The Oxford and Cambridge Tideway circus continued on Wednesday with Cambridge's go at trial eights. The race, which was won by Kieran "should have asked the Headmaster's permisson" West's crew, suffered from a couple of unwanted interuptions after not one, but two PLA vessels messed up their attempts. (not bad for one day's effort - eh?)

By all accounts, the PLA launch on duty was going down stream against the Flood while the crews were racing. As it passed Hammersmith Bridge it went through the centre arch of the bridge at a slow pace, say 3 or 4 knots. There wasn't much wash, but it was slap in the centre of the Fairway (possibly in breach of Col Regs 9a... mmmmmm!??!!)

On going round the bend, it then veered to starboard just after Harrods and proceeded slowly to Barn Elms, witnesses at Putney noted that it caused a medium wash (not huge but certainly unfriendly for racing crews) and noted that they couldn't understand why the launch did not simply tuck inside the boats at a dead slow pace, as there was plenty of room.

The final icing on Cambridge's cake was the Driftwood barge which was clearly on a mission at the LEP... that boat did create a substantial large wash (as they slowed too late).

Re Tuesday's OUBC events (see below), the slug has now heard several conflicting stories about exactly just how much permisson the PLA had given the trial eights crews to row outside of the agreed rules and I'm waiting for them to get their story finalised before having a go at, or absolving, any of the involved parties...

With all the shenanigans of the last couple of days, it would be easy to overlook the excellent work that the higher echelons of the PLA have been doing with the SA risk assessment working group to help rowing . Though perhaps improved communication between PLA staff about what's going-on, on their river, and some encouragement for sympathy by duty boats, re their wash, would help aid the overall process.

Oh dear, it would appear that OUBC have dropped themselves in it somewhat, following the report of their trials eights race on Tuesday afternoon.

To simulate conditions of the boat race itself, trial eights races take place upstream on a flood tide, but one condition which isnít simulated, is the river closure... so as any ful kno, this OBVIOUSLY means that they must keep to the starboard side of the fairway (if not out of it totally) as per PLA rules.

So you can imagine the reaction from both the PLA and various other Tideway users on reading the following in the race reportÖ

"They then moved over towards Burn's water but umpire Simon Harris, conductor of the 2000 and 2002 Boat Races, warned them back. He continued to warn as the crews neared Hammersmith Bridge, the line of both crews being somewhat too far towards Middlesex due to a widely set navigation buoy."
where they were supposed to beProblem is that neither of the crews should have been anywhere near the buoy (which is on the Surrey side), indeed they should have been further to Middlesex than the Starboard side of the Fairway (ie OUT OF IT ALTOGETHER see NTMU6 line 1) and this would have put them well over 50 M from the buoy, therefore, one can only conclude that they went up the port station of the fairway on the flood.

Naughty, naughty.

Of course, the quote is an account of the race and doesn't necessarily imply that either the Oxford coxes or Sean Bowden "wanted" to be closer to Surrey or would have been if it hadn't been for the presence of the buoy - it just means that "in the reporter's view" they were in the wrong place (which is curious in itself, as the deepest part of the river and therefore the stream is about 10m to the middlesex side of the buoy, not to mention that one of the crews was coxed by one "Seb Pearce" who really should know better.)

However, the report does appear to confirm that the crews were in the wrong place (albeit wrong for a different reason) and rumour has it that the evidence from this article will be be used by the Region and the PLA to enquire as to whether or not Oxford were indeed racing in the Port navigation line going on the flood on a blind bend at a pinch point outlined in the SA Risk assessment (cough cough)

With Cambridge racing tomorrow and repeated visits to the Tideway from both clubs guaranteed up until March, you can be sure that beady little eyes will be paying plenty of attention to ensure they keep their noses clean from now on.

13-12-05 CLEANING UP
And while I'm on the subject of unwanted litter cluttering up the Tideway, sorry I mean the boatrace crews, the environmental charity Thames21 (the owner of the cage-things) has been made the official charity for The Boat Race 2006.

