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Guildford Rowing News

Down Your Wey September 2019

The Guildford Rowing Club Newsletter


  • Lots of fun and wins at the late Summer regattas
  • 11 wins at the first head race of the new season
  • A win and nearly a record at the Boston Marathon
  • Senior and Junior beginner courses start up
  • Boats come back from the repairers looking smart and ready for the new season
  • GRC Junior alumni win Gold medals representing GB and England at international level


As the last of the schools went on holiday the seniors breathed a sigh of relief and did some rowing tourism. Oxford City regatta saw the W Open 4x- of Aimee Marshall, Annika, Helen Gray and Kate Stevenson win (proving Lizard is a competitive boat despite a previous bad press)

Sam Mogridge and Ben Hopwood reached the final of Open 2x losing by just 2 lengths.

Henley Town & Visitors is a classic summer regatta rowed over a section of the iconic Henley Royal Regatta course with much of the same atmosphere. A new pairing from the club of Matt Oakey and Paula Reddy entered the Mixed 2x event and won the Band 4 section – the happy duo below

.Jeff Watling (Southsea) and Robert Hall continued their successful season with a win in MasH 2x and combined with Richard Coldrick and Nigel Hopkins (Eton Excelsior) to win the MasH 4x- event – happy quartet below

The Bank Holiday weekend saw the Masters travel westwards to compete at Gloucester Masters regatta. Bill Mansfield, Mike Spruzs, Arnold Paiken and Richard Coldrick borrowed a local coxswain and rewarded her with a victory in the MasE/F 4+. She was so impressed she agreed to cox the same GRC 4, plus Richard Warne, Nigel Hopkins (Eton Excelsior), Brad Bryant and Paul Woowat to a win in the MasF 8+.

With only a night’s rest and barely enough beer to float a single in a bath the intrepid GRC Masters travelled a little bit further to compete at Ross-on-Wye Masters the next day. Using the well-rehearsed practice of kidnapping the top local coxswain the same 2 crews won MasF 4+ and Mas E/F 8+ before the long trip back to Guildford.

With the regatta season over, without a pause, the long-distance rowing started on the first weekend in September with the Great Ouse Marathon rowed as a time trial over 21.5kms near Ely in Cambridgeshire. A small contingent travelled up for the event and had a good day with Jackie Johnson winning WMasC 1x and Annika with Ben Hopwood taking the MxdMasA/B/C 2x trophy.

As a season starter for the Junior squad, and continuing the strong beginning by the seniors a large contingent from the club competed at the Isis Sculls over 1900m on the Thames at Oxford. Rowed in several divisions over a twisting course this event produced 11 wins for GRC and many strong performances from new combinations, including a WMas 4+ from the Beginner squad – below

Aimee Marshall brought home the WMasA 1x prize, Jackie Johnson the WMasB 1x version and Helen Gray with Sam Hancock the WMasA 2x


The junior squad won J14 2x (Morley Pendred and Jacob White), WJ14 2x (Leah Reddy and Maya Macfarlane), WJ14 4x+ (Leah, Maya, Zoe Leslie and Maia Bentley coxed by Mimi Anderson), J15 1x Band 1 (Ben Isherwood).

J15 4x+ (Ben, Nick Summerfield, Dylan Taylorson and Lucas Hanin coxed by Yzzy Rawlinson), WJ15 1x Band 1 (Imogen Wells) and WJ15 2 x Band 1 (Erika Booth and Ella Curtis).

A long way to go but well worth the trip in the glorious late summer sun.

On the same weekend Annika and Ben travelled to Lincolnshire to compete in the Boston Marathon a monstrous 42.5kms. Despite a minor steering error which involved hitting a wall with 10km to go (Ben hit the wall, not the boat) the brave duo recorded a time of 3 hours 54 minutes making them the fastest Mxd 2x and the second fastest 2x overall, just missing the Course record.

This event attracted many top notch crews from all over the UK so this performance by Ben and Annika should be recognised as top class.

Still together despite steering issues!

And on the last weekend in September a group of senior women raced over the long Wallingford Long Distance Sculls course of 4250 metres. Jackie Johnson finished 15th from 25 in the W 1x, Kate Stevenson, Aimee Marshall and Helen Gray finished 19th, 20th and 24th in the same event. Then all four scullers combined to race as a 4x- finishing 4th from 7 in the W 4x- (open) category. That’s a lot of sculling in a day! Many thanks to Richard Coldrick and Richard Mattos for towing the trailer – Richards rule OK?

Meanwhile there has been some international rowing in the summer and Guildford alumni featured in 2 of the events. At the Junior Home International in Strathclyde Katherine Stenning (GRC WJ12 – WJ16) won Gold medals in both the 4+ and 8+ representing England. And at the Coupe de la Jeunesse in Italy Peter Denton (GRC J12 – J16) rowed at 4 in the GB 8+ which won Gold and Silver medals over the 2 days of the regatta.

