HRC gets a new coach

Posted March 31, 2018 by Tom Werner

This weekend I finally managed (by the skin of my teeth) completed my Level 2 Rowing Coach Qualification. The course consisted of classroom sessions, practical sessions on the water and a monitored programme where I had to train a crew and demonstrate they have improved over the period. This all culminated in an assessed session this weekend, 24th March.

This means our club has another qualified coach available, provided I finally cracks how to combine a coaching career with his other new role of being a proud father!


HRC at the HoRR

Posted by Hillingdon Rowing

We ended our head race season in style with an eight in the Head of the River Race (HoRR), the prestige event of the head race calendar, on Sunday 11th March 2018. This is rowed over exactly the same course as the Varsity (Oxford/Cambridge) Boat Race that takes place a couple of weeks afterwards. Having been a member of our crew in teh HoRR I can attest that it is a ruddy long way! And you have to do the whole length again against the tide to get back to where you boated from.

HRC members of the HoRR crew were; Daichi Ando, Paul Braiden, Brendan Buckley, Sanjiv Odedra, Andy Reape, Alex Burton, Jon Neale and Katy Humphris (cox). Yep, I know that’s only seven rowers; our bowman was one of Alex’s mates from Quintin.

We didn’t get a fantastic time compared to our fellow competitors but we were a scratch crew (first outing together was a snatched half-hour before the river was closed for the race) but then again, our fellow competitors were of a very high standard as there’s huge kudos in rowing in this event (it’s sort of the Henley for the head season) so we did pretty well indeed. Well done to all our members who took part.

Reflections on HRC’s 2017 – 2018 Head Race Season

Posted March 24, 2018 by Hillingdon Rowing

We took part in 7 head races in the 2017/18 season, in addition to the HoRR. These were:

– three crews in the Pairs Head of the River on 14th October, being Daichi Ando and Katy Humphris in a Mixed 2x-, Miguel Perez-Milans and Jon Neale in a Masters B/C 2x-, and Matthias Koepp with Ian Bates in a Hillingdon/Bentham composite MasE.2x
– three crews in the Veterans Fours Head on 11th November, being Sanjiv Odedra, Jon Neale, Peter Willaims and Daichi Ando and a UCL cox in a IM3 4+, Lynda Rapp, Monica Briars, Simon Miller, Brendan Buckley and Ed Marshall (cox) in a Masters A Novice 4+, and Matthias Koepp and Miguel Perez-Milans in a Hillingdon/Bentham composite Masters E 4x-
– six crews in the Walton Small Boats Head on 9th December, being Daichi Ando in a Novice 1x, Daichi Ando and Callum Foley in a IM3 2-, Oisin Hayes and Harry Heavyside in a J16.A 2x-, Aoife Luscombe and David Potter in a Mixed IM3 2x-, Jon Neale and Pete Williams in a Masters C Novice 2x-, and Matthias Koepp with Ian Bates in a Hillingdon/Bentham composite MasE.2x.
– two crews in the Weybridge Winter Head on 20th January, being Paul Braiden, Monica Briars, Brendan Buckley, Lynda Rapp, Pete Williams, Simon Miller, Ruth Henry, Colette Dowdall and Grace Braiden (cox) in the Mixed Masters A 8+, and Matthias Koepp and Alex Burton in a Hillingdon/Bentham composite MasE.4x-
– an eight in the Quintin Head on 27 January, being Paul Braiden, Simon Miller, Brendan Buckley, Jon Neale, Matthias Koepp, Miguel Perez-Milans, Ian Bates and a UCL cox.

Fantastic effort by everyone involved! You’ve all done the club proud. And with all the tideway events we did, this stretch of the Thames, plus the University of London Boat House where we boat from and have tea and bacon sarnies in afterwards, is becoming a real home from home for us all!

Christmas Rowing at HRC

Posted January 12, 2018 by Hillingdon Rowing

HOAC shuts down for two weeks over Christmas which we react to with ever increasing ingenuity to get some water training in. This year the alternative to our home venue involved two consecutive days of rowing at Dorney Reach. The first session was the day after my works’ humungous Christmas Party in Battersea Park. Knowing I has a ferocious bout of rowing the next day kept me wary of drinking too much alcohol. This meant I spent the last couple of hours sober whilst all my workmates were completely off their faces. Smug feelings of satisfaction at my self-control didn’t last long in the boat at Dorney. I soon realised I had actually drunk enough to have an effect. For anyone who hasn’t experienced this it feels like your muscles have stiffened up and you have to will them to function. And they don’t function very well. If you could row uphill it would feel like this.

But the Dorney rows were good fun and exhilarating, especially as we had some of the GB squad there to keep us company. But must admit the best part was the baked camembert and beers in the pub afterwards (yes, I know I’ve just been banging on about not mixing rowing and alcohol but it was Christmas so we were obliged. We had no choice).

The rowing before Christmas was nicely rounded off by a good HRC showing at Goring Gap’s Santa Row. We impressed our hosts with our exuberant interpretations of the wear festive dress rule. We also put in a good showing in the event itself, which involved rowing a heavy coxed four up and down a course doing various actions, such as spinning the boat twice, backing down and picking up a yule log lobbed in front of your boat and placing it on the bows. Mulled wine was consumed with the same determination, so much that HRC members became a mainstay of the carol singing. By that time it was pouring with rain, which turned the song sheets into illegible papier mache and meant we all had to jam together under a small garden marquee. Yo ho ho.

Hillingdon hosts a Skills Day for the Thames Valley Explore Rowing League

Posted November 21, 2017 by Hillingdon Rowing

On Sunday 19th November it was our turn to host an event for the Thames Valley Explore Rowing League. We decided on a Skills Day, as we’d hosted one before in February 2016 and it had been fantastically successful. The format was the same, with the only change being some of the less successful events were replaced. HOAC let us use their big, plastic coastal quads and there was a good turnout from other clubs in the League. Crews had to do an emergency stop, spin around a buoy, rigger dips, crew swaps and square blades rowing.

Huge kudos to Peter Williams, our Senior Men’s Captain, who marshalled the crews on the pontoon to make sure everything ran to time, to Tom Werner, our Secretary, running things on the water from the launch, Katy Humphris, our Senior Women’s Captain, for timing the crews, and to the Case family for the catering (the other clubs in the League remembered the Case family catering from the last event, which I think is why most of them turned up again!). Also to all HRC members there on the day who were brilliant at mixing with our guests from the other clubs and making them feel really welcome. We got a heartfelt three cheers from the other League club members at the end!

One aspect I personally was particularly proud of was that I’d found a very reasonably-priced supplier of medals on the net and got some to give out to the winning crew very cheaply. OK, so the medals started falling apart as soon as I started giving them out to the victors (1921 Boat Club) but think of the money we saved!

HRC Wedding of the Year

Posted October 5, 2017 by Tom Werner

Saturday 30th September 2017 saw the HRC wedding of the year when Tom Werner, our Secretary, married Laura Bowley, our ex-Senior Women’s Captain. This was in Wokingham, Berks, followed by a honeymoon in Hurley by the Thames (not sure if they managed to get any rowing in..?) Club members presented the happy couple with a suitably engraved tankard (is the first one you’ve ever won, Tom?) – answer shamefully, is yes!

Huge congratulations to them both and the whole club wishes them a long and happy marriage.

ADDENDUM: Tom and Laura are now the proud parents of Phoebe Werner…

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

Posted August 18, 2017 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 Hillingdon Rowing

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 Hillingdon Rowing

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.