Kenneth J Mills

It is with huge sadness that Sudbury Rowing Club has to report the death of one of it’s members at the club’s 124th regatta this weekend.

Kenneth (Ken) Mills (58), long-standing member and trustee of Sudbury Rowing Club, collapsed at the end of his race at Sudbury Regatta on Saturday 7 August. He was attended to immediately by the St Johns Ambulance team and doctors on site, before being taken by ambulance to West Suffolk Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Family and fellow club members are shocked and saddened by this loss. Ken was a keen competitor and had raced at many regattas over the years, including Henley. He trained regularly both on and off the water, a fact which makes the news of his death even more difficult to bear.

The Chairman of Sudbury Rowing Club, Tricia McGrillen, said

“Ken was a faithful committee member, and Treasurer of the Club. We gain some comfort in knowing that he died taking part in a sport that he loved at the club he was dedicated to. This was an extremely sad day for us all, and Ken will be greatly missed, both for his contribution to the club and for his personality”.

In accordance with the wishes of his wife, who was also competing that day, the Club continued with their Regatta weekend.

Members in the News at Henley Royal Regatta

Sam Hogsbjerg rowed at six in the King’s College ‘A’ eight which qualified in the Temple Challenge Cup. Their first race on Wednesday was against the US Naval Academy which had won the trip to Henley by winning the IRA’s (sort of American equivalent of BUSA) in lightweight eights. The US crew equalled the second fastest time of the day to win by 3¾ lengths.

Peter Gostling was stroke of Leander Club’s Ladies’ Challenge Plate eight. Their first race was on Friday against Christiania & Norske Roklub of Norway, which they won by two lengths to set up a semi-final against Boston University, who were the seeded crew in that half of the draw. In a close contest in which the lead changed hands a number of times, and the announcer had to resort to ever smaller fractions of boat-lengths to relay the margin, Leander held on to win by ¾L. That set up a final with Harvard, the US varsity heavyweight champions, who as the other seeded crew had a slightly more comfortable win over Grasshopper of Switzerland. In the final Leander had a two length lead at Fawley, half-way, but Harvard fought back, but to no avail as Leander recorded a popular home win by ¾L.

Well done to Peter – that’s his fird Henley medal!

New Boats

We have ordered a second virus boat to support our beginner’s programme, plus some new blades to go with it. It should be delivered before the end of June. We have also placed an order for a new bank tub. The tub will be fixed to the landing stage enabling the rower to practice rowing in a stable vessel that doesn’t move. This investment will be very useful in speeding up the learning process for beginners, but also useful to refine/break the bad habits, of the more experienced rowers. We hope to have this in June too.

Iris course: With the recent ROSE course completed, the next course will be intermediate Rowing in Sudbury (IRIS) This is scheduled to run for 6 consecutive Sundays beginning the 5th September. Contact the captain if you want to go on the list.

St Neots Regatta

The club had a successful weekend at St. Neots regatta over the weekend. The women’s 8+ confirmed their competitive season by winning the S3 event, and providing a good race in their S2 heat, losing to a mean-looking AK crew. Four of the Sudbury crew won their novice pot in this event (Liz, Dawn, Mel and Julie), which had 4 entries, in a convincing 1¾ length win over the Lea. The men’s senior 4 proved they can do it coxed as well as coxless by winning the S2 4+ event, also from the Lea, by 3ft in a close final in the 9 boat event, after winning their heats with some to spare. The other Sudbury entry was Robert Frost in a large Novice sculls field, who narrowly lost in a heat.

On the sunday the mixed four won the S2 4+ event, and Tony narrowly lost the final of Vet B 1x on very little sculling this season. Robert persevered through to the final of the Novice 1x event from a field of 12 but lost by half a length. A win musty be on the cards soon…

Successful Weekend at St Neots Regatta

The club had a successful weekend at St. Neots regatta over the weekend. The women’s 8+ confirmed their competitive season by winning the S3 event, and providing a good race in their S2 heat, losing to a mean-looking AK crew. Four of the Sudbury crew won their novice pot in this event (Liz, Dawn, Mel and Julie), which had 4 entries, in a convincing 1¾ length win over the Lea. The men’s senior 4 proved they can do it coxed as well as coxless by winning the S2 4+ event, also from the Lea, by 3ft in a close final in the 9 boat event, after winning their heats with some to spare. The other Sudbury entry was Robert Frost in a large Novice sculls field, who narrowly lost in a heat.

On the sunday the mixed four won the S2 4+ event, and Tony narrowly lost the final of Vet B 1x on very little sculling this season. Robert persevered through to the final of the Novice 1x event from a field of 12 but lost by half a length. A win musty be on the cards soon…

Bedford Quarts Regatta

On Sunday 13th July two crews from Sudbury Rowing Club made their way to Bedford, one of the club’s favourite venues, for the ‘Quarts’ Regatta. The event is so named due to the 2-pint tankards given as trophies for winning crews; an added incentive to do well over the 600m sprint course.
First off for Sudbury was the men’s novice four of Paul Hamblett, Sam Dixon, Tony Hogsbjerg and Aaron Hogsbjerg, coxed by Jessica Dixon. The crew rowed well technically and their strong performance gave them a win over Lea Rowing Club’s ‘B’ crew by an impressive 3 lengths. The race was well coxed by Jess in her first Regatta.

In the bright sunshine of the middle of the day the men boated for their semi-final, also against Lea Rowing Club and this time their A crew. Not quite such a dramatic margin between the crews on this occasion, but a win for Sudbury nevertheless, by a quarter of a length, to gain their place in the final against Merton College.

Towards the end of the day’s racing the men set out for their final. It proved to be a nail-biting race for the supporters, who found it difficult to anticipate what the outcome would be, but the Sudbury novice crew won by 3 feet.

The loss of novice status was particularly satisfying for local farmer Tony Hogsbjerg, having in previous years missed the majority of the regatta season due to his farming commitments. After seven years of rowing this was a sweet moment indeed.

The women’s squad were looking forward to their racing with optimism but some trepidation. The crew would not be the same as had raced successfully at Reading, and then at Henley Women’s Regatta, due to some members’ non- availability. The Women’s Senior 4 eight of Tricia McGrillen, Katherine Cass, Laura McGrillen, Sue Kean, Dawn Frost, Rosemary Hogsbjerg, Julie Sutton and Claire Everest, coxed by Aaron Hogsbjerg, quickly made up the deficit from the stagger on the start in their race against City of Cambridge. The crew settled into their rhythm, but perhaps became a little too complacent in the middle of the race. Their opposition were at one point three quarters of a length up, until the Sudbury crew started to wind for the last 200 metres. hey finished a disappointing one third of a length behind City of Cambridge.

With minor crew changes for the straight final of the Women’s Senior 3 eights event, Tricia McGrillen, Melanie Stanton, Laura McGrillen, Katherine Cass, Dawn Frost, Rosemary Hogsbjerg, Julie Sutton and Claire Everest, coxed again by Aaron Hogsbjerg, pushed off from the bank with a great deal more aggression and resolution than in the previous event. Once again up against a City of Cambridge crew, Sudbury were determined that the results at the end of the day should read Cambridge 2, Sudbury 0.

Sudbury got off to a flying start, making up the distance on the stagger within 5 strokes, and then powered on. At no point in the race did City of Cambridge look like catching up on Sudbury, who won by a notable length and three quarters, to ensure that Sudbury Rowing Club came away from Bedford with fourteen two-pint tankards in total – a good days’ work!

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.

Established 1874