CAPTAIN’S ROWING REPORT
Henley Royal Regatta: two Squad crews, a Masters’ crew and composite raced at the 150th Regatta. 3 row pasts: The Stewards winners of 1979 and the Lightweight 4- World Champions, both on Friday and the winning Grand crew of 1979 ‘Thames Tradesmen’s RC & London RC’, and a boat naming of a new 4+ the ‘Steve Fairbairn’ on the Tuesday evening before racing outside bay L.
Competing in the Wyfold and Thames Cup, the Squad move to Henley the preceding weekend for final tuning and course practise and the Masters qualified on the Friday, back to their lives and work and then returned for race one on the Wednesday morning.
The 4- had an excellent training camp and were in good shape. Disappointed not be selected, having posted times at major regattas faster than some selected crews, they rolled into day 1 with focus and determination. The first race could not have been tougher, against an overseas crew, Aramohio, Whanganui Rowing Club, New Zealand, who were extremely fast. Bow ball to bow ball the entire race across a nail biting 2,112m of the HRR course. The final verdict “The narrowest of Margins” was less than a bow ball. As we understand it, this was the closest margin ever called at HRR (it’s worth a re-watch on YouTube), and indeed the entire competition. London had won the battle posting the fastest time of the day. Day 2, a powerful Norwegian crew lined up against our A crew; challenging them from the start, the LRC boat pushed as much as they could but were unable to turn them, the spice having been taken from their legs the preceding day. They ultimately lost, albeit pushing right to the finish line, to Norske Studenters Roklubb, Oslo who went on to race in the Final against Sydney Rowing Club, Australia, the ultimate winners. I am really proud of the Wyfold crew, particularly for the way they stood up to the pressure of two extremely tough matches.
The 8, up against City of Oxford, and having raced each other in the early regattas, knew they were quite evenly matched although LRC had shown some dominance previously. This was going to be an extremely good race. Setting off strongly, as both crews settled into their stride, London opening up and took a length in the first half of the race but were unable to get clear water. The crew continued to look strong, having settled into a good rhythm but, by the General Enclosure, Oxford had started creeping back one seat at a time, building momentum. Unfortunately, the crew was unable to change gear and raise its rating to prevent a turn-over in the last section of the race. A disappointing outcome for the Thames Cup crew.
The Masters, having consistently raced through the season and making a cracking effort to qualify, lined up against Munchener Ruder-Club von 1880 e.V., Germany. Both crews were calm off the start, the LRC Masters kept it tight with good length settling into a rhythm that pushed the Germans hard in the early part of the race. Coupled with a few steering challenges by the opposition, there was a glimmer of hope. The Masters pushed on holding form and nerve, but, unfortunately, were unable to close the gap on the strong overseas crew, who progressed to Friday. A fantastic effort by the Masters after a good season of racing (with more to come, I am sure, at today’s Henley Masters).
So, the end of a long season with plenty of ups and downs. The coaches and Squad will be taking a little time off but also prepping and planning for next season. Recruitment is heavily underway and we will push on to get more into our number for next season. I would like to thank and recognise all the work done by our coaching staff. Steve Salter, our Assistant Coach, again thank you for your work both on the water coaching the 8 whilst travelling around the Country (if not the World) to increase recruiting activity and pick up boats for other membership groups. The steadfast Richard Phillips, in his support to coaching and the Club, and all our other volunteer coaches across the membership. Last but by no means least, huge thanks go to our Director of Rowing, Rob Dauncey, in his first full season with us. The racing trajectory of the Club is on the up and the standard and approach of the fleet for all members are every increasing. I know there is more to come.
I hope you all get to do some racing at the summer regattas or at least get out on the water as much as possible. Circuits are now back on a Thursday. All members are very welcome. Meeting at 19:15 for a 19:30 start, a 45-minute circuit will see you ‘refreshing’ upstairs by 20:30.
Bang the drum.
Captain, London Rowing Club
CLUB AGM: WEDNESDAY 24 JULY
Members of LRC are encouraged to attend the Club’s Annual General Meeting on 24 July, starting at 7:30 pm. This is an opportunity to hear about the Club’s progress over the past 12 months, to review the Accounts, to ask (reasonable) questions of the Club’s officers, and to elect a new Committee. Committee members – all volunteers – do an enormous amount of work for the Club, and the AGM is also an opportunity for members to show their support and appreciation for the work they do.
