The first GB assessment for the 2013 season was due to take place on 24/25th November, consisting of a 2k erg test on the Saturday and a 5km water trial on the Sunday. Due to the poor weather forecast, GB rowing took the decision to cancel the water trial, whilst still asking athletes to travel up to Boston to complete the erg test under their watchful eyes. Illness had hit the squad quite badly towards the latter stages of November, meaning that only a small group of survivors made the journey up to Boston. Despite the low numbers, three out of the four athletes gained PB's, proving that the first block of training for the year has gone well. Notably Laura came 3rd overall, beaten only by NRC alumni Vicky and previous pairs partner Lucinda Gooderham who both medalled at the European Championships last year, whilst Fiona went sub 7 minutes for the first time. Based on their test performances, both Laura and Fiona have been invited to participate in a 4k water trial in Caversham on the 8/9th December. 

Meanwhile, back in Nottingham, all those who had to submit medical notes but have recovered from their illness and injuries will complete their ergo tests which must be submitted before Christmas. 
A Senior 4- and an IM1 4x travelled down to London to race the annual Fours Head of the River Race, a processional head race over the boat race course from Chiswick to Putney. Fresh from their success at the Diamond Jubilee, the four of Lindsay, Fiona, Laura and Catherine were looking to win their category. Starting behind men's IM2 coxed fours, they weaved their way down the course, steering clear of trouble, whilst others in their category tangled with the slower mens crews ahead. Although the four didn't feel they had their best race, they won by over 15 seconds, smashed the course record and were also the fastest women's four on the water.

The IM1 4x of Nikki, Ellie, Philly and Louise struggled with illness in the lead up to the event, and although they had a solid first half, overtaking 2 crews before Hammersmith, the lack of sustained training pieces in the lead up to the event meant they were unable to build momentum into the finish. In a large field they managed to overtake 3 crews, and caught a 4th and finished 7th in their category, which was won by a very strong Molesey crew containing a European medallist and athletes close to the squad. 

The squad now concentrate on GB trials coming up on the 24/25th November, where they will race against all athletes wishing to be considered for the GB squad for the 2013 season.  


The group travelled down to Dorney Lake, host of the Olympic rowing to race at the Diamond Jubilee regatta last weekend. This was a unique showcase event celebrating the success of teamGB at the Olympics and a chance for crews to race against some of the very best, with all triallists who wished to be considered for the 2013 season required to race, and a number of Olympic athletes also attending, racing for their clubs. Racing took an unusual format, with 1900m time trials being used to determine allocation into A/B semi-finals, C/D semis etc. All the categories were combined, for example the women’s heavyweight, lightweight, under 23 and under 19 doubles all competed against each other, providing some very close racing.

On the Saturday two heavyweight fours, a heavyweight double and 2 lightweight doubles were entered. With the phrase ‘As long as we can see your bow number through the fog’ still ringing in our ears everyone boated, heading into the unknown of both the fog and the experience of racing a flat out 2k in October. The time trials went well, with the top four of Lindsay, Fi, Laura and Catherine and two doubles making it into the A/B semis, and the second four of Laura Champion, Rebecca, Ellie and Philly finishing 13th and just missing out, going on to win the C final later in the day. The top four went on to race against Leander and Sport Imperial for the top spot, and after an excellent final won silver, beating the favoured Leander boat. The U23 heavyweight double of Pippa and Katie Bartlett came in 3rd in the B final, placing them 9th out of the 44 entries, the lightweight double of Louise and Yasmin came in 15th, and the lightweight combination of Nikki and Lizzie Polgreen from Isle of Ely came 5th overall, in an event won by the European bronze medal winning lightweight crew, but beating an Olympic gold medallist in the process.

