Lower Thames Rowing Club
Five rowers set off at 07:00 Saturday 5th April to Kent in Spirit of Dunkirk. They were: Simon Roberts, Emma Wiley, Laura Dunmow, Stewart Taylor and Tom Vaughan. It was to be a feat of endurance with a little added adventure. Conditions in the early morning were perfect with calm waters. We crossed by the end of Southend Pier, making our way to the shipping channel marker, Sea Reach Number 5. This buoy meant that when we radioed London VTS for permission to cross the shipping channel, they could identify our location immediately. With permission granted, we made our way past the grain spit to the mouth of the Medway. As we were approaching low tide, the blades hit the sand bank repeatedly. This meant we had to work hard to avoid the risk of getting stranded on the rapidly expanding sandbank.
In the Medway, we noticed a slight chop to the water, compared to the more gentle waters of the Estuary. We decided to go in search of the German U-boat, which was abandoned in the back creeks of the Isle of Grain, almost a century before. We made good going but when we got close to the location, found that we could not beach the U-boat. The mud beneath us was an oozy, fast-sinking mud, which would have made landing impossible. It was frustrating but we took the decision to turn back. Just as we turned, some of the crew thought they could see the shape of the U-boat jutting out in the distance.
We rowed past Dead Man’s Island in the direction of Queenborough. It was 12:00 and time to eat. Queenborough was like a ghost town. There was an eerie stillness to the place without even the pubs showing signs of life. We eventually found a place, which was just opening, where we ate heartily.
At 13:30 we decided to leave. The tide was changing and already starting to rush in. We rowed out from Queenborough, past the old Martello tower, which had once guarded the Medway, and into the Estuary. This time we could feel the water to a much greater extent with waves pummelling the side of the gig. With the tide rushing in, it was creating friction at the confluence of the Thames and Medway rivers.
Making our way back home, we passed the mid Swatch buoy and the West Nore Buoy before reaching Sea Reach No 6. Out in the estuary, the wind had picked up and each of us struggled to catch the water with our blades.
London VTS gave us permission to cross the shipping channel and we headed towards West Leigh Middle buoy. This marked the outer edge of the shipping channel. It also signalled that we were safe. It was only a short tug back to our base at Two Tree, where we could reflect on a journey that had been 25 miles in length and characterised by good cheer and good company.
On a very wet and windy News Year Day the crew of Dauntless, Tony Peck, Simon Roberts, Stuart Budds, Stewart Taylor and David Large took on Gigs from Brightlingsea and Maldon Gig Clubs. The Gig course was amended due to conditions and changed again once we were underway as these deteriorated somewhat whilst we were rowing hard. From the start Dauntless moved into the lead from the first Buoy and never looked back, the crew completed the course and came in a convincing first place winning the Trophy. The picture shows Cox David receiving the trophy, surrounded by the crew.
The ladies in Renown, Dodi Oriordan, Laura Panter, Gabrielle Budds and Jackie Jackson Smith completed the “Short course” as did Ron Sverdloff who came second in the men’s singles, the winner being some 35+ years younger than Ron! A fantastic day for all concerned and another “Win” for LTRC.
Saturday 14th December 23 Rowers took part in the Carrow Cup, this was an early start for some about 05.00!!
A long day ahead we set off, minibus, two land rovers and trailers to Norwich, The performance of the club was fantastic, awesome and more! We took a clean sweep of the first four positions, I did speak to a Langston Cutter crew member who said they targeted this race to win, but were in awe of us, our speed and how we rowed, so a truly big well done to all rowers and coxes.
Picture of the fastest crew winning the Bi Centennial Carrow Cup
Left to Right, Nick Faux,Chris Maddison, Jeremy Martin,Julian Harrison (cox) and Mark Futcher
Vanessa Bradford, Emma Willey (cox), Laura Dunmow, Gerry White, Andy Newnham, in Spirit of Dunkirk , Time 17.33, 2nd PLace and fastest Mixed crew
Tony Peck, David Large, Stewart Taylor, Simon Roberts (cox), Norman Cooke, in Proud Mary time 18.26, 3rd Fastest
Stuart Budds, Phil Reid, Pierre Therrien, Ron Sverdloff (cox) in Renown, Time 21.51
Gabrielle Budds, EJ Burley, Nathalie Martin, Dodie Oriordan (cox) in Leigh Ho, Time 19.01, Fastest Ladies, 4th PLace
Chris Maddison, Julian Harrison (cox), Nick Faux, Jeremy Martin, Mark Futcher in Dauntless Time 17.29, Fastest Mens
Note times are after Handicaps applied
Thursday 12th December, saw the club meet for its normal social evening , the second Thursday of each month. A number of members rallied round and put on an impressive buffet, and all had time to nibble and chat! Happy Christmas and see you in January.
