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.
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.
Vesta will head to Henley in force for the most prestigious event in their summer racing calendar. Both the development and senior women’s squads will attempt to qualify an Intermediate 4+ each on Friday. Saturday will see the first round of side-by-side racing, with Vesta competing in an Intermediate 8+, Senior 8+, Elite 8+ and Elite 2-. Sunday will also feature the first round of racing for an Elite 4- and Elite LW 4- and, we hope, some semi-finals and finals for our club crews.
There are more than the usual number of overseas crews visiting this year, meaning competition will be tight especially in the Senior 8s and Elite 8s, with 15 and seven crews entered respectively.
The full draw and timetable can be found by clicking here. (There will also be twitter updates throughout the weekend. I think it’s #henley_women’s).
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.
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)
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Vesta Senior Women triumph at the Vesta Scullers Head
The 2011 Scullers Head Winners
The 2011 Vesta Scullers Head took place on Saturday, 3rd December. Vesta is the only club that single-handedly organises not one, but two of the major Tideway Heads – a feat made possible because of members and friends of the club members. Happily not put off by the cold conditions in 2010, we had 528 entries for the 2011 race, with 26 of our own Vesta entries. The event ran without (major) incident with only two crews “DNF”.
Once the dust had settled post-race, and event chairman Sinéad Hayes recovered from mental exhaustion, the winners were celebrated at a prizegiving held on 13th December. Sinéad once again pulled out all the stops to cater for the event in true rower style – i.e. fantastic canapés in vast volumes.
Tommy Thompson and event chairman Sinéad Hayes with winners Adam Freeman-Pask (Imperial) and Imogen Walsh (London RC) and their prizes
Event winners came from all over the UK and from far beyond. Bragging rights for best Tideway club were shared between Tideway Scullers and London Rowing Club with seven wins each. The fastest man and woman were both GB lightweights, Adam Freeman-Pask (21:09.0) and Imogen Walsh (22:35.9). In addition to the medals awarded by event, recast from the original 1953 prize, the fastest men and women received an exquisite scale model sculpture of a single scull cast in pewter.
The Vesta Senior Women’s Squad succeeded in three events, with lightweight Holly De Gay achieving the fastest time of all three despite starting at 521, when the sun was starting to set. The winners were as follows:
Two of Vesta’s winners, Kat Hedges and Holly De Gay, with Sinéad Hayes
Holly De Gay, W.IM3.LWT.1x (23:58.5)
Liz Crighton, W.IM2.1x (24:04.7)
Kat Hedges, W.MasA.1x (24:16.2)
For full results, please check out the Results Page by clicking here.
Even more hotly contested are the Vesta exclusive events, also known as “Dick’s Bar Prizes” (two bottles of cava and glory untold). The categories and winners for these events were:
1st man home: Jamie Halliday
1st male Master: Barry Clarke (… faster than Jamie after adjusting for handicap)
1st woman home: Holly De Gay
1st female Master: Kat Hedges
It is understood that the Cava was appropriately consumed and enjoyed following the Vesta Annual Dinner… an event for which no website write-up is required!
IM18+ Pennant Winners (s - Kat Astley, Lara Brock, Caroline Newbury, Aga Siemiginowska, Emma Dyson, Kitty Lowings, Kathryn Clover, Kat Hedges, cox Jamie Wooler)
The Vesta senior squads were out in force at a sunny Wallingford Head on Sunday 27th November, with two men’s VIIIs, four women’s VIIIs and four women’s IVs in action. With an exciting set of bends halfway down the course, all coxes and steers did a great job to bring home all equipment intact, albeit occasionally decorated with small amounts of shrubbery. The squads gained quality race experience, with all finding better pace by the second division, having enjoyed rather more sedate rhythms in division one. The women’s squad recorded two wins in the afternoon, in IM1 VIII and Sen 4-. The W.IM1 VIII enjoyed overtaking their competitors so much with their new-found race pace that they took a detour into the bushes through that infamous bend, enabling the rest of the category to catch up; before storming through the field again to bringing home the pennant. In the W.Sen 4- event, the race was on between two Vesta crews. Having despatched Reading University early on, it was up to the mighty lighties to maintain the leading position to the finish line. The final verdict was a win to the lighties with a margin of half a second – thank heavens for Wallingford’s precision timing, eh?! We’ll call that a very well-matched set of performances.