News 2022

The Santa Row Dec 2022

Christmas Eve saw the traditional Santa Row – mixed up crews and fancy dress. Followed in the clubhouse by mince pies and lots of warming tea and coffee.



A Review of Devil’s Racing Calendar in 2022

Vesta Veteran’s Head Race Sun 27th March

The official finishing time for our Men’s 8 was 22:43 with an average split of 1:40.2 over the 7k course and an average stroke rate around 28 spm. We fought hard and maintained good pace and composure throughout, finishing 108th out of 184 crews.

Leicester Regatta Sun 24th April

Our ladies’ squad won a well-matched race in their coxed quad over Leicester Rowing Club’s dead straight but pretty narrow 700m course, level-pegging all the way down and pulling ahead at the finish to win by a canvas (if I remember correctly).

Trentham Regatta Sat 5th June

Our Men’s squad raced a coxed 4 and a single scull over the 750m regatta course. Lousy weather but a decent row. Our coxed 4 was beaten be a length in the semi-finals whilst Darren was beaten by a bow-ball in his first single scull race of the season.

Ironbridge Regatta Sat 25th June

Our Men’s coxless 4 did not have a great race, having one or two steering issues on this technically demanding 1000m course. Darren, again, had a good race in his single scull race but was beaten narrowly at the finish.

Kellie and Jooles on the other hand won both their Women’s doubles races in fine style.

Burton Regatta Sun 10th July

We had three sculling crews racing at the 600m sprint event on the Sunday.

Kellie and Jooles raced their Women’s double scull, Darren raced his single and Ed and Alex raced their mixed double. Kellie and Jooles managed to pull back nearly all of their massive 12 second handicap but all our crews fell foul of the current on the bend below the start. Beautiful regatta weather, great hosts and Alex’s debut race.

Great Tyne Row Sun 21st August

The men raced a coxed quad with a fast time and had a great day out. Not sure of further detail.

Cambridge Regatta Sun 11th September

Kellie and Jooles flew the flag for our Ladies’ squad in the Women’s double scull race. They romped home in their heat and seemed to be very much on the way to winning their final but some issue put them out of their stride which lost them their pots. Such a shame.

Men’s Open 8+ was beaten narrowly by a bunch of whippersnappers from Cambridge 99 by a length.

Men’s Masters D 8+ beat Peterborough City RC by a canvas.

Men’s Open coxed 4+ again beaten by a crew that was over half our age (and probably half our weight as well). Huntingdon won by 1 ½ lengths.

Men’s Masters D/E coxed four beat St Ives by 1 ½ lengths.

Darren beaten by a sculler from Maidenhead in his 1x.

Jim beaten by a sculler from Maidstone Invicta in his 1x.

We were very happy with the two wins. Everyone got a free pint of local ale with their pots; a very civilised lot in Cambridge.

Burton Head Race Sun 2nd Oct

Another great day for Kellie and Jooles who won their class in the double scull over the 3.5k course.

Having won their class in 2021 the Men’s 8 were a bit disappointed not to repeat their success in 2022. They still put in a good shift but were beaten by a good crew from Derby RC.

Chairman Jim competed in his single scull in an earlier division before coxing the Ladies in their 8.

Our Ladies’ 8 had no competition but themselves, had what they described as ‘a fabulous row’ and took a minute off their training time achieved over the same stretch of river the previous week.

Head of the Don  Sun 6th Nov

The Men’s 8 won their class in this head race, beating their opposition by almost 3 minutes over the 4k course. A great stretch of river and really friendly locals.

Newark Head Race Sat 3rd Dec

The Men’s 8 failed to repeat their pot-winning success of their previous year’s race but managed a good performance against tough competition.

Our Ladies’ 8 came home blistered and buzzing after having a tremendous row over the 5k head course (plus an 8k row up to the start which is where most of the blisters came from).

Cold Snap December 2022

The weather this week has been very calm, very bright and very cold. By December, we’re well into the ‘Winter Rowing’ mind-set which means that mid-week rowing for all squads at the club starts and ends in darkness. We put lights on our boats, wear high-viz top layers and every boat that goes out must have a cox (basically someone who is always looking in the right direction and whose primary role is not to crash into anything in the dark).

The photograph here was taken during our Wednesday night Recreational session this week when we were preparing to take our octuple scull out (with one seat empty because there weren’t quite enough of us to fill the boat). Conditions were perfect for a night row, as long as you were prepared for the cold. Absolute flat-calm water, no wind, great crew, great cox, great stroke and freezing breath forming in clouds around our heads. Just us on the water, with the exception of the swans gliding like spectres on the edge of our vision in the moonlight. There will have been ducks and geese kicking around there too I expect but their plumage doesn’t make them quite so obvious by moonlight.

If you needed an illustration of the value of techy reflective night clothing, this photograph tells a tale. Rowing at dusk or in poor visibility then hi-viz bright colours are great for catching the eye but reflective strips and bands (and in some cases, what looks like full body armour) are really what we need when rowing in the dark. There were one or two down last Wednesday night who’d really got the Ready-Brek glow, all over. If we were to be unlucky enough to fall out of our boat then that’s what the searchlight would see when/if they ever came to look for us floating gently down with the current. Thankfully, the more common use is that reflective stripes can help a cox to spot another crew far more easily when rowing at night.

