Lower Thames Rowing Club
Picture this - 2 boats, 12 rowers, a caravan of love and matching orange headbands. What a way for LTRC to enter a 40 mile race!
The IOS Round the Isle race is a long established, long distance event which was originally designed to test the skills and endurance of dinghy/catamaran sailors over a 40 mile course (more like just over 30 miles as per the GPS we used!!). The race starts and finishes at Sheerness and is a clockwise circumnavigation of the island. Firstly by sea to Leysdown and around the NE tip of the Island, Shellness, and then into the Swale estuary. The Swale gradually narrows into the river, with the lifting road bridge at Kingsferry acting as an obstacle at its narrowest point. The course continues up the Swale, through the ancient port of Queenborough and into the mouth of the Medway, before finally rounding Garrison Point to the open sea and the short distance back to the Club. It is the longest dingy and board race in Europe, and 2014 was the first time since it began in 1959, that rowing boats and paddle boards were invited to participate. Only 2 rowing clubs actually participated...ourselves with 2 boats and Queenborough with one.
Having monitored the weather forecast throughout the week leading up to the race, there were some minor doubts as to whether our gigs would actually be able to participate due to the predicted Force 6 winds. Thankfully, by the time we loaded the boats up on Thursday evening the forecast had eased and as such we were raring to go. 2 crew members made the sensible decision of camping on Sheppey the night before the race....everybody else had to get up at stupid o’clock to ensure they were at the yacht club for 07.00. So, with the birds yet to start singing, the Saaaarfend nightlife still making their way home from various discotheques, 10 people dressed in orange set off from Leigh at 05.30 in cars, trucks and the caravan of love.
After quickly prepping the boats for the race, Trafalgar and Dauntless hit the water at around 08.00. A westerly tail wind gusting around 19knots couple with an ebbing tide and rolling waves made the journey along the north coast of Sheppey great fun and fast although that soon changed into what would be one of the toughest rows our crews have done! The route took us round the far easterly point of the island and into the Swale....however before reaching the channel we had to get round a huge mud/sandbank which stretched out well over a mile. The water rapidly got very shallow....and very rough. Once both boats had gone out far enough (see the GPS map below) we made the turn and pointed the bows into the wind, tide and waves. The next few hours really tested the fitness, strength and spirit of all the crew as we rowed in what felt like treacle. As the river narrowed the waves eventually flattened out.....but by that stage the tide had turned and we had hit the point whereby it started to flood into the Swale from the Medway to the west of Sheppey. This meant we were rowing against the tide again, brilliant.
As the hours wore away Trafalgar carved out a significant lead over Dauntless and Phillipa, the Queenborough boat. However, this wasn’t long lived as they somehow managed to take a wrong turn which cost them a good 20 minutes as they had to back-track down the swale and away from the dead-end they had managed to find. By this stage Queenborough and Dauntless had both passed Trafalgar, but after a big effort from the guys and Dodi they were soon back in the lead. The race was on between the 2 leading boats....Queenborough had started a good 15/20 minutes behind Trafalgar so had a cushion of time to play with. Whilst two boats battled it out for a win, the Dauntless crew were perfecting their singing voices with renditions of some of the most varied and random songs known, and honing their memory skills by reciting a shopping list. Moral certainly didn’t dip in that boat....that was helped by two of the crew insisting on wearing orange headbands for the duration of the row
All 3 boats eventually crossed the finish line with Queenborough being declared winners by a mere 4 minutes (Dauntless 6 hours 55, Phillipa 6 hours 51). Well done to the Queenborough lads, great effort – especially as it was the first time they had rowed round their Island!
Getting the boats out of the water can only be described as organised chaos – 3 rowing boats, lots of dinghies and one slipway. Once Dauntless and Trafalgar were loaded onto their trolleys the two crews retired to the bar for a well earned beer or 3.
All in all a very enjoyable day, bring on 2015!
