Captain's Log

Winter's here - December 2016


Sunday, 18 December 2016 16:53 Written by Ruth Hyde

Well l can’t believe it’s nearly Christmas – the last couple of months have just flown by. Today was the first day I’ve been down at the Club for about a month as I’ve been out of action – and it was so great to be back. Turning out for the annual Pudding Race – quite possibly the most important, and certainly the most competitive (and dare I say it, quite often involving the most cheating) event in the rowing calendar. Watching completely scratch crews racing the shortest course at the highest rate possible is always bound to be entertaining and today was no exception. It’s a cracking, highly sociable event…I’m not entirely sure who actually won…but I’m not sure that really matters – seeing complete novices sitting alongside high performance athletes and having a great time is what it’s all about – that, and of course the beer (thanks to Keith), mince pies and turkey rolls (thanks Mark). And if you want to see more check out our Facebook page for pictures. Since my last update the Head season has got well underway – and club members have already got a good number of wins under their belts. The Nottingham Autumn Heads was a biggie for us. We had nearly 500 competitors (including an entry from Belgium) across the 3 divisions so Trentside was really buzzing. And club members had a great day winning 13 races – putting us very much at the top of the league table. But what really made the day for me was the number of club members, friends and family who came out to support us with marshalling, event management, safety and refreshments – all of the things you need to make a great event. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many supporters turn out before – there are too many to thank but special mentions should go to the junior parents and recreational group who between them ensured that athletes, friends, families, organisers and volunteers were all well fed and watered. November saw 2 indoor rowing world records broken by over 50’s club members. They smashed the 50-59 record for 100,000m and the 40-49 age group record, also raising money for Children in Need and the club. It’s rather frustrating that 3 weeks later the record was broken again by an overseas club but being NRC this is merely a blip and there is already talk of taking the record back – so watch this space….! There’s lots more to talk about but I really need to get back to my own festive tradition – watching White Christmas – but you can read more in our latest newsletter which is online and also copies available in the club. So I’ll finish by wishing everyone the best for Christmas and looking forward to a very competitive 2017. Ruth

A golden summer and winters coming - October 2016


Sunday, 16 October 2016 19:01 Written by captain


Can’t believe how much has happened since my last blog.

First up – and worth a massive Nottingham Rowing Club cheer was the news that club member, Grace Clough won gold at the Paralympics in Rio in an incredible race in the mixed coxed 4.   Grace came to join us only 3 years ago as a complete newbie to the sport following a talent id programme – what an amazing accomplishment.   The club is incredibly proud of her - and mention should be made of her coach, Dez Atkins who was instrumental in supporting Grace and moving her along the pathway to GB recognition – and also to Helen Bloor who arranged some early sessions in a 4 to help develop her rowing....and have I told you I sat in that boat in the early days so feel quite entitled to share her victory!

Back to the more mundane – and getting the club ready for the Head season. The new loo has now been installed in Simms after concerns raised at the AGM. And we had a club clean up in September. A number of people put real effort into helping clean and tidy the place – I don’t want to name names but feel that recognition should go to both Ash, who arranged for his NTU athletes to come en masse and help out (who says students don’t get out of bed – they were brilliant!), and Laura Wheeler’s squad who also turned up and helped out in force. Some work is still being undertaken – repairs on boats and also servicing of ergos.  All we need to do now is to keep on top of things – it’s everyone’s responsibility because it’s for everyone’s benefit. So please do your bit – clean ergos when you’ve used them, put cups in the dishwasher (and if it’s full turn it on!) and report any damage to or problems with boats as soon as possible.

A couple of weekends ago I volunteered for what turned out to be a very inspiring event at Holme Pierrepont – the para-rowing party – a taster session organised by British Rowing for people with disabilities. Along with fellow NRC volunteers Ash and Perse, we helped get a group of people with a wide range of disabilities onto the water in gigs, singles and doubles. It certainly puts your own rowing challenges into perspective...for some of the participants even getting into a boat was a challenge.....yet everyone really threw themselves into the day and had a cracking time. Wouldn’t it be great if, as a club, we could find a way to help out and support para rowing? Any volunteers?

And finally the Head season has officially started, we’ve seen an influx of new and returning rowers, the club house is buzzing at weekends and the river looks like the M25. The Autumn Head is just 2 weeks away – lots to do and a call out for volunteers to help make this a great day for all involved.





