GRC Blog

Guildford Rowing News

Down your Wey The Guildford Rowing Club Newsletter


  • Medals for Juniors at South East Indoor Rowing Champs
  • Junior wins at Burway Head
  • Medals at Oarsport Junior Sculling Head
  • Women win at Kingston Head
  • Juniors selected to represent Thames/London Region
  • Victoria Starr wins World indoor rowing Gold in USA
  • Club AGM elects new Committee
  • Guildford goes to sea


Following on from a successful BRIC in December the Junior squad had a large entry at the South East Indoor Rowing champs in Abingdon with a steady stream of medals to entertain the many supporters

Silver for WJ15 Francesca Morland, Bronze medals for J14s Nick Summerfield, Columbus Mais-Harding, Ben Isherwood and Lucas Hanin relay team, Bronze for WJ14 Darcy Pellowe

The WJ13 girls came close in their relay finishing 5th from 31 teams. Maia Bentley won Silver in the individual event.

Silver for WJ15 Francesca Morland, Bronze medals for J14s Nick Summerfield, Columbus Mais-Harding, Ben Isherwood and Lucas Hanin relay team, Bronze for WJ14 Darcy Pellowe

The Junior squad returned to the Thames between Chertsey and Laleham for the Burway Head of River Race and had a bumper day out with wins for:

J13 4x+ of Julian Herschel, Morley Pendred, Jacob White and Seb Oakey coxed by Ben Smoothy.

J14 4x+ of Daniel Gilbert, Nick Summerfield, Columbus Mais-Harding and Ben Isherwood coxed by Yzzy Rawlinson Other GRC crews finished 3rd and 5th in this event.

J14 2x of Nick Summerfield and Ben Isherwood

WJ14 4x+ Band 1 of Ella Curtis, Erika Booth, Darcy Pellowe and Imogen Wells coxed by Yzzy Rawlinson. The GRC crew in Band 2 of this event finished 3rd.

WJ14 2x Ellie Young and Imogen Wells with Erika Booth and Ella Curtis in 2nd by 2 secs.

WJ15 2x Band 1 Aimee Newenham and Francesca Morland with Silvia Harrop and Adelaide Oakey in 2nd.

In March the Juniors entered crews at the Oarsport Junior Sculling Head raced over 3,600 metres at Dorney Lake (2 laps of the Olympic course minus a bit at the end). Junior crews from across the country race in 14 divisions throughout the day with up to 80 crews in some events. The WJ14 crew of Ella Curtis, Erika Booth, Darcy Pellowe and Imogen Wells, coxed by Yzzy Rawlinson, won Silver medals in an entry of 46, the J14 crew of Daniel Gilbert, Nick Summerfield, Columbus Mais-Harding and Ben Isherwood, coxed by Rebecca Boddington finished an agonising 4th from 44 crews and the WJ15 crew of Rebecca Boddington, Silvia Harrop, Aimee Newenham and Francesca Morland, coxed by Yzzy Rawlinson finished 35th from 66. A second WJ14 crew finished a creditable 37th.

Sir Steve Redgrave was on hand to observe how well Guildford crews were prepared on their tiny stretch of water – he seemed to know all about us!

These results earned the J14s and WJ14s selection to represent the Thames/London region at the forthcoming Junior Inter-Regional Regatta (JIRR) at Peterborough at the end of April. However, to give other clubs and schools a second chance to represent the region, the crews had to race again at Walton the next weekend in a trial over 1000 metres. The J14s and WJ14s confirmed their selection in style and the WJ15s also beat all other crews to earn their place in the regional team. These squads also raced in doubles and won their events but are not allowed to double up at the JIRR so will race in quads only. Watch this space for results.

That same weekend saw crews from the Women’s and Junior squads compete over 5200 metres at the Kingston Head of River race. The Junior crews competed admirably over this challenging distance whilst the Women’s quad of Helen Gray, Sam Hancock, Aimee Marshall and Jackie Johnson won the WMas A/C 4x- event.

A small group of Masters men and women ventured out to sea under the encouragement of Robert Hall and with the guidance and specialist boats of the Coastal Rowing Centre at Studland Bay near Swanage, Dorset. A Saturday of good weather saw the intrepid scullers exploring the coastline of the bay before discretion replaced valour on the Sunday as the weather threw up waves of daunting size and confirmed the pre-match pub decision of ‘go for a walk’. ‘Great fun if challenging’ seems to be the main comment!

Meanwhile, on the far side of the USA, our very own Victoria Starr was competing at the World Indoor Rowing Championships in Long Beach, California and finished in Gold medal position in the Women’s Masters C class! Awesome.

To finish off the Head season the Masters men competed in Harold at the Vesta Veteran’s Head over the Boat Race course in London and came home 33rd from 45 in the Masters F category in demanding conditions.

And onwards and upwards……….

The regatta season approaches fast. Please help all Club members by planning early and checking with your Captains so that potential clashes of equipment can be resolved early and with minimum fuss and impact on the rest of the Club. Do not assume you can have the boat you want when you want it – there is a bigger picture.

