Henley Whalers Established 1993 - " Who are we?"
|You want to join us?
What do we do?
Wednesday evening rowing. Usually 8pm. Where? - Even in winter? - Short-notice changes here.
Imagine an open boat about 30ft by 6ft, so stable you can stand up and walk around. On board are up to ten rowers sitting two-to-a-thwart (bench), a helmsman (or woman), and sometimes a passenger or two. Very often we have the river to ourselves sharing it only with nature. The water can be mirror-flat reflecting the trees, the skyline of Henley, and in winter the moon, stars and lights of the town. Swans glide silently by, geese and owls call. We are briefly isolated from everyday life. Frustrations drift away while we cultivate the skill of pulling together as a team. These are sociable occasions, a blend of conversation and light-hearted "training". We take turns at the helm, and after enjoying the river for a couple of hours, then mooring up, we generally find a "safe haven" (ashore) for refreshment.
- Usually the 2nd Sunday each month, 10:30. Where?. Short-notice changes here.
We participate in events throughout UK and Europe, and have often won prizes! Molly's owner plans an exciting season of special activities, both rowing and sailing, including old favourites near and far. See Future events and Past Events & Pictures and Raiding.
Local Sailing - Ideal for beginners, students, learner-sailors or those who would like some practice. Sail with a Whaler member at Reading Sailing Club Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays - (enquiries).
of The Henley Whalers
Our second Whaler was Collingwood, rescued from beneath an oak-tree in Morpeth in 1996. After an extensive rebuild she became the group's 'best boat', and carried the whaler's standard as the best of all sail-and-oar boats in three successive Great Glen Raids from 2000 -2002. Collingwood has never carried an outboard, so well does she row.
GT's conviction that sail and oar whaler-style still has a future, long after the navies have gone over to Zodiacs and RIBs for their small boats, is based on his experience that boats of this size and design can be fun to sail, fast to row, and a great way of involving people who have done little of either. "Henley Whalers" boats have ranged far and wide, with memorable appearances in Amsterdam, Venice, Brest, Douarnenez, the Scottish Highlands, Sweden and, repeatedly, the Thames for the Great River Race, where Collingwood won the Montagu Whaler trophy for three years running, and the Pussers Rum Trophy for fastest whaler overall on two occasions.
(C) Kathy Mansfield 2003
The annual Great River Race, from Ham (Richmond) to Greenwich
"We reluctantly sold our last Montagu, Collingwood, with the arrival of a replica New Bedford whaleboat in summer 2003. Lighter and leaner than the navy boats, we find she will row and sail faster still, and is easier to manhandle round the trailer-park. An obstinate gesture perhaps, but GT was nearing retirement and fancied the idea of sailing coastal waters in a whaleboat designed for the 21st century. Carbon spars and oars, foils designed to modern standards, a foam sandwich hull: this is only a replica in the sense that the old whale-boatmen would recognise the concept and the lines, and the capability in all the departments they learned to value: speed and windward ability under sail, speed and manoeuvrability under oar, light weight when the job is done: and a true sea boat"...." Come forward the whaleboat 'Molly' ! ". . . (See Build Reports)
A tale of success
"Molly" and friends have since gone on to acquit themselves admirably, frequently achieving wins and high placements in national and international events. See Past Events & Pictures
Era - Who
Are We Now? - Click here for a more detailed version of this episode
(C) Kathy Mansfield 2003
brief history of whalers
The best book on the type
is 'The Whaleboat: a Study of Design, Construction and
The Montagu whaler was first designed in two lengths, 24 and 27 feet, and was the smallest member of a fleet of ship's boats which, on a capital ship, included the Captain's Gig (30 feet) the 32-foot Cutter and a variety of Pinnaces at over 40 feet and rowed with 12 oars each side!
You don't see many 27 foot whalers around these days, but I have seen none of the others for over 30 years. So the 27 foot Montagu whaler is a survivor, perhaps because it became famous in both sailing and rowing regattas in service, and the rowing (or 'pulling' to the matelots) still carries on in a few events each year in the UK, especially the Great River Race, where there may be six or seven entered in a good year.