All posts by Sudbury Rowing Club

Henley Royal Regatta (Qualifiers)

Sudbury Rowing Club entered this year’s Henley Royal Regatta in the qualifying round of the Wyfold Challenge Cup, an event for club level coxless fours raced over the 1 mile 550 yard/2112m course. The crew of Antony Moule (steering), Trevor Chambers, Kevin Last and Samuel Hogsbjerg had decided to enter as they succeeded in moving the boat quite quickly and were still improving at the time when the entries needed to be in. There were 54 crews entered for this event of which 21 were pre-selected, leaving 33 crews to compete in the qualifiers racing for the last 11 places.
They knew that they needed to row at the very best of their ability to qualify, and after a good start they strode out into a strong rhythm. It went a bit soft after about 1500m, but Antony called for the crew to pick up the pace again, shouting encouragement 2 seconds faster was all they needed to be. They pushed for home as they entered the stewards’ enclosure and finished well in a time of 7 minutes 22.4 seconds. The full results are here.

Unfortunately this was not quite fast enough to qualify, putting them 0.8 seconds behind the fastest non-qualifier. It was very frustrating for the crew to realise they had finished so close to the qualifying time. They felt that this was the best race piece they had achieved, after several good practice pieces especially in the preceding week.

Although they failed to qualify they felt they had done well and showed that they were of the right standard in a very tight event – 10 seconds separating the first 17 non-qualifying crews – and hope that as a club Sudbury can build on this for the future, knowing what kind of pace is required in to qualify, both in racing and training back on home water.

One length faster on the day would probably have been enough to qualify, and 2-3 lengths faster would probably have been enough to win a first round heat. So the Sudbury crew were of the class for this event.

Sudbury’s men’s squad should be looking to qualify a coxless 4 in this event every year rather than as discrete 1-offs. We know the piece-times that need to be matched or exceeded in training, and the level of early-season races which should be entered to get the right experience; and we have absolutely the right equipment so there is no reason why we cannot use this experience and build on it in the future…

Henley Women’s Regatta

By not having to race on Friday, the Sudbury Rowing Club Women’s Senior 3 eight were able to enjoy a leisurely drive to Henley that day, and emerge early on Saturday morning relaxed and focussed for a training outing on the 1500m course. A light breakfast followed, then the time soon passed until they had to boat for their race against curiously named ‘Old Bones’ of Eire.
With nerves mounting, trying hard to convince themselves this was ‘just another race’, they rowed up to the start line by Temple Island. With centimetre perfect precision the start marshall lined up the two crews, then from a launch just behind the boats the umpire set them off. The crew of Tricia McGrillen, Katherine Cass, Liz Spencer, Rosemary Hogsbjerg, Vicky Leonard, Claire Everest, Julie Sutton and Susie Moule, coxed by Antony Moule, proceeded to make history by being the first eight ever to compete at Henley Women’s Regatta in the 129 years of Sudbury Rowing Club, building on the previous entries, in fours, in 1995 and 2001.

After a good start, the crew struggled to settle into their rhythm as they hit difficult water at the end of the island, but responded well when stroke Susie Moule dropped the rating to enable the crew to regain control. Club Captain Sam Hogsbjerg and Women’s Coach Andrew Blit were following the race in the Umpire’s launch and were unconcerned at this point, as the crew had, the previous weekend, pulled back a one length deficit to win a heat during Reading Amateur Regatta.

Now rowing together well, the crew felt they would be able to come back at their opposition, but although they put everything they had into the race, this was not to be. With Sudbury pushing even harder in the last 500 metres, ‘Old Bones’ were the winners by some 6 seconds, but this was no easy victory. ‘Old Bones,’ with Irish national champions in the crew, were knocked out in the next round, and it would be nice to think that they had used up all their reserves in order to beat Sudbury.

The results of the racing on Saturday are here and those for the finals here.

This was an international regatta, with crews from USA, Eire, Switzerland and Sweden as well as the many representing England, Scotland and Wales. Although initially disappointed not to go through to the next round, the Sudbury women were amongst the top 15 in their class and were proud to have represented both the town of Sudbury and the Rowing Club in such a high standard event.

