Who needs "the Apprentice"?

BBC Northern Ireland Broadcast an interesting documentary on Monday night... part of a series entitled "The Next level", it followed rowing kit manufacturers Garth and Aly Young, who own the Powerhouse Clothing Company, on their quest to develop their business.

The programme followed their attempts to register the Powerhouse Brand; expand into Europe and develop new markets (such as their rather ingenious lighted safety vest).

There were lots of shots of rowing on the River Lagan and at Henley Women's, as well as some choice pics of Garth looking mightily pissed off in the rain at the FISA World Masters in Strathclyde.

On a dark and stormy night earlier this week, Vesta held off a strong challenge from Sons and AK to win the 2006 Trivial Head of the River.

With the Mid-Atlantic conditions blowing outside matching the distinctly Mid-Atlantic quiz inside, Sons put together a solid challenge only to see Vesta slip away in the last rounds. The win is Vesta’s first in the event, and was made more sweet by last year’s tiebreak loss to Black Prince.

Sons got off to a strong start; by the fifth round, they lead the pack with 45 points, helped by a perfect score on the Music Round, while AK’s best entry (the previous winners) were 2 points behind Vesta in 3rd place.

The ‘Americana’ and ‘Miscellaneous’ sections proved challenging for all, while Vesta put in a solid push in the last round to emerge as 5 point victors.

2006 Trivial Head: Vesta takes home the Wilde Trophy

Vesta 72
AK - ‘No Angels’ 67
Sons 64
AK - Baldwin 60.5
AK - ‘Top Nuts’ 57
Thanks to all who braved the conditions (and the questions). And remember - Randy Johnson’s nickname really is ‘the Big Unit’.

See you next year!

The slug's little twitchy feelers have picked up some mildly disturbing information about an incident on the Trent on Sat 4th March.

Picture the scene, two eights are out indulging in some seat racing under the watchful eye of their coach, who is in a launch. Now of course, as you should all know, not only is seat racing not suited to eights, it also requires people to swap seats - an activity which doesn't normally happen in the middle of the river.!?!!?!

Except, it would seem, in this case... (ahem)

As the boats came together for the crew change, one of the eights managed to hit the other and as one of the unfortunate rowers tried to push the bow ball away, she ended up getting the full weight of the eight on her hand, which was pushed into a rigger bolt... the subsequent injury required 5 stitches and was about 7cm long and down to the bone (ouch).

Of course, while the primary question has to to be 'What the hell were the coaches doing?', one also has to ask why the (adult) rowers allowed their coaches to insist on tired people changing from boat to boat, in winter when there was a quick stream, rather than telling them that they simply didn't want to do it.

Remember, despite what they might want you to think, coaches are human and they can, and do, make stupid decisions, so if you are not happy with what is being asked of you, then say something!!!! and that goes for being asked to row in unsafe equipment (insufficent bowballs / heel restraints) as much as it does to stupid activities such as the above.

Looking for some new greenery to chew on, the slug headed down to the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday afternoon, to observe the adjornment debate on rowing safety and the ARA, as rasied by David Heyes MP on behalf of the Blockleys. The proceedings weren't particularly well attended (but then again it was a wednesday afternoon), with none of those involved from the ARA present, though the Chairman of the TRRC was there.

With the debate limited to a strict 30 mins, David Heyes kicked off at 4:30pm on the dot with a summary of the Blockley's view of the situation so far. This mainly focused on the ARA's dismal failure to protect "young lives at risk" by stonewalling attempts to get them to introduce buoyancy standards. He also commented on the ARA's attitude when responding to the Coroner's "letter 43" and apparant failure to take action on the recommendations contained within. David Heyes demands being for a follow-up meeting with the Sport minister and the Blockley's so he could hear their concerns, and an investigation into the actions of the ARA.

With the Minister for Sport, Richard Caborn out in Melborne for the Commonwealth Games, the response came from David Lammy, who is the Parliamentary secretary for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. An interesting choice, as Lammy also has ties with the Home office (under which the Coroners sit) and you really don't want to piss off the home office...

Lammy's reponse was a very reasonable one, stressing the importance of safety in recreational sports, making a few points about the history of the ARA water safety code and the role of the National Water Saftey Forum and Governing bodies in setting standards, and pointing out that the ARA's central funding is subject to an annual audit, part of which is based around safety. He also noted that while the Coroner has no power to compel actions, that any points raised should be responded to in full and stated that the ARA should be promoting safety as much as possible.

He then agreed that:

  1. The minister for Sport will meet with the Blockley's and hear their concerns
  2. The minister for Sport will write to the ARA and FISA for clarity on how both organisations view buoyancy
  3. The minister for Sport will write to Sport England asking them to propose someone to undertake an independent assessment into what has happened.
No doubt these developments will put a rocket up a few people at Hammersmith, as they'll really need to be seen to be getting their act in order or the sport could suffer, but I can't help but think that's something which is long overdue...

The full transcript is now on Hansard:

If you can't be bothered reading all that and have Broadband and a half hour to spare, the televised recording of the debate has also been archived at

To find it:

  1. Go to the website above
  2. click on "archive" in the left hand menu
  3. Search for meetings between Wed 15th March and Wed 15th March in Westminster hall
  4. Click "Watch" next to the recording dated "Wed 15 Mar 2:28pm"
  5. Fast forward though to 01:20 (last 30% of recording)

Some more information on the circumstances leading up to the "interesting" steering demonstrated in the stills below (see "COMPLETE COX-UP")
"I was on umpire duty in the general area of the incident immortalised in those video stills .

