13-11-05 HOR FOURS
This year's HOR-fours took place at a nice civilised hour (12:30pm) and the unpredictable November weather even decided to behave itself – definitely a plus point when some crews have to marshal for two or more hours before racing, although it did get noticeably chillier as the afternoon wore on.

crunchedThe fairly good conditions lent themselves to a uneventful race. One crew managed to sink before the start after someone else removed foot of their bows while marshalling (see picture) and had to borrow a boat from an early starting Tideway Scrubbers crew. There was some confusion with the TSS crew being allowed to deliver the boat back to their clubhouse at speed but happily it all got sorted out in the end and the second crew got to race. A couple of Thames crews also took each other out of the race when they collided and got tangled up near Putney.

In fact, where there were problems on the water that caused crews to lose time, they were undoubtedly rower or should I say "steerer" inflicted, indeed the line many crews took (and that includes quite a number of the so called “local” elite crews) was utterly rubbish, many taking a course which would have been overland if the tide was out – i.e. nowhere near the main channel where the stream is. The slug even overheard several of the marshalls commenting afterwards that on average they felt the coxless crews had steered better lines than the coxed ones (?!?).

Those individuals, who did know exactly where to be found themselves, in several cases, to have a clear line in the stream - happily bypassing all the other crews battling it out for a place in the slow water... go figure.

The race saw plenty of big boys and girls come out to play. Leander managed to maintain their head position despite 2nd placed TSS biting at their heels. While Molesey’s quad of Hodgy, Biff, Monkey and Ockey, picked up third place and the S14X pennant.

Isis, with Colin Smith steering three large North American Internationals, romped home in 5th place to a win in Elite 4-, the Cambridge E4- coming in 2.3 seconds behind.

Thames cleaned up in several of the women’s events despite have a few late crew substitutions. Their WE4- was miles ahead of their nearest competition and the TRC WS2 quad managed a faster time than Leander’s winning WE4X. The winning Leander quad was their lightweights - the heavyweights’ speed suffering from losing Rebecca Romero and Anna Bebington to illness.

One big boy who definitely isn’t as bulky as he used to be, James Cracknell, picked up a win as a sub in the Leander Elite Coxed four. I can’t say he looked particularly comfortable in the boat, but then again 4 ¼ miles is considerably shorter than the 3000 he’s got to do in a scratch double at the end of the month.

For mug shots of the winners, check out the HOR4s website, where you’ll also find a full set of results. www.hor4s.org.uk/2005winners.htm

And even better, you can waste an entire Monday morning at work looking through the various photo offerings on the web... Hurrah!

Rich and Dan, happy to be standing upJust incase you were losing sleep wondering... Rich Dewire and Dan Darley, known collectively as Atlantic Prince, smashed the world record for rowing 1 million metres in their attempt earlier this week. They made the record at St Katharine’s Docks in London and were raising money for the Make a Wish Foundation and Cancer Research UK prior to rowing across the Atlantic.

Darley and Dewire covered the distance in 72 hours, 17 minutes and 12 seconds beating the old record by 4 hours and 31 seconds. Breaking the record is a great boost to the rowers as the old record, set in 2003, was held by the New Zealand pair who hold the current Atlantic rowing cours record.

The duo achieved the record by alternately rowing and resting for 2 hours at a time. This, and their eating regime, echo the conditions in which they will cross the Atlantic, and as such is excellent race practice, whilst being a significant challenge in its own right.

The Woodvale Events Atlantic Race starts from the Canary Islands on 27th November and will finish in Antigua, 3,000 miles away. Also making an appearance in the race will be Olympic champion James Cracknell and ‘Cash in the Attic’ presenter, Ben Fogle.