The inaugural Southend Pier Race took place on Sunday 24th August. Having done a great job arranging the first LTRC Pier Race in 2013, Simon Roberts dedicated many hours of his time on council applications, risk assessments and obtaining permission from various authorities in order to ensure that 2014 was even bigger and better. In true fashion, the weather over the Bank Holiday weekend was terrible....apart from the day of the race where we enjoyed clear sky, warm sunshine and calm seas....perfect conditions for racing in.
Organisation ran like a Swiss Railway.....perfect and on time. The Two Tree team did a great job setting everything up, logistics ensured that the boats were loaded and ready to be taken to the start line and Ron took charge of getting thing ready in the old town. The various teams and crews started to arrive from 09.30 onwards...luckily the portaloos had arrived at 09.00! In total 8 clubs from Essex and Kent plus as far away as Hayling Island attended the event, meaning there were 14 fixed seat gigs and 2 single sliding boats out on a the water. Once all teams were registered Simon and Alan gave a race/safety briefing, following which all of the boats launched from Two Tree and made their way over to the starting line at Bell Wharf.
At midday the starting siren went off....a mass movement of oars and clever coxing saw 16 boats head off in the direction of the Leigh Buoy. For a spectator it must have been an amazing sight....for the rowers it was intense but great fun. Mersea RC took an early lead in the single slider, followed by the Dauntless crew who were battling hard against the lads from Queenborough. Gradually Mersea stretched out their lead as did Dauntless over Phillipa. The course saw the boats round the Leigh Buoy (unfortunately at the same time as a dinghy race), head along the pier back towards the shoreline, round a racing buoy and sprint back to Bell Wharf in Old Leigh.
First over the finish line was Mersea Island Rowing club in their single sliding seat Light Boat, rowed by Reuben Frost in a time of 1 hour and 4 seconds. First Gig to finish was Dauntless of Lower Thames Rowing club, crewed by (pictured below) Andy Newnham, Nick Faux, Graham Biner, Stewart Taylor and Tony Weed in a time of 1 hour 3 minutes. Times for all boats are shown below.
Once all of the boats had passed the finish line they all headed back over to the slipway on Two Tree whereby the boats were swiftly loaded back onto their trailers and each rower given a well earned beer and burger. The crews were then ferried over to Leigh Sailing Club for the presentation...and a few cold beers in the bar.
It was a superb day - all crews put in a great effort and the event was supported well by friends, family and the public. There are a number of people to thank who, without them, the day wouldn’t have been such a success. Firstly, Simon Roberts – you did a superb job organising the event....we look forward to seeing what you can do next year! Big thanks to all the teams who made the journey to Leigh...especially Langstone Cutters who drove all the way up from Hayling island! And not forgetting Leigh Sailing club for allowing us to use their facilities, the safety boat providers, plus all the LTRC members who helped out on the day. Look forward to seeing you all in 2015!
1 – Lite Boat (Mersea Island RC) 1 hour 4 seconds
2 – Dauntless (Lower Thames RC) 1 hour 3 minutes
3 – Phillipa (Queenborough RC) 1 hour 6 minutes 34 seconds
4 – Aquilline (Rowhedge RC) 1 hour 7 minutes 38 seconds
5 – Mahalla (Mersea Island RC) 1 hour 7 minutes 38 seconds
6 – Lite Boat (Mersea Island RC) 1 hour 8 minutes 40 seconds
7 – Rozinante (Southend Coastal RC) 1 hour 8 minutes 59 seconds
8 – Bembridge (Langstone Cutters RC) 1 hour 9 minutes 47 seconds
9 – Vanduarra (Brightlingsea RC) 1 hour 10 minutes 49 seconds
10 – Spirit of Dunkirk (Lower Thames RC) 1 hour 17 minutes 43 seconds
11 – Proud Mary (Lower Thames RC) 1 hour 17 minutes 46 seconds
12 – Spirit of Trafalgar (Lower Thames RC) 1 hour 18 minutes 25 seconds
13 – Endeavour (South Woodham RC) 1 hour 22 minutes 16 seconds
14 – Velocity (Brightlingsea RC) 1 hour 22 minutes 57 seconds
15 – Witchoar (Manningtree RC) 1 hour 23 minutes 45 seconds
16 – Gerald (Lower Thames RC) 1 hour 56 minutes 32 seconds
The Winning LTRC Crew
More to follow but a number of Lower Thames Rowing Club rowed from Southend Pier to The Olympic Park, raising money for the Thames Iorn Works Trust
A more detailed story will appear here soon, but below is a picture of the route, 42 1/2 Miles, 9 and half hours rowing allowing for a brief stop at Thurrock Yacht Club, a great adventure!
