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

JANUARY

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.

FEBRUARY

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!

MARCH

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.

 

Vets Fours Head of the River Race Report

For masters rowers there are a few landmark events in the season where crews get to test themselves against the best the country has to offer. Last weekend’s Veteran Fours Head (4th November) is one such event and sets an important marker for the season ahead.

Masters events might draw fewer consistently quality entries and garner less attention than senior events, but at the top end competition is fierce. Many of the fastest crews feature rowers who earned representational honours in their day.

This year, crews raced on the ebb tide from the University Stone, Mortlake to Ranelagh Sailing Club, Putney. At around 6,500m, the course is 300m shorter than the normal course due to works at the usual finish point. A total of 256 crews entered including the following Star Club crews: Masters F4+, Masters E4+, Masters D4+, Masters D4x and Masters B4x (composite).

Star crews performed exceptionally well, cementing the club’s reputation as a force to be reckoned with in masters’ rowing. Wins were secured in F4+, E4+ and B4x with a third place in D4+ and 6th place in D4x.

Star Masters squad has high hopes for the season ahead and is targeting gold at British Masters, Henley Masters and World Masters in Budapest in 2019. The squad couldn’t have had a much better start. The road to Budapest is long, but that trip in now well underway.

Here’s how the races went down…

Masters F Coxed Fours (average age range 60-65)

Colin Hunt reports: “Luckily we were blessed with good conditions which suited our Wintec 4 as it does sit low in the water and we would struggle in rough conditions. Charlotte our cox, (David Taylor’s daughter) was a big asset on the day, with a lot of tideway experience. She gave us some great technical calls during our nice low rate paddle to the start keeping long and relaxed. We were nicely warmed up when we arrived at the marshalling point.

“Our main threat was Abingdon who we had beaten at this event last year, but by only 0.6 sec. We knew they would be out for revenge! We were starting directly in front of them, which was good, because we could react to their race plan. They would either hang back and try and stay in clear water or attack from the off and try and intimidate us. They chose the latter! They came to within about 2-3 lengths when the starter called go. The race was on.

“We decided beforehand not to let their tactics dictate ours. We had a good clean build over 10 strokes and hit our race pace rhythm at rate 33. It felt smooth, long and relaxed. We have been working on lower rate pieces, but with more work around the pin and more effective length. This was paying off. We had more time to breath on the recovery and be ready for that next leg drive.

“They also went off at good pace and probably made up a length on us. But we were moving well. We kept our length and stayed relaxed. We were ready for them. We started pulling away. We took back the length they gained and probably a bit more.

“Barnes to Hammersmith seemed to go really quickly. It could still go either way. Abingdon were hanging on to us. We knew Hammersmith was going to be choppy, it always is when the wind is in the opposite direction to the stream, but we coped well with it and didn’t lose too much boat speed. It was about this point that we caught the younger ‘E’ 4+ tailenders. We held back at the start to try and avoid having to overtake them, but we couldn’t avoid it.

“It was at this stage that we dug in. We were determined not to lose our technique in the rough water. It paid off. We pulled another length or so away from Abingdon. They seemed to be running out of steam. This gave us extra momentum to push on. We had one last crew to catch before the finish…Warwick ‘E’ 4. We were determined to overhaul them before the finish, but were still conscious of the fact that Abingdon were still close enough to push on and try and overhaul US!

“The plan was to do an ‘organic’ build at Fulham football ground, giving us about a 500m run in to the finish. We were tired. I must admit I did look round once or twice willing the familiar site of the football ground to appear. When finally it did, I knew we had beaten Abingdon. We drove on. We were coming up on Warwick. We kept the boat speed going. We overlapped them and finally just drew past them on the finish line. Exhausted but elated!

“We appreciate all the help that Ian Taylor has given us in coaching and boat rigging. And all the support from different club members on the day.”

Masters E Coxed Fours (average age range 55-60)

David Sogan reports: “The E4+ consisted of David Sogan, Kevan Armstrong, David Gowing, Dom Hawes and Cox Sam Darcy, a Star Junior who bravely stepped in at the last minute.