Onwards and upwards – forthcoming events. The autumn ‘head’ racing season is mainly for small boats – 1x, 2x and 4x+/4x-. This list of events appears on the Club website under ‘events’. There are quite a few which clash with each other and with routine club activity. Please ensure you discuss all entries with respective Captains in order to coordinate entries and to ensure all sections of the club can function whether competing or not:

Sun 6 Oct       Pairs Head of River (London)

Sat 12 Oct     Reading Small Boats Head

Sun 13 Oct    Bedford Autumn SBH

Sat 19 Oct     Weybridge Silver Sculls

Sun 20 Oct    Little Big Row (Junior sponsored row from Guildford to Send and back)

Sat 26 Oct     Marlow Long Distance Sculls

Sun 27 Oct    Upper Thames Autumn Head

Sat 9 Nov      Henley LDSc

                        Kingston SBH

Sat 16 Nov    Teddington SBH

Sat 23 Nov    4s Head of River (London)

Sun 1 Dec     Wallingford 4s & 8s Head

Sat 7 Dec      Burway SBH (Chertsey)

                        British Rowing Indoor Champs

Sat 14 Dec    Walton SBH

Sun 15 Dec   GRC Christmas Scratch Regatta (surely the peak of the 2019 season?)

Additional clubhouse bookings you should be aware of:

Tue 5 Nov     First Aid Course (evening)

Tue 12 Nov   First Aid Course (evening)

Welcome: we have beginner courses underway for both seniors and juniors which have seen a significant increase in the activity at the Club on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Thank you to the many club members who are helping with these courses. We hope all new members will enjoy their rowing experience here at Guildford on our small (but perfect) river. We look forward to seeing you all progress on and off the water and to be part of our thriving and exciting Club.

The Club has an active Adaptive section which usually has a healthy Friday morning session. For adult adaptive rowing there are many opportunities to help, such as rowing/coaching in a double, river bank safety and/or coaching and setting up boats.

The junior adaptive section has two keen young girls. We’ve overcome the use of an ergo for those with impaired vision by rigging up ErgChatter (old unsupported Concept2 software for PM3 and PM4 monitors) to allow selected items displayed on the monitor, such as stroke rate and split time, to be broadcast using a computer and speakers. This has been very successful in providing feedback to the user and facilitates setting a target split time. With adaptive rowing it is essential to have sufficient helpers to provide a safe rowing environment. Junior adaptive helpers usually comprise a coach and skilled junior (in another single, on the bank or in a double) per boat. Parents are an important ingredient for junior adaptive rowing and often contribute great value to the coaching session with their insight.

Many thanks to our regular helpers Robert (the master of all adaption), Steve, David, Roy, Roger, Sofia, Ben and Richard. If you would like to help please contact Ian Pigram.

Boats & Equipment

So lucky to have a great fleet – look after it.

Queen of Hearts, Mock Turtle and No. 13 have returned from Janousek after a summer facelift and are looking as good as new. Alice and Roger have also returned with their wounds repaired after colliding some weeks ago – more under Safety. Duchess is languishing with the repairer having sustained damage to the bows which was letting in water and hidden under the black tape. Please let the club know if you cause or note any damage to boats and blades. We will always aim to get it sorted out as fast as possible so the equipment can be returned to use but we cannot be expected to know by magic mirror.

Helene (4x-) has been fitted with a new larger rudder and can now negotiate the bends in a reasonably controlled manner.

Arnold Paiken has offered to become the ergo fairy (not his words) and will be conducting a review of the machines to establish a maintenance and repair programme. It would be helpful if users could let Arnold know of problems with machines – they are all identifiable by letter – as soon as they are noted to avoid further damage/wear and tear.


Next social event will be the Crew Supper on Thursday 17th October. Details are on the Club noticeboards and you can reserve your ticket by contacting Georgie at [email protected]

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

Club Development continues and the land purchase is imminent as we go to press. We now have a Funding sub-committee which will lead on raising funds to support the plans of the Development sub-committee. The initial intention is to make the new land capable of supporting a boathouse structure. A new boathouse will be constructed in the next phase.

Next Committee meeting is on Wednesday 9th October. Please contact any Committee member if you have any concerns or wish to raise any matters.


We had a serious collision between a 4x- and a 2x on a summer evening. Both crews were experienced and wearing bright clothing but were hindered by moored narrow boats and evening shadows. One crew member was lucky to escape serious injury, thanks to the effective bow ball on the 4x-. Lessons to learn:

  • There is no substitute for maintaining a lookout for other river users at all times
  • Pre-outing boat checks are absolutely vital

Winter rowing – dos:

  • Check the weather forecast when planning outings and attending events
  • Wear several thin layers of clothing
  • Bring spare clothing to the club
  • Think carefully about solo sculling – it’s not whether you can manage the conditions whilst upright; it’s what happens if you fall in that should exercise your decision-making process
  • Wear bright clothing – compulsory for single scullers, bow steers and bow rowers in coxed boats
  • Continue to wash the boats and equipment thoroughly after use – as rainfall and river flows increase there is more opportunity for water-borne bacteria to enter the river by being washed off the land
  • Stay hydrated, even when it’s cold and damp – take water with you in the boat; do not assume you can always pop back to the boathouse for a top-up.

Winter rowing – don’ts:

  • Lock yourself out of the boathouse whilst on the water
  • Leave the clubroom door open
  • Go out if the Red Boards are on display during river-in-flood conditions unless authorised to do so by a certified Club member – the Red Board instructions are available in the Clubhouse and a list of authorised Red Board conditions assessors is included. Please ask your Captain if you are unsure of the requirements.

Memory Lane

With Bedford Autumn Small Boats Head coming up here are some pictures from 2007 which show you are never too young or old to be involved with rowing.