We started off October with the celebration of and thanksgiving for, the life of Robbie van Mesdag. A London man through and through, I have to say how honoured I was to be part of the ceremony and dinner organised for Robbie last week. Robbie was admired and respected by members across the length and breadth of the Club, and it was inspiring to see not only London but Thames, Vesta and Trinity College Dublin members joining together to remember him.
My sincere thanks on behalf of the entire Committee to all those members who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure the Club delivered a fitting tribute to an incredible man. Robbie was without doubt, a legend of the Tideway and will be sorely missed by many.
Perhaps spurred on by the memory of Robbie, the Club really feels like it is picking up pace. We are one month into the new season; the Squad are in good shape and are building the foundations for the season ahead with long slogs on the water, some savage ergs, and any remaining gaps are being filled with strength and conditioning, all under the watchful eye of Rob Dauncey who enters his second season back with us. I’m very happy with the progress and we continue to drive onwards and upwards, there is of course lots to be done, but we have the right team in place to do it. Fours Head is the first big test for the Squad and I look forward to reporting the results in the November edition of the Roar.
While you will find a more detailed update below, the gym is really beginning to take shape. With a lot of the steelwork in place together with the mezzanine flooring for the changing room we can really get a sense of the world class facility we are building. We are so close to hitting the fundraising target that will allow us to properly fit out the gym with the best possible equipment and cement the next step towards putting London back at the top of domestic rowing. If you haven’t donated yet, please, please consider helping. London is on the way back but it will take all of us to fight through to the line.
Moving slightly away from the rowing, many of you will have noticed the new website has been launched (www.londonrc.org.uk), thanks to the hard work of Bob Silver. We will be adding further functionality to the new website in the coming months, including the Club calendar and Club shop. The new website wouldn't have been possible without Tim Lees, who for many years now has diligently maintained the old site, so thank you Tim.
Finally as we move through October, our thoughts turn to November and Armistice Day. As many of you will know, the Club's World War I sub-committee has arranged a centenary lunch which is being held on 7th November. With Remembrance Sunday falling on the 11th November, the Club is working with the other clubs along the Embankment so we can join together to honour those who fell in the Great War from our respective clubs. This is always a sombre time, especially for those of us that are ex-military; a time to reflect and remember the fallen in past and present conflicts.
As always, I hope to see as many of your as possible around the Club and welcome questions, comments or feedback.
Bang the drum
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
03 November Fours Head
04 November Vets' Fours Head
07 November Armistice Centenary Service & Lunch
01 December Scullers' Head
13 December Club Christmas Supper
15 December Remenham Challenge
23 December Christmas VIIIs
CELEBRATING ROB VAN MESDAG'S LIFE
It has been a very busy month for the Irregulars. In addition to their usual outings on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings, members of the Irregulars took part in the Traversee de Paris on Sunday, the 17th September and in the rowing of Gloriana on the 23rd September.
The big event of the last month, however, was the row past and subsequent dinner on Tuesday, the 2nd October to celebrate the life of Rob van Mesdag.
The evening started at 5.30pm with two eights, five quads, a double scull and five single sculls taking to the water and making their own ways from the Club to Hammersmith. All the crews then gathered to form an ordered flotilla upstream of the Mile Post. After processing together to the Mile Post , the whole flotilla came to stand still in silence. Shortly after 6.00pm, Iain Laurenson, who was coxing an eight crewed by LRC members, called for hats off and scattered Rob’s ashes in the river. This was followed by a minute’s silence and then a resounding three cheers from all assembled.
The second of the two eights was crewed by Trinity College Dublin rowers who had come to the event to show their respect and admiration for Rob. Of the five singles, three were sculled by LRC members, one by a member of Thames and one by a member of Vesta. Particularly poignant was the sight of our former Captain and London Olympics Gold Medal winner Sophie Hosking sculling Rob's single in the centre of the flotilla.
Members of Rob’s family were on board Casamajor which our President, Mike Baldwin, had brought from Kingston for the occasion. A good crowd also watched from the bank by the Mile Post. All in all, it was a most atmospheric, emotional and poignant occasion.
The scattering of the ashes was followed by a dinner for about a hundred in the Long Room. Many friends and members of Rob’s family attended, in some cases having come from far afield (Holland, Ireland, Italy and the United States) to be a part of this most memorable occasion. Many speeches were made celebrating Rob’s life and reminding us of the depth of his involvement in life, his charming eccentricities and, above all, his selflessness and generosity to all with whom he came into contact.
Many of those present also went to the Thanksgiving Service at All Saints’ Church, Fulham at 1.30pm the following day and the subsequent gathering at Hurlingham Club.