“We had very little preparation for the Vet Fours Head, first getting together just a week before. We were also using a new boat (Dubai Flyer) and for three of our four practice outings we were still making adjustments to the height and pitch of the riggers. We only got to do a couple of 500m pieces at full rate before the race.

“Conditions on the day were reasonably good for Tideway with a mild head to cross-wind. We got off to a good start, spinning up to 37 and then settling at 31½. We got into a strong sustainable rhythm and before we reached Barnes Bridge, we overtook Marlow (with Sam very deftly taking them on the inside of the bend) and then Reading just before the bridge.

“We maintained the same rate up to Hammersmith Bridge putting more distance between us and the crews behind and gradually catching up with more crews in front.

 

“The headwind hit us after Hammersmith with the water getting quite choppy. We had to drop the rate a little and lost a bit of composure but still pushed on. We overtook the Xpress E4 by Harrods Depository and then the Bedford D4 by Fulham Football ground.

“We raised the rate back up for a final push from the yellow buoy and put in a strong finish. We knew that our main competition would come from last year’s winners, Monmouth, who started five places in front of us. When the times came out we were surprised to see we had beaten them into second place by over 27 seconds.

“Sam Darcy, who was coxing on the Tideway for the first time kept an extremely cool head, giving us great calls and steering exceptionally well, especially when overtaking other crews.”

Masters D Coxed Fours (average age range 50-55)

Pete Isaacson reports: “The Masters D4+ is a new combination put together a few weeks ago, so outings prior to racing were limited to five times. The combination of Dave Rainbow, Ivan Higgins, Pete Isaacson and Tim Isaacson coxed by the very lovely Martine brought together a blend of experience and determination.

“For Tim and Pete this was our second race in 25 years, the first being Bedford Head a few weeks previously. Talk about a shock to the system, 21 minutes 16 seconds of race rowing.

“For David and Ivan racing has certainly been more commonplace. So, the question was would Tim and Pete and their lack of boat fitness be able to support the stern pair of Ivan and David throughout the duration? I guess you never really know the answer to that question until you are in the situation…

“During training we demonstrated a determination to make the very best of the opportunity. We found power in abundance, but a solid platform from which to work was at times a challenge.

“We were scheduled to go off behind London Rowing Club, previous winners who had just delivered success at the Head Of The Charles. We knew that we had a great opportunity to follow this crew that would undoubtedly be fast.

“We set off with lots of adrenaline at 35 and settled at 33. David instinctively realised that at this pace, we’d gone off a little fast and maintaining that level for a new crew would be difficult, so a further stride saw us settle at 29 / 30 strokes per minute. We managed to maintain this for the bulk of the course other than Hammersmith where we encountered some head wind and rougher water. That said, we built solidly past Fulham and finished strong.

“Our thanks to Martine for coxing and to Kev for assisting with the rigging when we realised that a little knowledge is dangerous. There are just some things that you should leave alone. We are looking forward to racing again at Star Head in a few weeks time…”

Martine Kushner added: “From the cox’s perspective, the first few strokes are indicative of the row as a whole and the first few strokes were very convincing indeed followed by a solid first kilometre and an even better second as the crew warmed up. As a crew we’d agreed that race would be won or lost between Barnes and Chiswick Eyot (the boring bit) and that focus was key. It paid off.

“It was always going to be a difficult race and London made it clear that they owned this particular piece of water and with some justification. But that’s bedside the point. From the cockpit of the boat, the ratio felt solid throughout, balance was consistent even when tired and in choppy water, length was maintained and the catch remained pretty vicious and aggressive. The basics are well rooted. The crew came 3rd in a highly competitive category, irritatingly only a few seconds behind the 2nd crew, Kingston (also on home water) and beating all the other crews out of sight.

“This crew is one to fear as it currently stands and has a terrifying reservoir of potential. A few more weeks and London will have a run for its money.”

Masters D Quadruple Sculls (average age range 50-55)

Lester Waugh reports: “The D4 quad stroked by Lisa Boggis and crewed by Phil Cook, Lester Waugh with Steve Sangster at bow made a good start in the favourable conditions.

“With pushes at Chiswick bridge and the Chiswick Pier we were holding following crews well and had taken a crew from London RC. By Hammersmith bridge we were joined by crew 42 from Ardingly whom we held for much of the final third of the race, finishing just behind them and taking 6th position in Class in a time of 20:43.”