A challenging and disastrous start! Originally billed as the River Nene Part 2 from Fotheringay Castle to The Wash, this had to be changed due to unscheduled lock closures on this section. So with eight intrepid oarsmen and women in the original line-up for the twenty or so mile adventure row we ended up with only five. Pierre had sustained leg injuries following our recent pageant - that of hauling three gigs through Leigh-on-sea for the Christmas lights switch on parade, Dave Allan had a sprained wrist - due to too much competitive rowing he tells me!?? Also one of our new girls couldn't make it (fear of the unknown?). However the remaining five - Alan Sealey, alias ‘Grandad’ who really couldn't walk without the aid of a stick, myself with a streaming cold, Linda with a bad back, Jackie who never knows the front of the boat from the back and Steve who always rows in fancy dress - breezed unannounced into the Bedford rowing club. We were directed to the Captain, Mike, who couldn't have been more helpful to our motley crew. Whilst moving our cars about in order to be available at the finish, the girls made use of the bar.
We launched our two small 14 foot skiffs, Scout and Mallard, from alongside their low level landing stage. Our gunwhales were flush with the jetty and the bow and stern pinched in firmly in order to embark 'Grandad' and his walking stick safely. What a challenge! Standing supported by his stick and facing Scout he leaned over and placed his stick into the centre of Scout and tried to board. It was obvious that he was about to pole vault himself over Scout and into the tide! Realising his severe limitations we quickly helped him back upright. Plan B: Alan then laid down on the side of the jetty and clumsily rolled into the bilge of the boat. Great - so far so good - he had finally embarked in some ungainly manner - much to the amusement of passers-by and those overlooking from the members' gallery. However the encore was yet to come. He rolled upright in the bottom of the boat and then with great effort heaved himself backwards up onto the seat but overshot and fell backwards into the bow with his legs in the air. There were guffaws of laughter all round - never mind Grandad it wouldn't be the same without you!
The rest of our crew dressed in bright orange club colours, except Steve who prefers to row in his dinner jacket ready for the next pub lounge, boarded the boat. Finally in a fitting manner we managed to get underway, much to the amazement of several eights as they glided effortlessly past us with their well-oiled pretty ballerina crews. Almost immediately we came across our first guillotine lock, passing through in about 15 minutes, then continuing down this beautiful river for about two hours in glorious late autumn sunshine. However this sunshine also highlighted all the shredded plastic bags hanging from the branches adorning them for many miles following the recent flooding of the river - shame on you Bedford (photos available). We decided to hove to for the night at the Anchor pub by Great Barford bridge and ‘oil’ ourselves at the bar.
After a comfortable overnight stay at a Travel Lodge we started on the next stage of our rowing to Huntingdon. It was a frosty start and we were lucky again with the late autumn sunshine. We passed through several locks until we arrived at St Neots where we found another convenient riverside pub, The Bridge, where we settled ourselves suitably in the bar for our Sunday roast. Not wanting to leave, we thought we would lose the light if we didn't, so off we went. The light started to fade - too quickly - until looking for our final disembarkation point a few miles short of Huntingdon we ended up rowing in pitch blackness- much to the horror of Jackie and Linda who had never experienced rowing in the dark before!
After 21 miles, tired but happy, another great adventure had been achieved and we headed home for X Factor and a hot bath!
Thank you again LTRC!
Yes it all started on 26th October 2013, when Ron and his eight fellow adventure rowers set out towing a triple decker trailer “Tyson”, with two gigs bound for Totness, Devon.
We arrived about lunch time and, after a quick bite to eat, we eagerly set off bound for Dartmouth in high spirits. Totnes Rowing Club had obliged us with parking for our van and trailer – thank you! We will return the favour when you return to Leigh-on-sea next year for the great Southend Pier Race?
Launching from Steamer Quay and with the ebb tide underneath us and the sun on us, we kicked up a good pace. As ”Dauntless” and “Leigh-Ho” sped down this stunningly beautiful river it wasn't long before we felt a presence, sure enough we weren't alone, suddenly a darkish head swept past us in the water and then another...seals are very inquisitive!
As the light started to fade we felt it prudent to come ashore at the enchanting Greenway Quay (Agatha Christie’s summer home) to find our Torquay hotel. There we were given a very warm welcome from Chris the owner. After unpacking it was off to – you guessed it – Wetherspoons, for a well-earned dinner. The following morning we took the steam train from Paignton to Greenway Halt. After an extremely picturesque walk to Greenway Quay we re-launched our boats and rowed across the river to the quaint riverside pub, the “Ferry Boat Inn” (FBI). As we entered this little stone built pub it immediately arrested our attention with fascinating items e.g. walls papered with pages of 1930's women’s magazines. One item read from the 'Lard Information Council', under a photo of a large healthy family - “they are happy because they eat lard”
They also had a swear box on the bar, if your mobile phone was used you had to pay the penalty (no exceptions – proceeds went to charity). We continued our row down to Dartmouth where they had a food festival running, it had our full support – no need for a lunch now! It was then back to the boats for a row over to Kingswear, where we searched for a suitable mooring, this unfortunately involved getting in the river creek, getting in up to our knees in glorious mud, whereupon wallowing we were joined by three locals who helped us get our boats on to the trailer.
Monday we reluctantly decided to take the day off as the forecast was for a hurricane and so we took the steam railway from Paignton to Kingswear and the ferry across to Dartmouth for lunch and returned by train to Paignton.
Tuesday saw us drive to Newton Abbott to launch our boats for a row down the river Teign to Shaldon, stopping for lunch at a riverside pub.
While there, a man rushed into the pub asking for help as two young boys had capsized their dinghy and were in danger.