Another well attended event by LTRC, entering 4 boats into the 6 or 7 mile race on the River Blackwater around Osea Island (nobody seemed to know the exact distance!). The course and race format was exactly the same as last year – start and finish at Stone Sailing Club with all classes setting off at the same time. Getting to that first turn before all other boats was key.....needless to say Trafalgar and Dauntless did exactly that with Renown and Leigh Ho hot on their tails. From the first buoy our Gigs started to build up a formidable lead, with the female crew in Dauntless (coxed by Andy ‘honorary girl’ Newnham) demonstrating some impressive rowing by sticking with Trafalgar for quite some time. Gradually Trafalgar started to pull away – the well oiled team had been thoroughly drilled by Jeremy prior to the race, with Nick & Tony practising 10 minute sprints at cox/stroke in readiness for the GRR. Tony managed to take a short video as Trafalgar passed round the North of Osea.....by this stage the race was all but won, it was just a matter of how quickly the crew could do it..... http://youtu.be/b3GP9mXTtt4
Final times for all 4 boats are shown below - Trafalgar came in 1st with a time just under an hour and the girls 2nd.....a mere 4 minutes behind. Renown and Leigh Ho closely followed, coming 1st and 3rd in the ‘Short Gig’ class. Yet another superb effort from all crews – well done to everyone.
Crews & times:
Spirit of Trafalgar – Jeremy Martin, Tony Peck, Nick Faux, Graham Biner, Stewart Taylor – 59 mins 5 seconds
Dauntless – Vanessa Bradford, Laura Dunmow, Paricia Woodbury, Dodi O’Riordan – 1h 3mins 13 seconds
Renown – Alan Lissamore, Gary Fisher, Simon Roberts, Adam Hall – 1h 8mins 45 seconds
Leigh Ho – Stuart Budds, Gabrielle Budds, Ali Enver, Mark Bradford – 1h 13mins 57 seconds
In true LTRC fashion, the boats were swiftly loaded onto Tyson under the expert supervision of Stewart, following which we all headed to the bar for a well earned cold beer or two. A presentation was held upstairs in the Yacht club whereby the crews of Trafalgar, Dauntless and Renown were recognised for their success. A request from the Commodore saw Nick have to give an impromptu acceptance speech, during which he thanked all those involved and cheekily suggested that we should have perhaps left the trophy (picture below) in the boot of the car.
Another great day for the club, thanks to all involved and huge thanks to Stewart for his organisation and managing to tow the boats there and back without losing one.
Crew – Dave Large, Nick Faux, Andy Newnham, Stewart Taylor, Simon Roberts, Chris Maddison (© The Destroyer).
Support – Laura Dunmow
Another early meet at Dauntless for the crew, however this time for a race well outside of the usual Essex/Suffolk waters! Our destination was Hayling Island – a mere 110 miles away in South Hampshire. Dave Large set off towing Trafalgar with Simon Roberts (Simon was in the truck with Dave, not in Trafalgar). Stewart set off with the others, although without the added weight of a boat it meant his journey would be much quicker...and also meant he could easily stop for a Maccy D’s breakfast which kept the children in the back quiet for at least 15 minutes (Andy & Nick).
We eventually arrived down at Hayling, unloaded the boat and prepared her for the race. The conditions were great, very light wind, clear sky and plenty of sunshine. A perfect setting for the orange “Essex Boys” to introduce themselves to the south coast clubs. The crew was set, Dave, Simon and Chris would in the 3 bow positions, Nick, Andy and Stewart would swap between Cox, Stroke and No 3.