Please note that nominations for the Committee must be received by the Club by not later than 7:30 pm on Wednesday 17 July. Nominations, together with the names of the nominee’s proposer and seconder, should if possible be sent to the Club by email to email@example.com. If you require information about the AGM, the nomination process, or our governance structure, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The AGM is usually quite a convivial occasion, and an opportunity to meet up with friends at the Club. This year we have much to celebrate, in particular the Club’s achievement in developing a new Gym and raising the funds necessary for this project. We look forward to seeing you there.
Honorary Secretary, London Rowing Club
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
12-13 July: Henley Masters
13-14 July: Kingston Regatta
20-21 July: Molesey Regatta
24 July: LRC Annual General Meeting
25 July: LRC Supper Club Dinner
03 August: Henley Town and Visitors’ Regatta
25 August-01 September: World Rowing Championships
04 September: Irregulars’ Dinner (provisional)
04 September: Doggett’s Coat and Badge
14 September: Great River Race
29 September: Regatta London Row
See more detail for these events, visit our Calendar of Events…
Thursday, the 27th June saw some of us go down to Henley for the day. This is a small invitational gathering with old friends at Twickenham Rowing Club that has been going for 30 years. It affords an opportunity to row over the Regatta Course in boats kindly lent by Upper Thames RC and then make use of the Remenham Club premises to have a buffet lunch afterwards. This year our members provided the lunch. It was a lovely sunny day and great fun was had by all.
5 or 6 of our members attended a talk on ‘Safety on the Tideway’ last Tuesday, the 25th June. This was a very informative presentation given by one of our Vice Presidents, Ben Helm, and we were all able to draw from his wealth of experience from 35 years of rowing and umpiring on the Tideway. Some members from the Young Irregulars also attended. Thanks Ben.
Our two aspiring bow-steerers are progressing well and nearing the test and certification stage. Other members have expressed enthusiasm and interest. This is great and attention will be turned their way towards the end of the summer.
Future events – we have entered a mixed eight in Regatta London on the 29th September and three of our number plus one squad member have entered a quad for the Head of the Charles in October – Jason Lalande, Martin Quinn, Rory O’Sullivan and Aidan O’Flaherty. I think we can surmise that although obviously London Colours will be to the fore there may be a smattering of green amongst their garb! I hope the training is going well for both these crews.
With the prospect of a brand-new gym at our disposal, a group of Millennials and a collection of other members got together last Thursday to test the gym’s much touted ventilation system with 40 minutes of high octane circuit training. I am happy to report that despite the searing pain within my body, the ambient temperature was perfectly regulated.
As requested, Captain Tim Grant put together a series of 12 exercises (and novel ways of transporting ourselves between stations) that put us all through our paces. ‘The Bear’, handstand holds, medicine ball slams and suicides were just a few of the delights on offer. Nevertheless, the circuits were intentionally designed to cater for a wide range of fitness levels, allowing everyone to push themselves to their individual limits. And those limits certainly were pushed!
In contrast to the physical strain it was fantastic to see the gym a hive of activity with so many people training together, cheering one another on and encouraging each other to push just that little bit further.
Follow from this success we are looking to continue Thursday Circuits as soon as Henley Royal is over (hopefully to counteract the Pimms). These will be open to all members and anyone is very welcome, no matter the fitness level (although I would suggest being cleared for lively exercise by your friendly physician). Keep an eye out in your weekly digest for details - we encourage you to come along.
Of course, in true Millennial style, we ensured there was the appropriate rehydration immediately after.
YOUNG IRREGULARS’ REPORT
With the advent of Summer evenings, the Young Irregulars have begun regular weeknight outings – in addition to our traditional Saturday outing and the occasional pre-work outings.
We have seen a good number of members out on the water over the last couple of weeks – both sculling and sweeping—and have a few of our members under training to add to our bow-steerers list of 4, our group is about 20 strong.
The group itself was initially formed from a combination of graduates from the LRC’s Learn-to-Row programme and ‘young’ recreational rowers from university and alike who want to stay on the water. A few current University students are hoping to row with us this summer during their break, if we can teach them to scull!
