HRC Masters – Vets Head, British Masters and Henley Masters 2017

Posted March 18, 2018 by Hillingdon Rowing

One of the club’s strongest sections is the Men’s Masters squad. This is for rowers over the age of 27, and racing is in age categories. It became clear early on in the year that we could boat some pretty decent crews at these events, and so an (probably overly) ambitious approach was taken and we entered men’s masters crews to some pretty major events.

The first was the Vesta Vets Head on Sunday 26th March. The main head race of the season, the Head of the River Race (HoRR) was due to take place on the Saturday beforehand, but this was cancelled at the last minute as the wind direction combined with the tide would make the course un-rowable (we did have a men’s novice eight entered to that, which had taken weeks of logistical planning and had resulted in the club acquiring its first eight from Molesey RC, so that was a huge disappointment). However, this combination of tides & wind didn’t affect the Sunday event so our masters novice crew still took part.

This was our first event in the newly-acquired eight. It needed the usual HRC pre-race ritual of being made water-tight with gaffer tape which meant we finally boated well after the final cut-off time dictated in the instructions (still not sure why we weren’t disqualified for being late!). This was followed by rudder issues which required the bowman and the cox to get out of the boat whilst still on the river for some in-flight-on-the-water repairs. Despite the best efforts of the fates, the crew got to the start, did the race and put in a very respectable time & performance. First seismic rowing event completed! Well done to Ed Marshall, Brendan Buckley, Emmanuel Rognoni, Larissa Butschek (who was an honorary men’s master for the day!), Sanj Odedra, Peter Williams, Matthias Koepp and Alex Burton (Rowing Tart). The Man of the Match without a doubt, though, was Alex’s mate, who coxed superbly. Huge kudos too him too for bringing along his cox box.

The next “I’m-sorry,-you’ve-entered-us-to-WHAT-Matthias???” event was British Rowing’s British Masters on Sat 10th and Sun 11th June at the National Water Sports Centre, Holme Pierrepoint, Nottingham. We entered so many crews to different events that I actually can’t remember how many events our crews were in. There were two memorable moments of the weekend: the first consisted of our coxed four bouncing off the top of the trailer and ending up in a hedge and the second consisted of a stonkingly-stupendous race in the eight, in which we beat the local Nottingham crew. Then the whole event came to a sudden stop on Sunday morning when the racing was literally blown off the lake by heavy wind. Well done to everyone who competed in our men’s masters crews at that event but especially the eight, being Matthias Koepp, Paul Braiden, Rob Hale, Peter Williams, Simon Berwick, Jon Neale, Alex Burton (RT) and Richard Roberts. Special massive HRC thanks to Ian, Matthias’s UCL mate, who coxed the eight superbly.

Impressive though that weekend was it was merely the amuse-bouche for the main event, the Henley Masters on Saturday 8th July. It was clear from the performance of our crews at the British Masters that an intense period of preparation was needed for the Henley event and all credit to the members of the squad as they all put family and private lives to one side and put in the time to rowing and land training over the four weeks to July 7th & 8th. Challenging and downright vicious erg training regimes were run by Peter Williams and the squad rowed fairly consistently together and big improvements were made. Huge kudos goes in particular to Daichi Ando, who sat in for missing squad members and coached everyone to a high standard.

HRC masters were entered into three events: the Master D eights and the MasC (Peter Williams, Matthias Koepp) and MasD (Richard Robert, Matthias Koepp) doubles. Luck of the draw put us into semi-finals for all races. Unfortunately, though, both the doubles were drawn against the ultimate winners from Texas Rowing Center who also won the MasB double event to make it worthwhile their travel. The eight rowed at 8.28 onthe Saturday against Grosvenor, from Chester. It was a fantastic effort: Grosvenor puuled away at the start but the eight slowly caught them up and lost by only a third of a length, the closest race of the day! It was a performance that impressed the spectators, and especially the umpire following the race in the launch, in the company of Lynda Rapp and Daichi Ando.

Rowing. As it should be done.

We’re back from Wimbleball!

Posted April 15, 2017 by Tom Werner

If some of we HRC rowers are looking a tad more tanned, bronzed and damn healthy than normal it’s because 14 of us spent 7th-10th April under blazing Somerset skies at the annual Wimbleball training camp.

It was so hot and sunny that the 2017 Wimbleballers had a daily dilemma of whether to cover up in tracky bottoms and long-sleeved tops and slowly poach out on the water or wear shorts & tee shirt and risk exposed flesh frying. A mental battle which was enough to take our minds off the utterly atrocious weather we’ve had to suffer at previous training camps (2015 was truly dreadful).

