VHORR 2003 - Towing (surely rowing?) without a hitch
Sunday 30 March

And finally the big day had arrived. We had, somehow, managed to get 32 rowers, 4 coxes and 4 eights together, find a tideway club to boat from (thanks to Sean Farrelly's contacts at Quintin) and 03_vets_groupget the entries in (just). We even managed to get the trailer and boats there without collecting any roadside furniture, though we did successfully manage to cut up David Rendall's Volvo on the Hogarth roundabout. To make the parking/rigging that little bit more interesting we were put in the middle of a running race course, right by the start/finish of a half marathon.
The Marlow crews were starting 34th, 60th , 74th and 133rd, so set off in plenty of time for the marshalling point below Putney Bridge. Paddling to the start the Vet B crew were (slightly) concerned to see the bow number of crew 74 floating upstream, but as no other flotsam was spotted they carried on. At the marshalling point the Vet B crew bumped into Woody with his RAF crew chomping at the bit to do their 20th head course in the last 10 days!
View from the 'B' boat (avg age 36) Starting 34th , sandwiched between London RC and Molesey BC, the Marlow Vet B crew were in good company. Crossing the start line with a gap between themselves and 03_vets_bLondon ahead and Molesey only a length behind they quickly hit their race rhythm of 32 strokes per minute. Karla using the tide to perfection grabbed the main channel, forcing Molesey to go wide towards the flats at Fulham. A cracking battle then ensued with Marlow and Molesey rowing side-by-side from the black buoy round to St Paul's, overtaking crew 27 from Belfast before Hammersmith, before Molesey managed to squeeze a length ahead around the outside as both crews overtook crew 31 from Exeter and crew 29 from Circolo Canottieri Imo. With Karla still holding her line, Molesey just missed clashing their stroke's blade with Simon in the bow seat. Following the perfect course through Barnes Bridge, Marlow raised their rate for the finish, crossing the line rating 34 in a time of 19m21s, putting them 21st overall and 7th of 26 Vet B crews.
Bow - Simon Huntley, Neal Skipper, Paul Saunders, John Yeatman, Marc Furlonger, Neil McCulloch, Mike Spencer-Jones, Stroke - Iain Pressling and cox Karla Boddy

View from the 'C' 1 boat (avg age 43) Having had a long, loose paddle about half-way to Westminster in search of other crews starting around 60th position, and having observed the alarming high frequency of GB leggings in the Nottingham crew starting 64th, Marlow Vet C1 wound up a fluid start and settled to a neat 32 past the boathouses. Crew 56, possibly from France, 03_vets_chad arrived late for the battle, moved past, but not before Marlow had picked off another late starter. Into the headwind up to Hammersmith. Nottingham closed, but with a rock solid rhythm at 31 from Marlow, and sustained exquisite coxing from Ella, couldn't get past. They tried the inside, and then they tried the outside, then the inside again. Then they started shouting. Marlow responded with a storming blend of determination and yet more rhythm. Nottingham made it through with a bit more abuse, before having to go round the outside of some Cambridge Veterans in the approach to Barnes Bridge. Ella neatly tucked Marlow down the inside, the Cambridge and Nottingham blades tangled, and then Nottingham had to find their way around the outside again. The wind for home added a pip to 33 for a stroke or two, and a finish time of 19m35s put them 34th overall, and 9th of 30 Vet C crews.
Bow - Ed House, Rob Robertson, David Rendall, Tony Ellis, Ian Packer, Mark Henstridge, Mark Billingham, Stroke - Richard Coles and cox Ella Waddingham

View from the 'C' 2 boat (avg age 43) Starting as far from the start as the marshals would allow, Wandsworth Bridge, gave the Vet 'C' 2 boat plenty of time to warm up on their way from their marshalling point to the start line. Once into the race they enjoyed(?) a running battle with the Quintin BC crew who started behind them. Quintin had managed to get overlap by Hammersmith Bridge, 1/3rd of the way into the race, but Marlow then gradually drew away from them to finish 15s ahead. Final placing was 99th overall and 23rd of 30 Vet C crews.
Bow - Mike Landers, Jonathan Walne, Bob Thompson, Rob Thomson, Kelvin Read, Graeme Hyman, John Kirtland, Dave Faulkner and cox Elaine Caldwell

View from the 'E' boat (avg age 55) Starting 133rd gave the 'E' crew plenty of time to rest after their warmed up, so they quickly overtook two crews early in the race. Rising 23 places to finish 110th overall and 18th of 24 Vet E crews.
Three Warwick athletes - Barry Meatyard, Tim Walmesley and Martin Le Toq, along with Graeme Armstrong, Ian Chamberlin, Ray Swordy , Chris Tipney, Chris Adams and cox Sue Walters from Marlow