Masters B Quadruple Sculls 

Chris Callow writes: “A composite quad with Star Club sculler Chris Callow on board won the Mas.B 4x event at last weekend’s Vets Fours Head, also finishing 2nd overall out of 250 crews behind a Mas.A 4x from Team Keane. Chris was sculling with Ian Palmer (Peterborough City), Dave Smith (Leicester RC) and Alex Miller (Quintin and also ex-Star Club member) at their 2nd competitive outing of the season.

“The previous weekend the crew had competed at Nottingham Autumn Head finishing 2nd in Open 4x’s 0.9 seconds behind the winners. On a near-perfect Tideway the crew enjoyed a solid performance executing the race plan but came away disappointment not to have won the event overall.”

A Successful Row for Tibbs Dementia

On Wednesday 5th September, the Old Gents Squad took to the water for their annual Half Marathon Row in aid of the Tibbs Dementia Foundation. In the boat was an experienced and determined crew, with an average age of 80, and of course their able cox.  With the sun out and near perfect conditions on the river, they completed the distance in an excellent time of 3 hours and 15 minutes.

The money pledged is expected to raise around £2000 for Tibbs Dementia and a final total will be expected in the next few weeks.

If you haven’t donated already there is still time as you have until Monday 10th September.

  

   

st neots rain

St Neots Regatta Race Report

Star Club put on a strong show at St Neots regatta over the weekend winning numerous pots! Our regular author was in Munich so can’t top and tail the reports in the usual form. Here are the race reports from the crews that competed.

Juniors

Willow Tucker writes: “The weather was up and down throughout the day at St Neots, but for the majority of the day, there were strong winds.

“Abi and I were in a double and Ed and Milly were in a mixed double. We had high hopes in both boats, but unfortunately, due to the course (which also caught out the boys quad) and the windy conditions, both crashed around the same place. Our last race of the year also had a first for us. We’d never had to go backwards down a course to get out of the reeds! The mixed doubles race was great to watch as it was two Star boats head-to-head. Well done to Ellie and her Dad.

“It was a little sad that it was both Abi and Ed’s last race with Star club. We will be losing two amazing athletes this year and they will be missed. Even though we didn’t win on this day, we’ll never forget it.”

Senior Women

Holly Keats writes: “What a difference a year makes. 2017 saw St Neots regatta awash with mud and bedraggled competitors, as the carpark became a scene from a Glastonbury festival nightmare. But this year looked to be different. Although it had finally rained after 5 parched weeks, the morning broke clear and bright. The wind was up but St Neots offers a relatively sheltered course for the 1000m races of Saturday – so spirits were high as the senior ladies squad set off.”

“The river for St Neots regatta contains a long left-hand curve through the middle of the 1000m course which demands careful and accurate navigation. The senior ladies had a couple of teams entered in races for Saturday – The double scull, stroked by Ingrid Holder and steered by Rhi Duckett, kicked off the day with convincing wins in both the quarter and semi-finals. The quadruple scull, stroked by new recruit Ellie Sadler and backed up by Becca Thompson and Holly Keats, was also steered by Rhi.

“The semi-finals for the quad was plagued by some strong chop and challenging cross-winds, but thankfully saw the Star team cross the line first. Both the double and the quad were heading for a final that afternoon.”

Simon Bennewith adds: “The wrong Bennewith and Bennewith double raced after junior got injured and senior had to take his place, made it to final then luck ran out and got beaten by a couple of young giants.”

st neots retgatta win Sr Ladies

Holly continues: “By 5pm the weather from 2017 St Neots was making a come-back. Boats needed extra hands-on to carry them across the park, blades became sails in the heavy chop and windswept dogs and juniors littered the tea-tent. The double took to the water for their final but sadly came in second to a strong and confident team from City of Sheffield rowing club.

“The mixed double rowed through their opposition and progressed through to a late final that evening. And then it was the turn of the senior ladies quad, in their final against Globe rowing club.