Let me introduce myself


Wednesday, 24 August 2016 20:53 Written by Ruth Hyde


So what a great time to take on the role of Captain of Nottingham Rowing Club. The club is celebrating its 10th year in existence (following the merger of the long standing Nottingham Boat Club, Nottingham Britannia and the Notts County Rowing Association), we have just witnessed some epic performances at the Rio Olympics, with one of our ‘old boys’ Matt Gotrel in the awesome gold medal winning men’s 8 and we’re now looking forward to the Paralympics when one of our existing members, Grace Clough, will be competing in a mixed coxed 4. I feel very honoured to be taking over the helm at this time.

 So just a little bit about me – I’m certainly not what you’d imagine a rower to be. I’m not Amazonian in stature (think 5ft 7ins and variously described as ‘stumpy’ or ‘peewee’) and haven’t spent most of my life in a boat. I’m a Masters D ...just (well a lady doesn’t like to give away her age!) and took up rowing in 2008 around the time of the Beijing Olympics. So while Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter were storming to victory in their lightweight double, I was attempting to get to grips with the art of sculling - likened by me at the time as being like patting your head and rubbing your stomach while trying to avoid various obstacles – geese, fishermen and other boats (although as a quick aside I’m actually better at the old head patting, stomach rubbing than I am at’s a very under-rated talent!).

Relatively speaking I’m still a newbie to rowing – and I can still clearly remember all my firsts – first fine boat, first win, first point, first argument with the trees! But in the past 8 years I’ve done so much, had so many amazing experiences and met so many great people, all thanks to rowing and Nottingham Rowing Club, that it felt like it was about time I gave something back. And that’s why I’m sitting on a train typing this update and thinking ‘eeek what have I let myself in for!’

But less about me – what’s happening at the club right now. Well we’ve got a new president, Tony Lorrimer ( a man with a real rowing pedigree – or so he tells me!), a new committee (with a combination of stalwarts and fresh blood) ready to do their best for the club, and a commitment to sort out, with your help, some of the gripes and issues that were raised at the AGM. We won’t be able to sort everything out (and, let’s be clear, we won’t be able to sort anything out without the support of club members – so don’t be surprised if we ask for your help) but we will do what we can.

First up is the loo at Simms – and work is already underway to convert this eyesore into the loo of the year – and woe betide anyone who dares to leave it in anything other than pristine condition. And a good chunk of the money for the work has come from Dave Sharpe’s Tea & Toast just a gentle reminder that the monies we take from teas, coffees, cake and toast at weekends directly contributes to improving the club’s facilities.

Next up is the great tidy up. We are a club of hoarders....can’t throw away those old blades, riggers, empty boxes, kit that’s been lying around festering for months just in case we might need it. Even though the riggers don’t fit any boat we actually own and the kit has developed its own ecosystem and is now a bio-hazard! So the tidy up has started. And following on from the ‘great de-cluttering’ will be the ‘great clean up’. We want to get ahead of ourselves for the coming winter season so we’re having a Big Clean Up day on Sunday 18th September and would like as many members (and their families) as possible to come along and help us do a big tidy up, check all the boats and equipment, and do a major sort out so that we can hit the ground running when training starts again properly at the end of the month. Refreshments will be provided to all volunteers.

And finally we are planning proper inductions for all new members to ensure they not only know what’s what and who’s who but they get a proper welcome to the club.

So by the time the autumn comes we should have got all the basics sorted and then we can get on with the business of rowing – roll on the Head season!



January 2013


Monday, 21 January 2013 10:29 Written by Administrator


A belated Happy New Year to all our members - and apologies for not updating this earlier. I’m not sure how we as a club are going to follow 2012, which was a remarkably successful year right across the squads. This year has so far proved difficult as the river has not really returned to normal after the pre-Christmas deluges and now the temperature seems reluctant to rise above freezing.                      

However the good news is that Loughborough University have agreed to join us, as have the Nottingham University Medical students, so we now have three different universities resident within the club. This brings youth and vitality to our membership. Most will be paying club subscriptions and will therefore be rowing for Nottingham RC as well as representing their individual universities; I am looking forward to a long and rewarding relationship with all concerned.                                                                                      

We have also increased our junior membership with a new group of 20 joining the club after completing a junior Learn 2 Row course in the autumn, again these have integrated well and brought some of their parents along which adds to the mix. Our first big test of the new season will be the Head of the Trent Head on Sunday March 3rd and I am hoping that all the success of last year continues through to this.