Saturday morning dawned very bright, cold and clear and by the time the sun did finally emerge from behind the power station the Men’s squad had already done their early morning training and were heading off upstairs for a mug of tea in the clubhouse. There was actually some heat to be felt from the sun by the time our recreational rowers started to arrive for their Saturday morning session.

Another great day and more great rowing for us. To cope with these conditions, you need enough layers on, obviously. One of our recs arrived wearing two puffer jackets on top of each other. Best to start off warm. The other thing, as any passing eskimo would probably tell you, is that even if you may not be able to keep them particularly warm, you’ve got to keep your fingers and toes dry. If you don’t look after those appendages it’s possible to have a really miserable time of it.

Our Devil's Men's squad taking to the water before sun-up. Philip and Brian are in the foreground in the pair.
One or two kettles must have been on in Long Eaton to produce all that steam - you can just see our boats down there in the shadows
A number of others excepted, this is the heart and soul of our Recreational Squad - ready for the off
Alex doing her flight control checks prior to take-off

Newark Head of River December 2022

Saturday 3rd Dec saw both of our squads racing at Newark Head of River. Early reports were a bit sketchy but a bit more has been working its way through the grapevine over the past week so we can put a fair bit more meat on the bones now, with particular thanks to Erica Bass who rowed at No 5 in the Ladies’ boat, if the photograph from our spy on the bank at The Farndon Ferry is anything to go by. Erica has written a piece on the race which we have slotted in below, just above the photographs.

Our Men’s and Ladies’ 8s were both racing in Division 1 in the morning so it will have meant a nice early chilly start to get to Newark Rowing Club in plenty of time to off-load the trailer and put their boats together. The Division 1 race is 5k downstream and finishes at the weir something like 2k upstream from the club, so there was probably a good 8k to row upstream to the marshalling area where all the competing boats gather above the start-line before the race.

That will have given both crews plenty of time to settle in, warm up and, from what I’ve heard, gather a fair harvest of blisters between them – and that was before the race. It can be a bit of a chilly time waiting around up at the start, when you need to keep warm enough but also strip down and be ready for action as the time approaches. The race marshalls are usually pretty good at keeping things moving though and it’s always a great relief when you start getting the instructions to ‘strip down’, ‘follow that boat up to the buoy’, ‘turn round’ and finally ‘paddle down to the start’. Then your cox will set you paddling down gently to keep your distance from the previous boat and then they’ll start to build you up on the approach so that you cross the start-line at race pace. Then you just dig in and row your best for 5k, try to over-take as many boats as you can and get your best time to the finish line. And that’s all there is to it.

Both our crews had good races. Our Men’s 8, coxed by Jim and stroked by Adam, rowed over the course in 18:00 dead. This works out as an average 500m split time of 1:48 over the full 5k race which is a good pace to maintain (try it on the rowing machine next time you’re down at the gym). The presence of ‘young’ Matt in the boat reduced the crew’s average age  down far enough for the rest of the crew to avoid the indignity of competing in the ‘Masters’ category (in which they would have been able to reap the benefit of the handicap system to adjust for age and infirmity) so they were placed in the ‘Open’ category instead where such benefits were beyond their reach. They had a good race and overtook two younger crews on the way down; one of the photographs below shows them in the overtaking lane below The Farndon Ferry. One of our crew was heard to comment that he had ‘socks in his drawer at home older than most of the crew in that boat’.

Our Ladies’ 8, coxed by Jeremy and stroked by Clare, came home with piles of blisters and comments like – ‘Fab’, ‘Great Row with good rhythm and amazing balance’, ‘Go Us!!’, though quite what it was that Jeremy ‘told those blokes’ I’ve not yet heard. Perhaps we will never know, but never mind. Newark Rowing Club are great hosts and both crews seemed to get back to their nice warm burrows in the evening feeling fairly pleased with themselves, so that’s good

Newark Head Race by Erica

Erica is the taller one of the two in the photograph and rowed at No 5. Her other, fractionally shorter crew-mate is Emma who rowed at No 6 in this race. This photo was taken following the Ladies’ win at Burton Regatta earlier in the year.

Whilst I wish that my reason to start rowing, like many others, was one of ambition and intent. I would say that mine was more out of curiosity.

My only previous experience of rowing was watching one or two races, which mostly involved sitting out in the cold for hours waiting for a 30 second glimpse of the boats at the finish line. I can’t even say that I had made the effort to watch any rowing on the tele before. But one evening, having attended a social event at the club as a plus-one, I was asked “do you have one reason why you wouldn’t want to row”. I didn’t really have an answer, and so the next minute I had signed up for the learn to row course.
Fast forward about 6 months and I am racing in the Women’s 8+ at Newark Head. My first race at the club had been a couple of months previously, at Burton Head. But this one was all a bit of a blur, and having never raced before, my only goal was to get through it and not catch a crab! Newark felt like the first chance that I could really give it my all, and for that reason everthing was a lot more terrifying.
The race was 5km, but with a 8km row up to the start line. Whilst I thought that this would be a nightmare in itself it actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It meant that we had a chance to warm up from the cold (because on an early December morning, it really was freezing), and it was also plenty of time to settle the nerves. The race itself felt great, we all pulled together as a team and everyone gave it their all. With plenty of spectators along the route there was ample opportunity to show them what the Devil’s Elbow ladies are made of.
I do think that rowing is the only sport where you have to give everything you’ve got, and then somehow find the energy to give that little bit more- to be able to row back to the landing stage, carry the boat back to the trailer, de-rig etc. But you can always rely on the all-important hot drink and piece of cake at the end, and I couldn’t wish to do it all with a greater bunch of people. Bring on the next one!!
Boat preparation before the race looks pretty chilly
Devil's Ladies' 8 passing The Farndon Ferry - 3k into the race
Devil's Men's 8 passing The Farndon Ferry - 2k from the finish
Devil's Men's 8 at the far bank in the overtaking lane?
This is the sort of commitment we get from our crews

