We headed off to Monmouth Rowing Club last weekend, where we enjoyed beautiful weather, flat water and use of their club house for cooking and chilling out. Who needs to go abroad when we have such amazing facilities and weather in this country!!!


Louise and her family welcomed us into their beautiful home - a farm, a short drive away from the town. The sheep, the dogs and the horse kept us entertained and the garden provided the perfect setting for an evening meal in the sunshine.

Tea in the garden

Louise was the hostess with the mostess and together with Nikki did an amazing job with the catering. Delicious, fresh meals were delivered from both the farm and the boat house kitchens and freshly baked snacks kept us going between sessions. Louise's flapjacks were amazing but my favourite was the carrot and coconut cake.

Day 1 - Friday

The weekend's training began with launch lifting! Getting launch down the steps at Monmouth is no mean feat but with six HPS girls under Louise's expert supervision the boat was in just as Dez's father arrived to tell us not to use that one - it leaks. So we had practice lifting it up the steps too!


The first water session of the weekend was a guided tour of the river, with Louise and Dez pointing out the landmarks and obstacles on the river. Lesson #1 don't take the outside of the bend - you won't come back! Lesson #2 small sticks in the bank are very difficult to spot when racing down the straight - but using swans is not reliable - they move! Once we'd determined that by church they meant some steps on the river bank, and by pink cottage they meant wires over the river we were all set and ready to get some hard work done in the afternoon!

Day 2 - Saturday

Saturday dawned bright and clear - when you're in vest tops before boating at 7.30am you know it's going to be hot! A long paddle in singles gave us the perfect opportunity to enjoy the flat water before it too warm, but this was followed by some leapfrog in the second session. It was cooking and the aim became staying cool! Catherine pioneered the t-shirt dunking technique while I went for sticking my feet in the river (socks and all) at the end of each run! Only Kate seemed unfazed by the heat - I think she is solar powered!

During lunch Dez tended to the latest addition to our fleet - an Empacher double, carefully cleaning and lovingly polishing it while the rest of us chilled out in the shade.


It was Kate and I who were lucky enough to try it out first after lunch. It feels very different to the WinTech we have been paddling in!!!

Kate and Grace in double

The last session of the day was chosen to match the weather - skills in the singles, where Dez set us increasingly difficult challenges.

Standing up

After doing all the exercises Dez set we got a bit more adventurous, Laura and Nikki challenged each other to see how long they could sit at front stops with their hands off the blades. It was only going to end one way!


Since they were wet they were on a mission to get us all swimming, successfully dunking me, Rebbecca and Louise. The prize for the best skills has to go to Louise who could completed every task including the yoga. Heidi would be proud!!


Day 3 - Sunday

Another beautiful morning and another long technical paddle in the singles, followed by some crew boat work and then some hard work in singles!

Pushing off

It was Easter Sunday so the necessary chocolate fest had to take place.... to facilitate this we all had a secret bunny who'd carefully selected us an Easter treat. Mine had the hardest task since I don't react well to chocolate! This was followed by an Easter Egg hunt in the nearby skate park, where 5 eggs are sill missing - presumed eaten! The scrap over the last egg in the tree ended with Vicki muscling out Lindsay and Laura!

The day ended with a trip to Symonds Yat, which provided stunning views of the surrounding countryside and a lovely pub next to the river for that well deserved drink!

Day 4 - Monday

As a treat on the last day we got to do the long paddle in crew boats! Caversham had called Laura and Vicki away so that left us with a double and a quad.


Following this was a 1500m time trial, where Kate proved she is indeed solar powered and the swans proved they do move and are unsuitable as landmarks!

The last session but definitely not the least was starts - we got quite an audience along the bank as we tried to get from one end of the landing stage to the other from a start in under 10 secs! With Catherine on start marshal duty and Dez on timing, the quickest was Nikki in a rapid 9.8 seconds... next up was Lindsay - I have some work to do!

All that was left was to load the trailer and head off home, tired and tanned! A big thank you to Louise for your efforts! Bring on Henley!
We would all like to say good luck to Pippa and Stu who will be down at Dorney this weekend for Final Trials.  They will be fighting it out for a chance to represent Great Britain at the World U23 Championships held in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  Go smash it guys!!!
Over 390 crews joined the Nottingham Rowing Club men's first eight to compete in the Men's Head of the River this weekend along the Tideway course between Chiswick and Putney Bridge, along the river Thames in London. The event takes place two weeks after the Women's Head of the River, and the Men's boat had every chance of completing an equally successful race as the Women a fortnight previously.

The 8+ finished 39th, which is the highest finish for a Nottingham Rowing Club 8+. In achieving this, the 8+ was the fastest eight from Nottingham, beating local and historic rivals Nottingham and Union comfortably. This confirms Nottingham Rowing club as the premier club for both men and women alike in the region, at this point in the season. However, the elusive hunt for a Head of the River pennant goes on for the Men's squad as the Jackson Trophy (Fastest Non-Thames Club) and the IM2 pennant were won by crews only a mere 7 to 4 seconds in-front of the Men's eight.

The result, and quality of rowing and training, as well as a strong result from the NRC 2nd 8+, all bodes well for a successful summer racing season, culminating in the Henley Royal Regatta, in the first week of July.

High Performance group members, Richard Watton and Stuart Sykes sat at Stroke and Two respectively.

Last weekend 4 athletes from the group were invited down to Caversham to complete a 2km ergo (rowing machine) test on the Saturday followed by a water trial on the Sunday. Caversham is home to the purpose built Redgrave Pinsent rowing centre home to the Great Britain senior squad train. Pippa and Laura both rose to the occasion brilliantly, both pulling a personal best by over 5 seconds, following the example set by Stuart earlier in the week when he also improved his 2k time by 5 seconds.  Laura also had the satisfaction of finishing first in her ergo race, and being able to watch the others gasping for breath over the finish line. Not to be let off, despite the beautifully flat water and sunshine outside, the rest of the squad also had to sit on the ergo and complete their 2kms up in Nottingham. Some solid performances were put in, which shows promise for the summer season that’s just around the corner.
Sunday morning, while others were mourning the loss of an hour after the move to BST, Rich, Stuart and Laura were back out on the water in Caversham for 2 timed 1500m runs of the course. This was a trial for selection into the U23 and senior squad invitational trials in Dorney - the Olympic Rowing regatta venue for 2012 Olympics. Stuart put in a brilliant performance, coming second in his race, and showing enough speed to gain selection to the trials in a couple of weeks. Although Laura and Rich both had excellent races, it was felt that they weren’t quite ready to push for a place in the World Championship senior squad this year, but along with the rest of the squad, will now be fighting for places to the European Championships in Bulgaria.
Next up for the men is the Head of the River Race, which is the men’s equivalent to the Women’s Eights Head we competed a couple of weeks ago. Stuart and Rich are both in the Nottingham first VIII for this event and having shown good speed in training are looking for a pennant winning performance.
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