Thames 21 work with thousands of volunteers every year to clean up Londonís rivers and canals, create habitats for wildlife along the Thames, install waterside artwork and encourage community action on our waterways.

thames 21 logoAs part of the tie-in, organisers are planning to contact the clubs along the course of the boat race to get them involved in supporting their work to keep the Thames rubbish free (e.g. getting some rowers along for a Thames21 foreshore clean up).

Fear not, for they are aware that weekend mornings aren't the best time for rowers do do anything other than row and may look at arranging a bank holiday clean up instead.

Top marks are due to the volunteers at Thames-21 for their recent efforts to clear the foreshore of some of the piles of indestructible litter that collect on the banks, getting washed up and down on every high tide. The cage-things up at Barnes have all been well fed.

Looking at the problem of floating litter, one can't help but notice the large number of 'sport drink' bottles and wonder where they might have come from.... Whilst it is easy for rowers to accidentally lose the odd one overboard, many seem to be getting left behind in the scramble to get boat, oars and bodies back to the boathouse after outings in the colder weather.

We might better help our cause for a cleaner river to train on by taking a little extra care of our bottles or throwing them in the bin rather than leave them to wash up and down the river until the next clear up.

In the meantime, should you wish to give a little of your time or money to improve the river, you can see what events they have organised or make a donation, via their website www.thames21.org.uk/getinvolved.html

13-12-05 THE BUOYS ARE IN...
...and just in time for this week's Oxford and Cambridge trial eights crews to run into them at speed!!! Hurrah!!

The photos below show the new red Tideway additions in situ, and should also give you an idea of their size and how much damage you could do by running into one! (Don't worry, by the looks of things they'll provide adequate target practice for you all...)

Remember, the slug is running a book on which club provides "first blood" on either buoy, so let us know if you spot any casualties!!! (slug@twrc.org)

milestone buoy riverview buoy the one that got away

Finally, as I've already mentioned them - Oxford's Trial Eights race takes place at 10.30am on Tuesday 13th December and Cambridge's at 11.35am on Wednesday 14th December.

As taken from the Rowing club Directory of Great Britain 1898 - it's such a pity this club doesn't exist any more...
Boat House:-J. Corbett's, Crane Street, Greenwich.
Head Quarters:-"British Queen," Church Street, Greenwich.
Colours:-Dark Blue and Orange.

09-12-05 GLUM CUP?
The UL Allom cup, scheduled for Saturday 10th December has been cancelled after the Harbour Master decided that, as a non-ARA event, they didn't have adequate insurance, and pulled the plug the day before (which apparently according to PLA Rules, he is perfectly entitled to do.)

I believe that the poor little UL rowers, may get a chance to race again, as organisers are hoping to reschedule the event, after ensuring the PLA's demands are met, however, this has forced the somewhat "Fuzzy" advice around what constitutes a private match, and which ticks need to be put in which boxes before any racing can go ahead, back into the spotlight.

I'm glad to say that apparently the ARA and the National Competitions Committee are planning to look at the whole area of private rowing matches and improve upon their current guidelines, which are frankly open to interpretation.

In the meantime, should you be planning an inter-club "private match" of any sort or size - especially one on the Tideway, you might be advised to mention it to your Regional Rowing Council sooner rather than later.

Play nicely out there.

The latest news from HRR, that the Student coxed fours event has found a trophy and sponsor in Imperial College, is no doubt welcomed by the Stewards, however the choice of name for the "Prince Albert Challenge Cup"-- for four-oars with cock...
swain-- has raised a few eyebrows in the rowing world.

I am assured that the name has been selected because Prince Albert was the first royal patron of the regatta and also helped to found Imperial College... not because all IC rowers already have one of the other sort

As Prince Albert is alleged to have had a "dressing ring", to pull his bits back tight so as not to create an "unsightly bulge" in his tight-fitting pants, the slug can see certain parallels for those in "tight fitting lycra"

Now, rowing the Henley course like that would definitely count as a "Prince Albert Challenge", though when Bill Mason says "I want you to jump through hoops for me" I don't think that's what most of them were expecting. (don't try this at home children)

Meanwhile, it looks like Pete Egbe will live to race the Thames Cup again, as the stewards have relaxed the rules for the lower status events and oarsmen who have competed in the Asian, African or South American Olympic Qualification Regattas may now enter.