High Water Stopped Play November 2022

A number of our crews were poised and ready to take to the water this Saturday (19th Nov) to row the Soar Head. (I am sorry. This always makes us laugh. We may or may not grow out of it one day). This is a 3.5km ‘head’ race up the River Soar against the stream from Kegworth to Zouch, hosted by our nearest rowing neighbours at Loughborough Boat Club. Sadly, our hosts were forced to cancel the event because of high river levels resulting from the rainfall over this past week. This photograph shows the conditions at our own club on Saturday morning, with the waters gently lapping at the edges of our lawns and the landing stage a good 2-1/2 feet underwater.

Some of our members were apparently to be seen hanging around the boathouse door shortly after dawn but I suspect they may well have opted for an in-door, dry-shod training session.

Devil’s Elbow Rowing Club – AGM November 2022

Devil’s Elbow Rowing Club held its AGM on Saturday 12th November at the Chequers Inn in Breaston. Turn-out was not massive by previous years standards but there were enough of us there to validate proceedings at least. More than that though, there was a great atmosphere and we all seemed to be enjoying ourselves, which generally seems to be the case when our club gets together. Business proceedings included all the normal reports from the Chairman, Treasurer, Membership Secretary and Men’s, Women’s, Juniors and Recreational Rowing Captains with an extended intermission when the fish n’ chips arrived. Official business over, our Minister for Entertainment, Ed, took over the administration of our prize giving ceremony. We just need to acquire the right sort of photos for you and we’ll be able to show you some of them below with any luck at all, so watch this space . . .

'The Chairman's Award' - justly bestowed on Alex & Steve for weeks & weeks of unseen work behind the scenes
Club Secretary Max presents 'The Coach of the Year' award to our Men's Captain Brian - a consistent contender
Andy presents the 'Cox of the Year' award to Ed for his commitment, enthusiasm, wisdom and wit in a very vulnerable position indeed
'The Only Way Is Up' award for the Most Improved Recreational Rower - presented this year to Andy. Any of of our crews in any of our boats are safe in his hands
Kellie - Devil's Elbow Oarswoman of the Year
Matt - Devil's Elbow Oarsman of the Year
Two Great Girls - Emma, awarded 'Most Improved Female Rower' in her absence (due to Covid) and Erica (a very, very strong contender)
And a Great Guy - Louis receiving the Men's Captain's award for the Most Improved Male Rower
A big 'Thank you' to our Ladies' Captain Michelle
A Fairytale of Harrington Bridge - performed by Ed n' Edwina (aka. Kirsty McColl) and the massed choir of Devil's Elbow
The 'Golden Crab' award this year went to Darren . . . . eventually. You can run Darren, but you just can't hide, as the song goes.

The ‘Golden Crab’ award is rather special and is usually awarded to someone who has got all wet in the most interesting and amusing way during the course of the past Devil’s year. We can usually blame either Covid or Brexit for everything these days but for some reason we don’t seem to have had any capsizes funny enough to merit this prestigious award. Darren’s feat, in attempting to use his blade for a hockey stick to flick one of his trainers away from the edge of the landing stage to save it from falling in, was that he flung his shoe in the river instead. Fairly modest, you might think, but very funny at the time.

Head of the Don November 2022

It is with great delight that we can report that our Men’s Masters-D 8 came in first in their class at the Head of the Don on Sunday (6th November), rowing over the course in 16:02.7 seconds of what we can only assume must have been good solid effort. Details are a little sketchy at present so we’ll have to leave the assumptions as they are until we find out what actually happened from some first-hand witnesses. Watch this space . . . .

Drama at Burton Head of the River  October 2022

Alex (you’ll see her sitting at No.3, down towards the far end of the boat in the photograph) has spent a bit of time this week recollecting her thoughts on Burton Head of River race in October. As she mentions below, she was awarded the renowned ‘Shell Bra of Wonder’ for her pluck, bravery and tenacity during the race. She then suggested that I might be able to explain what it (the Shell Bra) is. Well, there’s simply not enough room here. It probably deserves an article all of its own but I would say that if pluck and courage is what you’re looking for, Alex would be a great place to start.

Weather Conditions – Perfect for Rowing.

The Burton Head of the river was a long-awaited competition for the ladies’ squad. We’d had a few disappointments during the previous winter with the weather getting in the way of racing. This was to be my first racing experience in a sweep oar eight boat and so it was with some trepidation that I had opted to do so. It was going to be far from my comfort zone and I was aware that the dreaded “crabbing” was not an option. So much to remember too; straight arms, square in time, don’t go too deep with the blade, push hard, engage the core, watch stroke like a hawk and breathe.