“The weather had worsened and the start was backed-up 4 races deep, which meant a chilly wait for the 4 ladies. Off the launch boats the star squad were down against the strong opposition, the corner loomed but was navigated well by both teams. The final straight saw the star squad still down by ¼ of a length, with fierce crosswinds hitting both competitors. The wall of sound from the supporters and a shout from inside the boat spurred the Star ladies for a final push over the last 200 meters, eventually winning by a slim margin. So slim in fact that no-one was sure who won for a moment.

“Then the heavens opened. Just as the squad took the boat to shoulders the rain fell like a monsoon, almost impossible to see or hear, the wind nearly took the boat back to the river and only with the help of some brave dads and coaches were we able to rack the boat.

“A really great day with 2 (and a half) boats making it to the finals, and a win for the quad. As one of the last regattas on the calendar, St Neots is always a lively time but this year will be remembered as much for the weather as the great performance by the senior ladies squad.”

Masters Women

Janet Williams writes: “We had a good showing on both days with our fours. On Saturday, we were beaten by arch-rival Milton Keynes – but by less than a length this time. So, we are making progress!”

Liz Appleton adds: “There was a surprise win at St Neots Sprint on Sunday for Star Masters Women in the Women’s Masters C/D/E Coxed Fours event, which comprised five crews from Sudbury, Ancholme, Milton Keynes and Star (two crews).

masters women

“Over the last season, Kim Taylor, Sue Lamb, Sarah Russell and Liz Appleton have put all their efforts into small boat training (a 2x and a 2-), but for the end of the season, they decided to try their luck in a coxed four, with Pamela Swain coxing. The small boat training must have paid off. Even with an injury (sustained by Kim when a quad veered out of its lane and hit us almost head-on on our way to the start), the crew won their semi-final against Sudbury by a length and a quarter.

“In the final, the Star crew benefited from a 9-second head-start over favourites Milton Keynes, who launched their customary steady but ferocious assault. MK failed to make any meaningful impact on the Star crew, who crossed the finish line a commanding three lengths ahead. A special shout out here goes to Pamela, racing for her very first time in the cox’s seat in some very difficult conditions – more Holme Pierrepoint than St Neots. Thank you Pamela for your calm, shrewd calls and thank you coach, Mike Harris, for reminding us to keep long and relaxed in the headwind and waves!”

Masters Men

David Taylor writes: “The main element over the weekend was wind. Extremely strong headwinds affected both days although the heavy rain forecast for Sunday, fortunately, didn’t happen. This had an effect on the timetable, especially on Sunday with big delays and queuing on the pontoon.

“The masters F4+ (Colin Hunt, Simon Lamb, Trevor Barton, DaveTaylor, cox Jill Edgley) had wins on both days, with finals against Broxbourne on Saturday – verdict easily and on Sunday against Doncaster – verdict 3 lengths.

F4 winners

“The F8 on Saturday also won in a straight final against Maidstone, verdict 3 lengths. The crew was made up of the F4 plus Ivan Higgins, Andy Crook, Andy Lynn and Chris Wisbey (BRC). Jill Edgeley coxed.

F8 winners

“On Sunday the F8 with Ian Darnell (BRC) in for Ivan, beat Sudbury in the semi by 1/3 length but lost to Oundle Town in the final by 3/4 length.”

George French writes: “There was a good showing from the quad on Sunday which progressed to the final where they had to give Maidstone 7 seconds in handicap. Sadly, they couldn’t quite claw back that much of a lead, but given the conditions it was a good row. At least it was not the 16 seconds we had to give them on Saturday!”

Henley Masters Header

Star Shines at Henley Masters’ Regatta

As previously reported, Star Masters squad sent several boats to Henley Masters’ Regatta held on the Fawley stretch of the Royal Regatta course on 13th and 14th July. The club performed well, winning gold in the E8s category in a highly competitive field, and reaching the finals in F4+, WMC2x and C4+ categories.

Henley Masters’ Regatta may not have the glamour, crowds or caché of its Royal cousin, but for the crews that come in from around the world, it’s every bit as important. In a season that’s seen superb results for the squad, Henley did not disappoint.