Forthcoming events:

Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 April: Junior squad sculling camp, Henley

Sunday 7 April: Adaptive squad informal event at Phyllis Court, Henley

Saturday 27 April: JIRR Peterborough

Monday 6 May: Marlow Spring

Saturday 11 May: Shrewsbury

Sunday 12 May: Shrewsbury (Sprint)

Sunday 19 May: Maidenhead Junior

Saturday 6 June: Walton & Weybridge

Sunday 7 June: Weybridge Ladies

Fri 21 – Sun 23 June: Henley Women

Sunday 23 June: Thames Valley Park

Saturday 29 June: Richmond

Saturday 13 July: Kingston (Sens & Juns)

Sunday 14 July: Kingston (Juns only)

Saturday 20 July: Molesey (Sens)

Sunday 21 July: Molesey (Juns)

Saturday 27 July: Staines

Boats & Equipment

Dormouse has returned from Janousek where she received an overhaul which has returned the boat to almost-new stature. Jabberwock and White Rabbit are with Eric Sims Racing Services at Dorney being refurbished and we expect them back soon. Knave of Hearts and another double are scheduled for treatment but we may now have to wait until after the regatta season.

A new single sculling boat in the 75-85 kg range is on order from Swift and will arrive in May. Four more pairs of Concept2 sculling blades are also on order and should arrive at the same time. Our aim is to have a pair of blades allocated to every sculling seat in the Club.

Several boats have been damaged by clumsy handling on and off racks. Please take care when lifting and moving boats; check plastic protective caps are fitted to top-nuts. Do not lift and move singles on your own if it can be avoided – we don’t award medals for lifting sculling boats (as it is not very difficult) but we do get irritated when people bash them about showing off.

The ergos continue to be used in their new home in the clubroom. We have bought a ‘new’ second-hand ergo from a member which will replace one of the older machines. Some ongoing maintenance is still needed: as a user, if you notice a loose fitting please tighten it; if you find a broken item please note in the incident book and tell the Bosun. Concept2 parts are actually quite cheap and fast to obtain; early repair prevents subsequent damage. Do not leave it to the ergo fairy to fix.

Please note the Bosun’s bench is now the proud owner of a new spares storage rack which has been carefully labelled and is for the use of all members. Please tell John the Bosun if we need any more bits and pieces – ahead of the regatta season not the day before.


The Spring Fling had to be cancelled due to poor ticket sales – sorry! We are in a difficult situation regarding Club social events as we are told there is a demand but we always struggle to make them fly. Our new Social Secretary is Georgie Moore and she has hit the ground running with an invitation to watch the University Boat Races at the Club on Sunday 7th April:

Please get in touch with Georgie if you have any ideas for Club social events and/or you can help her with the organisation.

Committee Notes

The Club Annual General Meeting took place on 21st March and was attended by 37 members (just enough for a quorum of voting members). The minutes of the AGM are now available on the Club website. The good news is that subscriptions are not going up this year; the bad news is that members must now pay their subscriptions. We have adopted the British Rowing-provided Club Hub system for administering the Club in a GDPR-compliant manner and through which members can check and update their details. Members should pay their subscriptions using Club Hub and a separate instruction has been distributed to explain this process.

Some Committee members have stood down during the last year – Robert Hall as Captain and Steve Wright as Membership Secretary – and others did not stand for re-election – Tom Sawyer as Vice Capt (Men), Chris Boys as Vice Capt (Adaptives) and Nick Hopkins. The AGM elected a new Committee, which includes the parent of a Junior for the first time in order to provide representation for this major element of the Club and a new position of Vice Captain (Development & Beginners). The new Committee is as follows:

Chairman                  Paul Woowat

Captain                      Mike Spruzs

Secretary                   Richard Warne

Treasurer                   Danny Skillman

Bosun                        John Redmond

Welfare Officer         Claude Chiplin

Safety Adviser          Mike Spruzs

Membership Sec      Kim Peschier

Vice Capt (Men)       Ben Hopwood

Vice Capt (Women) Helen Gray

Vice Capt (Adapt)     Ian Pigram

Vice Capt (Juniors)  Mark Rawlinson

Vice Capt (Dev)        Gerry Brierley

Social Secretary       Georgie Moore

Junior Parent rep     Andrew Isherwood

The Committee meets for the first time on Wednesday 10 April. Please contact a member of the Committee if you wish to raise any matters at that meeting.

Club Development was discussed at the AGM. The purchase of land from Guildford Borough Council is in the final stages and we are looking at options for utilising the new land in order to progress development of Club facilities. The original scheme, which gained planning permission in September 2016, is now regarded as unachievable due to high cost and low likelihood of funding. Therefore the Development sub-committee is exploring options for a phased development aimed at improving aspects of the Club facilities where they are most needed, and within the realms of financial realism.


Summer rowing – dos:

  • Stay covered up in sunny weather despite the temptation to soak up the sun
  • Use sun block and other protective screens when afloat – the sun’s effect is magnified by the water
  • Wear socks in the boat – we share rowing shoes
  • Check the weather forecast when planning outings
  • Wear several thin layers
  • Bring spare clothing to the club
  • Think carefully about solo sculling – what happens if I go in to the water even in Summer
  • Continue to wear bright clothing whenever on the water at all times
  • Continue to wash the boats and equipment thoroughly after use – as river flows slow there is more opportunity for water-borne bacteria to thrive.
  • Stay hydrated – take water with you in the boat; do not assume you can always pop back to the boathouse for a top-up.

Summer rowing – don’ts:

  • Strip off when using ergos outdoors – it sets a bad example to junior rowers and is an unpleasant sight for others
  • Lock yourself out of the boathouse whilst on the water
  • Leave the clubroom door open
  • Jump into or swim in the river off the Club landing stage: there is an unknown quantity of potentially dangerous rubbish in the river as a result of summer public activity on the island opposite
  • Leave food out after parties (especially BBQs) – the rats look forward to Summer as they get endless free picnics by the river………………