Reading Amateur Regatta

Tony, Kevin, Trevor and Sam raced S2 and S1 4-. By the time I got there they had had their first S2 race. And last. Against Eton (see J for Juniors)(and Z for ZigZag as it turns out)

Apparently neither crew had spent a long time in their nominated lane. Eton had buggered off into a bay into which our brave boys (Tony steering) had followed them. Then they went as far apart as they could manage on a fairly wide part of the Thames. Then, finally, Eton had made a dive for our boys, who were half a length up with a third of the course still to row. But Tony saw them coming and managed, cunningly, to get into their lane before they could get into his. Thus, in the resulting collision it was SRC that got disqualified. The rest of the event was somewhat odd with people dropping out cos they didn’t feel like it (imagine how this upset our Trevor) – the final was between Eton and ?RMA Sandhurst or some other squaddies – as they hove into view with about 25 strokes to go, the military were leading the effete by a wide margin and both crews were rating in the low 20s (imagine how THIS upset our Trevor). As they passed us Eton broke into a sprint (imagine HOW THIS upset our Trevor – he cursed them very volubly and effectively I thought)

They rowed somewhat better in the S1 but were demolished by RMA Sandhurst again

And it was on this note that our brave ladies boated to face the might of Twickenham. They were nervous. So was I! Dunno if you know the regatta but there is a fairly substantial stagger to the berkshire bank on the start, plus the 1st bend. SRC were on that station and I waited on my bike to see them emerge after about 30 strokes (the towpath near the start being VERY slight) to see them very nearly a length up! They rowed really calmly, perhaps a little too calmly as Twickers had the inside of the next bend and did NOT give up. Half a length in the enclosures was turned into 1/4 of a length as they crossed the finish line, not having wound up or any such thing. Tony admitted afterwards that he might have been a little complacent, but a win’s a win, especially against them gals

2nd round was against Curlew, whose S2 4+ I saw getting thoroughly dismantled by some yankee chicks in a Vespoli. Curlew were clearly bigger than a) our gals (anyone would be – I estimate the combined weight of our bow 3 to be less than 170 Kg) and b) Twickenham. Also they looked grim, not a good sign i thought. Grim = purposeful btw. They had won their first round easily over a very moderate City of Oxford crew. We were on the north station this time, against the stagger and didn’t have our best start. So it was SRC habing on to the back of Curlew as the first bend unwound. But the ladies were excellent. They kept rowing well and gradually rowed Curlew down with the help of the favourable bend, emerging from it dead level, which the race remained for about 30 strokes as I conversed with the Curlew coach on HIS bike (“it’s a bit bloody close” “you’re not wrong”). Then, as the bend went back to Curlew it was SRC that stated to pull away, just rowing more aggressively and sharply than the oppo, breaking their hearts and ending up winning by a length. Possibly the best racing performance I have seen from any SRC ladies. They rowed both effectively and aggressively.

Final was against Exeter Uni who were similar size to Curlew burds but significantly sharper. They also had gotten to the final without having to race, both their previous opponents having had either equipment of personnel failures (an ambulance was required for the Semi). We were on the inside of the first bend once more but could not get out as far as we had against Twickenham and Exeter Uni got back on terms quite quickly. The girls hung on for a while, and fought back when down, but the power and freshness of the studes got ’em in the end by 2l. Oh and the studes had a brand new 2KV eight in blue (see B is for Boat).

The girls did REALLY well methinks and deserved their beer even though the bar had shut by that point

Other moments of note: Reading S1 8+ rowing straight onto a narrow boat in front of the enclosures. Curlew woman swapping a one-piece with Curlew man on the landing stage – why? Peter Haining declaring that his UTRC boys were Senior B athletes. Melanie (new SRC gal from Somerville) declaring that extensive studies of rowing photographs showed that there are only, in fact, two rowing expressions – constipated or orgasmic. She shows potential.

