The Wraysbury Eye – May 2016



The last Eye said happy New Year and we’ve already missed happy Easter and happy May Day; a lot of water has flowed under the bridge, literally; very high and very fast with lots of red boards in the intervening months; the skiffing season has started… just, after a delay due to the red boards with events cancelled, then some ran, then cancelled again, and the next dragon boat event is already National League Round 3.

We’ve had some skiffing entries, the dragon boaters have been to the World Club Crew Championships in Adelaide, there have been time GB trials for the European Championships in Rome this summer and they have attended the first two National League events.

Skiff Training: Carol’s group of Newbie’s and Oldies have continued to go out when they can. Saturday mornings are back on, as are Sunday mornings and of course our regular Thursday evening Club nights.

Dragon boat World Championships:  The dragon boaters have returned from Adelaide victorious; taking only 17 paddlers, they set out to retain their World Champion status in the 2000m and see how they got on in the 500m and 200m, but they went a little bit better than that, returning undefeated in all 7 races (a total of 18-19 mins of racing over 3 days), 3 gold medals and triple World Champions in their class – Senior B Open in Standard Boats (over 50’s in 20 person boats with any combination of men and women); not only that, as a large German all male crew said after one race, ‘Only 17 paddlers and 2 of them are women!’; even the Australians, gracious in defeat, sang Rule Britannia to the crew after the final race.

Dragon boat National Selection: A number of the crew have qualified for international selection for Great Britain for the European Nations Championships to be held in Rome this Summer; Romy Nash, Lucy Scott, Julia Griffin, Fiona Johnson and Dom Walker for the Senior A’s, where Dom is also helping in an official capacity with the coaching; Ian Bowers, Phil Endecott, Mick Roche, Clive Hearne, Colin Smith, Paul Atkins, Neale Johnson, Fred Harris and Rob Crowley for the Senior B’s; Ian Bowers is once again one of the coaches and Liz Hearne is the manager.

Social: On the social side, we had a very successful Crew Supper and at Easter, drinks, nibbles and an Easter Egg Hunt while watching the Boat Race.

Wraysbury Long Distance Sculls: On Saturday 14th May, Wraysbury were due to host the Wraysbury Long Distance Sculls, however it had to be cancelled, as did all regattas on the Thames that day, due to the stream conditions; look out for notices if we manage to find a suitable date to re-schedule it later in the season.

Ian MacDougal Punt: On Sunday 5th June, we shall be officially launching the ‘Ian MacDougal’ punt now that Paul Barfoot has finished renovating it; members of Ian’s family will be there as well as friends, and all are welcome to attend; the bar will be open, as Ian would have expected!

Dragon Boat National League Event at Wraysbury: On Sunday 12th June, Wraysbury host National League Event Round 4 for the British Dragon Boat Racing Association; we would greatly appreciate your help in running this event. All the usual regatta jobs need doing – setting up on Sat, taking it all down afterwards on Sun, teas, bar, course, launch driving, etc, etc; a separate email will be sent out about this.

Egham Regatta: On Sunday 26th June, Wraysbury host Egham Regatta; Smithy has sent out a separate email asking his regular helpers to assist again this year; please do not be shy in coming forward to offer your help if you haven’t been asked. You can contact Smithy on

‘The State of the Club’

At the last Committee Meeting we discussed the state of the Club in relation to the active membership and what we could do about it. We thought we would share this with you to solicit your input and ideas, which would be welcomed, whether they are quite sensible or off the wall, because doing nothing is not an option, so anything and everything should be considered.

There was a lively and open discussion, but nothing was decided; the first thing is admitting there is a problem, but there is no single or definitive cure. The second thing is trying to decide what to do about it.

In round numbers, there are some 120 paid up members, which from a financial point of view, we are extremely grateful for.

However, when we get to the active side, there are only around 25/30 skiffers/punters going out on a regular basis, although a much smaller number are actually racing.

There are also about the same number of dragon boaters, although some of those are out of town members who we do not see at the club that often.

So in effect, only around 50% of the club membership actively use the club’s facilities and rarely at the same time.

The numbers are fairly static with new joiners and leavers in equal measures.

It may seem that there is a ‘dominance’ of dragon boating, but that is not the case, it is just that they are typically there in numbers by the nature of the sport and stick to the ‘traditional’ club opening days/times, while the skiffers are in small groups or individual crews, spread out during the week, often go out early and leave early, go out on a Saturday and often during the day as well, establishing training sessions to suit them on a variety days and times.

