Welcome to Van Mildert Boat Club (VMBC).

VMBC is a student-run rowing club for members of Van Mildert College, Durham University, England. It is open to all undergraduate and postgraduate members of the College.

Founded in 1965, the club's home water is the River Wear, which is also used by another 11 Durham University Colleges, Durham Amateur Rowing Club and Durham Univeristy Boat Club. All Durham University College Boat Clubs are also represented by the umbrella organisation Durham College Rowing (DCR). The colours of the club are yellow and black, the same as Van Mildert College, with club blades identified by the single colour yellow.

Funding is provided by membership fees from Club Members, Van Mildert JCR, Sponsors and Alumni, allowing VMBC to maintain a healthy fleet of boats - from training boats to racing-level sculling and sweep boats. An Executive Committee is responsible for the running of the club and the members of this committee are elected annually.

The club regularly attends regional and national events, primarily ones held within the University calendar of October-June. This includes the Head of the River Race, Womens Head of the River Race, Durham Regatta, Hexham Regatta, York Regatta, Tyne Head and many more. Training takes place during term time as either land sessions or water sessions, with land sessions taking place at Van Mildert College, the college gym or the Maiden Castle Ergo Suite (University Sports Centre). Pre-seasonal training takes place before term begins in order to build up fitness after holiday breaks.



York Summer Regatta 2014

Mildert dominated York Summer regatta 2014 with five wins (with their reports coming first)! After a hard term of training, 2km tests and socials Mildert definitely deserved the silverware. Well done everyone!

WNov4+ by Agnes Hillered
WNov4+ (Isabel Banister, Agnes Hillered, Maria Haag, Bettina Riddle; coxed by Hannah Pittaway)
After the success of Durham Regatta where this crew reached the final, they were all excited to build on this experience at York Summer Regatta despite the loss of their original cox Nicole Geldenhuys. With nice weather and geese to keep them company, the crew set off to the start line determinedly with their new cox Hannah.
The girls had a bye into the semi-final against Trevelyan. After a dramatic row up to the start line in which the faulty seat at Three had to be replaced by Hannah's quick manoeuvres, Trevs gained an early lead in the race, the girls quickly gained on them with a few stabilizing and lengthening strokes. The girls were able to push off the Trevs crew and keep them off successfully all the way to the finish, thus gaining a place in the final.
The second row up to the start line was less dramatic for the girls' nerves were kept at bay with tunes from Bow. The race itself, however, proved to provide a lot of the drama. In this race, the final, the girls were set against St Aidans. After a problematic start, Aidans were in the lead, but with the desire of denovicing strong and some motivational calls from the cox, the girls did not let Aidans pull away and began to gain on them. In the second half of the race Aidans and Mildert were mostly level, and the girls' attempts to push past Aidans did not seem effective in keeping them off. However with a powerful finish the girls' efforts were rewarded with victory and a British Rowing point in what was later heralded by an umpire as the most exciting race of the day.

WNOV8+ by Rose Earland
On Sunday 22nd June the women's novice 8+ (Audrey Bellis, Ceci Spriggs, Louise Fallon, Rebekah Lyndon, Lucy Colgrave, Rose Earland, Heidi Fitchett, Tasha Brown, coxed by Joss Hutch) raced at York Summer Regatta. With it being my last ever race with VMBC (and my previous race ending with a crash at the finish line...) I was really hoping for a win.
Our first race was against Castle, who were overheard in the toilets chatting about how Mildert were going to be an easy win. Upon hearing this Joss immediately reported back to the rest of the crew, spurring us on to show them what Mildert can do! Lining up to the start you could feel the nerves in the boat, after a strong last few outings (thanks to coaching from Ellie Hunt-Pain and Hipkin) we really wanted the win. Our well practiced (epic) race start immediately pushed us ahead of Castle, and a pressure 10 off the bend gave us a clear lead. We held them off for the rest of the course winning by three boat lengths. We couldn't quite believe that we had just beaten Castle and were through to the final!
With Aiden's beating Devil's Elbow, they became our next opposition. After another clean, strong start we were already ahead of Aiden's. They gave us a good race but we managed to stay ahead, beating them by two boat lengths thanks to the loud cheers from the rest of the club on the bank. The win felt amazing, and it was great to see that our year of training hard had really paid off.
I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone in the club for an fantastic three years, and to the girls in the boat for ending my time in the club with a win and de-novicing!