Oh and one other major highlight…

The Regatta required to see ARA cards before finals, and Ma Hogsbjerg had put hers together on the day. Unfortunately she had neglected to deploy the might of her reading spectacles to full effect and had affixed her delightful visage to the card of, step forward Mr Anthony Hogsbjerg. Sadly the officials spotted the error or we might yet have seen Tony racing as Rosemary

Andrew Blit

Women’s Eights Head, 15th March

Saturday March 15th, was a bright, sunny if somewhat breezy day, and saw Sudbury Rowing Club descend upon the River Thames for the Women’s Eights Head of the River Race. Hopes were high within the club that this could produce the best ever result for a Sudbury crew in this race.
With this in mind, there were a few nerves but confidence was high. The crew of Tricia McGrillen, Katherine Cass, Laurel Ost, Claire Everest, Vicky Leonard, Rosemary Hogsbjerg, Julie Sutton and Susie Moule with Antony Moule coxing, boated early at Hammersmith for a controlled, relaxed row down to the start at Mortlake. Setting off 91st of 262 boats, Sudbury got off to a flying start rating 36 strokes per minute. They quickly gained on a Durham University crew, overtaking them within the first ¼ mile of this 4¼ mile race. Leaving them behind, they were then hard on the heels of the Parrs Priory crew. Drawing almost level, there was some jockeying for position to maintain the best line in the fast flowing stream, and some firm calling from the Sudbury cox finally persuaded the opposition to move over sufficiently for them both to be able to get through Barnes Bridge. Having overtaken Parrs Priory, the Sudbury eight pushed on again to catch the next boat, a crew from Thames Rowing Club who would be more experienced in these rough conditions. Cox Antony continually called for more power, and with a positive response every time, the crew soon overtook Thames.

Taking the long bend at Chiswick Eyot and racing towards the Sudbury supporters at Hammersmith, it was here that the crew hit the roughest water. Rowing with the stream but against a head wind, conditions were particularly difficult for Sudbury after training on the relative calm of the River Stour. Coping well, keeping together and rating 30 strokes per minute, they started to make headway on a Cambridge crew some 10-15 lengths in front of them. Spurred on by both cox and supporters the Sudbury women overtook the crew from Cantabrigians Rowing Club before reaching Fulham and then pushed on towards the finish. The rate increased to 34½ strokes per minute and Sudbury crossed the finishing line at Putney in a time of 22:54.13. This gave them a finishing position of 81st out of 262 overall, 10th out of 59 club Senior 3 and 20th out of a total of 117 Senior 3 crews, which included University entries.

This is the highest ever finish position achieved by a Sudbury crew and shows considerable promise for the women’s squad in the forthcoming Regatta season.

Antony Moule: Coaches of 2002 Award

Further confirming the club’s status as a strong junior club in the region, Antony Moule was put forward for the ARA’s Coaches of 2002 award. For those who can’t be bothered to click on the link, the citation reads

 ‘The standard of nominations was so exceptional that a further five were highly commended for their contribution to the sport’

I’m sure we all recognise Tony’s efforts both with the school and with Peter, Sam and Dawn, so a belated but very fitting mention. Well done!

A full round up of Tony’s many achievements

At Sudbury Rowing Club’s Christmas Dinner on Friday 13 December, an unexpected guest arrived. No, not Santa Claus but Mike Mansfield, Chairman of the Eastern Region Rowing Council, part of the Amateur Rowing Association. However, he was bearing a ‘gift’ for one unsuspecting member of the club – Junior Coach Antony Moule. Antony was presented with the Regional Coaching Award for his work with the juniors of the Club, and also had his name put forward for the National Award. He narrowly missed out on this, gaining a letter of commendation for all his efforts. These are the first awards of their kind, the ARA having instigated the coaching award scheme this year.

Antony Moule has coached juniors at Sudbury RC for more than five years now, and has consistently seen potential in youngsters that come to the club. By giving unstintingly of his skill, patience, knowledge, personality and most of all his time, he has produced at local, national and international level results, never seen before for this club. Between 1998 and 2002 Antony has coached a number of juniors including Peter Gostling, Laura McGrillen, Aaron Hogsbjerg, Sam Dixon and Dawn Frost. Between them these young people achieved over 40 wins in head races and regattas, with three of them winning pennants at the Scullers Head of the River in the past 4 years. They have competed in regional and national trials, and have represented the East of England and Great Britain.

Peter Gostling represented Great Britain in the GB-France international in 1999 and in the Coupe de la Jeunesse in 2001, with Sam Dixon representing GreatBritain in the Coupe de la Jeunesse in 2002. Both boys competed in the Fawley cup at Henley Royal Regatta, Peter being the first member of the club ever to compete at Henley. He has since gone on to row for Leander, winning two Henley medals as well as Golds at National Schools and National Championship regattas.

