Coronavirus: Getting through this together

Following Tuesday evening’s Management Board MEETING, restrictions on rowing and club access are being implemented with immediate effect

Star’s Management Board met yesterday evening with a focus on discussing the Club’s response to Coronavirus and how we can best respond, to be sure that there is a strong future for Star Club and its members, on and off the water. David Gowing, Rowing Safety Officer, joined us in an advisory capacity.

Official advice is that we are in a phase of containment and should cut social interaction, taking measures quickly to mitigate a significant growth in infection which will cause impossible pressure on our critical care services. The goal is to “flatten the curve”, delay and extend the peak of demand to give those who need that care a fighting chance of receiving it. And we all have a responsibility to play our part in this containment strategy.

With this in mind, the Board has taken the following decisions and these measures will come into effect immediately:

·  The gym, ergo room and changing rooms will be taken out of service and must not be used by anyone;

·  Owners of private singles racked at Star Club may take their boats out;

·  Club singles may be taken out by experienced single scullers, who are signed up to iCrew and may only be used when booked through iCrew;

To be clear, no boat type other than singles may be taken out.

·  Anyone boating must arrive changed and go home to shower and change. In the event of a capsize, you can use the changing rooms as an exception;

·  The Learn to Row programme, Monday night circuits and all squad training will be suspended for the time being. We’d like to acknowledge and thank all who have put so much effort into these important aspects of our training and development. Please note that circuits will recommence on Monday 7th September, after their usual summer recess.

We are in discussion with Charlie to agree the most appropriate course of action for Fay’s at Star and will be back in touch on this shortly.

These are difficult times and things are moving very quickly. It is quite possible that our decisions will need to adapt and change over the coming days and weeks and we’ll communicate those changes as they occur.

Please maintain your membership – be there for Star and for Fay’s throughout the closure and when “ordinary life” returns, as it surely will.  This may take some time, but the test of a community like ours is how loyal and united we can be in the bad times, as well as the good.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact a member of the Management Board: e-mail addresses for individual members can be found at

This message will go out as a news item on the Club’s website, on our Facebook page and via Twitter and we’ll continue to send personal e-mails to those of you on our mailing list. Be sure to sign up to as many of those channels as you can.

Most importantly, stay safe and help our community to get through this together.

David, Andy, Andrew, Chris, Dom, Lisa, Liz, Nicky, Trina

Star Club Management Board

Star’s New Year’s Head – that’s a wrap!

A rousing success after initial weather-related concerns

Star Club attracted 293 entries from 23 Clubs at its New Year’s Head today and provided a warm welcome to competitors, coaches, friends and supporters. Special thanks to the officials and volunteer contributors, in all their guises, who made it possible!!

There were wins for Star across all squads. Full race results are available here and Star Club race reports will follow in the next few days.

The fastest boat of the day was Dulwich College Open 8+ and here they are receiving their pots. Well done lads and look forward to seeing you next time.


Scullers Head 8thNov2019

Scullers’ Head, December 2019

Masters men take courage in both hands

Saturday, 7th December, 2019

Three happy people!

Despite the fact that they are all experienced crew oarsmen on the Tideway, this was the first time that Ivan Higgins, David Rainbow and Lester Waugh had competed in their singles on this challenging stretch of water. It’s not surprising, therefore, that there was a measure of trepidation as they prepared to get on the water.



David Rainbow Scullers Head 2019

David Rainbow, Mas D

Conditions were good (for the Thames) and temperatures kinder than they have been recently. Nevertheless, boating from Sons of the Thames Rowing Club, just upstream from Hammersmith Bridge, was quite a challenge as our scullers fought the wash from marshals’ boats and the stream to join 500 other competitors to make their way to the start at University Stone Mortlake.


Ivan Higgins Scullers Head

Ivan Higgins, Mas E

That long process of edging up to the start, behind hundreds of others who are doing the same, will be familiar to all who’ve raced on Tideway – it’s just a bit more solitary in a single and requires strong watermanship to manoeuvre around hundreds of other boats, against the tide! But our three intrepid scullers all reported that it was an amazing spectacle.

Placed at numbers 406, 439 and 472 respectively, it was nearly 2 hours later that David, Ivan and Lester were racing down the course towards the finish at Putney.


Lester Waugh, Scullers Head

Lester Waugh, Mas G

All put in a very credible maiden effort: Ivan finished in 332nd position in a time of 25:12.75 (age adjusted 23:47.83); David finished at 336th in a time of 25:16.98 (age adjusted 24:16.98); and Lester finished at 347th in a time of 25:23.72 (age adjusted 22:57.72), all incredibly close to one another.


Well sculled all of you. And a huge thank you to Sons of the Thames who made us feel so welcome. We hope you won’t mind that we think your clubhouse would look even better on the banks of our own River Great Ouse in Bedford!