Lucy Colgrave, Anna Morris, Audrey Bellis, Ceci Spriggs (Coxed by Charlie Dowdle)

Mens IM1.8+
Pat Clark, Tom Arney, Jon Sanderson, Matt Hipkin, Ryan Cunningham, Hugh McCrea, Eliot Voelker and Pete Gadsden (Coxed by Tom Hallett)
This was the last race of the season for the IM1 8+ and all were hungry for a final win after a very eventful regatta season. Their opposition was Sheffield City. The guys produced a flawless piece from beginning to end, their best ever. They took it up to rate 40 off the start and settled at 38 before cranking it up for the finish. This was the highest level the club has competed at in recent years and yet the guys rose to the challenge and won by 2+ lengths. This win also gave Tom Arney a 'hat-trick', having won his last races in the pair, four and eight.

Mens IM2.4+ by Tom Hallett
Pat Clark, Tom Arney, Jon Sanderson, Pete Gadsden (coxed by Tom Hallett)
The Men's IM2 4+ was a straight final against Hull Uni. The Mildert guys stormed off the start and took a length by the bend. Hull made a push back around the bend but the Mildert crew held them and made a push off the bridge to finish the race there and then. We won by approx. 2 lengths.

Joe Fleming, Yigit Kaynar, Alex Finniss, Mike Evison, Alex Darby, Chris Purse, Matt Heydari, George Windscheffel (coxed by Hannah Pittaway)

Paul Kacperek, George Windscheffel, Matt Heydari and Chris Purse (coxed by Charlie Dowdle)

Mixed IM2.8+
Charlotte Bambridge, Ellie Willett, Paul Kacperek, Joe Fleming, Alex Darby, Yigit Kaynar, Louise Fallon and Fran Nutall (coxed by Charlie Dowdle)

Charlotte Bambridge and Lucy Colgrave

Posted By: Van Club, Administrator, on Sun 20 Jul 2014 18:41.

Durham City Regatta 2014

Mens IM3 VIII (by Hugh McCrea)

The men’s first VIII (Patrick Clark, Tom Arney, Ryan Cunningham, Peter Gadsden, Paul Kacperek, Hugh McCrea, Eliot Voelker and Matt Hipkin, coxed by Tom Hallett) competed in the IM3.8+ category at Durham City Regatta over the weekend.

In the first round they faced a formidable crew from St John’s, however after a rapid start it was apparent that the round had been won within the first 15 strokes, and the men cruised along the racecourse with clear water separating them from their opponents.

The next round saw the crew face competitors from DARC. After initially losing a few inches off the start, Mildert quickly established a strong lead thanks to some heavy shunting, and secured themselves a place in the final.
Cox Tom Hallett put at ease any pre-final nerves, assuring the crew that “It’s not a question of if we beat them, it’s a question of when.” Following this the crew fought through a tense race and beat Collingwood by a third of a boat length. Big thanks to all who came down to support , to Pete Gadsden for his words of wisdom and dextrose supplies, and to Harry Inman for giving us all a sports massage after the race.

Women's Novice 4 (by Anna Morris)
On Saturday 10th March 2014, one of VMBC’s women’s fours (Louise Fallon, Anna Morris, Becky Thomas and Natalie Tunstall-Jackman, coxed by Hannah Pittaway) competed in Durham City Regatta. Following a week of training during preseason and a couple of outing together during the first few weeks of term, the girls trained hard in preparation for their first regatta of the year. For some of the girls it was their first ever regatta, very exciting! The crew continued to practice their racing starts during training with the help of cox Hannah Pittaway, and Isabel Banister and Daniel Thompson coaching. This gave the crew confidence to start the race as efficiently as possible and put them in a strong position for the upcoming 800m stretch.