I hope you all have a good season and look forward to this year with some excitement

Best regards,


June 2012


Wednesday, 06 June 2012 11:47 Written by Administrator


I write this on the Jubilee bank holiday, just after what must go down as one of the most successful weekends the club has ever had at top regattas. Talk about the Thames river pageant – what about the Nottingham Rowing Club parade of success!!

The club juniors, coached by Claire Parnell and Julie Edwards, covered themselves in glory at the National Schools’ Regatta at Holme Pierrepont over the Bank Holiday weekend. A relatively small group of hard-training junior athletes came second in the overall medals table with 3 golds, 5 silvers and 1 bronze medal against schools of strong rowing pedigrees such as Eton, Shrewsbury and Lady Eleanor Holles. That is 9 national medals from a group of only 12 juniors!!

The ever-dominant Katie Bartlett (coached by Julie) won championship girls singles in a record time, Rowan Law won J15.1x and Livi Kay won J15G.1x – proving that she has inherited her father’s rowing and competitive genes. Both Rowan and Livi are coached by Claire.

The girls J18 quad of Katie Bartlett, Olivia Duckworth, Mary Wilson and Livi Kay came second to Canford School by only two seconds. This was a marked improvement in the two weeks since Nottingham City Regatta, where a powerful Canford quad had rowed away with the race and our girls came 3rd. The aim of the crew is to try to win the inaugural WJ18 quad event at Henley Royal Regatta: after the weekend’s performance the race is now on! Andrew Wilson is kindly loaning the club a top boat and the crew are being coached by Julie supported by Claire for this race. I urge the club to get behind them for the race at HRR. Come down and support if you are able to, if not then please pass on your good wishes and encouragement if you see them on the water or in the gym.

In other races, Harvey Kay (of the Kay rowing dynasty) and Faisan Shah got a great silver medal in the J15.2x. They broke the course record in the semi-final and narrowly lost it back to Peterborough rowing club in the final. Three NRC girls made the final of J15 singles, with Livi Kay getting gold and Anna Thornton coming home to get a great bronze.

Mary Wilson and Olivia Duckworth (who is only 16) got a silver in J18G.2x after a thrillingly close race losing out narrowly to Belfast who pulled away in the last 500m after being neck-and-neck for 1500m.

On a very rainy Sunday the weather did not dampen the spirits of the juniors with Rowan Law and Anna Thornton rowing up an age group to get silvers in their respective J16.1x events.

Dominic Parnell and Connor Gamble missed out on a medal coming 4th in J16 2X.

The weekend also saw NRC crews competing at the prestigious Metropolitan regatta at the Olympic venue of Dorney Lake (to an “experienced” oarsman it seems as if the world of UK rowing is centering on Dorney - I remember rowing the Met at Docklands with the dead dogs and the unidentified detritus. Character building we called it!)

The men’s senior squad, coached by Dan Johnson, have been training very hard post the head season with the aim of creating a top boat capable of winning at Henley Royal Regatta – avenging our defeat in the final last year. The coxless four raced well at Nottingham City but were beaten by a superb row from Upper Thames in the final of SEN.4-. At the Met, the crew were faced with very stiff competition from the London and Thames clubs with what was likely to be a strong indicator of form for HRR. The crew, stroked by Ed Mace and with powerhouses Matt Gotrel and Pete Muhley in the middle and Rich Watton providing his usual technically excellent performance in the bow seat rowed away from the field in the heat and finals of both Saturday and Sunday to win by comfortable margins of 8 and 9 seconds to take the SEN.4- trophies. Indeed, such was their performance that their times on Saturday would have placed them 2nd in Elite coxless fours ahead of a Leander composite crew and 3rd on Sunday just behind the Leander crew. A great performance over two days (and we beat the Upper Thames crew by 8 seconds).

The men’s coxed four containing Pete Dean, Matt Ley, Rob Yates and Craig Turner came 5th in the final on Saturday; this is a relatively new combination that is still finding its rhythm and speed. There is good pedigree in this boat, as both Matt and Rob were in the Wyfold four which made the final last year. There is plenty of time to improve between now and HRR for the Brittania Challenge cup.

Aidy Leibert competed in SEN.1x, coming 6th in the final of a difficult event. Well done Aidy!