Ivan, Lester & David outside Sons of the Thames Clubhouse



BRIC 2019

Star shines at British Indoor Rowing Champs

The Mizuno British Rowing Indoor Championships, the largest event on the UK rowing calendar, took place on Saturday 7th December at the London 2012 Velodrome in Lee Valley VeloPark.

Star Club at BRIC 2019

Freya features in the Telegraph

Chris Callow and Ian Donald, two of Star Club’s Vice Presidents had the unenviable task of administering over 2,300 entries across 140 events. Chris has been on the BRIC Organising Committee since 2016 and, in his role as Entries Secretary this year, Chris managed competitors from all over the UK and as far afield as New Zealand. These included our own Freya Parry and Ellie Sadler from the Women’s Squad.

Chris says ‘’It’s been an extremely busy couple of months leading up to Saturday’s event but it’s been enjoyable working closely with British Rowing staff and volunteers to deliver what was an epic event! The hard work was all worth it when you see the excitement of those competing and experiencing the electric atmosphere within the velodrome.’’

Ellie achieved 7:36.6, competing in the Under 23 women’s 2k, achieving 12th place. Freya, who came 5th in her WE2 open event with a 2k time of  7:25.8, was spotted by the Daily Telegraph and featured in their event report – not bad for a day’s work!

Star Junior Sam Gale achieved  6:56.9 and came 43rd in the sixth form boy’s 2k category and Will Lamb (son of Sue and Simon) achieved 6th with 6:11.4 in the open men’s 2k category, racing for Molesey.

Very well done to you all!

Fours Head & Vets Fours Head, November 2019

27 amazing athletes, 6 superb crews and 2 golds for Star Club (for the second year running!!)

Senior Women

by Holly Keats
Fours Head 2019 W4x- B2

Ellie Bennewith (bow), Freya Parry, Lexie Titterington, Ellie Sadler (stroke)

The water was high but the spirits were higher for Star’s senior ladies’ squad as they competed at Fuller’s Fours head in two quads. The rain held off for most of the day and boating from Putney Town Rowing Club offered a challengingly precarious entry to the river Thames down some very steep steps to enter the water. With over 400 crews racing, and each being sent off individually there was a lot of hurry-up-and-wait to get to the start line.

The first Star quad through the start saw Ellie Sadler in the stroke seat, backed up by Lexie Titterington and Freya Parry in the middle, and headed up by Ellie Bennewith in bow. This crew set off hard, with a mixture of experience in the boat – they executed their race plan, they overtook four crews higher up the order to finish in 9th in the 4x category.

The second quad saw one of the squad’s newest recruits, Rachel Coowar at stroke, supported by Becca Thompson and Holly Keats in the grunt seats and navigated by Ellie Feltham at bow. The quad crossed the start line and were immediately pursued by two strong Cantabs quads who they held off past the first bridge. With the wind picking up as they rounded the bend towards Hammersmith Bridge, the quad continued to gain on a crew from Durham. Having passed them, the last 50m saw a battle to the finish line between Star and a women’s 4+ from Agecroft, with blades clashing and muscles burning, Star bested them by 0.9 of a second to secure 15th place in the 4x category.

Fours Head 2019 W4x- B2

Ellie Feltham (bow), Holly Keats, Becca Thompson, Rachel Coowar (stroke)


A fantastic effort from a squad which has put the hours in the gym and on the water and turned it into something positive. This race is a mark in the sand for the squad to build on, and could not have been achieved without the coaching and ceaseless support from Dave Kempsell, Ian Donald and Georgia Gowing.



Although here ends the race report, it should be noted that the rowing did not end at the finish line, with the women putting in the valiant work of then rowing back up the full length of the course, against the tide, to take the boats out. 21 minutes down and an hour back up the river tested all of them, but 8 women clambered back up the steep steps, and it was done.

What a squad!


masters women

by sue lamb
Vet Fours Head 2019 MasW 4x+

Sue Lamb at 3, Jo French stroke and cox Janet Williams

The Women’s Masters entered a coxed quad into Fours Head. This is a mixed age category for scullers of mixed ability to gain experience on Tideway. Jo French, Sue Lamb and cox Janet Williams joined forces with two ladies from Cantabs for the race. We were the last boat to race in the event (crew 215) and missed having boats to push off and a stream to help, but we were very fortunate with the weather. We came third in our category out of four boats.

masters men

G4+ by colin hunt
Vet Fours Head 2019 Mas G4+ Star Club / Bedford

Sara Raey, Cox (BRC), Shirl Mussel (BRC), David Taylor, Simon Lamb, Colin Hunt

The G4+ has been training hard for this event, with race pace 6k pieces, along with 4k technical pieces, to make sure that we are moving together at all stages of the stroke. So we were confident we would do well.

