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.
Tyne Head 2015
As with Rutherford Head, our last race in the 8, we only had a few sessions in which to get the 8 running before Tyne Head. Losing Ryan from the boat was a blow, but Joe came in and fitted in well. We were getting the boat moving well coming up to the race, and it was decided to re-gear the blades the session before. This had a huge impact on the feel of the boat, allowing us to be much more effective through the drive. The race itself was fairly relaxed for the most part. Lacking its usual contingent of college crews, the marshaling before the race ran very smoothly, and we boated in good time, had a good row down and spent very little time waiting at the start. We were the first boat off the start. Our fist few strokes were slightly shaky, but we set off in a good rhythm, however the DARC 8 behind us were pushing us hard right from the off. They took a might tighter line round the first corner and by the scrapyard the were passing us, worryingly easily. I think we were slightly shaken by this, and by the pressure that DARC were putting on us, because the boat wasn't running as well as it had been in training. Still, after they had left us we could see the Tyne crew behind them, and the Castle first 8 behind that and I think this gave us new focus and motivation. Through the second half of the race we found a really solid and consistent rhythm, and really settled into the race, working hard and gained back ground on Tyne, really pushing off them in the last 500m as we came under Newburn Bridge. We ended up finishing 3rd overall, losing to DARC and the DUBC freshers. We held our distance from Tyne, to pip them to the bronze spot by 0.4 seconds, and gained a healthy 23 seconds on the castle first boat. based on this result I'm feeling confident of the crew and the amount we have accomplished in a relatively short space of time. We've got 5 weeks to HORR now and I feel we can really get some good quality improvements between now and then. Optimism is running high at the moment.
York Summer Regatta 2014
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)
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)
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
Durham City Regatta 2014
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!