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.”

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!”

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


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 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!

Star Regatta A Triumph

Star Regatta on Saturday 9th of June was a resounding success with over 200 crews racing – on time and with competitive vigour. With a large juniors entry and a dominant presence from some of the country’s best rowing schools, the large crowds that lined the bank were treated to some very high-quality rowing.

Star Pots

Organising an event of this scale is no mean feat and relies on volunteers giving up a huge amount of time. The regatta committee and officials devote hours and hours to planning and on behalf of all club members… thank you. Ian Donald organised the marshals on the day and managed to pull off the event despite being 21 volunteers light. Thank you Ian.

Other volunteers also help make the day and two teams deserve special thanks. Chrissy Boggis’s vintage tea stall was a huge hit in the enclosure and Chrissy has quite rightly submitted a match report. Tibbs Dementia Foundation also set up a stand to spread the word and fundraise. As our club charity for 2018, we were delighted to welcome Tibbs Dementia and look forward to intensive fundraising when the regatta season ends.

Vintage Tea Stall Match Report

Chrissy Boggis writes: This year we fielded the best tea tent ever. The vintage theme was well conceived and went down superbly. We scored a big win (ed… ok, I made that sentence up, but I quite like the idea of competitive team stalls).

We had a great team as you can see from the photo… it simply would not have worked without them. So, I’d like to thank the team of helpers and all the fabulous people who donated sandwiches, filled rolls and the delicious array of cakes.

Results in brief

Star juniors, in most cases just starting to reappear after revision and exam hell, performed particularly well and recorded most of the day’s victories. In total, 45 of the day’s 202 races featured Star competitors. 26 of those recorded wins and 11 of those were finals. Star wins were:


W.2X (pictured below)


J18.4X (pictured above), W.J17.2X, J16.2X, J18.1X, J15.1X, W.J14 B 2X, J17.1X, W.J15.1X



Race Reports

Womens’ Open Double Sculls

Ellie Bennewith writes: Since I was a junior, Star Regatta has been one of my favourite local events. The atmosphere is always fantastic and it’s always great to see so many members from the club either competing or helping out. Gemma and I were racing in the Women’s Double category; it was a great opportunity to race the 1200m course as it’s a similar distance to Women’s Henley which we will be competing in next weekend.

Gemma and Ellie racing at Star Regatta

Heading into the first race against Leicester University, Gemma and I both felt confident, but the pressure to perform at our club’s regatta was looming in the back of our minds. We’d both agreed that we’d treat it as a 500m race and do what we could to get a good lead by town bridge. If this worked, we planned to wind down for the finish.

Sure enough, past Monkey Island our lead had stretched to several lengths so I made a call to relax and slow the rate down… but neither Gemma nor myself made much of a change, as I think we both convinced ourselves that you never know what could happen! By the time we reached the lock, we eventually calmed down and realised we could actually start to relax. Coming up to the line, we were taken back by the amount of support along the course – we were being cheered from start to finish and the final verdict was ‘easily’.

As we successfully made it into the final, we knew it would be us against another Star women’s squad double made up of Ingrid and Rhianna. Before boating, we all huddled together to remind us that it was already an achievement to see a Star-Star final, which speaks volumes about the development we’ve made as a squad. Ian Donald was beyond chuffed and if you spoke to him on Saturday you’d know how proud he was of what we’ve all achieved.

In the final, Gemma and I were racing against the clock as it was good practice for Women’s Henley. It wasn’t our cleanest row, but we produced a decent time which was faster than we’d aimed for and came away with the win. Ingrid and Rhianna were fantastic competition and I’m excited to see where that boat will go in the future!

Thank you for all the support along the bank. Gemma and I appreciate all the support from the club, both on and off the water – it hasn’t gone unnoticed and we hope to do our club proud in the weeks to come.

Next stop Henley Women’s Regatta!

Open Eights

Dom Hawes writes: A regatta on home water was too much temptation for the mens’ masters squad to resist, so a Star/Bedford eight was entered in the open class, that being the only class available. With an average age of 55, the VIII boldly took to the water giving away 39 years a man against Bedford School’s J16 Bs. After using their size to power to an early lead, Star/Bedford clung on down the enclosure straight as Bedford School reduced the lead to just 1/2 length.

