Star Club Lockdown Newsletter

The Club remains closed at the present time but we continue to look forward to the day when we can pick up – safely – from where we left off in March. As soon as we’re able, we’ll be in touch about our plans to re-open and how we will run the Club until we are free of the Covid-19 epidemic.

In the meantime we hope you enjoy this read and will be able to join us for our first online quiz this coming Thursday 14 May.

May 2020 Star Club Lockdown Newsletter

Take the best care of each other and stay safe.

Celebrate Star Club during the 2.6 Challenge

Wear your Star kit and take part in the national 2.6 Challenge on Sunday 26th April

The Challenge can be any activity you like – from running 2.6 miles to gardening for 26 minutes: whatever your age or ability, you can take part.

This is, above all, about taking part  and reigniting the community which is Star Club  –  fundraising is not a pre-requisite.

Please wear your Star kit while you complete your challenge and then upload your photos and captions to Star Club’s facebook page  We can’t wait to see what you get up!

To find out how to get involved and for more ideas, visit



Monday Night Circuits

Monday night circuits will (we hope) recommence on monday 7th september

Squad training is suspended for the time being

We’d like to acknowledge and thank all who have put so much effort into these important aspects of our training and development.

Star Club rowing blades

Closed until further notice

“Star Club is a community with a big heart and it’s in our nature to pull together and fight harder when the challenges are greatest”.

Taking british rowing’s advice and that of the government, the club will be closed for the foreseeable future.

we’d like to seek your help to establish a hardship fund to ensure that, when we open again, everyone who wants to has a chance to return to the sport they love.

read on for further details ….

Club Closure

Sadly, the time has come to close the Club completely. We have received advice from British Rowing that this is the safest thing to do in the light of most recent expert advice and the doors will all be locked tomorrow morning, Saturday 21st March, 2020.

Fundraising for Tibbs Dementia Foundation raises £220

A silver lining and something to celebrate – yesterday evening’s take away beer effort (carefully managed to respect social distancing requirements) raised £220! Tibbs’ Chief Executive, Sarah Russell asked us to pass on the following message:

Thank you so much for using this as an opportunity to raise funds for Tibbs. I really do appreciate your support and commitment to continuing to support us, even though times are incredibly difficult for everyone at the moment.

Your support will mean such a lot to our service users, so important that people with dementia continue to feel valued and supported at this time.

At Tibbs we’ll be taking a massive financial hit during this crisis, but we remain committed to supporting all our service users. We’ll be phoning all our regular service users every week, that’s about 300 couples and we’ll be sending out extra editions of our newsletter, emailing and posting resources and using social media, you tube etc. These will be challenging times for our service users, our team and our charity, but we’re all committed to staying positive supporting each other and staying positive and creative in our thinking. 

Your support really is such a positive booster at the moment and I am truly grateful that you’re thinking of us and being so proactive.

Call for Contributions to Star Club’s Hardship Fund

This is and will continue to be a very challenging time financially for everyone. At the beginning of the year, we announced that Star Club intended to launch a Hardship Fund and now seems like an appropriate time to get this off the ground. If you feel able to donate, at whatever level, please contact David Rainbow, our Chairman and Acting Treasurer via Contributions will be set aside for the sole purpose of supporting members who are prevented from enjoying the sport they love due to financial difficulty. We will spend the next few weeks establishing how to govern the fund to best effect and will publish details as soon as we can. It goes without saying that applications for support will be treated in absolute confidence.

Star Club is a community with a big heart and it’s in our nature to pull together and fight harder when the challenges are greatest.

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

Star Club Management Board

Coronavirus: Getting through this together

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Star Club Management Board

Opening celebration for Star’s new gym

thanks to the hard work of our volunteers and the generosity of our principal sponsor

Thursday night’s Club Night saw the grand opening of our new gym. This followed a full refurbishment by volunteers who had worked hard throughout the previous week and, then, the arrival of new equipment, purchased thanks to a generous donation from our principal sponsor, Ceetak.

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)