The usual display of ineptitude and muppetry assoicated with bumps racing, was on show in both Oxford and Cambridge last weekend. Though no specific reports of the Lents have reached the slug's twitchy feelers as of yet, we do have a few things worthy of mention from Torpids.
To start with, there was a rather unfortunate incident in Men's division 3 on Friday...
There had already been a minor pile-up in the division on the previous day - resulting in a klaxon and some enthusiastic "we wuz robbed" posting on the OURCs messageboard. So, on Friday everyone wanted to avoid a repeat performance.
Mansfield however, had other plans and after colliding with the bank, they extracted themselves (without taking a look behind), by doing a racing start straight into the line of the chasing Pembroke II boat.
Boats and blades went at all angles, as Exeter II, St. Hugh's, Christ Church II and Wadham II all arrived on the scene ... just managing to stop in time but getting a bit tangled up in the resultant chaos.
Then along come Oriel II, who, on seeing a 6 boat pile-up right ahead of them in a narrow part of the river, decided at the very last moment that, er, maybe they'd better hold it hard and piled into Wadham with a mighty crunch, leaving the Wadham boat hull unscathed but leaving a huge scar across their cox's back where the 2 blade hit. (Happily he's now perfectly OK).
Needless to say, the fines from that incident will keep the race desk supplied with cake and biscuits for a long time to come.
On a more positive note, at least some of the coxes and marshals have taken the recent safety drive to heart, and the week saw some genuinely entertaining races, in particular the close-fought headship battles between Oriel and Magdalen.
Other minor points of note during the week:
- All four Lincoln College crews managed to get bumped at least once in every race
- New College W1 "did a Pembroke" by getting pushed into the bank, and dropping from second on the river down to the second division. However, unlike Pembroke a few years ago, New College seemed quite happy to stay in that division
Exeter W2 and W3 got in the wrong order after St. Hugh's W2 conceded to one and bumped the other in the same race
- Merton M2 narrowly missing out on "Spades" (apparently an honour awarded to crews who both bump and get bumped each day).
gotta love bumps.
|THE ROUGH AND THE SMOOTH
The top end of Oxford and Cambridge rowing decended on the Tideway over the weekend for their usual pre-boat race fixtures. For once, both blue boats (and Isis) were performing on the same day (Goldie had their race on Saturday) after Cambridge had their Saturday race rescheduled to Sunday against Molesey, when their original Italian opposition pulled out a couple of weeks ago.
Though sunny, and slightly better than the conditions for last week's Boustead cup, there was a nasty head wind at the start and the water was pretty ugly, though it did improve slightly over the course of the afternoon.
Isis were first off, racing against a University of London crew. UL apparently had a few Pete Wells ankle-issues, as he reportedly had an injury and was in and out of the crew line up (very "hokey-cokey"). Eventually he did race, but only completed the first of the two races - from Putney to St Pauls, which Isis, coxed by Tideway stalwart Seb "mini-gibs" Pearce, won by 11 seconds. UL only managed two minutes of the second race before they dropped out.
The Oxford blue boat came off worst in their encounter against a USA eight which had flown in specially on Thursday, after being on training camp in Seattle. The US eight which included Dan Beery from the 2004 Olympic eight and three others from last year's gold medal WC eight, adjusted to their jet lag and the rough conditions very well and beat Oxford by 1.5 l in their first race.
In the second race the crews clashed when and USA 7 man Chris Liwiski managed to flick over Oxford 6 man- Barney Williams' blade, causing some crab action (much to Chris's great amusement and Barney's annoyance). Oxford came out of the clash about 3/4 l behind and although they made a little back, USA went on to win the second race by 2/3 l.
Though I doubt the line up of the Oxford blue boat will change in their crew announcement this morning (Monday), I imagine there's still quite a lot of seat shuffling to do in the next month to find their optimum line up. The crew never really found a rhythm under pressure and looked to be rowing quite "short and stabby", still, a lot can change in a month and I certainly wouldn't write them off yet.
Cambridge on the other hand, demonstrated their usual long flowing style against their Molesey opposition, which though stuffed with internationals, suffered from only having had one or two outings together before they raced. Their first race was also quite eventful with the crews clashing down the embankment. Molesey bowman Richard Ockendon caught a big crab during the clash and the Umpire, Pete Bridge, stopped the race (with a white flag - tut, tut) then started them level again opposite IC.
It didn't take Cambridge long to get the lead back and they went on to win the first race by 3-4 lengths. The umpire's launch was starting to have problems keeping up with the crews by this stage, a situation which got worse during the second race, which was much closer - Cambridge winning that one by 1 1/2 l... while the umpire's launch came in a sorry 3rd, some 15 lengths down (ahem).
|DOOM AND GLOOM?