We were placed at the end of the G4+ entries, so we knew that to win we would need to do some over taking. This is always where you risk losing time if the crews don’t give way, as you lose stream in getting around them.

Our instruction to the cox, was not to overload us with information. Just tell us when we are about to overtake a crew and only give us rate calls if we drop below 31. Thankfully, we didn’t need any rate calls!  We went off well, but it did take about 2k to get as long and lose as we have in training. This was probably down to the 45 minutes or so wait time at the start – one of the disadvantages of starting so far down the event – you wait longer and you lose a lot of the benefit from the stream.

We powered past our opposition, Weybridge and Lea, quite early on. By Barnes Bridge we had also overtaken several F4 crews that started in front of us, along with some W C 4x crews. We kept our shape and length through Chiswick and managed a slight increase in rate to empty the tanks through to the finish.

We met our goals:

  1. Win our category
  2. Beat all other clubs at the younger ‘F’ category
  3. Finish within 45 seconds of our Star club ‘F’ crew. We finished only 34 seconds behind.

Bonus was to beat Abingdon, our rivals at ‘F’ category in previous years. Despite rowing in an older crew category, we actually managed to increase our margin of victory over them by 10 seconds!

I would also like to give my thanks to Sara from BRC who coxed us so well on the day and all those cold mornings up to the event. Without her, we could not have competed.

F4+ by david sogan
Vet Fours Head 2019 Mas F4+

Ben Cox (cox), Lennie Robertson, David Gowing, Kevan Armstrong, David Sogan


Conditions were near perfect with just a light breeze and flat water. It was raced on the flood tide and, due to the quantity of water still flowing down, there was very little stream. Just as we reached the start, our coxbox packed up, so we made plans for messages to be relayed from the cox to Lenny, our bow man, to the rest of the crew.

Our start position was at the head of the Men’s F coxed fours and behind Women’s A & B coxed fours.

We settled into a good rhythm from the off and overtook our first crew by Harrods and a second crew just before Hammersmith Bridge. Ben, our cox, steered a perfect line through the bridge, taking a slightly tighter line than usual due to the lack of stream. The crew settled at about rate 30 and soon caught up further crews. Lenny gave some great calls, urging the crew to overtake quickly and push on. Just past Chiswick Eyot, a Reading crew didn’t get out of our way and we had a brief clash of blades. Again, Ben did a fantastic job of threading us through a number of slower crews largely without incident and without losing speed. The crew pushed on at Barnes Bridge, taking a tight line and passing more crews. By now we could see we had moved a good distance away from the other F4+ crews behind us.  A series of pushes were called by Lenny at Chiswick Bridge, Quintin and 20 strokes out and the crew finished at rate 32.

Despite the issue with the cox box, we won the F4+ event by 49 seconds and also beat all but one of the D4+ and E4+ crews.

This is the second year running the club has won two events at Vet fours head.

masters E4x

Vet Fours Head 2019 MasE 4x

Andrew Thomson (bow), Lester Waugh, Phil Cook, Lisa Thomson (stroke)

2019 Spring Rowing News


Star Head took place on January 13th, despite rough water conditions. The Masters squad had a number of wins including in the Eights and the Quads. The Junior squad saw four wins, while the Womens squad won in the Quads. A big thanks to members for the marshalling and cake and sandwich making.


Bedford Head took place on February 10th, with wins for J184x, MasD4x, MasE8+ and MasG8+ for crews. The newly formed WMasE4+ narrowly lost by only 1 second, so an excellent effort all round.

February also saw Masters crews competing and winning  at a number of other events. There was a win for our Masters F8+ at Molesey Head on February 17th, where they were also the thrid fastest boat overall. The Masters Men went to the Head of the Trent on February 26th, where there were wins for our E4 and F4 in division one and wins for E8 and F8 in division three.

February 23rd saw the Junior GB trials in Boston. The boys placed 19th and 43rd in the country, while Willow placed 17th. Willow has since been invited to attend a GB J16 training camp. Congratulations to our Juniors!


At St Neots on March 3rd , the Masters Ladies had a very successful Head of the East, with wins in the WMasF2x for Sue and Kim and in the  WMAs B/E 2- for Liz and Sarah.

March 9th saw wins for Star/Bedford Masters E and G crews at Reading University Head in windy conditions.


Strong Star Showing at Vesta Head

Star Club and Composites Take On Tideway In Vesta Masters’ Head

Three Eights and a quad scull featuring Star rowers travelled to London in the early hours of 25th March to tackle the Tideway. Less than 24 hours after Cambridge’s clean sweep in the Boat Race, our crews rowed the course in reverse and did our name proud. With one win and strong placings for the other crews, it’s clear that winter training has paid off and the masters’ squad looks forward to the regatta season with gusto.