Six of us rushed down and launched “Dauntless” and rowed about a mile where we found the dinghy tied to a buoy. The boys were nowhere to be seen, but another boat was nearby. We asked for their help in the search, but then saw a rescue launch coming towards us with the boys on-board. Relieved we rowed back to finish our lunch and then onward to Shaldon where the three drivers had to catch the ferry across the river to Teignmouth in order to catch the bus back to Newton Abbot to the trailer etc. We arrived in Shaldon in the dark, manoeuvring “Tyson” through the small back streets – which was a bit of a nightmare. Thanks to Ron we got there in the end and all was well.
Wednesday saw us drive to Starcross, on the River Exe, launch the boats and row across to Exmouth. Dave having told everyone he knew a good skipper down here for sea fishing, was surprised to see the skipper on the harbour entrance. A quick reunion was had after 16 years (not sure who was most shocked). We sent off to moor at Starcross Yacht Club. The last day saw us launch from Starcross and row to Topsham after stopping Lympstone for a beer and then drive home.
Once again this could not have happened without Ron's considerable knowledge of tides and effort in researching tides and the areas, so that a very good time was had by all.
On a good tide and in fine weather two crews travelled to the Mulberry Pier, just off Thorpe Bay. The crews were Chris Maddison, Andy Newnham, Sue Adler, Mark Bradford, Tony Weed, Stuart Taylor, Geoff Lawrence-Smith, Emma Willey, Adam Hall and Tony Peck.
The Mulberry Harbour wreck is also part of the Mulberry Harbour - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulberry_harbour . We have found out that one of the clubs members, Pat Woodbury's mum helped in there construction!
Another sight worth mentioning was the seal colony, which today had three pups, and over twelve juveniles and adult common seals and one massive grey seal.
This sighting was reported to the Zoological Society of London Thames Marine Mammal Survey.
On the way to the Mulberry Harbour
This years race was the events biggest and best yet. 340 boats took part and the event also formed part of this years Mayor of Londons Thames Festival ensuring ten of thousands of spectators lined the embankments and bridges along the 21 mile route.
It would have taken a lot to better last years GRR but the club rallied together in amazing style and had an great day both on & off the water.
On the water we broke so many club records. We entered 5 boats, more than we've ever managed in previous years and all 5 crews performed magnificently.
The Ladies crew in Spirit of Dunkirk under the guidance of Pat Woodbury & Natalie Martin rowed an amazing race in their first GRR together and with the experience gained this year we can expect even bigger & better things from them next year.
The two mens gigs crews both did tremendously well. Proud Mary is admittedly the heaviest & slowest of our gigs and yet under the experienced captaincy of Alan Lissamore is achieved a finishing time & position that many a lighter & faster gig crew would be proud of.
The crew of Dauntless captained by Mark Whalley rowed a very strong race achieving our fastest ever time for a gig crew and for the first time one of our Hanningfield Gigs pushed the top Celtic Longboats close.
Although our fastest times may have been made by our gig crews the best results were achieved by our two skiff crews.
Renown led by Ron Sverdloff achieved 2nd place in the Veterans over 60 class. A tremendous result considering they had been handed a severe handicap by the race organisers and were sculling with our worst set of oars !
Leigh Ho under the leadership of Jeremy Martin achieved the clubs best ever result in the GRR being 4th boat across the finish line and finishing 2nd in the Veterans over 40 class and retained the trophy for first Thames Based Skiff, making Lower Thames the first club to ever win the title 4 times !
As last year the club was as successful off the water as it was on it and the rowers and their supporters thoroughly enjoyed the post race hospitality, we have many to thank for this but special praise must go out to Phil Reid, Stewart Taylor & Dodi O'Riordon for not letting anything stop them, not even protest marches that brought central London to a standstill or vehicle breakdowns, from supporting our rowers in their hour of need. On behalf of all the rowers I'd like to thank them and their helpers for making a top day extra special and yet another success for Lower Thames Rowing Club.
Crew : Mark Whalley, Craig Elliott, Nick Faux, Mark Futcher, Andy Newnham, Chris Maddison
Crew : Alan Lissamore, Pete Johnson, Gary Willis, Dean Petchey, Gary Fisher, Dave Large
Crew : Jeremy Martin, James Sloan, Gerry White, Pat O'Connor with passenger Ewan Sloan.
Crew : Pat Woodbury, Nathalie Martin, EJ Burley, Vanessa Bradford, Laura Dunmow, Emma Whiley
Crew : Ron Sverdloff, Pierre Therrin, Chris Green, Stuart Budds, Roger Grove
The inaugural Southend Pier Race took place on Sunday 25th August. After monsoon conditions on the Saturday, fine weather blessed the event. The course of the race stretched from Two Tree Island in Leigh to Southend Pier and then back to Old Leigh – a course eight miles in length. Seven teams from across the region participated in the race, underlining the growing popularity of coastal gig rowing. Racing teams came from Rowhedge, Manningtree, Brightlingsea, Heybridge, Benfleet and Leigh in Essex and from Queenborough in Kent. Across each of the competing teams there was a wide range of ages and abilities.
Two main classes of boat participated in the race: gigs and sliding seat coastal boats. Gigs are fixed seat rowing boats, which are more robust than sliding seat coastal boats in tough sea conditions. The advantage sliding seat boats have over traditional gigs is that they can move faster through the water under the right conditions.