On the Sunday Yasmin travelled home and went on to win in her single at Notitngham Autumn Head, impressive given the amount of racing she had done the day before. Staying down at Dorney, the two fours combined into an 8 which finished 5th overall. Due to some last minute substitutions, Pippa and Katie raced in a scratch quad with 2 girls who competed at Junior Worlds last season, but had to race as time only due to these substitutions. Nikki joined with some fellow lightweights to race in a quad, which came home with bronze, beating 24 other quads, and only beaten by girls who had represented GB last season.

The following month is a busy one, with Fours Head coming up in a fortnight, some girls travelling out to defend their title in Barcelona the following weekend, and then GB trials at the end of the month so watch this space!

Nottingham Rowing Club Needs You!

Have your friends or family ever commented that you are too competitive? Have you played a sport for years and fancy a change? Have you been inspired by the success of rowing at the Olympics? Then Nottingham Rowing Club's high performance group is for you! We are currently looking for women under 23 years old and 5'10 or over who are interested in starting rowing with the aim of competing for the GB team. You do not need any experience or specialist equipment - everything will be provided- you just need the desire to win!
Nottingham Rowing club is the largest and most successful club in the East Midlands, boasting use of a 9km stretch of the River Trent as well as use of one of the only purpose built 2000m rowing lakes in the country. As a member of the high performance group you will also get the benefit of being coached by a full time coach, receive sports science support, have access to an English Institute of Sport gym, a strength and conditioning coach and as many rowing machines as you could ever want!
In the past few years the group has won all of the premier events in the UK, and currently boasts 3 British Champions and 5 Home International Champions, hold a course record at Henley Womens regatta and this year were the only British crew that qualified a quad for Henley Royal Regatta. The group also contains European University and Commonwealth Games winners and medallists. So where can our group take you? 3 of our recent alumni are currently in the Great British squad, having raced and medalled at the World under 23 Championships whilst rowing in Nottingham.
If you are interested in finding out more then please e-mail us at Even if you do not fit the criteria for the high performance group or just fancy trying rowing on a more casual basis, then please go to for more information and contact details.
Pippa Whittaker travelled out to Kazan in Russia to race in a double with Karen Bennett at the beginning of September to compete at the World University Championships. This event is seen as a chance to prove yourself on the World stage against some tough opposition. Only 4 crews were entered from Great Britain. The double made a strong start coming second in their heat, and progressed through to the repechage on the following day. Racing in continuingly deteriorating conditions, the girls put in a strong performance to take the second qualifying spot into the A final, a great achievement for Pippa as this is her first World Championships. Unfortunately the girls couldn't quite make an impact on the medal positions in the final and finished in 6th position.

A week later, three former Nottingham RC athletes were due to race at the European Championships, a stepping stone up to the full senior team. Unfortunately Tina was forced to withdraw following a reoccurrence of a prior injury. Vicki Meyer-Laker and Monica Relph raced in the women's eight, which had an excellent race against the Olympic bronze medal Romanian eight. The eight finished in the bronze medal position, only the second time the eight has finished on the podium, and shows great promise for the next Olympiad.
                 The NRC girls representing England at the Home International Regatta 2012

After their performances at the British Championships, 6 of the group were invited to race as part of the England team for the Home International Regatta. The 50th Home International Regatta was held over 1500m in Cardiff bay this year.The group were competing in 6 of the 10 events available at the regatta (Wlwt2x, W1x, W2-, W4-, W8+, W4x), with wins coming in the light double for Nikki, and in the 8+ for Alex, Catherine, Laura and Lindsay who were joined by the Molsey 4+.

When the girls weren't winning, they were coming in second, with the pair losing out by just a bowball, the four coming back from a poor start to take second, the quad with Nikki in being beaten by a strong heavyweight Irish crew and Fiona also coming in just out of the elusive first place in her single. However, the strong showing by the Nottingham girls as well as the rest of the senior women in the England team gave them an unassailable lead coming in to the lunch break, ensuring that they retained the overall team trophy for another year.

The majority of the group now take a couple of weeks break, probably spent on the sofa watching the Olympics!
                                                The triumphant pair of Laura and Lindsay

We had a mixed weekend of racing at the 40th british Rowing Championships held at Holme Pierrepont. Fortunately the event went ahead despite fears at the beginning of the week that the lake would be too flooded.

