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.
HoRR race report 2018
Stroke pair schoolboys Harry and Del were excited to return to Tideaway, with the powerhouse middle bucket bringing power from the rhythm. Ross at strongman six seat, followed by Mildert’s iconic duo Tom Wiltshire and Tom Ward at five and four without ignoring James in the three seat – a fine poaching from Collingwood boat club. Keeping the rhythm down the boat and letting the bow rise out of the water were the favourite lightweights, current president Joey and Schoolboy Tony. The boat was steered and lead by Kane in the cox seat, his first time on the Tideaway and only his second Head race.
Obscene scenes were observed in the kitchen on race day – porridge oats and slices of bread flying everywhere, bananas being consumed at the rate of an orangutan sanctuary and Kane sitting in the corner with his allowance of half a slice of toast and coffee. We set off for Cygnet RC to boat.
About 15 minutes after seeing the incredible Brookes/Leander start, it was Mildert’s time to bring the money. A clean build let the row to Barnes bridge feel light and the strokes kept long throughout, the first corner was quickly attacked, and the boys started to feel the power of the Tideway and the infamous crosswind. With Bath BC gaining, it was time for Kane to get aggressive and feel heels smashing into footplates. It wasn’t easy for Bath to overtake, blades got tight, but the VIII were starting to feel the pinch of distance. The mood was lightened when Kane accidently said ‘I don’t want to make it difficult for [Leeds]’, which was certainly not going to forgotten in the bar later. 13 minutes in, pushing off Hammersmith Bridge, surely the end must be nigh. Now passing Fulham football club and chasing the Black Buoy, the screw was ready to be turned. After winding up for the line of boats at Putney, the ‘vanboiz’ did themselves proud. A clean race, just being picked off by Hatfield BC to achieve 4th place in the Durham colleges and a significantly higher overall result than previous years.
There were areas of improvement to work on, but the crew strength proved promising for regatta season and HoRR 2019. Drinks were had in London, drinks were had on the train, drinks were had back in Durham… and both heads and bodies were in pain the day after
HoRR Race Report (2016)
The Wednesday before the Saturday after held much promise. TiM cut through the placid Tyne waters with a balance and composure not yet seen this year, and the men felt prepared to travel to London.
Now pulling impressive ergs, having trained night and day for many weeks, with an average weight of over 90kg, and standing an average of six foot three inches tall, Leander were looking like stiff competition. We’d have to pull a real showstopper!
The row down, while generous at seven kilometres, felt longer than we might have hoped but we resolved there and then to switch on. High on adrenaline, we set off at a formidably high rate before settling down to a little above thirty strokes per minute. Coming under Barnes Bridge the boat felt relatively set, if a little rushed. Coming into the more exposed section of the course, holding our composure proved trying, but the effort was certainly there. With the roars from Hammersmith Bridge fading into earshot the focus peaked as the crew determined to give an overtaking boat a run for their money. Soon the final kilometre was upon us and with Eliot’s yells driving us through the fatigue we crossed the line.
While not a perfect row, the crew enjoyed the race – a first row on the Tideway for most - and look forward to summer fixtures. We did not beat Leander, but then there’s no shame in that is there? Reunited with alumni and friends afterwards, we ate, drank, and made merry : a long day behind us and with ample rowing ahead of us.
WeHoRR race report (2016)
On Saturday 6th March 2016, VMBC Women's 1st VIII (Kat Butler, Anna Morris, Isabel Banister, Nicola Hemson, Amy Fawcett, Catherine Gough, Mary Gibbins, Clare Meredith, coxed by Natasha Roberts) raced in London, in the Women's Eights Head of the River. In the lead up to the race, the girls trained hard, completing weekly ergs and regular long distance Tyne sessions. Tyne outings consisted of pieces focusing on technique and balance before working up to drills focused on timing and power through the drive.
The women’s crew was very lucky to be joined by Natasha Roberts as cox for WeHoRR. This was Natasha first time coxing at WeHoRR but her dedication and commitment to planning a detailed race plan and developing her skills as a cox was invaluable to the performance and morale of the crew. Her calls were meaningful, direct, and highly motivational, focusing on the strengths of the crew but also identifying key areas for each individual to work on.
On the morning of the race the women were quick and efficient whilst preparing the boat to race and ran through the race plan for the final time. The women swiftly boated and headed up stream to the start of the race. On their way up they focused on technique as well as making the most of the opportunity to witness some incredible rowing by composite crews at the start of the race. Inspired by these women, Van Mildert’s 1st VIII prepared 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 quickly rowed through the first section of the race, helped by a strong stream. Unfortunately the women were overtaken a few times, however, this only motivated them to push themselves harder. With Roberts holding a strong line, the rate was then brought up by Butler to 32 keeping all other boats behind them at bay. Roberts called for power from the middle four in the centre of the boat (Bannister, Hemson, Fawcett, & Gough). With a surge after Hammersmith Bridge, stroke pair, Butler & Morris, pushed the crew harder, bring the rate up to 33. Following with even drives from Meredith and Gibbins, the women’s 1st VIII finished with style, crossing the finishing line strong and in time with one another.
The crew finished 4th out of all the colleges and finished 24 places higher up than last year, with a time of 23:04:8. 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.