2017 was the first (there have been three others) where we were Kym Case-less, which meant we had to buy all the food and cook it, along with towing the boats down the motorways of the South West there and back. Matthias did the provisioning (with some help from me through raiding the Watford Tesco’s pizza cabinet) and his Volkswagen estate managed (just about – it was a pretty close thing) to wheeze its way up the hills and burn its brake pads on the way down. The road authorities also added to the joy of the journey by setting up a sort of fenced in chicane at some roadworks at a roundabout after Taunton, which tried, and very nearly manged to burst, Matthias’s patience. Rob Hale and Tom Werner jumped in to replace Kym’s mastery of the kitchen to keep us all completely over-fed (which we now expect and are used to). We had so much food the traditional last evening pub meal had to replaced by force feeding Wimbleballers the excess/leftovers. And as if all this wasn’t enough, Simon Miller supplied a ton of bagels and rye bread to sit nicely on each the gut-full of pasta.

Tom Werner also provided the coaching, along with Steve and Andrea of Wimbleball Rowing Club, which was fantastic of them and meant we all had a decent slice of coaching each when out on the water. Our new eight was the boat star of the show, well worth the complete pain in the behind that was putting the ruddy thing together. We did almost manage to write off one of the doubles with it by broadsiding it (the eight does build up quite an impressive ramming speed when it wants to!).

It’s a huge shame not more of us could have attended, but those of us who were there had a stupendous time and are a bit more prepared for the 2017 regatta season, which for us kicks off on Sunday 23rd April at Lea Spring.

Thanks in particular for Rob Hale for organising the whole thing, Matthias Koepp, Tom Werner & Rob Hale again for their initiative and input in running it and also to Steve and Andrea for their coaching. But ultimately, to everyone who went and made it an excellent, enjoyable success!


Sunday Rowing League 2016 – Staines Leg

Posted October 30, 2016 by Tom Werner

The second round of the Sunday Rowing League was another hugely entertaining and successful event, hosted by Staines Boat Club on Saturday (yes, we know it’s the Sunday rowing league!) 22nd November.

Once again, Hillingdon put in a great effort on the day, coming joint second, equal with a Marlow team and just behind Goring, who are setting themselves up to be very strong competition indeed.

Well done to all those who took part, Tom, Laura, Ed, Colette, Joely, Paul, Lynda and Peter. Although the schedule showed us doing eight races, unfortunately all teams only managed to complete six of those due to dusk creeping up on us, but we ended up winning five out of the six. Undoubtedly the best race was the all ladies crew we sent out, which won an exciting race by no more than about six inches!

Staines Boat Club put on a great event with hot food and a bar after we had finished racing. Paul Lorenzato was there to officiate, unfortunately for the last time, as he has taken on a new role within British Rowing.

The next event is our own, at Hillingdon Rowing Club on the 20th November. It would be good to get two teams for this one, which will be a skills event, and we have been given the go-ahead to use the HOAC quads. We are already organising this event and will be looking for volunteers to help on the day, as well as participants.

Staines Regatta, Sat 23rd July

Posted July 25, 2016 by Hillingdon Rowing

This was our third regatta in as many weeks which, like the preceding two, involved spending a day out in very un-Britishesque blazing sunshine (who needs the Med when you can get weather like this in the Thames Valley). Thanks to the frenetic efforts of Matthias Koepp (whose policy of entering us all to regattas and telling us afterwards seems to be successfully getting the club racing) we had 11 crews competing! This involved lots of doubling up and at one point running out of blades as they were all out in the water so preventing a crew from boating.

Our crews were:


Open J13 – Thomas Lorenzato
Women’s IM3 – Aoife Luscombe
Open novice – Alex Burton
Open masters D – Matthias Koepp


Women’s J15 – Joanne Charlton, Sonia Saraf
Mixed IM3 – Aoife Luscombe, David Potter
Open novice – Ed Marshall, Rob Young
Open novice – Emanuel Rognoni, Jon Neale
Open masters D – Matthias Koepp, Jon Neale


Mixed IM3 – Matthias Koepp, Larissa Butschek, Jon Neale, April Thomas

Coxed sweep fours

Open novice – Ed Marshall, Rob Young, Emanuel Rognoni, Alex Burton, Larissa Butschek (cox)

All this manic effort produced three wins, for Thomas Lorenzato in the J13 sculls, Alex Burton in the novice sculls and Emanuel Rognoni & Jon Neale in the novice doubles (with the last three consequently losing their novice sculling status). Every one of our crews put in fantastic performances, even if there was a fair amount of bouncing off moored boats and temporarily disappearing into trees and other foliage (did any of us manage to complete a race without doing this at least once? Surely that in itself should have got us some sort of prize).