We also have an aging membership, which has several issues, not least being ‘unattractive’ when trying to encourage new younger members and also getting those who are using the Club to keep contributing, year after year, like they have been doing for so many years.

We do need more youngsters, but the term ‘youngsters’ is all relative; we have enjoyed some tremendous seasons and success with our juniors at various stages, but each time, in the end, they go off to university and invariably don’t return, so juniors is certainly not the panacea to all our problems; they are most welcome, but ‘temporary’.

People in their 30’s would be relative youngsters!

There have often been ideas to get past rowers to take up skiffing and punting however, there is very much a numbers game in rowing, which in turn leads to funding for British Rowing, so they now foster these less competitive rowers with recreational rowing.

It was decided, that the maxim of ‘in the old days’ we used to do so and so, is actually not relevant today; we cannot return to those heady days of regattas running heats on a Friday night, 3-lane racing and queuing at the club for a turn to use a boat…. and drinking huge amounts of alcohol at the bar into the early hours of the morning!

Today, people have different needs from their sports club, which might be one of several they belong to or activities they partake in; skiffing, punting and dragon boating may not actually be the be all and end all of their life, and they want to spend every waking hour at the Club; they have a pressurised job to hold down, a family to keep and lots of other commitments.

So what can we do about it? First off, there is 50% of the membership that could start using the Club again; perhaps you fancy going out during the day because you are retired or can work flexible hours and could join in John Dymott’s group ( Perhaps you could just go out for gentle outings, or prop up the bar; we’d just like to see more usage of the Club and perhaps the racing will follow.

There is also word of mouth; nothing beats a recommendation.

Presently, we are trying Learn To Row courses, the first of which was run by Carol Cornell last season; this was successful and we will be repeating it in June (see under Skiffing for dates), so if you know anyone who might be interested in trying this out, please contact Carol. But this isn’t a one off, it has to be continual and Carol needs support with this when they are running; Of course it doesn’t stop there; our new members will need further and different coaching as they step up through the status’s, as we hope they will.

We are keeping our website up-to-date and constantly refreshing it with information; while this may not be the source of information for active club members, this does improve hits when people are searching the Internet.

In a similar vein for ‘modern’ communication methods, which may already be out of date, we are also maintaining our Facebook presence. If you are on Facebook, then like us and our posts, then these will get spread to your friends; this is an effective way of spreading our message quickly to a wider audience.

So, any comments and suggestions will be gratefully received.

General Club Stuff

AGM & Officers: This was held at the Club on Thursday 10th March. The following were elected, largely unchanged.

President Paul Barfoot
Hon Secretary Imogen O’Neill
Hon Regatta Secretary Imogen O’Neill
Hon Treasurer & VAT Officer Dave Taylor
Vice Captain of Punting Paul Barfoot
Vice Captains of Skiffing Steve Myhill, Phil Costello, Ken Ducas and Carol Cornell
Vice Captain of Dragon Boating John Wennington
Safety and Welfare Officer Carol Cornell
Property Officer Clive Hearne helped by Steve Myhill
Bar Stewards Phil Oke, Greg Floyd and Colin Smith
Junior Coordinator Vacant – If you want to bring your younger kids down on a Sunday morning for Kiddies Boating, then the Committee would welcome you to take on this role to get it all going again. Note: Mike Oneill will continue to coach the older children who are now competing in the Junior Pennant for skiffing
Social Secretary Mary Sherry
Website James Neeves – continues to look after the website, but we still need someone to do other external publicity and people to feed Jeeves information from regattas and other events to update the website

Weekly Activities

Wednesday Evenings: Summer Circuits – these continue, but in ‘Summer’ mode; please be there promptly from 19.00 to set up for a 19.15 start. They may be held outside on Runnymede, weather permitting. There will be hot food served afterwards. As usual, all are welcome.

Thursday Evenings: the main Club evening has gone into Summer mode and Imo has been preparing food for all since Easter. A separate email has gone out from Imo, but if you would like to help by preparing a meal one Thursday, please let Imo know so she can set up a rota.

Saturday/Sunday Morning Skiffing: These will continue when river conditions permit, so look out for Carol’s emails; aimed at our newbie’s there are sessions at 11.00 and 8.30 respectively, so it doesn’t take all day; food is involved as well; others are always welcome to coach and to partake.

Sunday Mornings: the Club is always open on a Sunday morning, the dragon boat will go out at 10.00 and all are welcome to come down and train.

