The National Junior Sculling Head which took place in Henley on Thursday, went extremely well for a new event. There were far more entries than expected and despite this and terrible weather all 3 divisions ran on time.

The results were out (thanks to Mikrotime) less than 2 minutes after the last crew finished and excellent racing conditions were enjoyed by all. Results attached for your information.

Maidenhead and LEH won 2 events, the other 6 events were won by by 6 different clubs and schools as follows

J18 4x Maidenhead
J16 4x Marlow
J15 4x+ Windsor Boys
J14 4x+ George Watsons
J14 8x+ Molesey Schools Rowing Assn

J18 4x Maidenhead
J16 4x Henley
J15 4x+ LEH
J14 4x+ LEH
J14 8X+ Bedford HS

The main School's head took place Thursday morning on the Tideway, in cold, damp but fast conditions.

Interestingly Eton appear to have lost their edge from last year, dropping from head to a still respectable 11th place. Around Chiswick Pier, they were being rowed down by Shrewsbury who looked much the stronger crew, and indeed topped last year's second place by winning overall, a full 25 seconds ahead of Abingdon and St Paul's.

Shrewsbury, who are coached by Tod Jesdale (ex Groton USA), look to have a very strong sqaud this year, as their second eight also won their category in a record time - coming 8th overall - definitely one to watch for the PE.

Bedford Modern coached by Richard Follett, also showed their depth, with their first and second eights placing 9th and 10th respectively.

In a replay of last year's result, Headington won the women's event just pipping Molesey into 2nd place.

Kings Chester's 3rd VIII featured a girl in the four seat (at least, I hope it was a girl!), which I suppose is one way to get an entry into the 3rd VIIIs category and ensure all your stoodents get a row.

One of the coastal fours was late to arrive at the short start. However, when they were told by an official that they really should have set out earlier, they shouted back "we did start early!". The facts that they had a large adult bloke coxing and that only one or two of the crew were rowing at a time might (conceivably) have had something to do with their slowness...

The old Master in Charge of rowing at Bedford was taking to the current Master in charge of rowing before the race, and noticing that the Bedford crews didn't have crew ID's on their hulls enquired if he was going to do anything about it. The response came back "Why? Do you think anyone else will bother?"... bearing in mind that the old Master in Charge of rowing is the current Chairmain of the Thames Regional rowing council, you can imagine his response... safe to say the boats had ID's when they raced.

Indeed, only about six boats out of the 230 odd entered, did not have IDs, which is pretty good going all in all - although some had clearly been caught out on the day - Winchester college had gaffa tape letters both wonky and about a foot high (luckily for them "WIN" lends itself to gaffa tape) - most amusing.

Full results at:

Oxford University Boat Club announced today that they have decided to re-select their coxswain for the 2006 Blue Boat.

Seb Pearce has been moved from the Isis crew to the Blue Boat replacing Nick Brodie, who now coxes Isis. The decision was made after a period of extensive assessment over the last six weeks and how each might progress in the run up to the race on 2nd April 2006.

Sean Bowden, Oxford Head Coach said "With both coxswains being of a very high standard the Blue Boat selection has always been close run. I have been very impressed with the progress that Seb has made in training. Combining this with his extensive knowledge of the Tideway Seb will really add value to a crew determined not to leave any stone unturned in its search for victory in this year's Boat Race"

A rather unpleasant illustration of what happens when you accost pikeys outside Latinos with such witty repartees as "you reek of poverty"...


Not suitable viewing for the squeamish

Sad pics from Lake Wendouree in Ballarat (Aus) which has been in decline over the last few years. The lake is an artificially created shallow urban lake built in 1864, when a rowing course was first cut through the reedy swamp in Victoria. As these images document, the damge is extensive to not only the local flora, fauna and tourism but most importantly, you cannot row on it.