It was not surprising that the boat, which won the race, was a sliding seat coastal boat from Benfleet Yacht Club. Benfleet won the race with an admirable time of one hour and fifteen minutes. In the gig class, Rowhedge beat the competition with a winning time of one hour and twenty-one minutes. This was an excellent performance from a rowing club that was founded just one year ago.
The name of Rowhedge’s gig was Aquiline. This name comes from an old smack, reputed to be a pirate ship from the area. Perhaps the most interesting boat name belonged to Queenborough club. They named their gig Sexburga after Kent’s first Saxon queen. The crew of five also brought with them two passengers – two Jack Russell terriers named Tina and Cilla – who accompany them on all their races.
One of the challenges that all rowers had to face on Sunday was the strength of the wind, which whipped up the sea. This meant that more than one team had to divert their attention from the race to baling out their boat.
All competitors enjoyed the race. It would not have been possible without the support of the yacht clubs and fishermen of Leigh, who provided support boats to ensure that the competition could take place in a safe environment. The Lower Thames Rowing Club looks forward to the opportunity next year to win back the new trophy they presented to Benfleet on Sunday.
Rowhedge Rowing Club, Aquiline: 1 hour and 21 minutes
Lower Thames Rowing Club, Dauntless: 1 hour and 22 minutes and 55 seconds
Brightlingsea Rowing Club, Vanduara: 1 hour 29 minutes and 29 seconds
Lower Thames Rowing Club, Proud Mary: 1 hour and 34 minutes
Queenborough Rowing Club, Sexburga: 1 hour and 42 minutes and 47 seconds
Manningtree Rowing Club, Myrto: 2 hours and 5 minutes
Lower Thames Rowing Club, Renown: 2 hours and 17 minutes and 1 second
Lower Thames Rowing Club, Leigh Ho: 1 hour and 22 minutes and 32 seconds
Lower Thames Rowing Club, Spirit of Dunkirk: 1 hour and 48 minutes and 2 seconds
Blackwater Rowers, Grace: 2 hours and 14 minutes and 17 seconds
Benfleet Yacht Club, 124: 1 hour and 14 minutes and 45 seconds
LTRC took part in the annual Round Canvey Race, all crews did well with Dauntless crew winning in 2 hours and 19 minutes. Crews were:
DAUNTLESS Andy Newnham Nick Faux Mark Whalley (captain) Craig Elliott Chris Maddison (with time of 2 hours and 19 minutes)
LEIGH HO (two oars) Pat O'Connor (captain) Ewan Sloan James Sloan (time unknown)
SINGLE SCULL Jeremy Martin (time unknown)
PROUD MARY Alan Lissamore (captain) Norman Cooke Gary Willis Gary Fisher Simon Roberts (time unknown)
RENOWN (triple scull) Pat Woodbury (captain) Laura Dunmow Emma Whiley Dodi O'Riordon (with time of 2 hours, 41 mins and 59 seconds)
SPIRIT OF DUNKIRK Ron Sverdloff (captain) Linda Nawrat Sue Alder Pierre Therrin Roger Grove(time unknown)
Steve Gardiner, Simon Roberts, Alan Sealey, Ron Sverdloff, Tom Vaughan rowed across the Thames Estuary from Old Leigh to Queenborough in Kent. What did they do when they reached land? They went to the pub for a pint of beer of course. There they were joined by the Queenborough Rowing Club, which extended a warm welcome to the LTRC. It was an excellent day.
Saturday 13th April saw LTRC return to Brightlingsea to defend the trophy won last year, the club entered a number of crews, in the various categories and came home triumphant.
The Mens crew, Pete Johnson, Phil Reid, Jeremy Martin (captain), Dean Petchey and Gary Willis, was the fastest Gig again, in a time of 44:30 in Spirit of Dunkirk.
The Mixed crew, Nathalie Martin, Pat Woodbury, Dave Large (captain) Stuart Budds and Gary Fisher, were the fastest Mixed crew in 49:34
All other crews did well and enjoyed their day, more information can be found on the Brightlingsea website, here
Saturday 15th December, 199th running of the Carrow Cup, organised by Norwich Rowing Club & Norfolk Skiff Club, an approx 3km race through the centre of Norwich and thought to be the oldest rowing race in the world.
In the traditional section the club entered 5 boats. Spirit of Dunkirk crewed by Alan Lissamore, Pete Johnson, Phil Reid, Tony Peck & Emma Whiley won the race overall in a time of 19:01.
Dauntless finished in 2nd place in the overall race but also finished first in the mixed sex class, crewed by Pat O'Connor, Naomi White, Gerry White, EJ Burley & Andy Newnham.
Renown won the Skulled boat class manned by Norman, Pierre, Jim Skinner & Dave Allen.
The LTRC crews performed well at this annual event. We entered two men's Gig crews and a women's Skiff crew. Due to new rules for the event they all had to race in the same overall 'coxed crews' division. The first men's crew of Ron Sverdloff, Jeremy Martin, Gerry White, Pat O'Connonr and Damien Errington were comfortable winners of the event. The second men's crew came in third, which was a good result considering the lack of experience of some of the crew members. The women's crew also finished well up the field.