Star winners of Henley Masters


Race Reports

Masters Men E Eights: Winners

Dominic Hawes writes: “When the draw was published, The E8 category immediately stood out as one of the more competitive with Brit Masters winners LRC, Abingdon, Crabtree and Broxbourne all being well-known contenders. The draw’s dark horse was an entry from Australia’s North Shore Rowing Club.

“With a bye in the heats round, our first competitor was Abingdon RC and we knew their boat had been getting faster all season. Despite near perfect conditions, a nervy and weak start saw us yield a quarter length in the first three strokes. By the tenth and striking 40, we’d reversed the deficit and gained a half-length of our own. We settled into our stride at 34/35 strokes a minute and focused on length and relaxation. By the 500m point, we had clear 1 ½ length lead when our stroke, David Sogan, relaxed the rate and took control of the race. We finished comfortably ahead in a good time of 3.13.

In the semi-final, we lined up in a slight headwind against the mighty London Rowing Club. Known for their technical prowess, ability and speed London would push us as hard as any club. Three weeks before Henley, LRC had won the E8 category at British Rowing National Masters -this was not a boat to be taken lightly. Kevan Armstrong briefed the crew before we boated and we all agreed to the kind of race plan a competitor like London warrants. With a much stronger start and striking 42 in the spin, we again managed to pull a small lead in the first fifteen strokes. Catherine Upex managed tight lanes and a slight stroke side pull off the start admirably. Settling at 36, we gradually ground out a lead. At the halfway point, London rallied but made no real impression. We crossed the line a length ahead in a time of 3.16 having rowed 115 strokes to London’s 124. Length beats rate. We produced our best row to date in the boat.

Broxbourne RC’s E8 worked its way through the other side of the competition laying down similarly competitive times. With stronger winds on day two, we rowed to the start scenting blood but not expecting the final to be a gimme. The race plan was respectful but aggressive and, while the crew never really settled as well as against London, we executed well. A similarly strong start in the low 40s settled to 36 to the 500m point by which time the race was under control. David Sogan relaxed the rate thereafter and we focused on length to take us home. A victory by 1 ½ lengths in a time of… well… who cares. We won!

Henley medalThe crew was coxed by Catherine Upex and included: David Sogan, Kevan Armstrong, David Gowing, Dom Hawes, Ivan Higgins, Richard White (Bedford Rowing Club), Andrew Thompson and Steve Colliver.

Kevan Armstrong led the crew and commented: “We’ve been working hard on improving boat speed all year. Henley gave us a chance to prove that the volume of training and attention to detail committed by the squad has not been wasted. Our boats are definitely moving a lot faster with a much more relaxed rowing style. Any master that’s interested in moving boats faster and is willing to commit to training should join us. Next year we’re setting our sights even higher.”

Men’s Masters F Coxed Fours: Finalists

David Taylor writes: “The F4+ boat, Colin Hunt, Simon Lamb, Trevor Barton, Dave Taylor and coxed by Jill Edgeley had a good regatta. On Friday morning they beat Tideway Scullers in a close race, winning by 3 feet. The semi-final in the afternoon was a better row and a comfortable win over Marlow by 2 lengths. The final on Saturday was against a strong crew from Grosvenor rowing club. Both crews had good starts but Grosvenor gradually pulled away during the middle of the race. Star came back at the finish but was beaten by just over 1 length.”

Men’s Masters C Coxed Fours: Finalists

Dom Hawes writes: “All we had to do to reach the final was show up after two crews scratched from this unpopular category. Our foe was Potomac rowing club from Washington DC about whom we knew very little. Received wisdom tells us “only quick crews travel halfway around the world”. We knew we’d be up against it.

“Potomac was lighting fast off the start. We had an uneasy spin and with boats so close that blades were nearly clashing, our start was less than good. We settled into a stride, but never really found the easy length we’d pursued in training. At the 500m point, we were ¾ of a length down, but it felt like we were gaining. 200m from the finish, Potomac turned on the turbo and our tanks were empty so we couldn’t respond. We ran out of legs and lost by two and a bit lengths to a crew we’re keen to race again… soon.”

The crew was coxed by Cathy Johnson (Bedford Rowing Club) and comprised: Steve Colliver, Dom Hawes, David Gowing and Chris Callow.