Our category started at 12.20, the “other 4 oared boats”. Our lack of knowledge of the local waters became very apparent as the Solent Galleys and Cornish pilot gigs all opted to take a different route closer to the shore, and through all the moorings. Despite heading for the main channel whre we thought the water would be fast flowing, we lost quite a bit of time to the competition that had started 5 or 10 minutes behind us. Nevertheless, the crew pushed on, avoiding numerous craft out on the water and fighting hard against the tide as we passed their own Mulberry Harbour to the west of the Island. A big effort by the crew saw Trafalgar come in 3rd over the line and 5th on time. Official times are shown below.
Following the presentation and obligatory burger & beer we started the long journey home, albeit with a quick pit stop to stock up on a selection of finest M&S snacks to see us through.
A big thank you to Langstone Cutters Gig Club for putting on a great event. We are very much looking forward to the race next year – hopefully with a few more LTRC boats.
1 Tristan (Weymouth gig) 2h 13m 2s
2 Bembridge (Langstone galley) 2h 26m 3s
3 Isolde (Weymouth gig) 2 hours 31 mins and 3 secs
4 Pulpit Rock (Portland Ladies gig) 2h 34m 39s
5 Spirit of Trafalgar (Lower Thames RC skiff) 2h 36m
6 Sallyport (Langstone galley) 2h 36m 46s
7 Isis (Langstone gig) 2h 37m 22s
8 Peveril (Swanage gig) 2 hours 39 mins and 45 secs
9 Spirit of Langstone (Langstone Ladies gig) 2h 41m 46s
10 Albatross (Richmond Bridge BC skiff) 3h 17m 25s
11 Langstone Lady (Langstone Ladies galley) 3h 28m 41s
12 Gladys (Langstone Claydon) 3h 29m 39s
On June 14th 2014, a Lower Thames RC crew of Laura, Alan, Stewart, Norman and Tony travelled to Brightlingsea for the Rowhedge Regatta race. On the way a pigeon died very quickly!
After a warm welcome at Brighlingsea, the boats were launched and the small flotilla slowly rowed to the race starting line in Brightlingsea creek, across from Batemans Tower.
Following much jostling for start positions our boat 'Trafalgar' got onto the start line...with another boat backing down right in front of them. Seconds later the race horn sounded and the crews began rowing. Trafalgar, now almost directly behind another boat, took off on a flying start with Alan Lissamore setting a blistering stroke rate which saw our crew speed alongside the boat that had just been in front. The oars of each boat missing by some minor miracle. Trafalgar was now in second place. Up ahead the Maldon Harker's Yard gig, (which seemed to have somehow started ahead of the other crews!), lay between Trafalgar and an early lead. Each stroke brought our crew closer to Maldon's gig, but as Trafalgar approached, their gig tracked to port on a diagonal course, pushing Trafalgar off course as she began to pass. This was sufficient for a small sliding seat double to take the lead off to port. Norman's eyes were closed as usual at this point, as he concentrated on his rowing, with Stewart and Laura in bow, throwing huge puddles behind their oar strokes, still keeping pace with Alan's fast stroke race. Seven minutes into the race, the siding seat double was now three boat lengths ahead... but thirty meters behind the crew of Rowhedge's "Aquiline' were heard shouting as they began to make a move. Trafalgar's crew kept their nerve and maintained their stroke rate, and Aquiline slowly began to fall further behind. Fifteen minutes into the race, and now in a comfortable second place position, Alan and Tony quickly switched places. Passing a boat yard at Wivenhoe, a horn sounded as the first placed sliding seat boat passed by, and a few seconds later another horn sounded as Trafalgar passed. Unsure whether this was in fact the finishing line, both crews continued, which was lucky as it turned out that a cheeky bugger at the yacht club was messing around. Over the course of the raceTrafalgar opened up a wider lead over Aquiline, but also lost some ground to the first placed slider. The race finished at the very picturesque Rowhedge, in front of a large regatta crowd. Lower Thames RC were second overall, but picked up the trophy for the first placed four oared boat.
