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.


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.”

Bedford Autumn Head Race Report

Star Club once again performed strongly at Bedford Autumn Head with numerous crew winning medals.

Senior Women

Holly Keats writes:  “The senior women entered more boats into this Bedford Head race than in many previous years – showing the breadth and strength the squad now has.

“And despite torrential downpours for much of the day (which saw boats needing to bailed out at the start and finish), the squad achieved more pots for the trophy cabinet. The ladies entered two quads and achieved first and third, with Becca Thompson, Evelyn Burke, Freya Parry and Rhi Duckett winning with a massive margin of 15 seconds over the rest of the field.
“Two doubles were also entered into the race, with Ingrid Holder and Rhi narrowly missing out on a win by only a few seconds, and Sacha Lynch and Jess Copeland racing for the first time together.
“A great benchmark for the start of the season as the squad gears up to build on the success of last year and strives towards further challenges.”


Elizabeth Appleton writes:  “The Masters Women’s squad entered three crews at Bedford Autumn Fours and Small Boats Head, all of which competed in torrential rain in Division 1.

“First to battle their way through the driving rain was the Women’s Masters E coxed four of Kim Taylor, Jo French, Sarah Russell and Liz Appleton, coxed by Pamela Swain. This crew had suffered set backs over the week leading up to the event. With Jo gallantly subbing in on her less favoured side, the crew had planned a couple of outings, but these were thwarted due to high winds. On the day, the crew set out “untried”, with no expectations, but a strong desire to row their best. The crew executed a “long and strong”, relaxed row, rating just 26 to 28, with a final push at 30 strokes per minute.They had a couple of incidents along the way, having to move out of the way for a faster junior double and pair behind, which unfortunately affected their course and their rhythm. Imagine, then, their surprise when they discovered that they had beaten local rivals St. Neots by a significant margin, and had lost the event to mighty Milton Keynes by a mere two seconds. Relaxation is clearly the way ahead.

“Then there were two Women’s Masters C double sculls, one following the other. The leading and faster double was the experienced partnering of Sally Knight and Anne-Marie King. They were chased down the course by the newer pairing of Alison Winder and Sasha Lynch (from the Senior Women’s Squad). Both crews put in plucky performances, but were beaten into second and third places by Lea. They are now looking forward to a re-row at Star Head.”


Peter Isaacson writes: “For three of us competing in the Masters D+ four at Bedford head: Sean Costello, Tim Isaacson and Pete Isaacson, it was 25 years ago that we had raced in this sport that once dominated and shaped our lives.

“We are indebted to Steve Sangster who must have had thoughts of this row becoming increasingly more difficult as we progressed along the course. For the three of us reality dawning that we are not as young as we once were and the euphoria and excitement of racing being overtaken by pain, shock and despair. Thank you Steve, it may have only been Bedford Head but to us it signified that we could still compete and that the journey to 2019 and beyond was just beginning.

“The weather was horrific on the day with very heavy rain and a head wind developing for the PM divisions. A relaxed and solid row up to the start gave hope to us all and despite the weather there was genuine belief that we could hold it all together. Turn, tops off, pray, here we go… It is hard to remember details when you are concentrating so hard but the two things that stick out for me are getting to Bedford Rowing Club and knowing that no ergo can prepare you for this experience, boat time rules every time and how happy I was to pass under the suspension bridge with us still rowing well and solid as a unit

“7 minutes 38 was our time and that was good enough to beat the other Masters D crews on the day by some margin. Although beaten by our own Masters E four of Richard White, Kevan Armstrong, David Sogan and David Gowing who covered the course in an amazing time of 7 minutes 12. For our first race, we are pleased and see this as a spring board and have the opportunity to do it all again at Star Head in a few weeks’ time.

“Finally a special mention to our Cox. Cathy was permanently drenched on the day and laid down in a front loader four, three times. Thank you Cathy!!”

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.


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!”

John Singfield’s Funeral

John Singfield’s funeral service takes place at 1.45pm on Friday 10th August 2018 at Bedford Crematorium, Norse Road.

Family flowers only please. Donations if desired, for the British Liver Trust can be sent via Further enquiries to Arnolds Funeral Service, 48 Roff Avenue, Bedford MK41 7TE Telephone 01234 359529.

Sad news of the passing of John Singfield

I’m deeply saddened to write that John Singfield, a Vice President and one of the Clubs most distinguished and longest serving members has died. The Club has lost a great supporter.

John’s roots with Star Club extend back to 1957, when he attended a rowing course with fellow Vice President, Pete Kennedy. By 1960 he was a key member of the nascent Star Club squad and a member of the Eight that first boated that year. His enjoyment of life took him to some exotic rowing locations, none more so than competing in the RAF Gibralter Coxed Four that won at Casablanca International Regatta! He was one of life’s enthusiasts, ever ready with a smile and to extend the hand of friendship.

In his later years, John continued to nurture his links with the Club. He was a key member of the support group of the Coxed Four that won the Britannia Cup in 1986 at Henley Royal Regatta and opened the door to GB selection for several Star Club athletes. His three children all attained elite standard and in 1991 his son Jonathan, along with Tim Foster won the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta in the Star/Leander composite Eight. Subsequently John became a prominent member of the Junior Squad coaching team for many years. His wife Gloria, not to be outdone was one of the first of the team of ladies to provide Thursday Night Suppers. Truly the Singfield family were and remain Star members to their core.

In the latter years of his life, John’s enthusiasm for the Club never waned. He never missed a Vice Presidents’ Supper and I was always particularly grateful for his vocal appreciation of my after supper jokes, not to mention his store of funny stories that he would share with me at the end of the evening. We shall all miss this remarkable man.

David Dixon

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.