On arrival at Burton Rowing Club, there was much to do as all boats, blades, trestles and seats had to be unloaded from the trailer which was parked at the side of the road. Emma and I were shifting blades when a shard of carbon fibre slid into my right hand. On closer inspection, it was a sizeable chunk and had to come out. After finding the first aid box in the clubhouse, we set to digging it out with a bent back safety pin and some cleansing swabs to clear the pieces as they loosened. Emma is an E.D. nurse so I really couldn’t have been in better hands. I held the hand taut as we tag teamed between digging and holding the hand steady and straight. However, it soon became apparent that we needed some fine tweezers to add to our instrument tray of the one safety pin, but there were none to be had. The tension heightened as people were updating us on how soon we needed to boat and yet we couldn’t get the tiny fragments out as the splinter had broken up while under the skin. We both needed to eat, drink, stretch and prepare to race but it wasn’t to be, and I then started to feel faint! Standing in a hot and cramped corner of the clubhouse had taken its toll.

Eventually, with Emma’s expert opinion and attention to detail we called it a day with ten minutes to boating. Michelle, our ladies’ captain, gave me the option to sit out but much as I was tempted, I decided to row. We’d trained hard and I’d enjoyed every minute of it. The river was flat, we had a time to beat. Everyone was supportive and sometimes you just have to bite the bullet! 

With Jim coxing in his calm and capable manner, we had a fabulous row and took a whole minute off our time from the training row on that stretch of river the previous weekend. I won the ‘Shell Bra of Wonder’ for being plucky! It was much appreciated. What is the Shell Bra of Wonder? That is a story for another day . . . . or ask Ed Sinfield!

Alex – (Eights Novice)

Cambridge Autumn Regatta September 2022

Our last sprint regatta of the year saw some success. The men’s Masters 4+ and 8+ winning their races. Competing in the open class with opposition that gets younger and younger is more of a challenge, but one that was fiercely fought. Our ladies double romped through their heat but both Kelly and Jooles had small technical issues at the same time that ruined the final that they were leading strongly. Our singles rowers continued to experiment with the dark art of racing, steering and balancing at the same time. The regatta was paused for a minute’s silence for the Queen and the Devils sported black ribbon in respect – all carefully sewn by April the night before.  The prizes for Cambridge and glass pots which, upon being presented in the beer tent, are filled with a local ale. This is a tradition worth keeping. A good showing and reward for recent efforts, which is now to be applied to the upcoming head racing season. 

Jim, reedbound waiting on races to finish
On the course
Kelly and Jooles enroute to the start
Smashing their heat
So our plan is to work hard?
Working hard - and victory
Darren heads off
The Singles experiment continues
Open 8 - we have T shirts older than the opposition
Hanging on to make a race of it
Doing boat yoga by the landing stage
A close run thing
Being told that we had won
Collecting the spoils
The fill the pots with free beer - what a good system!

Devils Down Under – Part 2 Sept 2022

No sooner does the Brisbane Rowing Club have one lot of visitors from the Devil’s Elbow, than they have another. Ed was down under for work and got to join them for a mid-week row. His observations are:-

Rowing in Brisbane is quite different to Devils Elbow.

  • They start at 5am (!). which means they are done and in a coffee shop an hour before Devils even start.
  • They row on salt water so are a meticulous in cleaning their kit afterwards.
  • Their kit is really top notch. Empachers aplenty.
  • There are a million and one clubs all launching onto the river around the same time.
  • Brisbane river is vast and normally brown.
  • They don’t row at night (albeit 5am is to my mind the middle of the night)
  • When they set off they have a fabulous view of a large city lit up (makes our set up look like the Shire)
  • No fisherman shouting or getting cross at rowers because the river is so wide
  • They talk funny.

But there are similarities too

  • They’re a friendly bunch
  • They aren’t all proficient with their ‘teamer’ type app
  • The club appears to have lots of Masters D,E,F
  • They have a range of skills from relative beginners to seasoned old lags
  • They tend to enter head races more than regattas

Thanks BRC for letting me pop along.  Ed.   Maybe one day we will get a visitor over this way.

Devil’s Elbow 10th Anniversary Sept 2022

Saturday 3rd September saw the Devil’s have their 10th birthday with a Ceilidh in the boathouse. This meant emptying the boathouse, so it was all hands on deck after the morning’s outing with Chairman Jim as the ringmaster and man with a plan. The decorations, lighting and sound were all made ready with adventurous, (but safe) use of ladders and forklifts. Space was made for the ‘Bang on the Wall’ band and all was ready.  The band’s caller was most pleased to hear that, as rowers, we were very used to be shouted at and responding instantly to commands.

After the initial burst of dancing it was outside to queue up for food provided by Neil, one of the club’s founders.  Satiated, it was on with the speeches from Jim, the Chairman and then in turn  Jooles and Neil, two of the three founders from all those years ago. Toasts completed it was on with the dancing and sharing of the remarkable cake.

'Here's how its going to go'
'And lift'
The boathouse - inside out
A most remarkable cake
And we're off
Food queue - the place to be
Wise words from Jim
Jooles helped out by Ian
To 10 years of the Devil's Elbow
Making the first cut
10 years of historic photos
Blast from the past - the official opening of the boathouse

The Great Tyne Row – Aug 2022

Why would a crew that trains for Summer Regatta 500m sprints and Winter Head Races of 3500m and more attempt the Great Tyne Row race covering 25km?

We certainly did not have the answer prior to the race, after the race we understood…

Hadrian’s Wall ends in Newcastle, so this year’s row theme was Romans (a play on Row-mans!), so we were up against the legions in their galleys!

We crafted a simple plan, at the start we would get ahead of our section (4 boats) over the first 1000m and maintain position, to then settle down to cruise level.