With everyone rowing in at least two events (I managed to be in three!) never was the end of regatta beer more well earned. Ultra special kudos to Matthias for badgering, cajoling and threatening everyone to take part, doing the entries, towing the trailer there and back (which included some vicious right angle turns in narrow streets, with at least two in front of boozed up leery locals outside a pub) and organising everyone on the day.

Goring & Streatley Regatta, Sat 16th July

Posted July 18, 2016 by Hillingdon Rowing

10 HRC rowers, plus assorted friends and family members, spent Saturday 16th July being frazzled in the Oxfordshire high summer sun at the Goring & Streatley regatta, where the club won a quite impressive trophy last year. We had 5 crews rowing, Alex Burton in the men’s novice sculls, Alex Strutt and Grace Braiden in the junior sculls, and two senior coxed sweep fours in the two invitation events, being Lynda Rapp, Colette Dowdall, Laura Bowley and Grace Braiden in the women’s boat and Paul Braiden, Jon Neale, Tom Werner and Peter Strutt in the men’s boat. Not only did we put in some pretty impressive performances on the dodgems in the fairground but we managed to win both the invitation fours events and so now have two impressive trophies to worry ourselves silly about losing before we’re asked to hand them back next year. If anyone can fix some sort of lock on the trophy cabinet I would feel a lot happier…..

Huge kudos to Peter Strutt for organising the whole event for us.

Kingston Regatta & Kingston Borough Regatta, Sat 9th & Sun 10th July

Posted July 11, 2016 by Hillingdon Rowing

We managed to get one entry in each of these regattas, held on consecutive blazing hot days with the Kingston Regatta on Saturday being for seniors and the Kingston Borough Regatta on Sunday for juniors. The senior crew was a men’s masters D coxless quad consisting of Matthias Koepp, Peter Strutt, Jon Neale and Brad Smith. This was in a three lane race against Maidstone Invicta and Team Keane, over 1,000 metres. The crew got to the stake boats to find the other two were both masters E, and so older which entitled them to a 7 second head start. Despite a game attempt our crew was unable to make up this huge disadvantage and consequently had no option after the race but to console themselves by going to the refreshment tent and eating squirty cream covered strawberries washed down with beer. As no other HRC people were present no pictures were taken of these two events, the race or the subsequent feasting. Which was probably for the best in both instances.

Grace Braiden and Eleanor Frator put in a better showing in their women’s J15 double race against Bewl Bridge and Surbiton High School in the Kingston Borough Regatta on the Sunday. This was their first ever regatta and they held their own throughout the whole race. And, unlike the men’s crew the day before, they managed to keep well away from weird food combinations in the beer tent afterwards. A great start to Grace’s and Eleanor’s rowing careers.

Well done!

St Ives Regatta, Cambridgeshire – 18th June

Posted June 19, 2016 by Club Management

St Ives was held on a quiet stretch of river which was very pretty with yellow irises and bullrushes lining the banks. The course was 550m downstream with a fairly tight bend at the start with stake boats. There had been heavy rain the previous day and night so organisers had been concerned the river was flowing too fast. Pontoons had to be raised but the regatta went ahead.

Hillingdon had our most event entries ever with everyone in more than one race. Almost every race was a final. It was our first time racing downstream and using predominately mixed (male and female) rowing and sculling crews. We had a great picnic as well as entertaining our 6 month old baby, in mascot mode wearing a club babygro.

Our day started off brilliantly with a win in the women’s single scull event by Aoife. Our men’s single performed well as did our men’s double. Our first mixed double was a scratch crew (a crew specially formed for the event, having not practised before) and did well. Our second mixed double had trouble coping with the stream but did well on their first ever regatta. Our Womens’ double regretted locking the steering as they struggled with both the stream and wind and got tangled in the bullrushes.

Our mixed four sweep coxed boat had a good start and held onto their lead to win the event. The crew was Paul, Andrew, Nishma, Aoife and Larissa (cox). The men’s sculling crew acquitted themselves well against a very strong competitive crew coming off a number of prestigious regatta wins. We had so many people at the regatta that an extra semi-final race was added as we formed two mixed scratch sculling crews. The winner of this race went on to the final. A poor start, bad corner and decent opposition lost the hat trick.

There was a winners presentation where everyone received a really lovely engraved glass tankard. Hillingdon got a special mention as being the youngest club to both attend and win – St Ives RC is over 175 years old! And there was the usual interest in how and where and why we formed a club. All in all it was a very friendly and relaxed regatta, an excellent first regatta for many, and a great day out. In all the excitement we forgot to drink the bubbly.

Well done to all competitors, picnic providers and baby sitters. Huge hurray to Matthias for organising the entry and towing the boats. Big hugs to Jon (Chair) and Tom (Secretary) for doing stuff so we didn’t have to.

