Chairman's report for 2012/13 season

Sons offers affordable rowing to men and women aged from 18 to 80. A volunteer-led club, Sons continues to provide a welcoming and friendly base for novice and experienced rowers to develop in the sport. 

The remit of Sons continues to be competitive rowing and this year has been no exception with over 170 individual race entries at 30 events across the head and regatta seasons. This is an increase of over 70% of the average annual entries between 2007 and 2012. Rowing outings logged this season once again passed the 1500 mark (at an average of 3 people per outing) which equates to approximately 86 individual water sessions each week. 

Sons continues to be a place where sporting participation is thriving, and where competitiveness is being continually developed.

Squad Rowing and Racing

It was a tale of two squads for the respective men’s and women’s sections of the Club this year, following two very different seasons in 2012. The men were looking to build upon and maintain the success of qualifying two boats in to the Henley Royal Regatta in 2012, whereas the women were looking to build on the core 2012 squad following the back to back migrations and retirements of squad athletes following the success of the 2010 and 2011 squads.

For the men, whilst the ultimate aim of a Henley qualification was just missed, successes can still be drawn from the performance of the squad throughout the season. Two boats were entered for the Head of the River Race (although this was eventually cancelled) and the squad returned to Plovdiv for the 3rd successive year, with resultant performance improvements at both the Metropolitan and Marlow Regattas. The men’s squad had 18 athletes participating throughout the season.

The women’s squad finished 2012 with a small but dedicated squad and have spent the year expanding through new members and integrating the 2012 novices, to the point where they now number 25 members. The success of this process has been noticeable with several women’s boats hitting the water on most weekends throughout the season. Two crews were entered and raced at the Women’s Head of the River and there were several noticeable victories at the summer regattas, with Sons crews picking up double points on two separate occasions and 28 points won in total. The squad has had a very successful “transition” year and will hopefully now build on this strong foundation during the 2013/2014 season.

The men’s squad was coached throughout the year by Drago Zhelev and Sam Haeata, and the Women’s squad by Cat Hart, Paul Hinds, Emily Hillyard and Craig Richardson. Our thanks go to them for their hard work and dedication.

Novice Rowing and Learn to Row

Sons continues to offer beginners to the sport an opportunity to pick up an oar and find out the joys of wearing copious quantities of lycra. The 2012 women’s learn to row participants played a key role within the revival of the women’s squad, whilst the men continued the season going it alone under the watchful eye of Tony Brown. Both sets of novices have enjoyed success throughout the season and have played a key part in the race entries, earning their spurs at several regattas throughout the summer. The training and racing experience of this year will stand them in fine stead as they transition through to the main squads in 2013.

This summer saw the introduction of a new style “Learn to Row” course, implemented as a stand-alone summer course. 25 people took part in the 6 week course and gained an introduction to rowing on the tideway. The Club continues to pride itself on its accessibility and welcoming nature, and these courses are a vital part to the club’s continued success. Notable mentions should be made here of the work of Andrew Maunder and Cat Hart who oversaw the course, and of course to the many members who assisted them.
Our thanks go to Tony, Andrew and Cat for their work in these areas.


Sons (relative to the size of its membership) has the benefit of a large fleet at its disposal, but the fleet is in an aging condition and it is a priority of the club that this is addressed for the club’s continued success. In the last 12 months the committee has authorised the captains to source a new 4-/x for the men’s squad and an 8+ for the women’s squad. The main requirement for the 2013/2014 season is to work on the boat replacement plan so that the club can ensure that the fleet is maintained at a level that will continue to aid the rowing ambitions of the club.

The club has clearly enjoyed a very full year of racing and membership levels are at their highest for some time. It is vital however that the club does not just sit still, and must therefore plan for the future. Priority should be given to further the development plans of the club, and in turn focus on how the Club can increase its income. Only with a clear vision and the means to fulfil it will the club be in a position to continue its year on year growth.
The membership is both vibrant and active. I hope everyone has enjoyed their year and is looking forward to what 2013/2014 can bring.

A final thank you to those involved in the success this season:
The Captains: Tony Brown, Lizzie Austin, Ross Cook;
The Coaches: Sam Haeata, Drago Zhelev, Emily Hillyard, Cat Hart, Paul Hinds, Craig Richardson, Andrew Maunder;
The Social Secretary: Lju Lazarevic;
The Committee; and The Members.

Rory O’Hare
Sons of the Thames Rowing Club