THE HENLEY WHALERS - Denise Lewis training with Henley Whalers 9th February 2012

To Homepage


Denise Lewis, Olympic heptathlete and BBC TV personality, recently came to Henley to train for her forthcoming cross Channel charity row. There was snow on the ground when on 9th February she joined our local sail-and-oar enthusiasts, The Henley Whalers, for a training session.

Gold medallist she may be, but rowing never featured in her achievements, so before tackling the English Channel she was keen to develop the necessary skills. After only a brief warm-up on an ergo (rowing machine) under instruction of Upper Thames Rowing Club coach Richard Berkley, Denise boarded whale-boat "Molly" for two and a half hours of focussed training. She proved to be a fast learner and quickly adopted the correct style for long-distance, fixed-seat rowing.

"Molly" proved ideal for Denise's training because the whaleboat is similar to the gig in which she aims to cross The Channel. Also, Henley Whalers with whom she trained at Henley, have many years of long-distance rowing experience.
After learning in the middle of the boat, where she could watch and copy others, she moved to "stroke" position near the helmsman where she began to set the pace.

Mike Gilbert, of "Langstone Rowing" who will provide the gig for the Channel crossing, now took over the helm and coaching.
Two and a half hours later, despite numerous pauses for instruction (no not to get breath back!) the crew had covered 7.5 nautical miles (8.6 statute), approximately one third of what will be required on the big day.

Mike later wrote to Henley Whalers " . . what a great day!! Messing about on the River with a bunch of really nice people and working at the same time. And such a lovely place to row - topped off with the Red Kites...Everything was really well done for us... Denise got a go at the right rowing technique; you all [Henley Whalers] provided the perfect 'platform' for her to practice. She rowed on the ergo and in three positions. . . She learned, and applied that learning.
So mission accomplished...

Richard Berkley - UTRC Coach wrote, "It was a really productive session and I know Denise greatly benefitted from it. I very much enjoyed the outing too so I might ask whether I could join you again sometime. . . if you will have me along! Please pass on my thanks to the rest of the crew."

Henley Whalers greatly enjoyed the day, said they picked up several useful tips from the two visiting coaches, and were proud to have supported Denise Lewis' contribution to Sport Relief.

Henley Whalers welcome new members, experienced or beginners, rowing or sailing. See .

What the Henley Standard said

Channel crossing video

Back to Top
To Henley Whalers