We had two lightweight scullers, two heavyweight scullers, two under 23 scullers, a pair and a coxed 4 entered. Saturday saw Nikki win her heat to progress straight through to the final. The same heat was contested by Yasmin, who progressed through to the repecharge where she unfortunately just missed out on a place in the final. Pippa also won her heat to progress through to the final, whilst Fiona had to make do with a place in the repecharge, which would be contested on Sunday. Ellie and Philly were making the transition back into the single after spending the season in a double (an event not offered at the British Championships), with Ellie progressing through to the repecharge. The coxed four had a tough heat, containing all three of the eventual medal winners, causing them to also fight for a place in the final through a repecharge, although having posted a much faster time that those in the other heat they were confident they would make it through.

Sunday was finals day for the senior events. Unfortunately, despite racing and qualifying for the final, Fiona had to withdraw through illness. After the repeharges we had the pair, 4+, Pippa and Nikki all contesting for medals. Nikki was first to race her final, having a tight race with Fran Rawlins from MAA, and eventually finished in second behind Lizzie Polgreen from Isle of Ely. Pippa stormed her final to win, as did the pair of Lindsay and Laura. The 4+ was a new venture for Catherine, Alex Johnson, Laura, Lindsay and cox Amy Henfrey and although improving as the regatta continued, could not quite find the turn of speed they needed to the line, and came in 4th.

This leaves the squad with 3 British Champions and a silver medallist in a regatta with significantly reduced racing opportunities for the senior events, with the bigger boats being contested at the Diamond Jubilee Regatta held at Dorney Lake in October. This makes up 50% of the medal winning boats from NRC.

The quad taking some time out to pose in front of Gloriana

The intrepid troops travelled down to Henley again for the qualifying races for Henley Royal Regatta. With only internation eights, quads and singles available for the women in this regatta, competition is always tight, yet we arrived with high expectations of qualifying. Pippa was racing in her single, and battled her way down the 2112m course against a very strong stream and an even stronger headwind to successfully qualify. The women's quad of Lindsay, Fiona, Catherine and Nikki were one of the last crews to race, and rowing into what felt like the sunset, they followed suit and qualified for the regatta.

The squad travelled down on the following Wednesday in order to train on the course, with racing starting on the Friday. The quad came up against a strong Australian U23 team, who knocked them out and went on to win, whilst also doubling up and making the semi-finals of the Remenham Cup as well. They then went on to win gold at the U23 Championships. Pippa was drawn against the Irish Olympic sculler Sanita Purspure and again unfortunately was beaten. However this is the first time that the squad has qualified two women's boats into the open events at the regatta which shows the strength in depth we have in the group at the moment.

Amidst fears that the regatta might be cancelled, with rumours making it up the M1 that the river was now flowing over the fields, and there was a hurricane on the way, the squad travelled down to Henley last weekend, where they were greated to a river well within its banks, if not in a slight hurry to make its way downstream. Clearly these rowers have never trained on the Trent before! Reassured that the event would take place, the quad set out for an evening paddle to get used to the course and the water. With 5 crews entered, the first race would be on the Saturday. The senior double of Ellie and Philly were scheduled to compete in the time trial to reduce crews down to 16 for side by side racing. However, with strong winds forecast, the organisers chose to reduce this to the first 8 in order to miss racing in the worst of the weather. Unfortunately, the girls came 12th, so would have qualified in any other year, but sadly missed out this year. The Club 4+ from the rowing club also lost out in a similar way in very changeable and gusty conditions.

Photo cheekily stolen from Iain Weir at - he takes some good photos - have a look!