Off we set at race pace, as we would for a 3500m race, 28 stroke rate at ¾ pressure. At 1500m still at ¾ pressure, at 2000m, the same. Two crews had settled back, but one crew seemingly had the same plan as us, we were racing full out at the start of a 25km distance (really not good!). As it dawned on us, we had to make a decision ‘to yield or plough on’, we didn’t yield. Around 3000m the other crew dropped away. We cheered to ourselves, probably out of relief.

Something strange happened, I was expecting we would settle back to a sensible pressure and rate, but we didn’t, we ploughed on, and on…..and on. We were OK, so we kept going. We had found our groove.

Rowing through Newcastle was epic, under the iconic bridges, we felt small, they were high bridges. The city was alive with the mile long market running alongside the river, people milling around, showing fascinated interest in a bunch of roman galleys charging down the river.

We left the busy city, into the old dock’s much converted to city living apartments, all looking smart and shiny, but able to see how the old docks would have looked. Past the famous gates of the Jarrow shipyard, and on to North Shields, where shipbuilding was alive and kicking. As we rowed past some support ships being built for the oil rig industry, we were absolutely dwarfed. We seemed to row just a little bit quicker to pass them, thinking I hope they don’t start moving.

On we ploughed, the river was widening, mixing with the sea water. We caught up with the section crews ahead (they had set off 15min before us), so started to pick them off 1 by 1 as a way to keep our focus. Unclear exactly where the finish line was, we kept out heads down pushing hard. At speed, we reached another boat which had stopped, they confirmed we had past the finish line about 300m earlier!

Heading to shore was quite a challenge, we had to navigate the tidal water flows, avoiding low depth rocks. A pilot boat came to guide us, we were glad the waters were calm, definitely not a place to be otherwise. We beached to shore like a victorious invasion party, welcomed with beer, cake and burgers!

We won our class and came third overall, beaten by a semi-professional crew who were training to row the Atlantic and a crew who beat us by less than a minute. It would have been good to think we had crafted a great plan, in reality, we got good caught up in the drama of the day and rowed at a pace we hadn’t realised we could do. Just goes to show…

Devils Down Under July 2022

Big thanks to the Brisbane Rowing Club for hosting Alex and Steve for a morning row on their road trip up the East Coast of Australia. They row early there – a 4:30 alarm and down at the boat club after a riverside walk for 05:30. The club could not have been  more accommodating and it was great to see that they had all the same boat issues we do at home. The Brisbane River, aka ‘The Brown Snake’ was wide but calm. 

The river provides uninterrupted rowing for many miles upstream of the city centre. There were some floating trees to navigate and we were shown just how high the river rose during the recent and past floods – the Brown Snake is not be taken to be lightly. Part way through the row Steve was informed that there were Bull Sharks resident in the river – thankfully Alex was not told until afterwards. After the row they were put to work helping to strip down an Eight that was going for some work – the authentic rowing club experience. The upside of the early morning row – into the coffee house for just after 08:00 and the heat of the day avoided. Should any of the Brisbane club find their way to the UK they would be welcome to join us on our shark free stretch of the Trent – although some of the Herons have a condescending look about them. 

Early o'clock shuffling crews around.

Round the Bend – Burton Regatta – July 2022

A hot sunny Sunday saw three crews out. The 750m course had a bend at halfway. On the approach to the bend the centreline buoys were missing for quite a distance and would cause many coxless crews to miss the turn with some ending  up in the tress on the outside of the bend. Our first boat was the ladies double with Jooles and Kellie having to wait at the start for a 12 second handicap. As halfway came up they had already cut this down to a few seconds but  then, because of the buoys, or lack thereof, went wide and had to do a big correction to get back onto their side of the river. They  set about hunting down the opposition again but the remaining distance was too short. They had some excellent 500m splits and continue to work well together.  Darren was next out in the single – still his first season at this. A clean row and good navigation but beaten on the line. A significant PB for this distance so serious progress being made. Last out were Ed and Alex, who have only rowed together a couple of times and Alex had never taken part in a side by side sprint.  Beaten off the start by very experienced opposition, but were then holding their own and rowing cleanly. A double  rowing upstream to the start was not into the bank as they should have been and a big dogleg was required to get past them. Momentum lost they carried on and rowed well. As a first race ever and first time competing together they were both very happy with how they coped. A par of young bucks with a future?

What Would Caesar Say? – Ironbridge RegattaPart 1 – Jun 2022

Ironbridge was our new venture into coxless 4’s, a challenging event to attempt but if you don’t push yourself, how do you improve?

We, Brian, Ed, Andy and Paul, entered E4- our first venture into the demands of coxless rowing under pressure of a race secured opposition over the 1000 metre course, however, it was not to be our day.

Upon arrival the river looked surprising narrow, and it was …. The Ironbridge course is a buoyed course with the added excitement of crews approaching the start in our lane as we were to race down to the finish. Taking reference points from practice starts we off set the boat in the lane and prepared for the starters instructions, the attention call came swiftly followed by the “GO” and we were off.

Unfortunately we faired much worse than Darren in his singles race and Jules and Kellie in their double who overcame the course and reached the end without incident, our race ended with a collision with a tree on what the speaking clock (for those old enough to remember this great institution) would call the 7th stroke. However our opposition (Loughborough) were very generous and offered us a restart from which we faired marginally better but the moment had gone and we had lost the focus. Perhaps next time a Coxed Four though.