Full rules and changes can be read at

09-12-05 ROWED OUT
fir kitIt looks like the rabbit has another film for its collection with the release of Mrs Henderson Presents.

Mrs Henderson - played by Judi Dench in the film, apparently enjoys a spot of skiffing while wearing full funeral garb.

Interestingly, despite suffering a day on the Thames doing takes of her rowing in a skiff while members of Leander rowed past in period costume, most of the footage never made it past the cutting room floor, something Ms Dench is apparently rather irate about...


It appears that an unfortunate member of one of the Putney clubs was admitted to hospital earlier this week with severe diarrhea, vomitting, temperature and crippling stomach cramps and was put on a drip overnight.

The doctors seem to think that it could be something she picked up from the Thames and advised her to warn other rowers. So if any of you have any of these symptoms, even if not as severe, go to your gp and get it checked out!

On the subject of water-borne nasties, The Thames Recreational Users Study is an ongoing study looking into water quality in the Upper Thames Tideway, in particular the risks of gastrointestinal illness in recreational users of the river. They are keen to hear of any reports of ill health in rowers, canoeists, kayakers and sailors on the Tideway.

In addition to the ongoing collection of health related and environmental data, the co-ordinators of the study are seeking 100 regular river users who would be willing to participate in a sub-study looking at asymptomatic infections in river users.

People who are repeatedly exposed to a source of infection will frequently become infected without any obvious signs of ill health, as they have already built up some immunity. This occurs in many viral infections, including the common cold. Such infections are referred to as "asymptomatic" or "sub-clinical".A new river user would be likely, if exposed to the same virus, to become ill, with a regular user remaining well, despite the infection.

This study will be looking to see if regular users of the Thames Tideway who have not been ill, have been recently infected by any of a number of microbes commonly found in the river, and compare them against a population who have no connection with river sports.

Why not do a good thing, and give up a few minutes of your time to help them collect this vital information about the current safety of the Thames?

The study will involve volunteers:

  1. completing a registration and consent form (about 2 minutes)
  2. at a later date providing some specimens (a faecal sample, i.e. sample of your bowel movements, and two saliva samples taken ten days apart) and
  3. Filling in a further on-line questionnaire (2 minutes).
All samples would be collected by participants themselves, and would not require any medical intervention. They can be sent by post using a collection kit provided with full instructions. The co-ordinators will contact participants with reminders for the second of the salivary samples.

All information collected will be treated with full medical confidentiality (no one else gets to see the information).

Information and registration for the study can be done on the web-site at www.hpa-thamesstudy.org.uk/ASImain.asp If you wish to discuss the study further please contact the co-ordinators via the web-site contacts page.

Finally, if any recreational users suffer from stomach upsets, skin, ear or eye infections, the HPA would still very much like to hear about them. Reports can be made through the Thames Recreational Users Study website on the self reported illness form (this takes less than 5 minutes to complete), or by email to thamesrec.study@hpa.org.uk) or by phone (details on the website).

30-11-05 SAY CHEESE
Some photos from the annual Head of the River fours piss up in a brewery last Thursday (i.e. the prizing giving at Fuller's) are now on the HOR4s website


Alas, quite a few of the winners couldn't turn up to get their medals, as they were off on GB training camp in Cyprus, but it was probably just as well, as the food only lasted about 5 minutes as it was... mainly due to the amazing "food-hoovering" abilities of the Oxford Brookes rowers.

And while I'm at it, here are some more pics of the evening's entertainment.

the bar Chris & Ken Chris and the rabbit pink types Chairman Jim Bill and Jim Mr Pontoon Ray gets chatty Mike and Jim