After the award ceremony, the crews of Brightlingsea's 'Velocity' and Trafalgar decided to switch boats for the row back to Brightlingsea. Four rowers from Lower Thames settled into the immaculate Velocity, as our cox from Brightlingsea steered us downriver towards the start line. All four Lower Thames Rowing Club rowers found the Harkers yard gig to be slightly tippier than our Hanningfield gigs, but beautiful and very seaworthy. However the combination of a lack of rowlocks to hold the oars, and the round shafted oars were very difficult to row with, especially with one overhand and one underhand grip, and our crew struggled to put any force into their strokes. Less than half way back to Brightlingsea, Trafalgar, coxed by Stewart, easily passed Velocity, despite being at least two hundred meters behind on leaving Rowhedge. The Brightlingsea crew obviously finding the transition to our boat set up easier than we found the transition to theirs. After loading up and chewing through a few Rollmops, our crew left Brightlingsea, with renewed respect for the crews of the Harkers Yard Gigs, who are able to row them with such ability and speed.
Five of us (Tony, Stewart, Gerald, Norman and Simon) left Queenborough in Kent to row to Shell Ness beach – the most easterly tip of the Isle of Sheppey that faces Whitstable. This was our first time along the Swale and it was an adventure for each of us. As we headed into the Swale, we tried to take advantage of the ebbing tide but the wind had whipped up the water into little peaks making it difficult to progress. After passing the industrial units that cluster round the island’s bridge, the landscape changed, reflecting a more rural feel to life. Undulating, low-lying countryside stretched out on both sides of the Swale. Two questions dogged our minds: what time it would take to get to Shell Ness beach and would we be able to haul the heavy gig up onto the beach. About sixteen miles into the journey, we passed Harty Ferry’s Inn; a grand country pub in the middle of the isle with a still usable slipway to coax passing mariners to the bar. We hurried on, glimpsing a short time later the yellow white sands of Shell Ness beach. We aimed the nose of the boat towards what looked like a hard sand surface. It was deceptive though, for as soon as we stepped down onto the mud, we could feel our feet sink into its black oozy form. With the idea of getting the boat up the beach to safety, we began to lighten her, by first moving the camping equipment. Stewart went first, followed by Tony, They quickly sank up to their knees. The only way to move across soft mud is to do so quickly, trying not to let your weight linger in any spot too long. Shells suggested firmness but it was an illusion. Although each of us finally made it to the hard area of the beach, the process exhausted us. We put down a small anchor and decided to wait until the tide would bring the gig in. We weren’t strong enough to mover her on our own in that mud.
This left the small job of setting up camp. Tony started the BBQ, while the rest of us combed the beach for driftwood. Our haul included wooden spade handles, fence posts, old drawers and sun-dried driftwood, almost white in colour. The sun came out and there was a perfect symmetry to the landscape. The yellow-white colour of the sand and shells formed a bottom layer to the scene; on top of this sat the blue of the sea, which formed a canvas for the passing sailing ships, followed by the dark green of the opposing shore. This landscape would provide endless fascination in the hours ahead, as we looked constantly to the sea. The only factor that would govern our movements for the rest of the night would be the tide. We set up camp on some firm ground behind the shell beach and started to cook. Stewart had prepared Jambalaya and finished off cooking it on a portable stove. We ate in silence, as we were all hungry; the only sounds the wind ruffling in our ears and the cries of oystercatchers and gulls.
As the water flooded in, one of us ran down to the gig to push her further up the mud-beach. Our legs once again sank in the black ooze, as we tried to pull the boat up. We also lengthened the bow line, so we could extend the reach of the anchor. We continued this exhausting process every fifteen minutes until finally at 22:00, we could lift the gig into the highest point of the beach. It meant we could finally go to sleep without worrying about the boat’s safety.
The next morning we rekindled the fire. Tony made breakfast and we began the wait for the tide to come back in. The wind was light and we knew we would benefit from the flooding tide. To get the boat in position, we pushed her down from the high point of the beach. It took effort to get her to move, but once she gained momentum, she dragged all of us in her wake. Before we left, we made sure that we left the campsite cleaner than we had found it.