Nishma Shah
Women’s Squad

Marlow Town Regatta – 12th June 2016

Posted June 12, 2016 by Club Management

This year we only managed to organise one entry to the Marlow Town Regatta, being a men’s masters C 4x- (Coxless Quad), consisting of Ed Marshall, Brad Smith, Jon Neale and Rob Hale. Our team had a straight final with Marlow and Henley in a three lane race. This was the crew’s first race of the season and they came second behind Henley (Marlow managed to get themselves disqualified – oops).

The team were very pleased with the day as they had a good row technique wise and the results show they lost to Henley by only three lengths. Marlow Town is a premier regatta with a very high standard of rowing so this was a very creditable performance indeed. Well done guys!

Denham Fayre 2016 (including Erg Times)

Posted by Tom Werner

On Bank Holiday Monday, 30th May, Hillingdon RC had a stall in the Denham Village Fayre, following the success stall we had at last year’s event. The Fayre is a charter fair, dating from the 15th century and the whole village is closed to traffic for the day allowing the crowds to mingled freely around the various stalls. This year we had a working ergo and encouraged the fayre goers to have a try at a timed 200 metre row. Over 50 of them did! The best time was 33 seconds, an impressive time made even more so by the fact the guy did it whilst using only a quarter or so slide.

It was an excellent day, although rather windy which made putting the stall together somewhat trying, and we increased awareness of our club and the sport of rowing. Huge thanks to all HRC members who helped out, being Kathy, Tom, Rob Hale, Rob Young, Laura, Sanj and Jon.

And the results….

Quick key –
WJx Female Junior + Age
Jx Male Junior + Age

Name Time Class
Alice F 01:06.0 WJ9
Thea C 01:07.0 WJ9
Grace C 01:07.9 WJ9
Morgan 00:56.4 WJ15
Joanna S 00:52.4 WJ12
Lucy O 00:51.0 WJ11
Maisie C 00:57.4 WJ11
Kelly C 00:44.7 Senior – W
Laura B 00:44.8 Senior – W
Karen L 00:54.8 Senior – W
Tally G 00:55.0 Senior – W
Adam 00:33.5 Senior – M
Joe A 00:34.5 Senior – M
Alan M 00:34.7 Senior – M
Rob H 00:35.3 Senior – M
Jamie R 00:35.6 Senior – M
Hillingdon Rowing 00:36.5 Senior – M
Alex C 00:36.9 Senior – M
James C 00:37.2 Senior – M
Glenn T 00:37.6 Senior – M
Jamie G 00:38.0 Senior – M
Sam Liu 00:38.7 Senior – M
Roy L 00:39.0 Senior – M
Lee C 00:40.2 Senior – M
Mark W 00:40.3 Senior – M
Martin C 00:40.4 Senior – M
David T 00:41.0 Senior – M
George W 00:44.5 Senior – M
Ed P 00:46.0 Senior – M
Mark A 01:13.0 Senior – M
Jonnie 01:08.0 J9
Freddie 01:12.0 J9
Ollie F 01:21.8 J9
Jake P 01:48.0 J7
Jamie W 00:39.2 J15
Tom W 00:40.4 J15
Max A 00:43.2 J15
Ellis S 00:46.2 J15
Bradley C 00:46.4 J15
Miles C 01:37.4 J14
Tom S 00:51.9 J12
Harry B 01:00.0 J12
Freddy C 00:58.4 J11
Teddy F 01:07.0 J11
George S 01:24.0 J11
Tyler W 01:03.0 J10

Batchworth Sea Scout May Fair (and Erg Results)

Posted May 16, 2016 by jon.neale

Saturday 14th May saw this year’s first HRC stall at a summer fete, in this case the Batchworth Sea Scout May Fair held at The Bury in Rickmansworth. The event organiser was none other than Bernie Coleman, member of our senior women’s section and winner of a tankard in the mixed Masters C doubles at Lea Regatta on 24th April.

The nice sunny weather brought out the crowds and quite a few interested locals, both new to the sport and those who rowed before but ages ago, stopped to have a chat with Jon Neale, who manned the stall. The usual “Oo, I never knew there was a rowing club around here” conversation was had over and over again and quite a few people had a go on the Concept 2 ergo, kindly supplied by Matthias Koepp for the afternoon. Some even had a bash at a timed 200 metre sprint, with the following results:

Rob Payne – 37.2s
Owen Hughes – 40.6s
Paul Mander – 46.0s
Harriet – 46.4s
Aaron – 53.0s
Matt Coleman – 54.6s

The next such event HRC will be attending is the Denham Village Fayre on bank holiday Monday (30th May). This was a fantastic success last year and if the weather’s good it should be again this year so please pop along to see us if you’re not an HRC member, and have a go at the the 200m Erg Challenge! (if you are a member please put your name down to man the stall for at least an hour in the day).