Most recently, Ben Helm has very kindly committed to a number of sessions with the Young Irregulars with the objective of improving technique and training bow-steerers on the Tideway. The classroom session on Safety & Navigation was particularly useful.
We hope to keep the momentum going over the coming months with regular group sessions. The benefit of coaching is really felt by the group and I take this opportunity to thank all those who have given their precious time to us: George Vaizey, Luis Orozco, Richard Gilfillan a few times and Miles Preston a couple of weeks ago. Very notably Alan Foster has been regularly for the last 5 years coaching us from the beginning in our Learn to Row days to now when we can have a lovely outing together.
Thanks go to Tim Grant, Captain, who has shown us support and to Kathleen Curran, our leader, who has been with many of us for 5 years.
If there are any volunteers that would like to offer a session of coaching to this group please get in touch - email@example.com - and know that it will be gratefully received.
In the meantime, here are some photos of the Young Irregulars from our recent outings!
AN IRREGULAR TRIP TO LITHUANIA
I was lucky enough to be part of the excellent 2019 British Rowing Tour to Lithuania last month. The official tour was only Thursday to Sunday, including two full rowing days rowing. However, I went out a couple of days earlier being keen to gain some insight into Lithuania and the locals as well as the area’s rowing possibilities.
It is well known that Lithuania has a long history of conflict and in fact only became part of the European Union in 2004. The conflict was mostly associated with the second world war and the country’s desire for independence from what was at the time called the Soviet Union. In 1989 some two million inhabitants of the Baltic states joined hands to form a human chain all the way from Tallinn, Estonia, through both Latvia and Lithuania. Imagine that: up-hill, down-dale, across rivers through towns! As non-violent protests go, this was quite some achievement and a clear demonstration of the strongly peaceful and admirable spirit that is inherent and still almost palpable today. Lithuania is now somewhere within the intermediate wealth group in the EU and its debt is amongst the lowest in the EU. The ambience everywhere both warm and inviting. It is interesting that despite the horrendous fighting that took place here, there is much that remains of the Grand Duchy, so important here from the 13th to 18th centuries: churches, monuments, palaces and castles.
The first day’s rowing was scheduled to take place just outside Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital. Some 30 of us on the tour all met up on the Thursday evening for supper in Vilnius old town and agreed detailed arrangements for boating the following day. The river Neris was the location and what an experience that was. Water levels had been unusually low and we were warned about hitting rocks. We were given special advice and steering tips. We were put into six coxed quads most participants taking turns to cox. Most of the boats were large wooden clinkers borrowed from local clubs. Some of you may think the LRC boats are heavy….oh boy, you ain’t seen notin, buster! We teamed up as necessary (over 20 of us needed for one of the boats) to carry the boats off the trailers, rig them and then into the water. This provided a natural environment for the crews to bond and share tales. Vilnius rowing was lovely, but was made distinctly more exciting when one of the crews hit a rock stranding themselves in the middle of the fast flowing river. This necessitated a group of boats to go back to the rescue! Happily, the boat was insured, no one hurt, and a replacement found for the following day.
The lake rowing, scheduled for day two, was a great contrast and we all had a lovely calm day rowing around the lakes. The day started somewhat early for the drive to Trakai, a short distance from Vilnius. We agreed vaguely which lake and where we would explore at our supper the previous evening and all felt like old hands as we quickly rigged the boats and set off to investigate the lakes vaguely in convoy just to make sure we all kept track of each other. It was all as stunning as you could imagine.
The Rowing Hotel was our lunch pit stop and very pleasant it was too. Those on the tour had all been briefed to find their own accommodation, which we did. But the Rowing Hotel would make an ideal spot to accommodate an Irregular outing. They can take up to 18 people in 7 double and triple hotel rooms. In addition, they also have up to three apartments available to rent, each capable of taking up to four persons. The following link gives more information: http://www.rowinghotel.com/location-and-surroundings-15/en/. I find it curious that nowhere on their site is there even a mention of the impressive grandstand seating and 8 (+?) lane buoy marked racing lanes.