So what did we learn, well basically that you can’t, from personal experience I can advisedly state, and won’t win them all. As Julius Caesar might have said, we came, we saw, we took the detour and went home. Better luck next time. Succeeding in rowing has always been hard work, you have to put in the time and be prepared for the elements, opposition and your own failings beating you, personally I enjoyed the day, the company, the opportunity immensely, next time, next time. Burton here we come.

                                                                                             Report by Paul – Our rowing Jedi

 Once Upon A Time – Ironbridge Regatta – Part 2 – June 2022


Set your mind back to Ironbridge, same weekend, 10 years ago. This was the first regatta that Devil’s Elbow ever competed in.

We were a motley crew back then, a mixed eight, manned by complete novices (many gang pressed from a pub in Ashby- Thanks Nicola!),  with no race experience, shored up by the experience of our founding members and our brand new all-in-ones

  The race result? …..Well, it doesn’t take too much imagination to guess that outcome. But it didn’t matter. We discovered that a regatta wasn’t just about racing and winning. It can be about the whole experience and, as our first regatta experience, Ironbridge set the standard for future events to live up to.

And Now

And here we are again, 10 years on, in Devil’s anniversary year and, for me, Ironbridge still delivers. (And yes, I was one of those early novices).

Ironbridge has it all- boats, trailers and rowers everywhere, racing throughout the weekend at all levels, camping, evening disco, a lovely setting in a historic gorge and town. It has great atmosphere with plenty to do on and off the water. It’s a great weekend away whether you are racing or not. Most clubs made a weekend of it.

And, as the cherry on the cake, what should be more appropriate than one of those founding members, Jooles, and Kellie, one of those early (Ashby pub) novices, teaming up together and winning both their double events with style. Well done!

                                                                           Report by Jim – Our Chairman and Technical Guru

The 2012 Devil's Elbow mixed 8 at Ironbridge
Kellie and Jooles with their winner's pots

Learn to Row Regatta – Jun 2022

Things were different this year. As Loughborough had recently finished their own ‘Learn to Row’, the opportunity was taken to run a combined a regatta and give a bit more of a sense of competition to all of the new rowers. The larger numbers also helped to shape a fuller event with ranking races against the clock and then race offs to establish the overall winners.  With the formal(ish) races done in the Explore boats, there were some impromptu races in eights with some crews being a mix of both clubs. The rain came and went and came again but the racing went on and it was all finished with tea and cakes in the Devil’s clubhouse.

A Busy Weekend – Jun 2022

The Devil’s Elbow marked the Jubilee in their own way with a fun Saturday row involving the race squads, recreational rowers and even a brave member from our ongoing ‘Learn to Row’. The Octuple was was put on the water and we had some fun short races with an Explorer boat. A fuddle picnic was then held and we even saw a few, small glimpses of sunshine. It was far from sunshine on Sunday with three boats racing at Trentham. Our ladies double saw the super-sub Captain Michelle stepping in at the last minute (again). They won their first race but were pipped in the final. 

Our Single rower Darren had his first competitive outing and was held to about a foot length on the line – clipping a buoy might have cost the race, but he was very happy with form and performance as a debutant. The Men’s 4+ also had two debutants for side by side racing (despite their advanced years). A good start but were gradually overhauled and beaten by about a length. A very useful learning experience. We will also now be looking for 11 year old coxes!

Quadtastic: Leicester Regatta – Apr 2022

Saturday 7.15am: On paper this race was another disaster in a recent string of cancelled and missed races.

The crew had trained really hard but suddenly the day before the race 50% of them were unable to race due to illness/medical emergencies. I was in Dorset but travelling back in the day so I could sit in for Emma at stroke, and I could go down to practice race starts later that day, now we just needed a forth rower…

Saturday 4.30pm: Max agreed to sit in for Jo although she wouldn’t be back until the next morning. We now had a full crew and decided to make the best of it. 

Saturday 5.30pm: It’s not ideal to practice race starts for the first time the evening before the race with winds gusting in the high twenties and a male rower sitting in, but we had a quick try and then trailered the boat. 

Sunday 12.30pm: Race day the weather was beautiful and we met at Leicester with plenty of time to check the boat and carry it across a dual carriageway to the rowing club. I was concerned that we would not be able to row together and that things could fall apart at the start, I was fairly comfortable about controlling the rating at a mangable 26/27spm. To help with this I played the crew ‘Saturday night’ by Whigfield which is a good 26spm rating guide. They asked me to turn it off.

Sunday 2pm: We put the boat in the water and started getting in and quickly realised that mice had made nests in some of our shoes (overnight in Jim’s field!?) I have to admit, there was some squealing but we got them out and paddled off, spotting our opposition, a fresh faced young women’s Leicester crew.

Sunday 2.30pm: We marshalled for quite a while as we were last in our batch. It was idyllic on the canal in the sun – at one point a family of ducklings walked across the spoon of my blade! The boats immediately before us set off at speed and immediately crashed into each other so a restart was called. We hung around a bit longer…and then we were off. 

Sunday 2.40pm: The Race: We did a good solid race start and settled in well, although we were rowing at 33/34spm. I’m accustomed to rowing at stroke but I’m not accustomed to seeing the opposing crew in my peripheral vision and about 100m in I realised we were easing ahead of them! I asked Jim to call a lower the stroke rate and we settled at 32 spm and carried on. The crowd were cheering on Leicester the whole way but it felt amazingly focused in our boat. We managed to hold on to our slight lead and then amazingly we eased ahead of them for the last 100 m! It was suddenly all over and we’d won!