The elite quad drew a Thames/Tideway Scullers in the quarter finals. Moving onto the stakeboats there was an umpire on each to assist the crews as conditions were pretty difficult, with a very strong stream and a strong headwind on top of this. The quad attached without too many problems, until the composite decided they wanted to attach to our stakeboat as well as theirs, and swung their bows round. We moved away and watched as the quad proceeded to lie sideways across the river - not the best position to start the race. Knowing that the other quad had struggled gave us confidence, and once we got started we moved away to win easily. We knew that the next round would be harder as we had drawn Leander Club, containing girls who have all raced at senior international level recently. On Sunday morning the quad found themselves on the start alongside their strongest opposition to date. A great start saw us come out of the island slightly ahead, but despite a really good race, they moved away inch by inch to take the win. This crew then went on to beat Vesper BC from the USA in the final.

Fiona was competing in elite singles and drew local sculler Kris Johnson in her first round and was sadly knocked out. With some scullers taking well over 9 minutes to complete the 1500m course due to the conditions, this was an endurance event!

The High Performance Group will be heading down to the HRR qualifiers in the hope of racing in the Princess Grace Challenge Cup for quads and the Princess Royal Challenge Cup for singles.
A very damp and cold winning quad!

A small group travelled down to Dorney Lake to race at the annual Met Regatta hosted by London Rowing Club. This was our first chance to race some of the bigger clubs from down south on a multilane course and show them what we're made of! The site is being prepared for the Olympics so currently looks like (and is) a bit of a building site. If youre heading down to watch the Olympics, bring some binoculars if you are on the top of the grandstand - they are huge!

On Saturday the senior double of Ellie and Philly raced well above their status and just missed out on a place in the final of IM1 doubles. In the afternoon the double were joined by Laura and Catherine to race in IM1 quads, where a good race saw them come in third. This was a completely scratch crew so a pretty good effort! Racing in elite doubles, the lightweight composite crew of Nikki and Lizzie Polgreen from Isle of Ely came second in the final. Although not their best race, they learnt a lot and will continue on to try and gain selection for the World University Championships in September.

Sunday saw the women's quad try to retain their elite win from last year, and did this in style. The crew of Lindsay, Laura, Catherine and Nikki gained a 5 second lead from the first 500m and kept pushing away to retain the John West Trophy. Both the senior double and the quad will go on to compete at Henley Women's Regatta, where Fiona will also be racing her single.
Our sessions with yoga sport science specialist Heidi Unwin have improved with the warmer weather - despite some odd looks from people walking by!

In other news: Fiona has made a welcome return to the water after a period of illness and is making good progress. Yasmin is also hoping to be able to train in a boat again this week after her rib injury in April prevented her from taking part in the trials for the U23 World Championships this summer.
For now - Happy rowing!
The squad have been busy winning races this month. First race up was Leicester Regatta, where Pippa raced with Jonny Walton whilst Nikki paired up with Craig Turner from Loughborough, racing in elite mixed doubles. The two doubles both progressed without too much trouble to the final where they met in this side by side knockout event. As lightweights, Nikki and Craig were faster off the start, catching Pippa by surprise, but eventually (over the 700m course) the power of Pippa and Jonny showed, and they went on to win. Once down the remainder of the race can only be described as like rowing in a washing machine - it definitely tested our core! This was the first win for the group in the regatta season. Thanks to Leicester Rowing Club for organising a great days racing.

Next on the racing schedule was the British University Championships, held in Nottingham. Pippa raced in championships singles for loughborough University and dominated the event from the start, winning the event in style and securing her position as a lead sculler in the university and U23 field.
Philly and Ellie raced for Nottingham Trent University, first coming 6th in the final of the womens' quads, and then on the Monday raced in intermediate doubles. The regatta was disrupted due to unexpected fog first thing in the morning, meaning the girls raced a 1500m time trial first, with the first 6 progressing to the A final, with the next 6 moving to the B final and the rest eliminated. The girls put in a strong performance to progress to the A final. Once there they had a great race, but were slightly outmanouvered and came home strongly in fourth place. Although disappointed not to medal, the girls learnt a lot and came back fighting at Notts City Regatta, where they came second behind a more experienced Mortlake Anglian and Alpha crew in IM3 doubles. The girls were due to double up into a quad with Lindsay and Catherine, but a lack of further entries meant that the quad were unable to race. Lindsay and Catherine both raced elite singles, where they came home fourth and fifth. A good start to the season given a winter disrupted by injury. Laura was due to race in the single as well, yet illness forced her to withdraw from both Notts City and the Masters Championships the following day. At the Masters Championships Lindsay raced in a quad and a four, winning both, and maintaining her 100% success rate at this regatta.