Women’s Masters C Double Sculls: Finalists

Rachel Armstrong and Lisa Boggis won their semi-final against Milton Keynes very comfortably and faced this years’ national masters winners, Strathclyde, who had won by 12sec at Nottingham in the final. The race tactic was to put enormous pressure on Strathclyde early on in the race and try to stay in touch. The Star double led at 600m and with just 300 meters to go the crews were level. Small advantages make big differences and the better equipped Strathclyde pushed home their advantage in the closing stages by lifting their pace to win a truly hard-fought race.

Kevan Armstrong was immensely proud of how the women went about it. “How do you beat a crew that’s 12 secs faster than you?” He said. “Your only chance is to nail the start, then put more than you ought into it for as long as you can!!

“At 600m they had a chance. If they had been measured, the race would have been lost by stroke 20. With spot-on equipment, they may well have nicked an extra half-length and that might just have been enough to crack a technically less than perfect Strathclyde.”

Men’s Masters F Eights

David Taylor writes: “The Star F8 despite few training outings with the final racing crew leading up to Henley, had a good race against Reading, who were the eventual winners and a long-established crew. Star was fortunate to get a bye into the semi-final on Saturday morning. The outcome was a win for Reading by 1.25 lengths in a time of 3.29. This was exactly the same result as the other semi-final.

The crew consisted of Colin Hunt, Trevor Barton, Steve Sangster, Simon Lamb, Chris Wisbey (BRC), Iain Blackley, Dave Taylor, Andy Lynn. Cox Ian Darnell (BRC).”

Men’s Masters F Single Sculls

Lester Waugh had a steady start in his Class F1 quarter-final, being a length down at 400 metres to the British National Masters Singles Champion. By 650m the gap was down to half a length with a close finish in prospect. However, an unkind launch wash nudged Lester’s boat to stroke side resulting in him clipping the barrier and handing victory to Adey (Walton RC) by two lengths.

BRMC gold medals

Star Scores Five Golds and Second Place at British Rowing Masters Championships

Star Club masters ventured North over the 16th and 17th of June to compete for national titles at the British Rowing Masters Championships. Held at the notoriously windy National Watersports Centre (NWC) at Holme Pierrepont, the two-day regatta yielded five gold medals, two silvers and one bronze. Out of a field of 91 clubs, Star Club finished in second place with Upper Thames Rowing Club securing the victor ludorum by a wide margin.

Straight backs against the wind

This year, Saturday’s headwind was a strong but steady South-Westerly. Smaller boats found conditions tough in any lane, bigger boats fared a little better, but lanes five and six, with no shelter, were at a big disadvantage. On Sunday, the wind backed a little which shifted the advantage towards the middle and higher lanes.

Competition Classifications

  • Non-Championship events are open to athletes who have not previously won a gold medal at Masters Championships, at either Championship level or Band 1 Non-Championship level (or in the previous “Intermediate” level).
  • Non-Championship races are run as straight finals across three age categories without the usual handicaps. The winner takes all as only gold medals are awarded. Unlike Championship level races, there are no silver or bronze medals.

Enough from me. This is a long enough piece anyhow so I’ll hand over to the crews for first-hand race reports. Remember… if you race and you want to be in the report, please send words and pictures to racereports@starclubrowing.co.uk by Tuesday 7pm.


Race Reports

Championship Women’s Masters C Single Sculls: Gold Medal

Rachel Armstrong writes: After what has been a tricky season, I really had no expectation of how my race would go. It’s fair to say race nerves were in danger of getting in the way of a good race, since rough water and being tense is not a good combination. So, as I pushed away from the safety of the pontoon, I had a little word with myself and then got on with the business of warming up.

Rachel ArmstrongThe aim was to stay as relaxed as possible in the rough water and get my finishes out clean. It worked. I had a good solid start and just poured everything into the next few minutes.

It was really only in the last 250m that I took a look across to see what was happening. At about the same time I realised I was heading for a win, I also realised I’d probably poured a bit too much into the first part of the race – easy to do under the influence of adrenaline. Happily, despite clipping a red buoy near the finish, which made a few people a bit nervous, I held it together and came home with a very much needed win and gold.