Sunday 3.30pm: We went to ask as many people as we could where we could find our trophies, had some photos taken and ate lots of cake. 

What went well? When it mattered it was a textbook race. The crew worked together as a solid unit, the timing was spot on, we weren’t put off by the proximity to the other crew, we stayed focussed and managed put 100% effort in for the distance.  The absent crew members really were part of the success as we knew how gutted they were to miss the race after training so hard and that helped us to focus.  And Jim the cox wins the “shell bra of glory” partly for amazing coxing but mostly  for manoeuvring the trailer across the dual carriageway roundabout onto a grass verge as there was nowhere to park in the rowing club!   Race report by Michelle  – Ladies’ Captain

A Very Good Friday – Apr 2022

Good Friday saw some of the Devil’s Elbow members joining other local clubs on a row from the centre of Nottingham, up the Trent to Newark. Using the ‘Explorer’ boats they negotiated multiple locks and beached them halfway along the route for a welcome picnic lunch. After that there was shuffling of the crews with with some swapping coxing and rowing. Some hardy souls rowed the full way and were especially appreciative of the catering laid on by Newark Rowing Club at the finish. See the pictures by clicking here

Individual Experiences May Vary – Apr 2022

Having arrived at the club by car, bike and our antiquated, volunteer powered ferry the morning went off in different directions for our Devils. The Recreational squad, having had an excellent outing in the sunshine in the Octuple – an eight seat scull – retired to the clubhouse. There they investigated the cake options for the day.  At the same time there were some of the Men’s squad who had to catch up the on the Erg ‘Workout of the Week’,  a delightful high intensity interval session suggested by one of the younger squad members.  Thanks Matt. 

On the ‘Boat Race’ Course – Mar 2022

Saturday 27th March saw the men’s squad assemble at Putney Town Rowing Club to take part in the Vesta Veterans Head Race over the famous ‘Boat Race’ course. Rather than two boats, this involved over a hundred, all 8s, 4s and quads setting off at intervals to do their best on the Thames Tideway. For many of the clubs this was basically their home water with the experience that comes with it.  We, as the country cousins, were there to work hard and beat our self imposed target based on previous, pre-covid, performances. The story in pictures can be seen here.

“On the Trailer – Off” Feb 2022

Here is the trailer that we loaded up on Saturday morning. Men’s and Ladies’ Eights, blades, riggers, trestles and the paraphernalia that goes with them.  The trailer was then repositioned for an early start on Sunday morning for the ‘Head of the Trent’ in Nottingham. Later that afternoon the word came through that the race was cancelled. Not a huge surprise – the rivers were full and indeed all the grass in the photo was underwater just a few days before. The late notice was frustrating. The joys of a sport that relies on the weather. Tuesday, we will unload the boats, re-rig them and get out on the water to train for the next race. ‘

‘Learn to Row’ course starting soon.  Feb 2022

Thinking of giving it a go but not sure? Have a read below with comments from two shiny, new Devils who took part in the last Learn to Row. 

The Reluctant Rower

It was May 2021, and I was reluctantly persuaded to attend the learn to row course. I wasn’t keen, I didn’t like open water, didn’t want to get wet and though it just ‘wasn’t my thing’. It turned out I couldn’t have been more wrong. After my first session and first outing on the water a seed had been planted. I was overjoyed I didn’t get soaked and intrigued by the skill and technique required and I wanted to learn more.

By the end of the learn to row course I could row in a very rudimentary way, but I was hooked. I knew I could improve and wanted more time on the water so decided to join as a full recreational member. Nine months on this was one of the best decisions I have ever made and eagerly look forward to every session, even when its wet, cold and windy. Some of my favourite rows are at night when it is so peaceful and when the moonlight sparkles on the water its magical. Rowing has changed me both physically and mentally by being not only fitter but being on the water and the rhythm of the stroke is great way to relax and unwind.  

Devil’s members are a super friendly group of people who are passionate about rowing. They are patient, skilled, encouraging and generous with their time. There is a culture at the club of wanting to nurture new members to develop their rowing abilities and for them to learn new skills. The great sense of comradery is bolstered by regular social events and plenty of cake!

I would highly recommend the learn to row course even if like me you don’t think it’s your thing or are fearful of open water. Who knows you may also be surprised and find it’s the best thing you ever did.  

The Reconnected Rower

I had often seen the boats rowing down the river whilst walking with my husband and family and thought it would be a marvellous thing to try.  At the time two things held me back, a fear of deep water and shyness! However, one day after a walk by the river and feeling particularly envious of the rowers, I went home and looked on the internet at the club. I saw they offered Learn to Row and then recreational rowing so I emailed the club about it before I could change my mind. 

That was at the beginning of lockdown, so it wasn’t until the early summer of 2021 that I was offered a place on Learn to Row.  As enthralled as I was with the opportunity to do something normal during Covid 19, I had started to suffer from and receive help for, almost (at times) paralysing anxiety.  This initially held me back, but something inside told me I should go for it. I am so pleased I listened to my inner voice!  The people at the club welcomed us all, everyone is lovely, approachable, and friendly. They really are a wonderful bunch of people who go out of their way to help, who persevere with us newbies, so we learn and develop the skills to row.  Rowing also has social events which are great way to get to know everyone better and really are good fun.