With talk of drought and hosepipe bans in the South East, we can only shudder that this might be a vision of things to come on the Thames...
Of course, if a lack of water doesn't get us, bird flu probably will...
If you do spot any dead swans/wild fowl (ducks and Geese) in your travels then you should contact the Defra Helpline (08459 33 55 77).
I believe they are interested in any dead swans (excluding those killed by Tyson obviously) but otherwise only if there are more than <3 dead birds of the same species or more than 5 dead birds of different species in the same place.
Currently the Helpline is available Monday - Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday - Sunday 9am to 6pm.
A Thames Men’s squad member writes:"The other morning whilst I was ruminating over the Slug with my crossword and a coffee as minor distractions, I came across that quote from one of LRC's men’s squad about how they were going to spend all summer beating us and 'squiring' our women. Stirred from my usual apathy towards LRC by such rapier-like wit, I scratched my bum and did half the crossword.
The caffeine from my beverage was beginning to rouse me, and with "when celebrity pets attack IV" still a good 15 minutes away, I was in need of a worthwhile distraction. I glanced at the walls and to my dismay all the paint had already dried. With a hint of resentment I resigned myself to the fact that an investigation in to this LRC statement could provide a brief moment of levity. I pondered just how many of our lovely ladies do actually get 'squired' by the London men. With such effective wit and wisdom at their disposal and after the devastating broadside to our egos that was the Valentines stunt, surely the Thames women must be crawling all over the LRC men.
So, I asked. Well the High Performance Women looked curious but blank, the lightweights were confused by the question and the novices just swooned when I walked into the room. So that left the intermediates. Ah, this is what they must be talking about – currently a grand total of two and a marriage, oh, and a spate of dumpings.
Quivering with disinterest I returned to my crossword. Hmm. (Spherical objects found on bullocks...8 letters...Starting with B ending in S… I wonder if the LRC boys would be able to get those. No, probably not. Anyway, must dash as Sienna and Claudia have turned up to watch ‘The Vatican City’s Dumbest Criminals III’."
If you thought avoiding red buoys was a pain in the neck, then spare a thought for the rowers on the river Yarra in Melborne, Australia, who have been subjected to a row of large fish as part of the run up to the 2006 commonwealth games.
Of course, to add insult to injury the games aren't even including rowing, so would be competitors will have to make their way over to sunny Strathclyde if they want to take part in the Commonwealth regatta.
Hopefully the fish won't be coming to Glasgow with them, though no doubt the PLA could find a use for them on the Thames...
|BLUE BOATS CLEAN UP THEIR ACT
The final line up for the 2006 Oxford and Cambridge boatrace crews are being announced on Monday the 6th March and following the announcement the crews will be spending the afternoon by the river - but not in the usual way, for they will be swapping oars for litter-pickers to help litter-blitz the Thames foreshore at Hammersmith with environmental charity Thames21, the official charity of The Boat Race 2006.
The fiercely competitive teams will band together to clear litter from the riverbank at low tide – like shopping trolleys, tyres, plastic bags, bottles and traffic cones, (not to mention record players, cars, chairs, wardrobes, sanitary products, bits of boat, clothes, wooden legs and bricks, though hopefully no dead bodies.. ED)
The crews will be clearing litter alongside kids from St Paul’s, who will be finding out first hand about the impact of litter on the river and its wildlife.
Barney Williams, President of Oxford University Boat Club said: "As rowers competing on the magnificent River Thames, we understand the value of greener cleaner rivers. For this reason, we are delighted to don our Wellies, and make a practical contribution to the outstanding work that is being done by Thames21 on London’s waterways."
Heh, heh... I might have to go and have a look...
|THAMES WON, LONDON TWO
The slug trotted down to Putney on Saturday afternoon, in bright but cold and blustery conditions, for the 49th Boustead Cup.
Starting at 2pm there were three races in total, all between men’s crews for although London is now sporting a fledgling women’s squad, they haven’t managed to get into the Boustead just yet. These were raced over a shortened course from Hammersmith to Putney as the wind had whipped up the water up-stream of St Paul’s with large waves and white horses, and organisers didn't really want a re-run of 2004...
The clubs had secured permission for the races from the PLA, but had not requested to take the racing line, which, in the absence of a river closure, meant crews had to keep to starboard. This, combined with the shortened course and a cross wind at the start resulted in some very close (in more ways than one), exciting races.
The main event on which the large lump of silver, otherwise known as the Boustead cup was to be won or lost set off first, with Thames having drawn the Middlesex station (with the advantage of the stream), whilst London had Surrey (with better bends).
London took an early lead but Thames was never far behind and soon started to draw back. As they came level, the crews clashed in neutral water to no particular detriment to either boat, though London then clipped both of the navigation buoys, unsettling them and losing some of their rhythm and flow, and allowing Thames to move ahead. Thames then settled into a strong rhythm and although their cox took the crew out of the fastest stream passing the milepost, LRC were unable to dent their lead and the race and the cup went to Thames by just over a length.
