit and knowledge to the Club and it is always great being able to get all the members of the club together to celebrate and raise a glass to our fantastic club.

– Ailsa

If ever a crew needed to peak at the right time…

Prior to the actual race report I just wanted to put this race into context as perhaps on paper the verdicts in the run up to the final don’t best reflect the true efforts of what was actually achieved by the Vesta Intermediate 8+ winners of Henley Womens’ Regatta this year.

As Murray goes into the Wimbledon final this afternoon, with a secure route through and the knowledge he has beaten his opponent in the past, we were unfortunately not so lucky.  The mighty Lea RC had beaten us at every stage this season through Wallingford to Met Regatta and only looked even stronger coming into this event. Lea were the clear favourites to win the Club 8+ and deservedly so.

Race Morning:

If you have competed in a final at any level of competition you will know what it feels like to have the emotions, the fears and the doubts that creep into your head and that Sunday was no exception. We’d had a tough season, dogged by fatigue, illness and performance inconsistencies which at times led me to have doubts as to whether our performance on the day could be solid enough to win the competition.

Aside from the physical training an athlete endures, I truly believe this sport is by far one of the toughest and I sincerely take my hat off to all the athletes at Vesta and anyone at any level who commits themselves physically and mentally to an entire season of ergs, high mileage on the water and the torture of selection. I often get asked by my NRF (non rowing friends) WHY?? and sometimes question this myself, but ask any athlete, coxswain or coach and the answer will still be the same, “to win.”

 After beating City of Cambridge and Thames RC against the horrendous conditions in the quarters and semi finals  we knew the final meant we had to end ourselves, making sure we all physically knew what “rowing on the edge” felt like. Mentally it was a difference story…

No matter how prepared you are there could be one thing, just one small thing beyond your control that can change your outlook, mindset, alter your performance and ultimately change the outcome of your season entirely. This “one thing” for me came in the form of a conversation with an upriver coach that morning, he was frank but truthful; “I just don’t know, I’m going to be honest with you,  you really are going to need the race of your life to beat them.”

My doubts turned to determination to MTFU and give me belief that our training programme had given us every tool we needed to win.

The Final:

An absolute blinding start jumped us a quarter of a length ahead by the island, the key focus being to sustain the lead and do enough at the beginning of the race to dispose of our opposition from the outset. Lea were not going away. Undeterred by our quick lead they ploughed on to draw level. Vesta support in place at the Barn Bar, we sharpened up to get a canvas ahead to lead us into the enclosures.

Lea had dashed Thames RC’s hopes of a win in the Semi-final which meant that the mighty “Remenham Roar” was there in full force, just for us.

Level at the enclosures and spurred on by the most amazing wall of inter-club support, Lea managed to pull level and lead by quarter of a length.

I still get shivers as I recall the closing stages of the race. Everyone just about knows that one of the hardest parts of the Henley Womens’ Regatta course is coming out of the enclosures and into “no man’s land.” The support dies down and you’re on your own, just two logs; dead level and an extra battle of the mind to fight to make your log the fastest.

Still level, I will never forget this moment as I looked into the bows of our opposition, their huge enclosure push and semi-final dog fight with Thames had taken its toll. Fatally they had begun to forget about their legs and started to pull. I then knew then that we could win this.

200 metres to go it was do or lose: the call at UTR:  “girls, their heads are down, ours are NOT” “sit up and push, you can do this, NOW” our log moved through to take the canvas a last kick of adrenalin to push through, crossing the line victorious at 1/4 of a length.

– Rachael

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!

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.

 

Hard-fought medals at the Met

Vesta took home three wins and six second places from the Met Regatta 2012, a positive result from this key test in the racing calendar just a few weeks before  Henley. The two-day, 2000m multi-lane event at Dorney Lake was held over the Jubilee Weekend and proved to be very exciting indeed, with eleven Vesta entries on Saturday and 14 on Sunday!

On Saturday the women came second and third again to Thames RC in Senior 8s, but won IM1 8+ with a ten second margin. A new elite pair combination showed promise, coming second to the GB23 pair from Sport Imperial. Sunday’s racing proved successful as well, with the women winning Senior 8+ and IM1 8+. The women’s IM2 8+ won their heat and narrowly lost out the final to what turned out to be the Welsh U23 squad. The Dev Women had a repeat of Wallingford, winning their heat in IM3 4+, and coming second to Oxford Brookes in the final.

A special mention must be made of the Women’s LW4-, who FINALLY got to race this season (the dearth of any competition in women’s coxless four racing, never mind lightweight events this year has proved a challenge). An initial struggle against Mortlake on Saturday proved to be just nerves, as the girls beat them by a five second margin on Sunday, coming second to Univ College Dublin (heavies) in Senior 4-.  Vesta results are available on the results page and full results can be found by on the Metropolitan Regatta website.

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!