I have found rowing to be a wonderful, calming and rewarding exercise. It is a challenging skill to master, but the rewards far outweigh this. If I have had a stressful day, feel anxious or tired, rowing brings me back to the present, invigorates me and makes me feel good. It is wonderful way to enjoy nature, to see the wildlife at the river’s edge. From learning to live with anxiety I know concentrating the senses to be “in the present” is an excellent method to cope and calm. Learning this new skill has also given me purpose. I can say without doubt, that learning to row has been key in getting myself back to feeling me.

As for the fear of water?? To be honest you are too busy rowing and enjoying yourself to care!

You can see more on our Learn to Row page Here or dive straight in and sign up by emailing our Membership Secretary Here

Rowing for Health – An Insider’s Story Feb 2022

Sport is good for you. Trying a new sport can be even better and that is according to science. Many of the Devils at Devil’s Elbow have come to rowing as a second sport and perhaps are not always in the first flush of youth. Learning a new sport later in your career can bring even bigger benefits. Recent joiner to Devil’s Elbow, Louis, describes what it has done for him and how he sees it – time to get philosophical.

Key physical benefits of rowing include the facts that:-

  • It is low impact – better for for your joints after time spent running, playing football, cricket, netball and so on.
  • It is an almost total body workout, using 86% of your muscles, if you are doing it right.
  • It is a really good mix for promoting strength, cardio and stamina.


Less appreciated are the mental benefits including:-

  • The new actions and processes actively alter your brain, promoting new pathways and brain growth.
  • Learning new motor skills can be as challeneging as doing puzzles.
  • The brain learns to learn again – neuroplasticity (a good score in scrabble).


Doing all of this on the river, surrounded by fresh air, greenery and judgemental waterbirds is great for your wellbeing. Rowing at full pelt in an eight in the dark also improves you sense of self preservation and alertness.

Using all the muscles - including the facial ones. The Devils at work.

The Yin and Yang of Rowing

Rowing is simple, just jump in a boat, paddle like mad, somehow keep in unison with rest of crew, exhaust yourself and try to go in a straight line. Nothing to it… obviously the sport of choice for fitness crazy madmen and madwomen!

Or so I thought, how wrong could I have been? One year in, the truth about rowing has slowly been revealed, like a cosmic duality, I’ve discovered the Yin and Yang of Rowing.

To begin with it was all hard work, grunting until the lungs and legs refused to function, and alas with not a lot to show for it apart from handfuls of blisters, chapped skin and bruised ego.

Over the months of regular effort the physical side improved, the body became rowing fit, meaning muscle groups used in rowing toughened up and memory muscle kicked in, they actually did what was asked of them, rather than rebelling! It actually became a joy to ergo hard – certainly not during – that’s like someone tenderising your legs with a mallet whilst sticking a suction tube down your throat! But afterwards … those happy endorphins kicked in and suddenly, like magic, all the pain forgotten with the warm afterglow of achievement.

Rowing is a tremendous mental challenge, certainly in the early days, the coordination and precision to achieve a good rowing stroke is immense, like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. Once that is reasonably mastered, it seems to come to nought, as like snakes and ladders – back down to the start point – as learning to coordinate at identical pace, equal effort and perfect timing in unison with whole crew as one, seems an impossible set of physical and mental tasks.

Practise, practise and practise, the crew shape up, working in unison with the timing and precision of a troop of synchronised swimmers. Body and mind of each individual morphs into a single functioning entity, we become ‘the crew’.

This is where Yin and Yang manifests, of competing and complementary forces of dark and light. The physical effort switches from full power to full relax as we cycle through each stroke. The effort needs to be full on, but it also needs to be controlled, pacing exactly with the technique where the body and hands are correctly positioned within a few centimetres at each point through the stroke cycle.

As soon as you actively think about hand position, body posture, position and timing, it all goes to pot, there is just too much to think about at speed. It has to be intuitive; the mind has to be in complete focus, but not consciously processing. Remarkably a state of mindfulness occurs. All extraneous thoughts are expunged, with only focus and concentration on the body mind coordination of ‘no effort, full effort’ rhythm within the higher state of the crew dance.

For those looking to exercise mind, body and soul – rowing is a complete sport.

Louis - Rowing Devil and Philosopher

Socialising Again Feb 2022

For the first time since Covid reared its head, we had a planned evening social event in the clubhouse. Friday the 4th was a Quiz and Pizza evening. The tables were rearranged so that everyone could see the screen. The sailing club provided a barman who knew what he was doing and we had a small team in the kitchen who turned out a remarkable amount of tasty food on a tight budget and still made a profit for the club’s coffers. The questions were tough enough to stretch the field and the teams, mixed up from the squads, showed their competitive spirit and specialist knowledge. We have some real chocolate experts!

New Year Full of Promise Jan 2022

We are starting 2022 not flooded out and with Covid-19 looking like it might be in its final flourish. Although technically still last year, mixed squad and recreational crews got out on to the water – in some sunshine – on New Year’s Eve morning.  

We are going through a period of more diligent self coaching, making better use of video and with a specific focus to our daylight sessions. This seems to have been adopted well and crews are enjoying the sense of purpose and the improvements that have been made. These technical sessions, combined with some good old hard work on power and endurance in the dark evening sessions bodes well for the Head season.