There must surely be possibilities for a long weekend Irregular outing for us. There is no chance of anyone (rower or partners) being bored on or off the water and it is all as safe as it’s possible to be. If anyone is interested in organising something with me, do get in touch. And we’d not be the first, take a look at https://www.durham-arc.org.uk/2019/06/rowers-tour-lithuania/
JOHN MARSDEN – ‘THE QUIET ONE’
One of our esteemed Irregulars, Tom Blackett, has drawn my attention to one of the Club's illustrious oarsmen of years gone by and suggested we include a short biography in this edition.
The name of John Marsden will be known by those of us who go out on the water from LRC and particularly by our Irregulars as one of the boats in the boathouse bears his name.
John was born during the First World War. He went to Eton, achieving considerable distinction whilst there including rowing in the First Eight in 1934. He then studied at the Sorbonne in France and in Bonn in Germany. He became a formidable linguist, speaking at least five languages fluently. This proved to be a great asset at international veteran rowing dinners when he showed that at least one Brit could match the best Continental linguist.
He had a distinguished career in the Army during the Second World War, which saw him rise to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel at the age of 29. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre by General de Gaulle and the American Bronze Star by General Eisenhower and was mentioned by the British in despatches.
He served behind enemy lines in Africa and Italy (including being parachuted into the former) and took part in the commando raid on the Lofoten Islands in Norway. He also served in France, Belgium and Germany. He commanded an independent unit in the invasion of France, which had its own aeroplane. Needless to say, he also qualified as a pilot.
After the War, John took to rowing at Putney, first with Vesta for whom he won the Scullers' Head, and then for LRC. He won the Wingfield Sculls when he was forty-one and partnered Tony Fox in the Double Sculls at Henley earning the distinction of being the only British crew to beat the Russians in 1954. He reached the final again two years later in partnership with Doug Melvin. He also rowed in the first scullers' eight at LRC in 1956, beating the Club's first eight and finishing second in the Head of the River Race. Later he became a tower of strength in several veteran crews.
He was a house-master at Eton and lived in a lovely house nearby which became memorable for some superb garden parties. By all accounts, he was an inspiring teacher with a steely smile and quick wit, organising expeditions for his boys such as a row from Lechlade to Greenwich in two quads in the depth of winter. One of the crews sank below Tower Bridge and the rescued boys took a taxi back to LRC - where else?
Later, he became a stock-broker and farmer and set up Marsden Tutors in London to teach children to speak German. This had evolved into Collingham College, a large independent sixth form college, by the time of his death.
In his seventies, John took up skiing and applied himself to this with his usual thoroughness, becoming a competent performer on the slopes and delightful company afterwards.
John was tall, strong, good looking and not known as ‘The Quiet One’ for no reason. He was one of those people who never talked about himself. He had the ability to turn the conversation away from himself on to everyone else. He was clearly, however, a most interesting and interested person.
John died in 2004 aged 88.
CHARLES MOORE’S MINI
For those of you who were at the formal opening of the Peter Coni Gym and heard the address by Mike Baldwin and Mike Williams and those of you who have subsequently read their address in last month’s edition of TLR, you will remember that Mike Baldwin referred to a Mini originally owned by Charles Moore, subsequently taken over by Peter Coni.
This clearly rang a bell in the mind of one of our members, Colin Smith, now living in Arizona, who wrote to me as follows;
If I may introduce myself to you and the many who haven't heard of me, my name is Colin Smith and I am an LRC Overseas Member living in Phoenix, AZ.
I rowed for the Club from October 1962, sponsored by Peter Coni (ex Lady Margaret), until August 1967 when I took myself off to Reading Rowing Club. I was in a great four with Simon Rippon, Desmond Hampton (sadly deceased), and Steve Royle of Oxford University coaching fame. We actually managed third in the Fours Head of the River.
I also rowed with Coni, Topolski and Chichester, with Chris Drury as cox (!) and many others, in the Grand, Stewards, Thames and Wyfolds and in the infamous England VIII which rowed in the Irish International Regatta against the other Home Countries and won! We even had a song composed about me and our four by the House Steward's wife Mrs. Palmer: "Once with Rippon, Royle & 'ampton lived a man named Mr. Smith …"
I was at three in the crew that Charlie Moore stroked, which lost to Harvard (they were pot hunting in the Thames Cup). However, mention of his Mini reminds me of an exact date. We were out training on 4th May 1966 and as we came into the hard someone shouted out "Colin your having a baby"! Indeed my wife was producing our daughter (Sharon) a month early. How to get to the maternity home quickly? Charlie bundled me into his Mini and we were soon in Chalfont St. Giles! Great memories of Charlie! Love his yachts.