The club had good representation from the women – perhaps a broader range than in previous years where the representation from the club has been from the High Performance group. This year saw the club competing in W.SEN.4+ and W.IM2.4+ as well as W.ELI.4x.

On Saturday the W.SEN.4+ crew came 4th in the final and on Sunday they came 3rd - a good effort.

On Sunday, the crew of Lou Townrow, Hettie Thomas, Cassie White and Heather Wesson coxed by Jo Dodgson and coached by Helen Bloor lead from the start in a storming final to win W.IM2.4+ and comfortably beat some very good opposition including UL, Agecroft and Imperial College.

The elite quad of Nikki Spencer, Catherine Lineker, Laura Wheeler and Lindsay Marshall, coached by Dez Atkins, defended their title from last year and comfortably won their race leading from the first 500m.

All of these crews will be aiming to do well at the upcoming Henley Women’s Regatta in two weeks time. Again, if you find yourself able to, please come down to Henley to support them. It’s a beautiful place and we could well see some NRC wins again.

The regatta season so far has been a rather mixed affair with a number of regattas cancelled due to high water on rivers or a lack of entries at some of the smaller regional regattas. Its rather concerning that six lane regattas like Met and Wallingford (and Marlow) seem to be taking entries from what used to be exciting head to head side by side river regattas.

Call me an out-of-date traditionalist if you like but there is nothing like racing side by side on a narrow river, looking your opponents in the eyes, winning through several rounds, making the final, winning the final and finishing the day off with several pints of foaming ale out of your pot with your victorious and increasingly loud crew mates. In 20 years time you will still be recalling the races, what rate the stroke man took you off at, how you were up or down at 500 and how you called for a last push and came storming through to win by a foot in the last 5 stokes. The veterans motto – “the older I get the better I was…” is oft to be heard in the bar of the Boat club on a Wednesday evening.

We have had over 20 regatta wins since the start of the regatta season at Leicester in April, which builds on our record 63 head season wins. So we are well on course for another 100-win season. Whether we will emulate or break last season’s record 140 wins remains to be seen. One factor against us will be that provincial regattas like Shrewsbury and Bridgnorth get cancelled for high water or lack of entries, or that the intermediate men take the wrong riggers to a regatta, thus depriving the vet F boys of a race at Doncaster international (doh!!).

We have had a hatful of medals – from the great haul of eight gold and two silver at the BR Masters’ Championships to the juniors’ 3 gold, 5 silver and a bronze at the National Schools’ Regatta.

I am looking for some regatta wins from the men’s intermediate and novice squad, the vet men and hopefully the new juniors coached by Ashley. Ironbridge regatta looks the likely target and lets hope we don’t get rain otherwise the river will flood like last year.

I remain convinced that the acquisition of Sims and the creation of a great gym facility has played a key part in our success so far. We have better land and boat facilities than in previous years with more room for whole squads to train together.

The profile of the club is changing as people leave or careers or exams or family life come into play. It is very difficult to maintain the high level of success at all event levels every year. Where we have been very strong in past years, we are not quite so strong this year. Where we have been lacking in depth in previous years we are getting more depth this year. The ebb and flow is natural. Pressures on equipment and capacity is particularly high right now.

It is also very difficult to provide facilities and coaching for such a broad range of age and rowing ability groups as we have in NRC. I know of no other club in the country which caters for the breadth we have in our club and achieves the level of success across such a range as we do. It’s a testament to the coaches, athletes and management of the club that we keep doing it! (even if fights and arguments break out every 4 weeks or so)

Good luck to the intermediate men rowing at Durham this weekend (my old club and river). Please leave the ladies (I use the term in its broadest sense) of Newcastle toon unmolested on Saturday night. Although I rather think they will have the measure of you lot!

Can I ask all members to support social events – it was great to see so many down for the free BBQ last week - I hope that the reason so many were down was not because it was free. Bar takings play a great part in funding boats and equipment - why not have a beer and a sandwich every Wednesday? I and many other athletic veterans do just that as part of our exercise regime.

Can I also ask everyone to be very safety and equipment conscious. Our repair bill this year has been horrendous. Matt has bought a Porsche on the proceeds of our uninsured accidents alone. Every pound we spend on damaged equipment is a pound less on new equipment.

As a last request can I ask that you are supportive of each other and that you take the time to ask how people did in racing and to congratulate winning crews.

Good rowing


Club Captain


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