In the final, Star/Bedford lined up against heat A winners, Eton College. This time we only gave away 37 years a man, but it made little difference. Eton rocketed off the start and although it felt like we held them to the town bridge, they pushed on pretty easily and secured a win by four lengths. Next time, maybe we’ll race their Dads instead?

What about your race report?

When you race, and if you’d like to be included in the report, please send a race report and photos/video by 7pm on the Tuesday following to racereports@starclubrowing.co.uk or post them to dropbox.com and share the link.

Star Strikes at Peterborough Spring

Peterborough City Rowing Club once again put on a truly impressive weekend of racing on its 1000m 4-lane rowing lake just outside the city. With early summer skies, not too much wind and strong competition from around the country, Peterborough City Spring Regatta provide the perfect setting for an impressive performance from Star.

Both days were hot and finding shade and cover wasn’t easy. With six hours to kill between races, I found refuge under the shell of our eight as captured by Dave Rainbow. Whatever we did as a club that weekend, it worked. We came away with six wins. Go Star!

I’ve received some great race reports from the crews and I’ve shared them unedited because they really give you a flavour of the racing and the day itself.

When you race, and if you’d like to be included in the report, please send a race report and photos/video within 48 hours to racereports@starclubrowing.co.uk or post them to dropbox.com and share the link.

Saturday 2nd June

Women’s Quadruple Sculls (Band 2): Win

Holly Keats writes: Peterborough regatta kicked off last Saturday with a jam-packed race literary. The rowing park was full to bursting and played host to the first regatta this season for the Star senior ladies quad boat: Rhiana at bow, Ingrid in the second seat, Sascha in third and Holly in the stroke seat. The day was hot and muggy, with bright sunshine forcing competitors and spectators alike to seek shade and refreshments. The ladies were up against 6 other squads from across the country and lined up in lane 4 of the second heat against Leeds and Worcester university boats.

A strong start saw the Star crew pull away from the other two boats in the first 250 meters. As the girls set into their pace, they maintained their advantage and kept the other crews away. They crossed the finish line first in a time of 3:55, four seconds ahead of the second boat, with a win seeing them through to the final being held 5 hours later that afternoon.

For the final, the Star boat was drawn in lane 3 and another good start saw them second at the 250-meter mark, behind Leeds University. The crew kept their composure and when the Leeds boat began to encroach on their lane they focused on their own race and weren’t distracted. Following a warning, the Leeds boat took a poor line and fell back into second and then third place by the 500-meter mark. The Star boat took first place at that point but pressure came from lane 1 as Norwich rowing club’s crew gained ground. As the finish line drew near the Star club boat kept the other crews at bay and crossed the line first in a time of 3:54, six seconds faster than the second boat and recording a faster time than their first race, despite the heat and length of the day and their tired legs.

The day was a great success and showed the skill and determination of the ladies. It sets them up for a promising regatta season and continues to build the foundations for a strong senior ladies squad in the future, well done!

Sunday 3rd June

Open Quadruple Sculls (Band 1): Win (composite)

Chris Callow writes:It’s been a busy few weeks for the composite Star, Peterborough City, Leicester 4x having competed at Nottingham City Regatta, Nottingham Masters Regatta, Metropolitan Regatta and Peterborough Spring Regatta over the past two-weeks.

Following last weekend’s win at Nottingham City Regatta in Open Band 1 4x’s, the crew were looking forward to racing over the shorter 1000m distance in Peterborough which is their training base. Racing on Sunday in the Open Quads event the crew produced their best 1k race of the season in the final posting the 2nd fastest time of the day of 3:06; only 3 seconds behind the Open 8s winners. They beat off stiff competition from local rivals Peterborough City who came in 2nd, followed by Broxbourne RC and Gravesend. The crew now look towards the British Rowing Masters Championships in a couple of weeks’ time.

Masters’ E Double Sculls: Win

David Sogan writes: The Masters’ E double of David Sogan and Kevan Armstrong faced eight crews in their event.

They won their heat quite easily in a time of 3.54 easing down over the second half of the race. Their final was more competitive, though they were still able to move out to a lead of a length and a half at 500m and held this comfortably to the line, winning in a time of 3.44.3.