Championship Men’s Masters E Coxless Fours: Gold Medal

2018-BritishMasters-SUN-0047

Photograph courtesy of Ben Rodford

David Gowing writes: Since the beginning of May, the Masters E4 of David Sogan, Kevan Armstrong, David Gowing and Dom Hawes, ably coxed by a selection of Cathy Johnson, Catherine Upex and Dawn Costello, had been focussing their training on the National Masters Championships. Kevan had been wearing the coach’s hat and exhorting us all to take ever longer strokes.

The big day (17th June) arrived with strong south-westerlies creating a substantial headwind and rather lumpy water (but nothing out of the ordinary for Holme Pierrepoint!) over the 1000m course. Our schedule started early with the first race at 09:10 in a Filippi boat kindly supplied by BMS. We had a clean row and produced a respectable time (3:49) given the conditions, qualifying for the final in second place behind a strong crew from Tyrian club.

In the final, an hour later, we produced a powerful start to head the field over the first half of the race, with the pressure coming from Monmouth in an adjoining lane. We waited for Tyrian’s big push for the line and it came with 200m to go. We held our form to win in a time of 3:46 maintaining a clear length’s advantage over Tyrian, who finished fast to overhaul Monmouth. They’d left it too late to catch us!

Championship Men’s Masters E Coxed Fours: Gold Medal

David Gowing writes: The same formation [as the 4-] boated again at 12:15 for the final of the coxed four (E4+) event, but now with the addition of Cathy Johnson in the cox’s seat who was participating under Bedford Club colours.

We took our place on the stake boat with some confidence, having already beaten Monmouth and Nottingham in the coxless formation and not perceiving a strong threat from Reading. But, we knew nothing could be taken for granted in challenging conditions and the headwind had strengthened further.

Again, we started well and were at the front of the field after ten strokes. We hoped to open up a lead as we went for full length. However, Nottingham, in a slightly revised formation, including a very determined stroke man, over-rated us and pushed their nose ahead. We avoided the temptation to respond to their rate and stuck doggedly to our “length in the water will win the race” mantra. That mantra began to wear thin at 750m with Nottingham still alongside us and rowing smoothly. At this point, Cathy called for the squeeze and we applied sufficient pressure to pull clear, winning in a time of 4:01 and collecting our second gold of the day at the finishing pontoon.

Championship Men’s Masters B/C Quadruple Sculls: Gold Medal

Racing in the Masters B/C Handicap Quads event, Star Club’s own Chris Callow competed alongside his composite crew mates from Peterborough City RC and Leicester RC; competing against 11 other crews in their event.

Chris Callow Wins bc 4x

The strong cross-headwind were not ideal conditions to be racing in; especially given that the crew had a 5-second handicap to make up against the other Masters C crews, but their recent experience racing in similar conditions at Nottingham City Regatta helped.

Lining up in the heat they were confident of progressing to the final having to only finish in the top 3 to progress. But they wanted more to ensure they guaranteed a good lane for the final so they raced for the win. After posting the quickest time in the heat (3:33.57) they were well placed going into the final.

The crew knew there were no guarantees of winning the final regardless of their heat result. With their focus on their own race plan, again having to chase down a 5-second handicap, Chris’ crew stormed through the field to win the gold!

Chris said “Our training had not been focused on Nationals this season and we were going into the event not knowing where we would be placed. However that said, we were wanting to win the gold!! Chasing down a 5-second handicap in both races was a tough task but we knew we had it in us to perform well and row through to the gold which I’m pleased we did. The final was one of the most exciting races I’ve been involved in for a long time!”

Non-championship Men’s Masters D Band 2 Double Sculls: Gold Medal

Ivan Higgins and David Rainbow took to the water in a double scull on Sunday hoping to replicate their quadruple scull success from Saturday’s race and they weren’t disappointed. Striking an easy, flowing rhythm, they dominated the field and made winning look easy crossing the line at a relaxed rate, well ahead of the competition.

Championship Men’s Masters E Quadruple Sculls: Silver Medal

Kevan Armstrong writes: “A dominant win in the semi-final saw us line up next to Norwich, a crew that has had a stranglehold in this event for many years. The six-boat final was pretty much between our two crews and we decided to go out hard. We were quite surprised to lead Norwich right up to about 600m where their dominance over the last few years showed through. We were most encouraged to be ahead for so long and it shows the boat speed is good enough, just learning to be relaxed when at that pace. It’s very promising for the future.”