02-11-05 CART HIM AWAY
As James Cracknell gets ready to row the Atlantic - From the Sunday Times last month...
"SIR Matthew Pinsent should be able to get out more on the golf course after being presented with a gold-plated electric golf trolley fitted with a portable television. The four-times Olympic gold medal-winner, back from the dunhill links championship in time to host his own celebrity golf event yesterday, requested the modification from PowaKaddy because he said golf caused him to miss too much live sport. The company claims that it is the world’ s only gold-plated electric cart, but a second will be auctioned this year."

dear god.

01-10-05 LOOKALIKE


Danger Morris


Surely the boys in blue must have noticed the startling resemblance
between LRC member "dirty" Morris and Ernest Penfold
(Danger Mouse's trusty sidekick in his bid to rid the world of the
evil Baron Silas Greenback and his henchmen)?

As he's now rumoured to coaching at Thames could this all be part of
a secret plot to exterminate the enemy?

Concerned of Putney

16-10-05 HOT 'N' BOTHERED
boating crewsThe pairs head isn’t normally an event that you expect to need sun cream for, so Saturday’s hot weather was a pleasant change for crews from previous years spent wet or shivering at the start.

Indeed most people were racing wearing only all-in-ones and even the officials in launches were complaining about being too hot. The weather meant that crews could make a stab at racing rather than just surviving - but unfortunately the sun didn’t drive away the wind, and approaching the finish at Hammersmith, conditions were on the unpleasant side, with white horses and a strong head wind greeting the first fifty or so crews down the course.

Conditions eased as the event went on but there were other hazards to watch out for. The Tideway seal was back joining in the fun and then there was the large amounts of debris that's in the Tideway at present. Huge floating mounds of twigs, railway sleepers, cupboard doors, traffic cones and even lap top bags were doing their best to put off competitors, but luckily it ended a ‘dry’ head, with no-one ending up in the water and the only emergency was a woman from the American school, who needed medical attention after she had back problems near the start.

Organisers this year had tried to deal with the perennial problem of returning crews needing to cross during the race by increasing the number of gaps left at the start, but reducing the length of them. On the day this tactic didn’t work very well, with stragglers at the end of divisions reducing the available clear water even further. As a result a large queue had backed up from Chiswick Pier to Hammersmith by the time the last crew passed.

Crossing was made more difficult by that other perennial problem of Tideway heads – bad steering – with racing crews spread across the width of the river - some keeping tight into Middlesex around the Bandstand while others were far too close to Surrey.

The mixed doubles (aka “love boat”) events attracted a few well known faces this year, Andy Hodge and Elise Laverick racing as a Molesey/Thames composite, winning the Mixed Elite 2x in a “not too shabby” time of 12:43 that put them 8th fastest overall.

The majority of wins went curiously enough, to non-Tideway clubs, top of which was Henley RC, who put in a good performance on the day, winning four pennants (including vet G pairs). In the women's elite doubles, Debbie Flood and Laura Gater picked up a win for Leander.

Finally, Mahe Drysdale and Alan Campbell’s Elite 2x romped home first for TSS in 12:14 beating fellow scrubbers and last year's winners Angus MacAlister and Julian Geluk into second place.

Drysdale and Campbell are due to compete against each other (and some pretty serious international competition) at the Head of the Charles next weekend in the Championship singles event – definitely one to watch if you get the opportunity.

An excel file of the full results is available from www.pairshead.co.uk

Photos by Eliot George

Big Blade pics

One unsurprising side effect of the recent findings from the Blockley inquest has been that many coaches have started to question just how well insured they are in the case of an incident. The general feeling of unease hasn’t really been helped by a lack of understanding around just how much cover the ARA members’ insurance gives and when coaches would be best organising some form of personal insurance to cover their activities.

Although the ARA insurance was not designed for people who derive their income from coaching, it does apply to anyone who is coaching in a situation which comes under the ARA umbrella. i.e. an ARA MEMBER coaching in and for an ARA affiliated club, event or regional activity, whether paid or unpaid -- and regardless of whether they hold a recognised coaching qualification or not.