On a more positive note a joint initiative by The Ballarat City council, The State Government and local water companies and water treatment companies has resulted in water flow diversion into the lake commencing soon, which should fill the lake by early 2008. Which means that Wendouree Ballarat may be able to hold their first regatta there in late 2008/early 2009.

This is what it used to look like:

Picture the scene...

Reading HOR has a record entry and this inevitably results in some early boating times for those marshalling furthest from the start (mainly S4, Vets and J16).

Having waited to the last possible minute for their boating slot due to the nasty cold weather (6 deg C) and then ushered the safety launches away from the RUBC dock, the Marlow Vets set off downstream with virtually a clear river in front of them.

Approaching the channel by the first island there suddenly arose frantic cries of alarm from the bows as the wake from a SAFETY boat, on its way to its rescue point, rolls down the side of the boat, depositing several inches of water into the footwell.

In one split second bang goes all their dryish kit, and there are now several fairly wet veteran oarsmen who still have 90 minutes till race start! A convenient landing stage and one boat emptying later the damp crew resume their paddle to the start.

Luckily their marshalling station is out of the shade and the sun is out, otherwise they might not have thawed out in time to start the race.

Now, if the crews had set times to boat then surely the safety boats should have been in place ready to receive them?!?

In the words of one crew member "All that and UTRC still overtook us!"

Not to be out-muppeted by the competition at Fenland Poly and Iffley Special school, it would appear the lunatic fringe were out in force on the Tideway at the weekend.

First of all, the Chiswick Lifeboat was on passage outward bound at Fulham Rail when a coach's launch came alongside and mentioned that a single scull was hung up in the Battersea Reach rubish collector (as you do???) with no rower in sight.

Concerned that someone had come a cropper, the lifeboat crew found the scull, relayed the hull number to London Coastguard for background searches and then began a search as far as Vauxhall for the missing rower.

Some time later London Coastguard was able to contact the rower belonging to said abandoned boat (thanks to the hull number) who was ... safe and well back at their club. The Lifeboat was then released from the Search.

Just incase you hadn't twigged, the lesson is pretty obvious, if you have to abandon or leave your boat unoccupied/unattended anywhere but immediately outside your clubhouse, then please advise London Coastguard incase a 999 call comes in from elsewhere.

The second incident involved a Dulwich Octuple which got broken in two down at Putney, the slug has been told that the evil 'hidden' object that is the black buoy played a part.

Yet again the RNLI had to get involved, somewhat ironically they were were notified by a passing sculler while returning from the previous incident. All nine crew members had been recovered by coaches launches as the Lifeboat arrived on scene but the lesson is the same - if people self-rescue, please advise London Coastguard incase of a 999 call from elsewhere. It would also have given the Lifeboat a few more minutes head start if the rowers couldn't be rescued by those onscene or if they needed urgent medical attention.

(The Lifeboat will always have at least two and sometimes three qualified First Aiders onboard and regularily have LAS paramedics onboard as well).

The London Coastguard Emergency Number is 999 (not hard to remember), non emergency is 0208 312 7380. While it's not always possible for rowers to carry mobile phones with them, there really is no excuse for the coaches - so why not put the number in your phone now - you might be glad you did.

Other incidents of note from the weekend:

  • LRC and Barnes Bridge Ladies had a serious collision on Saturday resulting in massive damage to LRC's Newest coxless four. Rumour has it that the BBL four may have commenced a "U" turn just in the path of the LRC heavy four.

  • The Cambridge Women were on the Tideway without any ID stickers (HONESTLY - GET IT SORTED YOU MUPPETS)

  • Hampton School were down visiting prior to the School's head on Wednesday - alas they were all over the river, with apparent no knowledge of the navigation rules. One of their (obviously suicidal) eights attempted to paddle up the outside of the line of the boats at Putney, against the stream, causing several crews to have to take avoiding action. Another of their eights had to be told on which side of the red marker at Barn Elms they should go and one of their fours had no ID plates.

    Silly season must have started early this year - and frankly they're not doing any of us any favours.