On the same weekend as Notts City Nikki raced at a speed order test at Caversham in a potential lightweight double for the World University Championships (FISU) in Kazan, Russia. Currently no selection has been made for this championship which is held in early September, and she will continue to race the double through the early part of the season in a bid to be selected.

Five athletes travelled down to Caversham for the GB under 23, World University and European trials. Unfortunately a rib injury prevented Yasmin from being able to compete at these trials, although she will hopefully be able to prove her speed at a later date when she is better. Results from the racing were:
Pippa: 3rd in W1x
Nikki: 6th in Wlwt1x
Laura and Fiona: 6th in W2-
Stu: 15th MLwt1x

We now move in to the second stage of assessment with crew formation, with trials still ongoing to find the fastest combination of athletes. 

The squad spent the beginning of April on camp in sunny (?!?) Nottingham. Promising weather the week before camp turned into freezing cold and windy conditions. For a change of scenery we travelled to Rudyard Lake in North Staffordshire for a couple of days away from Holme Pierrepont. Despite being promised that the lake never got rough, and our optimism as we drove through a blizzard that we would be met by mirror flat water, this wasn't to be and a speedy alternative was found for our training for the day when we were told it was too windy to go out on the water. A 60 minute power walk around the lake provided early entertainment, with Pippa and Fi leading the way with flawless technique. A spinning session at the local leisure centre kept us out of trouble before lunch, and in the afternoon we travelled to Audley Climbing Centre for a few hours of climbing. This mainly affirmed that none of the squad is built for rock climbing! The next day dawned bright and sunny, allowing us to get some good work done on the water. We returned to Nottingham to finish the camp with some hard pieces and some crew boat work to begin forming our racing crews for the summer.
It's been a while since we last blogged, and we have had a busy March. After our pennant win at the eight's head, our focus turned to 2k erg tests. Pippa, Laura, Fi, Yasmin and Nikki all travelled down to the national training base in Caversham to complete their 2k tests which are required for trials. Both Fi and Nikki got PBs, with Pippa and Yasmin both very close to breaking their best as well. Laura and Fiona then successfully raced in a pair for an invitation to the European/World Uni and U23 trials held in April. This means that Yasmin and Nikki will race their singles at these trials as lightweights, Pippa in her single as a heavyweight, and Laura and Fiona in a pair - this is the largest group of Nottingham athletes to race at these trials since the formation of the Nottingham High Performance Group.
Not to be outdone, the rest of the squad raced at the Eurpean and British Indoor Rowing Championships, run by Concept 2 and held at Nottingham University. Opening the medal count was Ellie racing in the student event, although finishing in a time slower than she hoped for, Ellie came home with the silver medal – a great achievement for her first indoor competition! Yasmin raced in the open lightweight category, where she won by 15 seconds to maintain her winning streak at this event. This also makes her the European Champion. Last to race were Catherine and Lindsay in the open event. The girls faced strong opposition from Pavalina Zizkova from the Czech Republic, who went on to win the event. Lindsay came home strongly to finish with the silver medal and becoming British Champion in the process with Catherine chasing behind to come home with a bronze medal. This gives the squad a 100% medal count at this event for 2012. Thanks need to go to Concept 2 for organising a great event, we will return in 2013 bigger and better!

The group are now on training camp in preparation for summer racing - can't wait!