We worked as a team to get the boat back to Queenborough, focusing on our timing and striving to make the gig go as fast as we could with only our effort to propel her. This trip was an adventurous one and one in which each one of us had their part to play
A warm and sunny Saturday on the coast in North Essex was the perfect setting for LTRC to yet again shine in the annual Brightlingsea Rowing Festival. We entered an impressive 6 boats into the 3.5miles race, with Mallard being a last minute addition that morning as we prepared to leave Dauntless boatyard. Whilst we did not retain 1st place from 2013, (lost to a sliding seat) our gigs comfortably took joint 2nd and 4th positions, with Mersea’s new Harkers Yard Gig, Mehala, coming in a close 5th.
Our Skiff crews battled hard in the first class to set off, with Renown leading from the start and being the first boat across the line. After a quick lunch/visit to the cake stall (for some) the Sprint races were held, with the course taking us up the creek against the outgoing tide, then back with the fast flowing water. Yet another great result for LTRC with both the men’s and lady’s crew taking 1st place in their respective races.
It was a great effort by all crews and a thoroughly enjoyable day.
See link for some of the official photographs - http://www.eastcoast.photos/-/galleries/brightlingsea-gig-fest
1 Kursaal Flyer Southend CRC 36.46 1st overall, 1st Sliding seat boat
2 Dauntless Lower Thames RC 39.08 Joint 2nd overall (Crew – Sue Alder,Dave Large, Stewart Taylor, Simon Roberts, Laura Dunmow)
3 Spirit of Trafalgar Lower Thames RC 39.08 2min penalty (over start line) (Crew – Tony Peck, Jeremy Martin, Andy Newnham, Tony Weed, Gary Willis)
4 Spirit of Dunkirk Lower Thames RC 40.08 3rd overall (Vanessa Bradford, Pat Woodbury, Dodi Oriordan, Denise Pevalin, Jackie Jackson-Smith)
5 Mehala Mersea Island RC 40.45 1st Harker’s Yard Gig
6 Velocity Brightlingsea CRC 42.22
7 Record Reign Maldon Gig Club 42.45
8 Renown Lower Thames RC 43.27 (Gary Fisher, Nick Faux, Adam Hall, Ali Enver)
9 Hair of the Dog Privately owned 44.22
10 Matchless Pioneer Sailing Trust 44.57
11 Ben Mersea Island RC 45.45
12 Vanduara Brightlingsea CRC 46.25
13 Lite Sport Privately owned 46.49
14 Pyefleet Colchester Oyster Fishery 47.18
15 Leigh Ho Lower Thames RC 48.18 (Pierre Therrien, Ron Sverdloff, Dave Allen, Ken Paice)
16 Stone Mersea Island RC 48.22
17 Witchoar Privately owned 49.22 1st Clayton Skiff
18 Ken Coombes Titchmarsh Rowers 49.42
19 Aquiline Rowhedge CRC 51.56
20 Mallard Lower Thames RC 1.13.59 ‘Wooden Spoon’ prize (Steve Gardiner, Norman Beswarick)
A warm Sunday afternoon on the beach in Old Leigh saw the Lower Thames Rowing club launch their brand new Gig, the “Spirit of Trafalgar”. The event was very well attended by LTRC members, all dressed in their unmistakable orange club colours. Trafalgar was blessed by Father Clive Hillman of St Clements Church, after which Champagne was toasted as she hit the water for her maiden voyage.
Despite being cast from the same mould as their first boat in the Spirit Class, the “Spirit of Dunkirk”, she has been modified to be much lighter with slightly different seating arrangements, and as such expected to be the quickest boat in the LTRC fleet. She will be a great asset for the club’s busy social rowing calendar and the forthcoming racing season.
Trafalgar has been sponsored by a local company, Bailey & Taylor Limited – Flooring Specialists, plus personal pledges from a number of club members.
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!
< height="223" src="LTRC%20Pics/Gallery/Happy_lard.jpg" style="float: right" width="132" />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.