Open Masters 4x – Star Club/Peterborough City RC/Leicester BC/Upper Thames RC Composite

Winners of the Open Masters Quad Pennant and 20th overall

Chris Callow reports: The Vets Head of the River had not been an event we had intended on racing given that traditionally it’s an event for Masters Eights. For the first time in its history, the Organising Committee decided to open up the event to Masters Quads, however with our stoke man already committed to racing in the Peterborough City RC Masters E Eight we were unable to enter. Having made this decision, some weeks later I received an email from the Organising Committee Chairman asking if we were going to enter, so we re-considered our options. The conclusion we reached was that we’d only race with a substitute stroke man onboard if a certain individual in the name of Thomas Carter from Upper Thames RC was available to race. Without too much hesitation Thomas agreed to race, so we then found ourselves with our entry in and only three weeks till race day!

“On Sunday 25th March, with a lack of sleep due to the clocks going forward, we were London bound to take on the Vets Head of the River over the 6,800m Boat Race course. Having had a quick pre-race paddle on the course going through our warm up, we proceeded to the marshalling area where we ended up sitting for over an hour before we raced! The joys of starting near to the back of the start order…… We knew before we raced that there would be a fair amount of overtaking of crews with the responsibility of steering falling to me in the bow seat, but we were ready for this and knew what we had to do.

“At 11:35 it was time for us to turn onto the course and proceed to the start line. Paddling steady state through Chiswick Bridge the GO call came where we stepped up onto a rate of 38 through the line setting a committed rhythm to draw down onto. After a minute of paddling the rhythm call came and we settled onto our race rate of 32/33.

“Only a couple of minutes into the race we found ourselves fast approaching the Masters A quad from Furnivall RC who started ahead of us and a further two women’s eights, with Barnes Bridge looming. We managed to overtake all three crews before the bridge without our pace or rhythm being affected.

“Now entering the long stretch from Barnes to Hammersmith, this period of the race was about maintaining our pace (splits 1:30-1:38), making technical calls to ensure we all maintain our focus and looking to extend away from our opposition behind. A further two crews were passed before Hammersmith Bridge and with perfect racing conditions and the course nearing its final 2000m we were ready to step on at Hammersmith.

“The call came and we re-established a rhythm of 33 looking for quick hands and sharp catches. At this point we knew we were moving fast but knowing we had to maintain to the finish line if we wanted a chance of winning. Coming into the final straight along the Embankment, three calls for home with the rate peaking at 38, but nothing left in the tank, the finish line came and we had given our all for each other.

“Now the long paddle back to Barnes Bridge to disembark where we eventually made it back 3hrs after boating! After boat loading, debrief and a cuppa we learnt that we managed to pull of the win in the Open Masters Quad event and finish 20th overall out of 200+ starters. A great way to sign-off our Head season, with focus now turning to the Regatta season in just over a month.”

Star/Bedford Masters D VIII

Kevan Armstrong reports: “The weather and water conditions at tideway couldn’t have been much better. The overall preparation for the race had been a bit patchy, but since the late addition of Will Todd, the boat had been feeling pretty good in training. We had opted to try and achieve a higher rate at Tideway.

“We started at 36 and soon settled at 33 moving to 32. The first ten minutes of the race went pretty well overtaking an Italian crew who offered little resistance. I think we had some launch wash between the eyot and Hammersmith bridge which left us struggling a little to regain composure.

“After Harrods we were battling to overtake Vesta who were sticking to their water pretty rigidly, eventually overtaking them and another crew on the run into the finish. We were disappointed, however, to be caught by Henley/Upper Thames the eventual winners of our category shortly before the finish.

“4th in D and 29th overall was sort of par for the course. With largish gaps ahead and some tight bunching behind, we were grateful that the crews from Trent Head were still behind us in the finish order. A roller coaster winter.”

Star Club Masters E VIII

David Taylor reports: “Good conditions on the Tideway this year with light winds and mainly calm water meant that the event ran smoothly.

“With alarm clocks going off at 4am it was a very early start, compounded by the Spring clock change. However, after a pre-race cup of tea at Putney Town Rowing Club, the Masters E crew stroked by Colin Hunt had a good solid row, ably coxed by Jill Edgeley in her usual calm, efficient manner.

“The boat overtook three crews on the course, including one that was reluctant to move aside and caught a Molesey crew starting just ahead of them at the finish. The end result of 9th out of a very large entry of 29 crews was a respectable one given the quality of the field. After a welcome lunch at the Ship in Mortlake it was early evening before the boats arrived back. A long but enjoyable day.”