The first official LTRC regatta was held today with visiting teams from Queenborough and Gravesend. We were blessed with incredible weather for the time of year. We had a variety of events in different boat types, including a relay race that involved depositing passengers on Two Tree Island and the rotating them with others. On such a lovely day we had to compete for water space with a whole range of other activities but, despite the chaos, a good time was had by all. Many thanks to Ron Sverdloff and the LTRC membership for pulling it off. Hopefully this will be the start of a new tradition.
Another successful day in London. Renown came 13th overall and the crew of Damien Errington, Patrick O`Riordan, Alex Persin, Steve Hickman and Jeremy Martin retained the trophy for the fastest Thames Skiff. The crew was only 9 minutes behind overall winner and it was a shame that we had our handicap bumped up from 20 minutes to 30 minutes, as a result of carrying an extra rower, or we would have won the whole thing!
Dauntless came in 59th – in an excellent time of 2 hours 44 – well done to Pete Johnson, Alan Lissamore, Gerry White, Dean Petchey, Garry Willis and Pat O`Connor – 14 minutes faster than last year’s crew – and probably our best ever result for a gig.
Leigh Ho was 67th – brilliant result for the veteran crew of Dave Allan, Ron Sverdloff, Phil Reid, Toby Norris and Keith Persin.
Another good day for the club: the crew of Ron Sverdloff, Dave Allan, Steve Gardiner and Toby Norris, rowing in Leigh-Ho, finished third overall and won the Multi-oar category. In the process they defeated local rivals from Blackwater Rowing Club who had won their category in 2009 and 2010.
This was the first outing of Leigh-Ho rigged in Randan configuration, which means that the four oars are shared out between three rowers. The stroke man and bow man have one oar each and the middle man has two oars. Anyway it seems to have worked well and bodes well for this team`s prospects in next week`s Great River Race.
Two LTRC crews participated in this new event organised by Benfleet Yacht Club and a great time was had by all - with both crews finishing well inside the previous club record despite the testing conditions. The Dauntless Gig crew or Alan Lissamore, Gerry White, Pete Johnson, Phil Reid, Dean Petchey and Gary Willis finished third overall, beaten only by two fine boats with sliding seats from Gravesend RC. Their time was 2 hours 28 minutes - 15 minutes inside the club record.
The Renown Skiff crew of Dave Allan, Damien Errington, Patrick O`Riordan, Steve Hickman and Jeremy Martin came in fifth in 2 hours 38 minutes.
Our brand new Gig, Spirit of Dunkirk, was launched at Leigh-on-Sea.
Our annual Estuary Challenge rowing competition was a great success. We were extremely happy that visiting crews arrived from Heybridge, Manningtree, Queenborough, and Gravesend. The Queenborough crew had rowed across the estuary from Kent in order to take part.
The weather was superb all day and an excellent BBQ was enjoyed by all in Ron`s courtyard by the Leigh seafront.
The rowing was of high quality and was enjoyed by large crowds of spectators. The long race consisted of two laps of a 2 mile circuit. The first boat to complete was the Lower Thames Men`s crew racing in the Renown Skiff, who finished well clear in a shade over twenty minutes with an excellent row to retain the skiff trophy for the club. In second place was the excellent Ladies` Crew from Gravesend - rowing in the LTRC Gig, Proud Mary, to win both the Ladies` trophy and the Fastest Gig trophy. Behind Gravesend there was a battle between two Clayton Skiffs from Manningtree and a beautiful Scarborough Gig from Queenborough, with various small skiffs from Heybridge and Lower Thames in close pursuit.
The final event of the day was the sprint race: contested over a single two-mile circuit. This was won by the Lower Thames Gig Crew in Proud Mary - largely crewed by relatively new members of the club showing great promise. Together they won the Silver Plate for the fastest Gig. The fastest Ladies`s crew was also from Lower Thames racing in Renown, and they also won the fastest skiff trophy.
Finally `The Ashes` trophy - which is contested whenever Lower Thames and Manningtree Gigs compete on each other`s home water - was retained by the LTRC men`s Gig.
Overall it was a great advertisement for Sea Rowing and we looking forward to hosting our next rowing regatta on 2nd October.
A very enjoyable day was spend by our three men`s crews. We were unable to match the speed of the two Gravesend crack men`s crews but it was a useful learning and training experience for our guys nonetheless.
Another successful racing day for the club teams at Manningtree. We won the overall title for the third year running with Gig Proud Mary. But Renown was snapping at their heels all the way - now rigged as a triple skiff with six oars. Two other LTRC crews took part in very challenging conditions. Congratulations to all who participated in an enjoyable expedition.
We look forward to the Manningtree crews coming over to race in our own Estuary Challenge on 31st July.
Ten club members rowed over to Kent on the evening tide: encountering a thunder storm en route. They pitched their tents on the far side, made a good fire, and got some sleep before rowing back in the morning. A great time was had by all.
A lively club meeting was held at the Ship in Leigh with the majority of club members present. Everyone present was asked to give his or her personal views on recent issues in the club and plans for the future. In the end a consensus was reached by all to work together on a five year plan to develop both the Gig rowing side of the club and also competitive racing in sliding seat craft focused on the purchase of new boats.