Photo from
The women’s eight made the journey down to the tideway in London to race at the annual Women’s Head of the River race, a 7.5km race from Mortlake to Putney. The women have won a pennant at this race since the clubs inception in 2006. The 2012 crew was Vicky Atkins (cox), Pippa, Catherine, Lindsay, Fiona, Laura, Katie, Ellie and Nikki.

Mild and slightly damp conditions met the crew, but this cleared up in time for the 11am race start. We started 7th, with Mortlake Anglian and Alpha ahead and being chased by Cambridge University. A strong start saw the crew gaining on MAA from the off, and Vic steered brilliantly through both MAA and the Agecroft crew at the same time, which gave the crew a massive lift, as they then went on to chase down Oxford Brookes, who started in 5thposition. Turning under Hammersmith Bridge, we were met with a strong headwind, which resulted in a long final 3rd of the race! A strong wind to the finish saw us catch up Brookes further, but not quite manage to overtake.

A nervous wait ensued as the results were collated. Despite some great overtaking and a solid race, some crews that started behind us had made some ground on us. The final result was 5th, 4 places up from last years result, and winning the Provincial Pennant. We retained the 100% pennant record, and made us the only club in the past 6 years, since NRC was formed, to stay in the top 10.
After freezing conditions prevented February trials from going ahead, the squad turned their focus to training in an 8 in preparation for the Womens' Eights Head of the River Race. This is a 7.5km race on the championship course on the Tideway, from Mortlake to Putney raced on 3rd March. 300 womens crews have entered, with the start order based on previous results. We will be starting as 7th crew, chasing down Mortlake, Anglian and Alpha, who having finished just ahead of us last year should provide some close racing.
In preparation for this race, the girls raced at Trent Head of the River, a 6km downstream race based at NRC. The crew, with Ellie sitting at 2 and Lindsay at 6, had a strong race, winning the Robin Haslam Trophy for fastest womens crew. We successfully reproduced some of the technical changes we have been working on in paddling, and with one more week of training in the eight, are looking to further increase boat speed before we take on the tideway. Bring it on!
The triallists are required to submit a 5k ergo below set cut-off points before being able to compete at the February assessment, so the whole squad got together on the 28th January to complete the 5k. This was quite a big event, with the senior men, intermediate men and the womens' squads also taking the opportunity to test themselves against the machine and each other, and stake a claim in boats for the eights head boats. This provided a great atmosphere, with supporters coming down early and staying after they had completed their tests to cheer each other on.

Everybody in the group had a good result, with Stu, Ed, Rich, Pippa and Nikki all getting PBs, whilst everyone else who tested improved on the times they posted this time last year. Catherine and Lindsay both completed the erg in a solid time, further forging their way back to full recovery after prolonged injury, with it looking positive for the forthcoming head races.

The 5k erg was the biggest test of our winter training, suggesting that as a squad we are stronger and faster than last year. Barr the Head of the River Race, we now move on to summer training, with trials held over 2k next weekend at the Olympic rowing venue in Dorney - doing summer race prep when it's snowing is a strange experience!
Whilst other clubs were abroad in sunny climates for their training camps, Pippa was invited to the under 23 land based training camp in Cardiff, whilst Yasmin and Lindsay both went away for some ‘altitude training’ on the ski slopes.  The rest of the squad stayed in Nottingham for their training camp, making the most of the unseasonably warm weather and home comforts.

The Nottingham camp was a 10 day high volume camp, with a lot of erg training thrown into the mix to prepare us for the forthcoming 5km erg test to be completed before the next water trial. Catherine made a welcome return to the water after a long few months of injury and training on the Wattbike, whilst Louise also returned to full training after a period of illness. Everyone coped well with the increased volume of training, and most managed to battle their way through to the final day of camp – finished off with an 18k erg.

The New Year has started well for the group, and we are now looking ahead to the February water trial, our last chance to impress on the water in the GB open trials. Following that we will switch our singles for an 8 in preparation for the Women’s Eights Head of the River Race in March, where we aim to defend our Senior pennant.
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