Mike Spencer-Jones

Docks Head - 9 February

Marlow's young Vets ventured out once again to the postponed Docks Head on the 9th of Feb. Racing in the 09:30 division presented the delight of leaving MRC in the dark at 06:30. MS-J having to dodge large puddles and a herd of roe deer in his efforts to be there on time. JY, meanwhile, travelling from the other side of Marlow Bridge still arrived late!
The actual journey to the Docks wasn't too eventful, with a scenic tour of the M40/A40 and central London (oh, and a slight navigational error approaching the regatta centre).
With unusual efficiency for veteran oarsmen the boats were swiftly rigged, though this may have had something to do with the cold and (slightly) damp weather.
Starting off at the dizzy height of 6th and 7th in the first division, the crews were relatively clear of the log jam at the start while the marshals waited for the top boats to arrive.
Once off the start the Vet 'B' 4 (Iain Pressling, Simon Huntley, John Yeatman, Mike Spencer-Jones) headed for the shelter of the airport dock wall to gain the benefit of the completely flat water (even though it was only a slight breeze), with the Vet C 4 (Richard Coles, Mark Billingham, Tony Ellis, Ed House) hot on their tail. It also gave them the opportunity to give the WS2 8o in front a wide berth - a long string of boats following the same course.
Settling into a good rhythm, rating 32 the Vet B crew started to pull away from the Vet C boat around the 750m mark, the knowledge that the Vet C crew had an 18 second handicap advantage pushing them on.
Wary of the narrow gap between the Royal Albert and Royal Victoria dock, Ed steered out into lanes 4/5 early. Mike, being slightly braver (and aware of a quad just in front) left it slightly later.
Entering the channel between the docks, both crews were alarmed to hear a very loud crash in front of them as the Curlew quad ploughed into the wall of the narrower part of the channel, snapping at least one sculling blade in the process. Luckily we weren't following directly behind.
After the buoyed and distance-marked 2km course, the final 1km in the Victoria Dock seemed like a wilderness, with only the occasional large buoy and distant banks to assist navigation. With 750m to go disaster almost struck the B crew when stroke's backstay sheared off just behind the gate. Luckily it fell onto the rest of the rigger, and not into the water, and the crew survived to sprint under the finish bridge by the Excel centre.
Finishing as fastest coxless 4 made up a bit for losing to the 47 second handicap the Vet D crews had!




Act Time


Adjusted Time



MVetD 4-






MVetB 4-






MVetC 4-






MVetD 4-




Now a group of 20, the Vet B/C group is still looking for new members and is currently on target for a Vet B and a Vet C 8o at the Vets Head plus Vets Henley, Nat Vets and the World Masters in Vichy in the autumn.
If you would like to join us contact
Mike Spencer-Jones

Fours Head - 2 November


The day started off well with JY and van keys at home and MSJ with van at  MRC. That one was easily sorted, but the inability of Rich to wake up was less easily so: JY and Billers had just given him up for dead and set off 25 mins late when he was spotted coming the other way. All this meant that boat rigging and getting afloat at Sons had to be executed in an unusually efficient manner. Creaking under the strain, the single Gent's bog at Sons proved the only real bottleneck. And that was with only 3 crews boating! What was it like the day before we wondered?
Crew 24 VA 4- of Iain, MSJ, James Tong & Ed and Crew 26 VB 4- of Rich, Simon, JY & Billers set off on a still falling tide for the marshalling area below Putney Bridge. Yes, we were racing from Putney to Mortlake, on what we hoped was going to be an incoming tide. Arriving in the marshalling area, the tide still hadn't turned! Yet another Head race committee who can't read a tide table!!! We needn't have worried about Rich's lie in: The inevitable happened and the assembled divisions were informed of a 'delay in the start time of 10 mins'. 10 turned into 20 and the tide eventually started to trickle in.
So off we set: The B crew went off at what felt like a blistering pace (at least 30) and took Crew 25 within about 30 strokes. 'B' caught up with 'A' at about the Mile Post. Steaming up from behind crew 29, UL Tyrian overtook us both. 'B' held onto UL Tyrian until Hammersmith Bridge but then we turned into the headwind and it got a bit rough. The wheels came off a bit and it wasn't until we started getting into the old men's quads from the bandstand on that things picked up again. One hairy moment coming through Barnes bridge, overtaking 2 quads at once. Fortunately they decided to crash into each other rather than us.
Back to Hammersmith and the compulsory squad beer in AKRC.
The result: 'B' 18th overall, 2nd in VB in 24:38 'A' 39th overall in 25:39
UL Tyrian won VB by a street in 23:36 (3rd overall) Rather disappointed to be beaten by the winning C, D, E (!) & F (!!!) 4-s but perhaps some of that can be put down to them starting later and having more tide.
Next up: Marlow Fours and Pairs.



Retired Senior Squad

This group consists of ex-men's squad members who have previously raced at Senior 2 level and above and now have various time constraints (work, wives and children) and age against them, but who still wish to compete and train when possible. Both scullers and rowers are welcome to join the group that currently consists of around 16 athletes.

The group meets weekend mornings at 08:00, when those available group together either in rowing crews or sculling groups.


Target events.

Marlow LDS (for the scullers)

Marlow Fours and Pairs

Vet Fours Head

Kingston Head

Vet Eights Head

Vets Henley

National Vets

Internationals (Vet Worlds and Head of the Charles)

Primary contacts for the group are
Simon Huntley 07973 488328
Mike Spencer-Jones 07798 604481

2001-2002 Wins

Vet B 8o at Kingston Head
S2 8o at Maidenhead Regatta

Also Raced

Marlow Fours and Pairs Head
The Head of the Charles
Vets Eights Head
National Veterans Championships.