The club sent four crews to participate in the 28 mile row from Hampton Court to Greenwich alongside the Queen`s barge, rowed by Queen`s Watermen. A great day was had by all and we hope to follow up by particpating in the Queen`s Diamond Jubilee Pageant next year.
Defeated by the wind on the the final leg of the Source or the Severn to the Thames Estuary. Defeated! not on your life.
The spirits are still high and this was simply a hiccup - hopefully to be completed on the next available weekend to Benfleet.
Day 1: Launched at Sonning on the Thames and rowed to Maidenhead 21 miles, passing through the famous rowing centre, Henley.
Day 2: Arrived early at boats mooring to find one of our Gigs submerged to the horror of the team! Vandalised - eight holes in the bottom. The day was saved by Mark Stanley, Stanley and Thomas boatbuilders, Tom Jones boatyard, Romney Lock, Windsor, whose team was on standby following a report from the lock keeper. Temporary repairs by Ken Brown using twigs from a bush held firm for several hours. We ended up at Staines where we stopped at the Swan pub along the river bank and had a wonderful banquet.
Day 3: Staines to Kingston against the driving easterly wind.
Day 4: Kingston to Brentford. We experienced the first rollers to save going through the locks. Good pubs were found on this and every day.
Day 5: Due to the inclement weather we decided to take the Grand Union and Regents` Canal to Limehouse through London.
However the locks were short of water and we were forced to return to Brentford on the Thames.
We met so many wonderful people - waterfolk. If the whole world was like that it would be a happy place. The camaraderie experience was something to be cherished.
On Sunday March 20th an LTRC crew consisting of Ken Brown, Tom Vaughan, Lisa Hearne, Phil Read, Roger Grove and Jeremy Martin rowed around Canvey Island (starting from our Dauntless base). The time of 2 hours and 43 minutes is a new club record. The first hour was rowed against a very strong tide so this was a good effort.
Then on Saturday April 2nd a crew of Ken Brown, Lisa Hearn, Sheila McGhee, Phil Reid, and young Tom rowed up to Pitsea and back from Dauntless in 3 hours - the first LTRC crew to do this. Crew member Sheila reports ``It was a calm day, we rowed to the pitsea car overpass and to the end there is a grilled gate on which we put a cable black tie. We suggest the next crew that does this row puts a tie on the end to show they made it to the same place, bit of fun.
You need to stay in the middle that is where the channel is, as stated on a big sign. Also at one stage there a few boats all moored in the middle and easily passable.
Really enjoyable row, nicely sheltered, you have to time the tides and turn just after high tide to make it back, if you left it too long, think you may struggle but we had plenty of water to get back, at the end plenty of reeds and quite windy so really good coxing training on when to turn the boat and direct your crews. We did a steady pace and on the way back 10 green bottles a few times, lots of racing starts and a few stop starts and turning the boats etc. So less than 3 hours is easily achievable if you want to row harder.``
A successful day for LTRC with four wins: Fastest Men`s Crew (Jim Skinner, Jeremy Martin, Keith Persin, Steve Gardiner and Chris Green), Fastest Women`s Crew (Julie Ketley, Pat Woodbury, Nathalie Martin, Lindsey Gilbert and Shirley Gibson), Fastest Men`s Pair (Colin Window and Phil Reid), Fastest Coxed Pair (Jackie Jackson-Smith, Ken Paice and Melanie Tanner). Ron Sverdloff and Pierre Thierrion also rowed in the Men`s singles event with Ron coming a very close second despite getting significantly delayed at the start.
Eight teams of five rowers battled for supremacy in the inauguaral LTRC team challenge. There were two teams from Gravesend RC, one from Holbrook Creek RC, three from LTRC and a couple of composite crews.
The race format was as follows: each race was conducted over a sprint course in three legs: Dinghy (two scullers per boat), Skiff (two scullers plus cox) and Gig (four rowers plus cox).
The conditions were bitterly cold and the races were very tight, in some cases settled by margins of one or two feet only.
In fading conditions the last race of the day was the final between LTRC and LTRC/Gravesend composite, the verdict going to the LTRC crew by just over one length. So from the LTRC point of view dignity was preserved, rowing in our boats on our river we came out on top in the end, despite some very impressive rowing from our visitiors who quickly adapted to rowing in our range of boats.
Following the racing we adjourned to the comfort of the Gladys Barge for fish and chips, liquid refreshements, and Karaoke.
There were some unexpected talents revealed as the Karaoke progressed, and nobody who witnessed Jim Skinner`s rendition of Teenage Kicks will surely ever forget it. The ladies and gentleman from Gravesend also gave some splendid performances. At the end of the night the glory went to Lindsey, who was representing Gravesend as an honorary member.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable event and it was great to see a proper rowing regatta take place on our creek.
Eighteen club members spent a great day at Gravesend Rowing Club taking part in a scratch regatta using Watermen`s Cutters loaned by the Port of London Authority.
The LTRC squad came home with silverware from the twenty-two mile Great River Race in London with all four crews performing well.
The men`s skiff crew, rowing in Renown, consisting of Alan Lissamore, Stephen Hickman, Matt Welbourne and Jeremy Martin, finished 8th overall out of the international field of 330, and took home the Thames Skiff trophy.