Masters’ F Eight: Win

David Sogan writes: The Masters’ F eight was up against one other F crew and two E crews in a straight final. They had a blistering start spinning up to 42 before settling at a rate of 36. They quickly moved ahead of Oundle, the other F crew. Peterborough, one of the E crews, who started with an 8 seconds handicap, made some early inroads into Star’s lead and had a late push but could not catch them. The Star eight eventually won by a margin of 5 seconds in a time of 3:20.7.

Masters’ E Quadruple Sculls: Win

David Sogan writes: The Masters’ E quad of David Sogan, Kevan Armstrong, Dave Rainbow and Ivan Higgins only had a chance for one outing before the event and were unsure about their competitiveness. They had a straight final against Peterborough, Oundle and Maidenhead. A very neat and controlled start saw then move into a slim lead at the 250m and by 500m this had increased to a length. Rating a comfortable 30 strokes a minute they pulled out to a length and a half lead over their nearest rivals, Maidenhead, and held this advantage to the finish line, recording another win for Star in a time of 3:29.0.

Masters’ D Double Sculls: Win

David Rainbow writes: It’s a truism to say that you only need to lead for the last stride, or stroke, of a race to win, but the MasD2x of Ivan Higgins and David Rainbow managed to execute that to perfection. A margin of 0.3s was enough to secure victory over 1000m at Peterborough on Sunday over crews from Northampton, Hollowell and Maidenhead. Vocal support from the Star subs bench on the bank helped the crew claw their way back from 1.5 lengths down at 500m, and the hours of winter and spring ergo-ing finally paid off with a strong surge to the line as N’pton succumbed to a rising tide of lactic and Star remembered how to scull at more than r26.

It was an exciting end to a great club day and made up for the disappointment of a close second place at Nottingham City the week before, albeit under very different conditions. Exciting as the last two weekends have been, they’d be delighted to get their start sorted out and put themselves under a little less pressure in the second half of races. However, it’s very early days for this combination (yet to reach double digits numbers of training outings) and it’s fun to try a new format so they are sculling with smiles on their faces whilst reaching out as far forward as they can…. Both crew members and their boat (Banger – yes, the really old, tatty one) are, by their own admission, a little past their prime but it shows that old dogs can still learn some surprising new tricks. Next exciting instalment will be at Masters Champs 16-17Jun.

Masters’ F Single Sculls: 2nd

Lester Waugh writes: The race began well and I’d built a lead of over a length at the 500m mark. Bates of Bentham Rowing Club then gained throughout the second 500m resulting in one of the closest finishes of the day, the commentator declaring that I’d secured a win for Star Club. However, disappointingly, the official results later revealed that Bates had won by just 0.3 seconds.

Masters’ D Coxed Fours: 2nd

Dom Hawes writes: Work, family, cox-shortage and other rowing commitments had deprived the crew of any river time for three weeks prior to the event and outings had been pretty scant before then too. On the day it showed and the crew ended up in unfamiliar territory, going home empty-handed.

Seven crews entered in the D category including many familiar lineups from the crew’s successful 2017 campaign. A poor start in the heat found Star a length or so down from the leaders and half a length from rest of the pack by the time the stride call came. Striking around 33, focus, fitness and sheer determination saw the crew claw back second place at the line, losing to Broxbourne and just pipping local rivals, Bedford RC to qualify for the final.

The final took place six hours later and saw Star pitted against heat winners, Broxbourne as well as York and Lea. A much better start kept Star in the action and all four crews raced pretty much neck-and-neck to the 400m point. Striking a more relaxed 32, our crew managed to find a longer more effective stride and bolstered by fitness and bloody-mindedness, made a charge to the line from 800m. In the end, either the course wasn’t long enough or the crew wasn’t fast enough. We were rapidly gaining on York, cheered on by the crowd, but we ran out of course and time coming second by 2.5 secs.

Women’s Masters’ D Coxed Four: 3rd

Janet Williams writes: Our Women’s Masters’ D4 – in their first race of the year – had a good start and kept a nose ahead for the first 750m, finally losing by 4 seconds to Peterborough and Chesterton. It was a good competitive race.

Women’s Masters’ E/F Double Sculls: 4th

Sue Lamb writes: The heat was a four-lane race with the first two finishers going through to the final. We secured second place by 0.3 seconds and felt very lucky we’d misjudged the buzzer, so stopped rowing slightly too early (won’t do that again!).

