An oar-some team from Chester are to take on the cream of the rowing world at one of the sport’s iconic venues next Saturday (November 12).
The five women from the city’s Grosvenor Rowing Club will take part in the Heads of the River Fours – four rowers plus a cox – on the Thames over the gruelling four and a quarter miles of the University Boat Race course reversed.
The team includes two rowers from the same Wrexham-based wealth management company, Hadlow Edwards, with both aiming to leave the opposition in their wake in the event which attracts Great Britain standard competitors.
Katy Tilston, 25, and Lucy Iball, 23, both work at Hadlow Edwards Wealth Management in Regent Street and are taking part in the prestigious race for the first time.
They are joined in the team of four rowers and a cox by Lucy Tilston, Katy’s 18-year-old sister, also from Broughton, Frances Munro, 17, from Tarporley, and Jess Bromley, 23, a student at the University of Chester.
And they’ll be heading down to London buoyed up by their recent victory in another important race hosted by the Grosvenor Rowing Club.
Katy, from Broughton, personal assistant to Hadlow Edwards director James Parry for the past two years, took up rowing four years ago and has since worked her way up from the novice to the intermediate category.
Lucy, from Chester, PA to director Medwyn Edwards, has been rowing for around the same period, starting out when she was at Durham University.
James Parry said: “Both Katy and Lucy are absolutely dedicated and put a lot into their sport and it’s paying off.
“We’re really supporting them and hope they have a great day on the Thames. It should be a fantastic occasion with so many teams taking part and on such an historic stretch of river.”
All are members of the Grosvenor Club, and Katy and Lucy have represented them in numerous competitions in a variety of formats including crews of eight, four and two and in singles.
On their last outing for Grosvenor the dashing duo helped their four to victory in the Dee Autumn Head race, winning the women’s fours category in the IM2 class against the best rowers from clubs across the North West of England.
Their victory has set them up nicely for the Head of the River Fours which is a highlight of the national rowing calendar.
Katy said: “The race follows 6.8 km of the Thames from Mortlake to Putney which is roughly the same as the famous University Boat Race but reversed.
“It attracts rowers of a very high standard including those from all the big London clubs so the competition will be very strong.
“It’s really the cream of the country’s rowers and there can often be people of Great Britain team standard involved.
“Hundreds will be taking part in the whole event which runs throughout the day from lunchtime and in our IM2 category alone there’ll be about 60 boats competing.
“Of course, we’re not all on the river at the same time and start at intervals of about 15 or 20 seconds with our times over the course being measured and the fastest winning.
“This will be the second time I’ve been in the race. I did it two years ago when I was new to the Grosvenor squad and was in the lower IM3 category. But although we didn’t win we did better than we were expecting.”
The team put in hours of rigorous training, up to ten sessions a week, and Katy said: “It’s quite intense with a few hours in the gym after work every weekday – although I do have Fridays off – plus about four hours out on the river in Chester on Saturdays and Sundays. But if you put in the training you get the results.
“I took up rowing because I wanted to get involved in something new and I love its competitive team spirit.
“We’re going into the London race with a lot of confidence after our success in the Dee Autumn Head and we can’t wait to get out on the river.”
Team-mate Lucy said: “I’m looking forward very much to taking part in the Head of the River Fours. It’s one of the outstanding events of the rowing year and the first of the Heads season which lasts until the end of March.
“If we do well in this competition it will stand us in good stead for the rest of the season.
“I don’t know how we’re going to do as it attracts rowers of such a high standard but our aim is to get as high up in the rankings as possible.”