The women`s skiff crew, in Leigh Ho, came 48th and was the second fastest women`s crew overall. Congratulations to Penny Jones, Pat Woodbury, Lindsey Gilbert and Lisa Hearn!
The veteran men`s gig crew, Gary Fisher, Chris Green, Steve Gardiner, Damien Errington, ``Barnacle`` Phil Reid and Keith Persin, rowed strongly to finish 94th and improved by 6 places on last year`s finish. (Note that there were many more entries this year.)
The mixed crew rowed well and managed to finish in the middle of the field in 193rd place. Well done Sheila McGhee, Amy Green, Chrissie Wilmott, Ron Sverdloff, Ken Paice, and Jim Skinner.
Members of the club were also to be seen racing in Keith Webster`s crew (for Benfleet Yacht Club) rowing in Keith`s brand new Randan-rigged boat. They put in a strong top 40 performance despite suffering from an injury to the crew during the race.
Finally a huge thank you to our support crew of Colin and Lindsey, and to all our supporters who travelled to watch the race.
LTRC entered two crews, both of which came second in their respective classes. Steve Gardiner raced in men`s singles and
Dennis Hill and Ron Sverdoff, with a combined age of one hundred and forty seven, raced in men`s veterans.
This is an advanced notice that we will be holding our annual Trafalgar celebration in the Leigh Sailing Club on 23rd
October. The Grand Reunion Band will be providing musical entertainment.
Tickets will be available soon from committee members at £19.50 each. The ticket price includes dinner and a drink.
Please book your places early, for club members and their guests, to avoid disappointment as we are limited to 60 on the night.
Club members rowed many miles down the fast flowing lower reaches of the Severn over the weekend in three craft, including a continuous seven hour row on the Sunday.
A gallant rescue was carried out by Shirley Gibson, Steve Gardiner, Ken Pace and new member, Martin, at 4pm Sat 31st July.
The crew had just rowed under the Pier and back and were about 500 yds past the Dragons Head at Leigh heading towards Canvey when they noticed a catamaran had turned on its side and the guy hanging on was giving the distress signal. They rowed hard towards him and as they got within 300yds he shouted to keep going as his friend had fallen in and was being taken out by the current.
The crew rowed on fast, scanning the water, and about quarter mile from the cat they saw a head bobbing up and down. They came in on starboard side and, remembering the man over board procedure, rolled him into the boat.
The crew took the young man to The Canvey Island Yacht Club and returned him to his family. The famous Renown that went to Dunkirk in the war and got blown up as served again in the form of our little skiff and saved a young man being washed over to Kent and quite possibly from losing his head by a Jet-ski or motor boat.
The Fishing festival produced a first class turnout of members & boats.
We had three visiting boats from Stour Sailing club at Manningtree; these are four oared Clayton skiffs & were part of the fleet that used to race on the East coast. With our Two Gigs & two Skiffs a superb spectacle was provided. The sun shone, the sea sparkled & the power boats didn’t get in the way
The second leg looked quite exciting from where the race officers were standing as an Essex yacht club dinghy race neatly intercepted the Gigs & Skiffs at full speed, fortunately the sailing boats decided to give way which was nice of them, I bet there were a few moans round the Essex Yacht club bar later though!
Results & times are as follows.
Estuary Challenge Plate, long race approx 2 miles.
1st Dauntless LTRC 32m 0s
2nd Lt Washington SSC 34m 15s
3rd Proud Mary LTRC ladies 35m 05s
4th Leigh Ho LTRC 37m 40s
5th Myrto SSC ladies 37m 49s
6th Witchoar SSC 37m 50s
7th Renown LTRC 41m 45s
Winner of the Estuary Challenge cup for the 1st Skiff was Leigh Ho.
The Second race was the Estuary Challenge Sprint (Binnacle trophy) approx 1 mile.
(Mostly different crews).
1st Dauntless LTRC 16m 50s
2nd Lt Washington SSC 18m 10s
3rd Proud Mary LTRC 18m 22s
4th Myrto SSC ladies 20m 24s
5th Renown LTRC 20m 31s
6th Leigh Ho LTRC 21m 50s
The club entered four crews for this race. A tough race ensued in windy and rough conditions resulting in overall victory
to our men`s gig, defending champions from 2009. The other LTRC crews performed well and enjoyed the experience.
Ten members of Lower Thames RC spent a hugely enjoyable day competing in the Gravesend Regatta. This event is the oldest regatta in the country, dating back to 1846, with evidence of rowing competitions going on for several centuries before that.
We competed in five events: Mixed, Men`s Club, Men`s Veterans, Men`s Newcomers and Women`s Newcomers (in a composite crew with Gravesend) using boats supplied by the Gravesend club. There were some pretty interesting race ``tactics`` going on from our wily opposition which meant that we needed to be on our toes at all times not to miss a trick. Also it was clear that the technique for rowing the Gravesend skiffs is a little different from what is required for our boats, but we made steady progress on this front throughout the day.
We secured a close second place in Men`s Club, and were also second on Veterans and Men`s Newcomers. Unfortunately the only opposition for the Women`s newcomers had scratched making them winners by default. However an exhibition match was organised against a hastily put-together men`s team and, very impressively, the women won, giving credibility to their status as champions.
This was the first time that our club had attended the Gravesend Regatta and it was very much enjoyed by all. I am sure we will be back again in the future.