The final was a tough race against York, Eton Excelsior and Ardingley. We managed to deliver slightly less power in the final, which resulted in 4th place, but we were only 0.3 seconds off third place. It was good race experience for the forthcoming Nat Masters.

Nottingham Masters Yields Three Star Wins

Several Masters crews ventured North to the National Water Sports Centre (NWC) at Holme Pierrepont for Nottingham Masters’ Regatta on 27th May and the club came away with three wins. Conditions are always tough at the NWC and this year was no exception. Strong tailwinds brought the waves up causing such tricky obstacles that the race was held over the first 1000m of the course.

Winners: W Mas F2x, Mas E4+, Mas F8+

Sue Lamb reports: The Women’s F double competed in the Non- Championship D-F category against Exeter and Upton. No handicap is given for age at Non-Championship level and the opposition was a D and F crew. The Star Ladies were pleased to have crossed the finish line comfortably ahead of Exeter, after an interesting race trying to clear the sculling blades from the waives. Twice the boat speed slowed slightly due to stroke’s blade bow blade getting caught on the water, and Exeter made a little ground, but the many kms of square blade paddling practice on home water helped the Star crew to tap down more and push on to finish in first place.

Dom Hawes reports: The Mens’ E4+ faced off against Nottingham and York, both strong crews with a string of high-level wins behind them including Henley Masters, Nottingham City 2017 and National Masters. A solid start gave our crew a half-length advantage after barely 10 strokes and then quickly settled into a long stride at 32/33, which added steadily to its lead. Nottingham fared better than York ok the day and pressed our men hard at 400m and again at 850m. But, with plenty in the tank Star pushed home its advantage taking the win in a time of 03.30.5, which was the fastest 4+ of the day.

The Men’s F8+ was pitted against Peterborough and the result was certainly not a foregone conclusion. Star’s new line-up F8 hadn’t enjoyed too much water time before the regatta and, with a last-minute injury sub kindly provided by Nottingham it was effectively a scratch-crew. Peterborough got the better of the start, but our crew ground out a strong enough lead in near surf conditions to secure a well-earned win.

Other Star reports provided by racers

Report on W Mas D/E 8+
Sue Lamb reports: Unfortunately, due to 2 crew changes the day before the race, this crew went on the water without a full crew practice. But good crew spirit held up, determined to have the best race possible with a very competent cox from the Star Juniors. The crew changes meant the crew should have moved up to E from D, but a category change was not permitted for the race so Star raced York City (E), Nottingham (D), Bradford Amateur (D), and Hollingworth Lake (D). York went off 7 seconds ahead of the D crews and stormed home in a time of 3.43. The Star crew had a good start in the calmer waters but struggled as the water became choppy, not conditions the Star crew was used to but battled on to finish 4th out of the 5 crews, ahead of Hollingworth Lake. The crew all commented that the rough water experience was invaluable and hopefully useful at other venues like Tideway.

Star Club Joins Rivercare Cleanup

Well over 30 Star Club members turned out to support Bedford Borough Council’s Rivercare clean-up operation on Saturday 21st April. Armed with litter pickers, high vis vests and bin bags, our army of volunteers flooded the riverbank removing huge amounts of rubbish.

In addition to the walking volunteers, an armada of canoes appeared and sub aqua divers dredged the depths of the river to remove bicycles and other larger items. Volunteers also came from other local organisations and litter pickers were rewarded with free tea and coffee, 25% off lunch at the Longholme Cafe or a free lunch at McDonalds. With glorious sunshine and plenty of high calibre rowing on the river to amuse litter pickers, all agreed it was not only worthwhile but great fun too.

Katie Lewis, Events & Community Engagement Officer at Bedford Borough Council said: “The number of volunteers on site was overwhelming (in a great way) and although our equipment was stretched, everyone really did their part to help to clean up the river, Embankment and surrounding areas.

“This was BY FAR the biggest River Care event we have ever run, with 202 volunteers and over 200 bags of litter collected. Our previous highest turnout was 80!! I honestly cannot thank you enough for supporting the event and I hope that your volunteers enjoyed themselves.”

Thank you Star! You did us proud.
The squad volunteer leaderboard will appear on the website when the membership sections goes live. Thank you to squads for supporting the club iniative.