Another good turnout of 75 rowers and supporters at the annual Lady Victoria Boat Club Winter Dinner, held at the Ulster Reform Club in Belfast. It was a warm occasion for rowing friends to reunite.David Russell did a fine job, per usual, as emcee. Grace for the meal was made by Rev. Gordon Gray. The Toast to the University was made by David Storrs, LVBC Captain. David remarked how the Queen’s University boat clubs are now positioned to think of not only winning one major championship per year, but several out of the five or six that they are now regularly competing in. No pressure on Head Coach Mark Fangen-Hall, then, who followed David’s toast with a presentation of a rowing update. The Guest Speaker was Robert Northridge, who recently retired as deputy headmaster of Portora Royal School in June 2010 after 37 years service to the school. He is better known in rowing circles as the Portora’s rowing master, a position he held for 25 years. He has also achieved more Irish Championship wins that any other coach in junior rowing. Robert reflected on the changes in the sport over the decades, from a rower’s, coach’s and collective point of view. It would be interesting to see a photo of the pre-ergo machine he described, for example. The audience particularly approved of and applauded Robert’s recommendation that if an individual signs up for a rowing club at the start of a season, then he or she would not be allowed to transfer to another. This is particularly being abused just before annual Irish Championships, when rowers transfer to “open clubs” to create composite crews under the banner of a single club name. Those departed rowers for whom tributes were made at last year’s dinner were remembered again, and special welcomes were given to widows attending this evening’s meal — Pauline (Donal) Murphy and Rosie (Charlie) Charlton. As their departed partners would have wished, a very enjoyable and fond evening was had by all.