Pewter Tankards: we are still collecting and have received a number of donations. Do you want to dispose of yours?

Annual Subscriptions

These are now due for the current membership year and for those who are not on a standing order, should be paid as soon as possible; they are very reasonable for the facilities provided and have been retained at the current level for another season.

Junior/Student £50
Non-active/Out of Town £55
Adult Active £175
FAMILY(1)1 Active Adult, 1 Non-Active Adult and all children under 16 with one correspondence address £275
FAMILY(2) 2 Active Adults and all children under 16 with one correspondence address £395
Racking Fee £100

This can be paid directly into the WSPC bank account as follows….

  • Account holder: Wraysbury Skiff and Punting Club
  • Sort Code: 40-35-43
  • Account Number: 30882542

Please put something meaningful in the narrative so it can be picked up on the bank statements.

Or…. we still accept good old cash and cheques, which you can give to Dave Taylor when you see him at the Club.

Thanks to all those who have already paid.

Club Kit

Another reminder that we do keep club kit in stock at the Club and the regatta season is upon us… are you properly kitted out? Please ask Dave Taylor if you need any; we have:

Adult Caps £8
Children’s Caps £5
Children’s T-shirt (white ages 5-6 and 7-8, green ages 5-6, 7-8, 9-11 and 12-13) £7
Children’s Hoodies £10
Adult Polo Shirts (XL & L) £15
Racing Zephyrs (XL, L, M & S) £32
Racing Shorts (XL & L) £32
Dragon Boat Racing Tops (XXL, XL, L, M & S) £39
Beanie Hats £8
Club Ties
Club Bow Ties

The Gym/Mezzanine – please keep this neat and tidy putting equipment away when you have used it; weights and other items left lying about present a trip hazard! Despite the report of smoke/burning smells coming out of the treadmill, this seems to be fine now after extensive testing by a variety of people; please report anything like that to a member of the Committee if it happens again.

Door Pin Pad – after too many years with the same combination, this has now been changed; for those down regularly, I’m sure you know the new combination; if not please contact Imo.

Film Shoot – The club was hired out recently to film an advert for the Bespoke Hotel Group featuring the Urban Raja .It featured Ivor, the well known India chef behind Urban Raja doing typically ‘British’ things, i.e. skiffing, to advertise one of Bespoke Hotels new Indian chain.

Great River Race – this year we are entering a dragon boat crew organised by Clive Hearne and John Dymott is organising 2 skiff crews.

On the Water


Please let us know if there is any damage to blades so they can receive attention. You can write this on the white board on the boathouse door; similarly, if there is any damage to a skiff that you spot, or it leaks (i.e. you have to sponge a lot of water out of it after an outing), please also write this on the board so we can do something about it.

WSPC are hosting the Lowe & Davies this year, which will be held on Sunday 11th September, the day after the Club Regatta, so we host a regatta 2 days running. We would really like to enter some teams this year on our home course, so would our ‘senior’ skiffers please put this date in their diaries and make themselves available.

Carol will be running the first L2Row course of this year in June on Sat 18th, Sat 25th and Mon 27th. Please support Carol in this endeavour and if you know people who might be interested in this, please contact Carol.

We will also run a Punting fun course in the Summer.

Saturday 2 April
S Mepham Mixed Marathon
This was cancelled due to red boards and we had 2 crews entered. It will be re-scheduled later in the season.
Sunday 24 April
DSPC LD Singles
John Dymott entered the Gents Novice category; the full results are attached to the Eye email.
Saturday 30 April
Tiny & Nancy Knight
We had no entries for this event.
Sunday 8 May
Gordon Dear Mixed Marathon
We had 2 entries for this event, Carol Cornell and Steve Myhill coming 2nd in the Higher category and John Dymott and Pauline Teale 6th in the highly competitive Novice category.
Saturday 14 May
Wraysbury LD Sculls
This was cancelled due to red boards and we had 5 crews entered. It will be re-scheduled later in the season.

Calendar of Events for 2016

This will be expanded as the year goes on, but here are the just the dates for the Skiffing & Punting regattas.