Eddie Markes, on behalf of the Irregulars
UPDATE ON THE GYM REDEVELOPMENT
Our contractors have been making good progress and members walking up Spring Passage will have seen the steels for the new mezzanine level changing room being erected. Approximately 75% of the steel frame is now in place and it is looking very good. The remaining steelwork for the frame, consisting of the trusses and beams that will support the gym roofs, will we hope be underway by the time this update is published. The changing room floor sub-structure has been completed; the walls for the changing room are being formed and the design for accessing the changing room level from the stairs in the common parts has been agreed.
As part of the redesign of the steel frame, the wall that used to form the west side of what was the old gym and men’s changing room is being replaced with steel columns. As a result we have been able to increase the size of the heavy weights area.
After the construction of the steel frame, the next main phase is the fixing of a lattice of galvanised metal purlins. These are smaller pieces of steel that attach to the frame and to which the cladding panels are attached.
The design of the purlins is complicated because it has to take account of the position of the windows, doors, ventilation units and ventilation louvres and each purlin has to be cut to a precise size. The cladding is then fixed by a specialist sub-contractor. With the cladding fixed, the windows and ventilation units can be fitted and the building can be made weathertight to enable internal fit out work to progress.
We recognise the our members are eager to be provided with a firm completion date, but the reality is it is impossible to anticipate the challenges we may have to work through with the contractor as the project progresses. We would like to reassure our members that the gym sub-committee continues to work very hard with the contractor with a view to completing construction this side of Christmas. It is then anticipated that the gym flooring and fitout will take place early in the new year.
For more information, contact Peter Halford, Simon Harris or Eddie Markes.
TIDEWAY FESTIVAL & GLORIOUS GLORIANA
The weekend of the 22nd and 23rd of September saw the Club participating in the second annual Foreshore Festival which was established in 2017 by the Thames Tideway Tunnel, to draw people’s attention to the Thames and the attractions of it including, of course, rowing.
Building on the success of last year's festival, the Tunnel Cup was inaugurated with five mixed VIIIs racing from Hammersmith Bridge to Shadwell Basin. The Club fielded a composite crew with four TSS athletes and finished a respectable third, with Molesey taking the honours.
In addition to the excitement of the Tunnel Cup, the Club was once again given the opportunity to row Gloriana, Her Majesty's Row Barge. At 2.30 on the 23rd September, a crew of eighteen oarsmen and women, the vast majority of whom were LRC members, rowed from Putney Pier to Hammersmith and back. The weather in the morning had been appalling with very heavy rain but, miraculously, as the crew and their fifteen guests went aboard, the skies cleared and everyone was able to enjoy a beautiful afternoon. As always, Gloriana was a majestic sight as she went past the Club with the LRC flag flying high on the gilded salon towards the rear of the row barge.
Thanks are owed to Jason Danciger for once again arranging access to the Gloriana for the Club's members and their guests. Thanks also to all of those members taking part and raising £500 towards the gym refurbishment.
The 44th Vogalonga took place this year on Sunday, the 20th May. A group of fifteen rowers travelled from LRC to Venice to take part, some on their own and others accompanied by family and friends. In all, there were twenty-seven in our party.
Taking part in this event is more than just a matter of rowing the thirty-two kilometre course – it is being part of a really lovely group of people who gather together, some who have taken part before and some who are there for the first time, to enjoy each other’s company. We gathered for dinner, in time honoured fashion, on the Friday and Saturday leading up to the row on the Sunday. On the Saturday morning, those taking part prepared the boats for the main event. Two coxed quads were transported to Venice by road; a third boat was borrowed, as in previous years, from Querini rowing club.
Come the Sunday, we awoke to a most beautiful day; about 18c rising over the course of the day to 25c, but with fresh and relatively cool underlying air temperature. All three crews got round cleanly and quickly. The row is not a race – it would be quite Impossible to be one because of the numbers of boats involved – but it is nice if everyone can get round within four hours. One of our crews got round in two hours forty minutes, another in three hours fifteen minutes and the third in three hours thirty minutes. This was great bearing in mind that the last of the two thousand plus crews taking part reached the finish at about 4.15pm, more than seven hours after the starting cannon fired at St Mark’s Square.
Once the row had been completed and the boats either safely secured on the trailer for their trip back to London or returned to Querini, twenty-four of our party gathered for drinks and canapes to celebrate a successful and very enjoyable three days.
Next year, the Vogalonga takes place on the 9th June. I am keen to get twenty people to take part next time which will, hopefully, mean we will be a party of about thirty-five in all. A number of those who took part this year have already said that they would like to come again next year. If you are attracted to the idea of taking part in this great event, please email me to register your interest at email@example.com.
REPORTING SAFETY INCIDENTS
All members are reminded that if you are involved in or witness a water safety incident, you are required to report it using the following email address – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Club will file any necessary reports on your behalf with British Rowing and the PLA. Members should not submit reports directly to either body.
NOTE FROM THE EDITOR
My thanks to everyone who has contributed to this edition of the London Roar. If you have an idea for an article or would be interested in submitting a piece for inclusion in a future edition, please email me on email@example.com
Please do not submit an article without first liaising with me.
Editor of The London Roar