It is also wonderful to read all the goings on in the Roar. I miss all of you but prefer a rainless June with the temperature over 100F every day, to London rain.
Peoria, AZ, USA"
BRIAN FENTIMAN OBITUARY
Brian died in Brixham of liver cancer on 20th April 2019. He was 72 years old. He was only diagnosed in late December 2018.
Brian joined Quintin Boat Club in 1967. He rowed for Quintin in three eights that finished in the top 10 of the Tideway Head and in two Thames Cup semi-finals. He was in Quintin eights that represented England in the 1968 Home Countries match and that won the National Championships in 1973. In an era when GB crews competed in the National Championships, he won a bronze medal for the open double sculls in 1972 and a silver medal for the lightweight single sculls in 1978.
Brian rowed in the 1975 GB Bronze Medal LW VIII during the winter 1975/76 and joined the London RC VIII that was boating at weekends and training together at Elliot School three nights a week. He was another experienced asset to the group throughout that winter and one Ron Needs, the coach, knew from his time at Quintin. He made the 2 seat his own in the 1976 VIII which finished 5th in the HORR, won Grand VIIIs at the Metropolitan, LW VIIIs at The West German International Championships at Duisburg, Nottingham City, the National Championships and was in the first LRC crew to enter the Grand at Henley Royal Regatta for nine years only losing to the winners by a canvas in the Semi Final. At the FISA World Championships in Villach, Austria the VIII he won a Silver Medal. Brian continued with the Lightweight Group for the 1977 season. He was always a positive, encouraging and experienced influence on the group during his time at LRC.
Brian was a one-off. He was small and very strong. Coaches in club crews could not write him off on size because he generally was the fastest in a sculling boat. He had no shades of grey - it was either black or white. That did not mean that if he disagreed with you, he lacked respect for your opinion. He worked as a lecturer in Building Technology care. Additionally, he was tending allotments and wine making. Above all, were you his friend he stuck with you through thick and thin. The forced move to the West Country was a blessing in disguise as it was there he started to coach and there where he met Lin his partner for the last 12 years.
He was the very successful coach of Alasdair Stuart who says, “We first met in 1997 when he moved down to the West Country and the possibility of him potentially coaching me. One of his first lines was, “If I don’t like you I am going to tell you; If you don’t like me, I want you to tell me”. These words have been true ever since. We always had an open dialogue and never felt any fear in offending by speaking our minds. It was his typically direct, ‘Black and White’ mentality that meant you always knew precisely where you were with him. In the following few months, he started to build a squad around me, the ‘Boy’ as he called me (I called him the ‘Boss’). Through a five-year plan, we progressed through some National Medals and Nat Champs, then some representation for Scotland and saw me promoted from the ‘Boy’ to the ‘Youth’. In 2002, this effort bore fruit and he brought me to success at the U23 Trials and, thankfully, being selected as the single sculler for the U23 World Regatta. This meant that I could share my success with him in the sense that he was recognised as my coach at an international level. After that I was further promoted to ‘His Sculler’ - an accolade I will never top in rowing and which I hold most dear.
He was my coach, my mentor, my friend - the ‘Boss’. I progressed onto the titles of ‘Boatman’ and ‘Coach’, but I will always remain - ‘His Sculler’.”
Linda his partner says, “We had twelve years together. We met, via an online dating site. If I remember correctly, he had been very busy and had managed to meet the grand sum of 43 ladies! Once met, we learnt to trust again. I lived in Plymouth, he in Exeter. We spent alternate weeks together. The three allotments (in Exeter) were really to keep us busy. Just over 12 months ago, I bought a bungalow here to be nearer to him. We spent the last twelve months renovating the place. Despite his diagnosis, he was directing the final finishing touches from his bed.
I gave him my word that he would not go into a hospital or a hospice and he died in his bed beside me. The only thing that slowed this strong man down was the cancer. Rowing was his first love. I was his last”.
Chairman, London Rowing Club
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Please do not submit an article without first liaising with me.
Editor of The London Roar