Saturday 21 May SSPC 6K Head
Sunday 26 June Egham
29 June-3 July Henley Royal Regatta
Sunday 10 July WBC Junior Marathon
Saturday 16 July TVSC Club
Saturday 23 July Hampton Court & Dittons
Sunday 24 July DSPC Junior Regatta
Fri/Sat 29/30 July Wargrave & Shiplake
Saturday 30 July Chertsey & Shepperton
Sunday 31 July Punting Championships
Saturday 6 August Wraysbury & Old Windsor
Saturday 13 August Sunbury
Sunday 14 August Sunbury Junior Regatta
Saturday 20 August Walton Reach
Sunday 28 August Skiff Championships
Saturday 3 September Skiff Club
Saturday 3 September Great River Race
Saturday 10 September WSPC Club
Sunday 11 September Inter Club (WSPC)
Saturday 17 September DSPC Club
Saturday 24 September Wargrave Club
Saturday 8 October (pm) Singles Marathon
Sunday 16 October (am) Doubles Marathon

Dragon Boating

The IDBF World Club Crew Championships – Adelaide – Australia

This was a fantastic event that was very well run; it was on the end of the Australian National Championships, followed by the Asian Games and finally, The World Club Crew Championships. With the backing of local government, it ensured that Adelaide was busy for a month with full hotels and restaurants, and people spending money in local businesses.

Despite only travelling with 17 paddlers, the boat was moving well and there was a quiet air of confidence and optimism in the crew, but you never know who else is going to turn up and what sort of crew they would have; after all, for most, it would be a long and expensive trip, so we were not alone in paddling with less than the normal IDBF limit of 18 for such championships.

Sadly, there were not a lot of crews entered in our class of racing, so most races were combined with the Senior C Open (Over 60’s) and the Senior A Open (Over 40’s) joined us in the 2000m time trial race.

Notwithstanding this, the races were very close with our biggest winning margin being just under 2 sec and our smallest going down to fractions of a second.

There were some 5000 competitors and to get a sense of the crews overall achievement, the times were posted for all races (some 600+ at each race distance), and Wraysbury featured in the top 10% in them all, which isn’t bad for an over 50’s crew.

The event will be remembered for many things, but stick out.

Firstly, Phil Costello, who while he had done some training with the crew had never ever raced in a dragon boat before that first race at a World Championships; he fully played his part in the crew and holds the unlikely distinction of being a triple world champion, having never raced before and has never lost a race.

Secondly, during the Henley Winter Series, Trish Corless’s inspirational and motivational calls from the drummers seat came up with, ‘Wraysbury, on my command, unleash hell!’. This was bettered in the final race of the 500m when over her speaker system came the call to ‘Kill off the Germans’; luckily, they were 2 lanes away and in the general noise of the crowd and the drums, didn’t hear.

After the final race and 7 straight wins, the normally reserved coach was seen to stand up in the boat and shake his fist.

17th April – Bristol, Bristol Docks

The first event of the season and a good set of the results; in the 200m, which was more like 250m and a bit of a ‘shock’ in the first race when the finish had not arrived after the normal 200m number of strokes, we were placed 3rd in the Major Final; in the 2000m race we were placed 2nd and in both events, we were the highest placed Mixed crew.

1st May – Crusaders, Crosby

The second event of the season also produced a good set of results, assisted in part by other crews not performing as well as they should have; Wraysbury were placed 3rd in the Major final of both the 200m and the 450m in some extremely close races, and not the greatest of conditions – it was a miserable Bank Holiday up North; as in previous years, with 4 abreast, but no lane markings, there was a certain amount of wash hanging as well. We were once again the highest placed Mixed crew.

League: After 2 events, we are top of the shadow Mixed League, and should be 2nd in the Premier League, although the full results and league tables have yet to be published.

League events for 2016

29th May Powerhouse, Stockton
12th June Wraysbury
2nd/3rd July St Neots (exact date TBC)
17th July Windy Pandas, Surrey Docks
14th August Notts Anaconda, Nottingham
11th September Worcester

International: The next international event for Wraysbury Dragons will be the EDBF European Club Crew Championships, which are returning to Divonne-Les-Bains in France in 2017; rather than racing Senior B Open, the crew is looking to do a Mixed category this time, however the age group will depend on those wishing to make the trip and we may have to drop down to the Senior A category to accommodate our ‘younger’ paddlers.


Sat 2nd July – Howard Lawes Jazz Band will be playing at the Club again and there will be a BBQ. Please put this date in your diary and look out for Mary’s notices; it will be a great evening.


Disabled Shower Room: Work has started on what had become a storeroom and general dumping ground, to turn it into a shower room. The new floor is in place and nearly ready to have its covering put down.

Lawn: There is mains powered electric lawn mower at the Club and we are grateful to John Dymott for giving the lawn its first cut of the season; do we have a volunteer to cut it on a regular basis?


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Categories: Wraysbury Eye

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