Antony’s commitment to the juniors does not end when they come off the water. In addition, he sets up land based training schedules, and offers them help and support every step of the way. Antony is responsible for enabling the juniors to compete at suitable Regattas or to attend trials and training camps, and ensures that both competitors & boats arrive safely. He gives freely of his time, often driving the juniors to different venues across the country, despite having a wife and small daughter at home.

In Autumn 2001, under the auspices of the ARA’s Go-Row scheme, Antony started up a rowing club at Sudbury Upper School. Following Dry-Start activities in the winter and spring terms they progressed on to the water in the summer. He now continues his weekly sessions with a new year-group at the school.

Sudbury Rowing Club is immensely proud of all that Antony has achieved. 

Maidstone Small Boats Head

A total of 22 members of Sudbury Rowing Club set out early on Sunday morning to compete at Maidstone Small Boats Head. Arriving in plenty of time for the first division at 10.30 the crews boated, warmed up & did their best to stay that way in an icy wind.

First boat off was the Sudbury Senior 1 four of Antony Moule, Kevin Last, Aidan Dunn and Sam Hogsbjerg, coxed by Jim Kean. The crew felt they’d raced particularly well, and this was borne out by the fact that they finished the day as the fastest boat in their class. Next off for Sudbury was the Novice four of Charles Howard, Keith Paxman, Rob Weller and Paul Hamblett with cox Andrew Blit. They were reasonably happy with their race, but felt it went much better in the second division. This time they felt they got into their rhythm better and that the boat was better balanced. They were coxed by Robert Frost.

The women’s Senior 2 crew of Tricia McGrillen, Katherine Cass, Julie Sutton and Susie Moule led the women’s racing in this division. They were coxed by Claire Everest who put in a great performance, steering this difficult boat (Ray Cresswell) for the first time to great effect. They achieved the fastest time of the day for a women’s crew. The well established Vet D coxless pair of Ken Mills and Mike Arnott raced in this Division, but encountered some steering issues. They were followed by the women’s Senior 3 coxless pair of Vicky Leonard and Rosemary Hogsbjerg, who unfortunately had no direct competition, but were happy to evaluate their time against similar men’s crews. Robert Frost entered in the novice single sculls, and his sister, Dawn, in the women’s J16 single scull.

In the second division the Vet D coxed 4 of Ken Mills, Jim Kean, Tony Hogsbjerg and Mike Arnott were coxed by Andrew Blit. With no opportunity for a practice outing beforehand the crew rowed as well as could be expected.

Following directly behind their arch rivals from Poplar, Blackwall & District Rowing Club, the women’s Senior 3 four of Julie Sutton, Claire Everest, Vicky Leonard and Rosemary Hogsbjerg, and cox Tricia McGrillen very soon started to make up ground. In an exciting race they inched their way closer stroke by stroke, and managed to overtake the other crew before the finish.

A satisfying result for Sudbury whose women’s crews finished the day 1st & 2nd overall.

The coxless pair of Aidan Dunn & Sam Hogsbjerg raced at Open class & were the fastest pair of the day. Antony Moule and Jeremy Fisher raced in Senior 2 coxless pairs, and Kevin Last in the Senior 2 single sculls, but having been given a starting position behind slower boats, both crews had to negotiate several overtaking manoeuvres. Dawn Frost raced again, this time in women’s novice single sculls, and was much happier with her performance.

There were various issues with the organisation of the event, not least the absence of a defined finishing line. The cold weather also contributed to feelings of dissatisfaction with the event.

One plea though – everyone would do well to learn from Robert’s experience and always take spare clothes. This is applicable to a gentle paddle on a lazy summer afternoon in the warmth at Sudbury, but is PARTICULARLY so for a competition of two divisions in the winter. There are a number of people who regularly appear inappropriately dressed/equipped, you know who you are!

At the time of writing the full results are not available, they will be updated here when they are known.

Time Trials

Regular training on the River took on a slightly different flavour this weekend, with the first of the season’s time trials being staged on Saturday. These are run to foster the competitive element within the club, to give a positive start to winter training, and to offer video/coaching opportunities under race conditions. Spread over 5 divisions, a total of 31 Sudbury members took part in the day, in mix & match combinations of 21 crews, with the club also paying host and offering the same coaching facilities to a further 4 crews from Beccles Rowing Club.