Seven club crews competed in an eight mile race, starting at Dauntless Boatyard, around Two-Tree Island and Back. The winning crew was Penny and Janet with a great time of one hour and 24 minutes. The fastest fixed-seat pair prize went to Dave and Cathy who completed the course in an excellent one hour and forty-two minutes.
10 into Severn Does Go ... !!
And the common denominator ....? Wroxeter roman city, the Iron Bridge, forecast of the worst storm in 30 years, a barbecue, country pubs, mud banks and turbulent weirs ... No, it is 10 rowers from the Lower Thames Rowing Club . and yes, we took on 50 miles of the mighty River Severn – from the Welsh foothills to the town of Bridgenorth in Shropshire- in a fleet of four little boats.
The adventure started on a miserable wet February morning – before dawn. Leaving Benfleet at 5.45am. Colin Windows took his luxury seven seater people carrier full of passengers and with Mallard (one of our small skiffs) strapped to the roof.
I took the Scooter Club van with the remaining three of us and trailer in tow with the other three craft. We all met on the M1 at the Northampton services for a coffee stop and, although being ripped off, we left in high spirits. We arrived, not without incident, at the Wingfield Arms pub about 10.00am to an unbelievable reception. Finding this little gem in the sleepy village of Montford Bridge on the upper reaches of the River Severn, this is where our adventure really started! Colin and I drove to the hotel in Shrewsbury with both vehicles, this is where we intended to try to row to on our first day (approximately 17 miles) not knowing what challenges were afoot. The others stayed behind to launch the boats with our flasks and rations for the day. On returning in Colin’s car, we found everyone in the pub enjoying a lovely brunch, whilst the landlord was busy manufacturing a pair of new stretchers that had been missing from the boats. What a great service – considering that the pub wasn’t even officially open!
The next challenge was launching the boats - and retrieving Dave Allen who had slipped waist level into the water – fortunately he was wearing totally waterproof angling trousers up to his chest... Did Dave know something that we didn’t? We all managed to get underway to a bright day – with no rain.
The row to Shrewsbury proved very interesting – with quite a fast flowing current with many obstacles – such as overhanging tree branches and shoals and a weir to be avoided. After arriving in the historic town of Shrewsbury we pulled up alongside the quay about 100 yards before the fast flowing weir. With a strong current under us we grappled with the smooth concrete sides of the footpath in order to prevent ourselves from riding the surf .. This was achieved with no more than 50 yards to go before the weir .... otherwise it would have been a case of Indiana Jones! I thought that Ken Brown was actually going to go for it ... but he didn’t (thank God!)
Whilst I drove Colin back for his car, the others pulled the boats from the river ready to load onto the trailer to take to our hotel nearby. We soon christened the hotel with clods of mud .. and we decided that we wanted a pub for the evening meal. We found a pub 10 minutes walk away where we took on plenty of solid and liquid nourishment to prepare for the next day’s marathon - of 22 twisting miles.
After breakfast we re-launched our boats on the downside of the weir, having collected our charcoals and spuds from the local Tesco’s. On this next leg there were a few more shoals with fast flowing water pushing the boats onto them. Ken Brown’s boat and also Shirley Gibson and Steve Gardner’s boat fetched up on these. Ken managed to get off and then returned to help Steve and Shirley.
Damion Errington, who could not start with us on Friday, met us at Atcham Bridge just outside Shrewsbury town boundary. We all stopped there for a drink at the very, very, posh hotel bar – again leaving our muddy signature – and Ken Paice smashing his glass of beer on the floor of the crowded restaurant ( .. please come again!!)...
As we pushed off Dave took a liking to the water again ... leaving a long heel gauge in the muddy bank to hoots of laughter from all of us .. We rowed on passing Wroxeter roman city and on to the Cressage bridge where we stopped for our barbecue. Ken Brown must have thought that we were staying on forever as the size of the fire that he was building seemed endless. The jacket potatoes were placed in the embers and were literally cooked to a cinder allowing us to eat only the centres .. I tried to eat the whole potato – but that changed my complexion leaving my face covered in soot – much to everyone’s amusement. We stayed far too long – with the end of the day approaching and with only an hour and a half until dusk – and 7 miles still to go. Eventually we passed under the famous Iron Bridge to our first stretch of a little ruffled water running through the gorge. We all had a lot of fun – but it came to an end far too soon as we arrived at Coalport Youth Hostel where we disembarked – to enjoy a hot shower. At dinner we commandeered the main table in the youth hostel dining room with our exuberance overflowing – to the curiosity of the other guests sitting around us. It had been a long - but rewarding – day!
We spent Sunday morning, our final day, walking back along the old railway track from Coalport to Ironbridge viewing the remains of the first blast furnace and other remnants of the beginnings of the industrial revolution. So interesting!
We then launched at 12.30pm for our final leg to Bridgnorth – about 8 – 9 miles – arriving about 2.15pm. A great rowing weekend for all. Homeward bound – diverting only to a A5 transport cafe for our final Dan Dare meal. Home to Dauntless by 7.30pm.
Thank you to the crews – great companionship was shared with ..
And our guest – and potential member – young Billy
PS Fancy another adventure nearer home? Say 10/11 April? If you are interested contact me.