Those of you who are paying attention are probably now thinking "just what exactly is a situation that ‘comes under the ARA umbrella’?"

Well, as you might expect, it’s not quite as clear cut as it might be – and the situations where you are covered vs the situations where you are not are probably best illustrated by a few examples.

One thing is clear, and that is that as a sport we need to protect our volunteers as well as our rowers – and a large part of that is making sure that individuals have appropriate insurance and understand when they are vulnerable to large financial loss because they are not covered.

If any of the above is making you nervous, one good alternative or additon to the ARA cover, is membership of SportscoachUK, which comes with good comprehensive insurance which will cover you for any coaching activity – the downside is that it doesn’t come cheap (but you get what you pay for) and you can only join if you hold a recognised coaching qualification issued by a recognised Governing National Body. For rowing that’s Instructor’s award or higher.

For a summary of what the £73 membership gets you and instructions on how to join, see www.sportscoachuk.org/improve/membership/benefits.htm

Finally, some further clarity on ARA insurance cover for coaches, clubs and events has now been published by Hammersmith on their website.


So now you know.

11-10-05 ALL IN THE EYES
So far this season the club in red, white and black has been fortunate to welcome an influx of new coaches, in particular one certain gentleman (cough, cough... Ed) who is helping the novice men's squad.

Whilst the slug heard rumours before his arrival that this gentleman’s renewed interest in coaching might have less to do with passing on his knowledge of the sport to a new generation and more to do with chatting up the new lay-dee rowers, it would appear the slug may have been misled...

Whilst chewing on some lettuce at the back of the crew room one Saturday afternoon, the slug was most surprised to hear the new coach commenting on the number of good looking men in his squad, and in particular, on the beautiful and mesmerising eyes of one his new novice boys..?!?!...

We know the coach in question has left the boys in blue to coach further down the embankment... but is he now also rowing for the other side?

Shurely not!

shineyThe rabbit finally returned from his year off sailing around the world last week (more on that to follow) and headed down to Henley on Sunday morning to attend a glamorous party laid on in his honour by the lovely people at Upper Thames RC (oh and there was some mention of a new boatshed opening as well).

rowing - of sortsAlong with several well known rowing faces, Boris Johnson - MP for Henley was present to make a speech and unveil a nice shiney plaque to commemorate the occasion.

Boris arrived rowing a double skiff with UTRC Founder and President Peter Sutherland, and looking somewhat dishevelled, lept out of the skiff quickly on arrival to retrive his waiting pint of beer.

speechesDuring his speech, Boris applauded "aquatic exertions" and commented that the row down, which was his first time in a boat since he was fifteen, had served to remind him why he'd taken up cricket. Though this didn't stop him accepting honorary membership of UTRC, a pewter pot and a silk UTRC tie - though I still think they should have given him an all-in-one...

The new boatshed isn't the end of UTRC developments and impressive plans were on show on Sunday which show how they intend to extend and enhance the existining clubhouse, turning it from a lowly scout hut into a two story ski-lodge - and very nice it looks too.

Lots more photos to follow when I get time to arrange them.

bit wetThe first major small boats head of the season took place on Saturday with mininmal fuss.

the Wallingford Long Distance sculls, which was healthly over-subscribed this year (800 entires for 550 places), kicked off with two full divisions and a handful of no shows, as good weather in the morning gave way to rain and cloud for the later division.

treeeeeee!!!The slug only spotted one swimmer on the day. Although there did seem to be quite a few people taking unplanned "nature tours" to investigate the local foliage for some reason...

Full results available at:

11-10-05 CASH COW...
Interesting mutterings from the latest ARA full council meeting, where it would appear that the mafia admitted to having a cool £5m currently stashed awat in their accounts.

Alas, quite why they're sitting on this sum (if it is indeed the correct amount) rather than spending it - or what it's been ring-fenced / put aside for, remains somewhat of a mystery...