Boating went smoothly and the weather was looking promising as the crew set off from Mildert Boat house towards the racecourse. On their way they practiced two race starts then rowed together towards the start, focusing on technique and timing. As the crew reached DARC, the relaxed atmosphere quickly changed. Cox Hannah Pittaway was challenged with trying to stay out of the race course, off the bank and keep distance the rest of the crews. She did an excellent job, remaining calm and guiding the woman through the maze of boats up to the start. They spun the boat and began to look for their competitors their competitors, Hatfield.

It was a relief when they finally spotted their competition. As quoted by one of the crew members “for once I’m happy to see Hatfield”. The Hatfield cox was surprisingly friendly, which helped calm the crew’s nerves slightly. The time had come, running an hour late, the women were finally ready to race. Just then, yellow blades appeared around the corner, it was the men’s VIII. They had just won their first race. Inspired by the success of the men’s crew, the women readied themselves at the start with a crowd of VMBC and supporters and parents cheering the crew on the bank and bridge.

The women's crew took off with a clean and controlled start, gaining a strong lead. Although they were leading, it was important that the crew continued to put the pressure down whilst settling into a good rhythm. Hatfield were gaining, but motivated by their cox, Pittaway, Mildert managed to keep pushing them off for the length of the race course. With every powerful draw, Mildert sprinted across the finishing line with a clear lead. The crew was overjoyed, after fearing the worst when they first found out they were racing Hatfield.

Time for the second race, Mildert were now racing against Mary’s. The competition looked strong but the girls were determined to give it everything they had. The start was clean, even more powerful than the first and the crew settled into a good pace. Despite their best fighting efforts from the start it was clear that Mary’s were not holding back. They broke out into the lead. This made the crew more determined and they managed to close the gap significantly, but it just wasn’t quite enough. If the course had been slightly longer, Mildert might have had it. Despite the loss it was a very close finish and the crew as a whole decided that they came together as a crew better in the second race.

After taking the boat back to the boathouse, the women’s crew made it back to the race course just in time to see the men’s victory, which sent them to the final.
The result was a very respectable finish from the crew, and positive start to beginning of the regatta season for the women's squad. VMBC has shown that they are a hard-working and dedicated boat club. Therefore, the upcoming regatta season promises further success for the women.

Men’s Novice 4
Unfortunately the regatta was cancelled mid way through division three due to rising river levels. Nevertheless the mens four (Yigit Kaynar, Alex Finniss, George Windscheffel and Joe Fleming, coxed by Jocelyn Hutch) secured a great win over St Cuths in the first round, maintaining a balanced and tidy race throughout. Well done guys!
Posted By: Jonathan Sanderson, President, on Mon 19 May 2014 18:31.

WeHoRR 2014

This year VMBC sent two VIIIs down to London for Womens Head of the River. 239 crews started after the organisers stopped many inexperianced crews racing. Thankfully both VMBC VIII's were adjudged to be competent enough despite the fast stream. Despite the wear flooding all term leading to a lack of water outings both crews had worked hard to gel as a team. The 1st VIII did extremely well to come 5th out the colleges. The 2nd VIII were equally successful and beat the only other college 2nd VIII to be allowed to enter. Read on for race reports from members of the crews!

WeHoRR 1st VIII race report (written by Bettina Riddle)
On Saturday 15th March 2014, VMBC Women's 1st VIII (Emily Clark, Ellie Willett, Isabel Banister, Bettina Riddle, Lucy Colgrave, Rose Earland, Maria Haag, Natalie Tunstall-Jackman, coxed by Hannah Pittaway) competed in London in the Women's Eights Head of the River. Throughout Epiphany term, the girls trained hard clocking weekly 7ks and travelling to Tyne for extra water sessions in Trust in Mildert. The week before WeHoRR the crew was kindly prepped and coached by Peter Gadsden, the new Men’s Captain, and Tom Arney, the current Novice Development Captain. The women focused on power in the drive and timing through several drills in lengthening provided by Gadsden.

The women’s crew was very lucky to be joined by Hannah Pittaway as cox for WeHoRR. She gave her time and experience to planning and preparing for the race and was invaluable to the performance and morale of the crew. Her calls were quick, direct, and highly motivational, calling upon each woman’s strengths and weaknesses until they gave it their everything.