The second crews’ race turned out to be even more eventful. After more early clashes and warnings, the umpire’s launch was unable to keep up and got left quite a way behind. The umpire from the first race took over as the crews, with London on Middlesex, half a length up, approached the embankment.
With about 150m to go, the crews steered together and clashed badly, causing one of the Thames crew to be knocked back and lose his blade, at which point the umpire stopped the race. The crews were then taken back to the Milestone for a re row – but aggression was running high and they steered straight into each other within five strokes and were again red flagged.
After instructions from the Umpire that he was in the mood to disqualify someone and that if they didn’t do it right the this time he’d make them go back and do it from Chiswick, the coxn’s just about managed to keep apart with the help of some frantic flag waving and shouting. Thames threw their all at it, determined to pip London to the post, but as they approached the finish line it was obvious that LRC had a little more left in the tank, and they pushed ahead to win by half a length.
Alas, with all the other excitment I didn't get to see much of the 3rd eights race, however this was won by London on Surrey.
After 49 races this brings the tally to: LRC 26 wins ; TRC 23 wins.
|MORE THIEVING B*STARDS
More nefarious activities have reached the slug's twitchy feelers, this time focused on the Dulwich College boathouse at Putney, where some little scumbag helped himself to a few laptops, then grabbed the car keys on the desk and used the BMW as a getaway car last week, during which time the coaches were oblvious to the whole thing in the back room.
This is no laughing matter when it happens to you, so PLEASE keep all valuables secure, keep an eye out at all times and don't trust any strangers. Much though we's like to think it wasn't the case, there are some arrogant jerks out there who are all too happy to make a living off raiding sports clubs, even when people are in them.
**UPDATE** -- The latest rumour is that the BMW that was nicked was later used in an armed robbery..
Nice people eh?
You probably won't be aware that Pembroke regatta took place in Cambridge the weekend before last, as this is a closed student event and as such, falls off most people's radar, however, it did draw some unexpected attention when a horse in one of the fields near the regatta course managed to get loose and join in the fun.
Smelling the sweet scent of freedom, our horsey hero soon cantered off down the tow path looking for trouble, while frantic marshals on walkie-talkies were busily trying to tell each other to halt racing... for unfortunately they had just set off a race.
As you might expect, the horse quickly caught up with the bank party and proceeded to floor a bloke from his bicycle... Happily, post paramedics and Addenbrookes hospital, there was no harm done bar a few bruises.
In the words of the poor sod on the receiving end:
"I can still see the image of the horse running into me head on.
I looked up and had less than half a second to swerve by about 5cm before
it smacked me 6 feet into the air..."
All proving that Horses are faster than student eights - which is possibly why coaches of college crews in Oxford are still allowed to coach from them!?! (though can't say I'd fancy it there any more than by the Cam)
As if that wasn't enough from dumb animals for one day, Trinity Hall then had a crew disqualified for steering into its opposition and other naughty things.
Their Coach (or possibly crew representative) then proceeded to get into abusive remonstrations with the start judges after the race was over. Clearly furious with what he saw as a bad decision he then put on an impressive display of handbags at dawn for the spectators, jumped off his bike while still hurling abuse and not listening to any answers, then subsequently stomped on the bike as it lay on the ground...
|LRC IN NZ
It's oft been said that the boys in blue pop up everywhere, and this has been proven yet again by the appearance of no less than two of the B*ggers at the National Championships in the place furthest away from LRC that it is possible to be (well, unless you go into space).
Yes thats right... New Zealand.
Bored with long distance trials (more later on that), head races and 'pony' weather native Kiwi 'Rear Admiral' Rees Ward of the up and coming LRC Dirt squadron, headed off home with full permission from Reedy the Impaler, on the premise that he stay away from bakeries and do some training.
Indeed, so keen was the Rear Admiral to return 'down under'ASAP, that he made a pre-emitve attempt to get just that little bit closer, by flipping his single on the eve of flying home, at the most recent Long Distance trials in Boston...
Joining the rear Admiral was a member of the growing LRC latino contingent, the 18 year old Marco 'Virgil' Espin whom, it is hoped, will learn the meaning of fun from the Rear Admiral whilst there, though hopefully it wont extend all the way to picking up a comedy accent and saying 'Primo Bro!!!!' constantly.
For the record, the Rear Admiral finished 4th in mens Championship singles (with no flipping) and the last thing we heard was that Virgil was preparing for the lightweight mens final.
A source at LRC said: 'we are proud of our boys wherever they go, we are looking forward to a summer of beating Thames and squiring their women as usual'