David Sogan added: “We came to the championship short of boat time and we had a straight final which included the mighty Norwich. This is a crew that has rowed together for several years. We were quick off the start gaining a half-length lead at 250m. But, Norwich slowly clawed it back so that at 500m we were only leading by a canvas. They slowly gained the upper hand, eventually winning by a length but we picked up another well-deserved silver medal for a newly emerging crew.”

Championship Men’s Masters E Double Sculls: Silver Medal

The Men’s Masters E Double Sculls crew of Kevan Armstrong and David Sogan faced a full field of 12 competitors in their event. The crew cruised to an easy victory in their heat in a stiff headwind. In the final Star took a small lead over Norwich (the other heat winners) at 250m. However, Norwich gradually overhauled them and by 750m had clear water. Star finished well ahead of the rest of the field picking up a Silver as the first medal of the day.

Kevan Armstrong commented: “Both the quad and the double results are very encouraging. We went faster than the opposition for a good part of the race and we haven’t had time to focus in on these boat types like the opposition has. It remains a challenge to beat what are very good crews. That’s a challenge I take personally.”

Championship Women’s Masters C Double Sculls: Bronze Medal

Rachel Armstrong writes: We had a relatively easy time in the semi-final, coming second to Strathclyde but having not really pushed too hard for that. We knew that the final would be a very different race and it didn’t disappoint. This was a bunfight from start to finish, with no one willing to concede defeat.

Conditions were such that maintaining good alignment on the start pontoons was tricky and meant that when we finally got to start the race, the first 250m was a little harried.

Rough water and a significant headwind made for a challenging midsection too, our aim was just to stay clear of the chop and focus on staying long and strong. It became clear as we battled our way down the course that it was going to be anyone’s race to win. In the event, a strong combination from Strathclyde took gold. The order of the remaining 5 crews, however, changed several times over the course of the race and as we came over the line there was a stunned silence as no one knew who had won silver and bronze. After a few minutes, it was announced that we had won bronze. 1 second off silver and just 4/100th away from 4th place. Side by side racing at it’s very best and great fun.

Non-Championship Women’s Masters D-F 2x & Championship level Women’s Masters F 2x

Liz Appleton writes: Sue and Kim’s main event was the Non-Championship Women’s Masters D-F 2x- event on Sunday. They first warmed up on the Saturday by trying their luck in the Championship level Women’s Masters F 2x-. From a field of 10 crews, they raced well and were chuffed to qualify for the final.

Kim_SueP1040887

Kim and Sue went into their main event on Sunday with two races and excellent experience of the wind and chop under their belt. They sculled well and achieved a very honourable second place to a much younger crew from Castle Semple RC, with a commanding lead over the four other crews, Exeter, Llandaff and two from Broxbourne.

Non-Championship Women’s Masters D-F 2-

Sarah and Liz’s main event was the Non-Championship Women’s Masters D-F 2- event on Saturday. Out in choppy lane 5, they knew they had to go hard to win and at 300 metres were in the lead and going for clear water. However, the umpire’s flag went up, and in a cruel turn of events, the five crews were instructed to stop racing and make their way back to the start. Seemingly, there had been an “issue” between two of the other pairs.

Star Club Womens 2-

Photograph courtesy of Ben Rodford

On the second attempt, Sarah and Liz were struck by a gust on the starter’s “Go!”, which lost them the benefit of a strong start. Upton RC in lane 2 seized the opportunity and took a length, which Star was unable to recoup and so finished in a cruel second place.

The three other pairs from Bradford ARC, Dart Totnes and Putney Town were not in contention. Sarah and Liz also raced for experience in the Non-Championship Women’s Masters A-C 2- event, in which they achieved a faster time.

Championship Men’s Masters F Single Sculls

Lester Waugh participated in the Class F single sculls but disappointingly couldn’t match the conditions or the opposition, finishing 4th in his heat.

He did, however, make it into a British Rowing Masters web page photo so all was not lost!