In the midst of boating it was discovered that one of TiM’s hatchets was missing and one was kindly lent to the crew from Thames Rowing Club. With that the women swiftly boated and headed up stream to the start of the race. On their way up they focused on technique and were excitedly surprised as Leander Club (who came second overall in the race) rowed past with intense stokes and beautiful technique. Inspired by these women, Van Mildert’s 1st VIII readied themselves at the start with a crowd of VMBC parents, alumni, and supporters cheering the crew on at Hammersmith Bridge.

At the start, the women’s crew took off at rate 30 holding long strong strokes. With each woman’s powerful draw, Mildert spirited through the first section of the race, helped by a strong stream. Although they were overtaken by Agecroft BC, the women held the other crew off until the opposing cox challenged Pittaway for their line. The rate was then brought up by Clark to 32 keeping all other boats behind them at bay. Pittaway urged for more vigour aided by encouragement from the power four in the centre of the boat (Colgrave, Riddle, Banister, & Earland). With a surge after Hammersmith bridge, stroke pair, Clark & Willett, steadied and then pushed the crew harder, bring the rate up to 33. With even drives from Tunstall-Jackman and Haag, the women’s 1st VIII finished with style.

The crew finished 171th, with a time of 21.31.2. This result was a very respectable finish from the crew, and a great end to the head season for the women’s squad. VMBC has shown that it is a force to be reckoned with, and the regatta season promises further success for the women

Womes 2nd VIII WeHoRR report (written by Ceci Spriggs)
Crew: Louise Fallon, Ceci Spriggs, Audrey Bellis, Anna Morris, Charlotte Bambridge, Rebekah Lyndon, Heidi Fitchett, Agnes Hillered; coxed by Jocelyn Hutch

On saturday 15th March, with the sun shining and birds chirping, Cygnet boathouse was the perfect place for the 2nd VIII to sit back, work on their tans and have a rest before WeHORR 2014. That was the Castle 2nd VIII. In true Mildert style we were battling with detrailering the bathtub that is Ham Hoo, discovering she was missing screws, a completely disintegrated bolt holding on the rigger at 4 and trying to tackle the problem of how to not sink in the race when we discovered that the boat was in fact not entirely watertight. However with teamwork, a bit of stress and a fair bit of thievery (I mean, did Aiden's actually need all the bolts holding the two halves of the boat together..) we managed to assemble our beautiful boat and embark on a crew photoshoot and last minute carb-loading, a task that we all took very seriously.

With help from alumni Heather Reay it was finally time to start boating. Once on the water we soon realised that we were on the wrong side of the river with no way to cross to the other side with the race already being under way, we had a slight stress (read: major panic) but finally, what felt like an eternity later, it was our turn to race. The countless early mornings, painful ergos and all the time and effort each and every member of the crew have put into training the last term certainly paid off and we set off strongly, perfectly calculated through the start by the beautiful Jocelyn Hutch. Louise Fallon at stroke, inspired by Tom Arney's advice to 'not take sh*t from anyone', quickly settled us into our much practiced rate which, teamed with every members dedication meant we managed to hold off a DU crew (admittedly novices but who gives a..) untill well beyond the 2k mark.

After pushing off hammersmith bridge, encouraged by the shouts of support from family and friends, the last 3k were, as promised, hard and painful. But with Joss's shouts of 'DON'T DIE' and thinspiration for summer bikini bodies as we passed the Harrods depository, we made it to the last stretch and with a final pressure for ten, shredded hands and burning bums we finally passed the finish line.

The pain was all worth it when we ended up coming first out of the 2nd VIII's. Admittedly, there were only two but noone else needs to know that and we all agreed, as did Mark from DARC (our new bezzie mate), that our 0.3 second victory was all the more impressive considering the whole 'rowing in a bathtub meant for 90kg men' situe. Although some of the photos suggest otherwise the boat felt balanced and strong, with the whole crew working as one, and our attractively distorted faces in the photos show what an incredible effort everyone made, and how much every single member invested in the race. A huge thankyou to Ellie Willett for giving us the chance to race, the whole crew had a fantastic race, enjoyable day and, most importantly, beat Castle!
Posted By: Jonathan Sanderson, President, on Tue 15 Apr 2014 18:47.
More news can be found in the news archive.