    Some photographic evidence of the Iffley Special School carange at Torpids (see "bumpy ride" below), as well as a lovely example of what happens when you try to take a short cut rather than going round the corner, from the ladies of Downing College W2, at the Fenland Poly Lent Bumps...

    Amazingly the boat is apparently unscathed (not sure the bank will ever be the same again though.)


    Carnage of a different kind was evident at the Medway Head in Maidstone this weekend, or at least it was for a poor Sons of the Thames 2x.

    Having just rounding the 90 degree bend in the town centre, their steersman saw a J16 4x racing very slowly in front. In accordance with the race regulations, the quad pulled out to the centre of the stream to allow them to pass on the racing line.

    "what's so bad about that, oh Slug?" I hear you cry...

    Well, as our rapidly progressing double passed level with the quad, their steersman looked behind on the other side, and was somewhat astonished to see two canoeists, proceeding with typical Sunday afternoon nonchalance right in the middle of the racing line. Taking hasty evasive action, the double was now almost locking blades with the J16 4x who were now moving somewhat faster than before -- probably as some primeval self-preservation instinct kicked in, rather than any sudden improvement in rowing technique.

    Now, (yes, it gets better) right in front of the main race administration buildings and the majority of onlookers, the J16 4x headed straight towards a pleasure barge moored on the opposite side of the river... As blades were quickly drawn in, the inevitable happened and all four juniors were tipped into the river as the quad capsized.

    Fortunately, there were plenty of rescue boats and staff on hand to quickly drag the soggy boys from the cold waters of the Medway.

    When race officials questioned the Sons steersman about the incident, he asked rather tersely why 2 canoeists had been allowed to proceed downstream on the racing line while racing was in progress and why the river had not been closed?...

    The only response provided by the official was that "marshals didn’t have the authority to prevent non rowing traffic from proceeding down the river".

    While this seems an absurd situation, particularly on a narrow river, the Environment Agency are reportedly not keen on allowing any river closures for rowing events and would quite like to get rid of the ones that are currently in place for Reading and Kingston head...

    Of course, it may also help to explain though why when the entire division of about 50 boats was proceeding upstream after the race back to the landing stages, further mayhem ensued when they encountered two private motorized pleasure boats making their way downstream.

    A London member writes:
    " It is without much shock and surprise that the only physical manifestations that manage to ‘arouse’ such divine and unequalled leaders of men is a cup of caffeine and ‘when celebrity pets attack’... surely such a witty retort from someone who’s actions closely resembles that of a baboon... "I scratched my bum and did half the crossword." (I do hope this is un-offensive to baboons as their intellect enables them to finish the entire crossword).

    Whilst the 'Valentines stunt' was only intended as a bit of amusing tideway banter with the Thames women, (surely the TRC men would not be so arrogant as to presume the stunt was an attack on their Egos... "devastating broadside to our egos"...ah maybe they did).

    It was also instigated as on account of no less than 15 women, that the Thames men are "dull, drab, characterless, tedious and stale" and that the women have seen more "attractive bits of driftwood on the Thames than in their boat club" (this is in no-way a character attack on TRC men, merely a passing observation on what has been mentioned in conversation with aforementioned women) we then felt that, as honourable men, to take upon us something which the TRC men would not think about doing in fear of doing something that involved ‘fun’ and that didn’t involve themselves and their egos.

    Suffice to say, not every woman from TRC socialises as strongly as those industrious, hard working baboons do, and therefore not everyone is bound to be ‘squired’ or have ‘been squired’; I also find it a bit presumptuous that every novice just ‘swooned’ when the right honourable gentleman walked into the room... I find the reasoning that they merely ‘ducked’ as you swung your ego around a much better and ‘down-to-earth’ actuality.

    ...and a possible entry for your crossword -- 8 letters, starts with B, ends in S -- ..'Bigheads'... something which i'm sure TRC is very familiar with…"