The crew in question had been tootling along ok and were the Middx-most of three boats more or less (ahem) abreast as they approached TTRC . At that point someone in the middle of the boat caught a major crab, and by the time they had got sorted out they were noticeably closer to the Middx arch than the centre one, and much closer to the Bridge.

The marshal above me told them - entirely logically - not to try to get through the centre arch , but keep going through the Middx one .

As they passed me , under that arch , I did recommend they move back towards the centre of the river as soon as practicable , but I didn't think I was that forceful...

We agreed that no penalty was called for in respect of their course above the bridge, as it was much the safest thing to do and had been agreed by an official... Below the bridge, well, that's different."

Still on the subject of steering at the WEHORR, someone else reports:
"I did see one (old wooden) VIII landing at the Civil Service hard after the race with no fin.

However the presence of a large bit of black gaffer tape over the hole where the fin should have been rather indicates that it was not damage that occurred during the race. They must have boated without a fin.

No wonder people can't steer! "

Following on from Nick Friend's recent press feature (i.e. his somewhat requested beating from a pikey outside latinos), the slug is happy to report on slightly more pleasant press coverage of the Friend family, courtesy of the Reading post.

Attached below are three separate articles, all produced within the last two months by this weekly bastion of all that is news in Reading.

The subjects were interviewed for their "great taste in fashion" whilst doing their christmas shopping in late December -- The boys were in rowing kit after a weekend of rowing training whilst John was in his plumbing kit and wearing his late father-in-law's old cords.(?!?)

For those who don't know, Nick and Charlie were two of last year's Thames Cup winning eight (Henley RC). Whilst John Friend is a Fisa Umpire and Henley Steward (no wonder the flower arrangements in Stewards are always so nice...)

Note: in the 3rd article, for "Henley Reacing Cup" read Henley Rowing Club.

The following pictures are stills from a video taken from Barnes Bridge during the recent WEHORR.

While waiting to video one or two specific crews, suddenly a racing crew passed under the inside arch of Barnes Bridge, realised that it wasn't the really the place to be, and decided to get back into the stream (the direct way)

The stills illustrate the inevitable them in order

So, perhaps this is time for a another reminder that the "Coxing a Tideway Head" video has been converted to DVD and is available from Andrew Ruddle (the HORR Sec) at £7 (including postage) a time.

The best link to use for ordering details is

Almost on par with the naming of HRR's newest prize, the attached picture is of the proposed banner advertising the Met Regatta, that will be strung across the front of LRC for HORR & Boatrace weekends.

No chance of misinterpreting the message there then...

Oh dear.

Any suspicions that crews might be racing the 66th WEHORR in just their bras were quashed by the bitterly cold conditions on Saturday afternoon, though there were a few nutters racing in just their all-in-ones. The Breast Haven charity connection was still evident with crews adding pink touches here and there, including pink ribbons and a rather revolting under all-in-one bright pink ensemble. Apparently over £5000 was raised by competing crews for the charity, of which an astounding £1400 was collected by two OUWBC crews.

Happily there were no dead heats to add confusion this year, but the results at the top end still had a few surprises with several of the usual suspects being absent from the top 20.

Coming head, after starting 169th, was a squad composite of Lindsay Maguire, Kath Grainger, Sarah Winkless, Tash Page, Rebecca Rowe, Tash Howard, Annie Vernon, Kate MacKenzie and Zoe De Toledo. The crew (a variation on last year’s joint winning composite) stormed up the field to finish 1st, ten seconds ahead of 2nd placed Thames which also had quite a few familiar names in the boat (Elise Laverick, Beth Rodford, Carla Ashford, Rachel Loveridge, Vicki Etiebet, Baz Moffat, Caroline O’Connor, Flo Temple and TRC Captain Emma James). The TRC crew had started 2nd behind Leander but closed the gap on them by a full eight seconds.

The women’s blue boat race is only a couple of weeks away (April 1st), and Osiris showed some serious speed over the head course moving from 10th to 4th, while Cambridge dropped from 5th to 8th. With both crews in the top 10 and eleven seconds separating the second crews (Oxford 17th - Cambridge 27th) the Henley races are shaping up for some good quality racing.

As well as Oxford and Cambridge, other spots in the top ten were taken by UL, IC, and Durham, a sign that the standard of top level women’s university rowing in the UK continues to accelerate – all of which bodes well for BUSA.

Starting 184th and finishing 13th were the girls in blue from London Rowing club – a notable result for their fledgling women’s squad (which only has eight members) – especially considering the girls are mainly lightweights and they beat all the crews from Thames that were entered but their top one. Though Thames C – their lightweight crew - apparently suffered from some bad crab action at the start which cost them 10 - 15 seconds..

In the S/J category - Molesey B pulled their finger out and put in an impressive performance to come 21st, avenging their schools head result by coming a full 20secs faster and 26 places above Headington.

The usual lack of knowledge of how to control boats on a Tidal river was on display, especially when marshalling, but overall, the race ran very smoothly with no notable incidents, which may be related to:
1) the good turn out to the Coxing a Tideway Head presentation on Friday and
2) the standard of crews entered appeared to be better this year as there were fewer crews who obviously weren’t at the right level of ability.

Oh, and only two boats without boat ID’s were spotted by the PLA... Fingers crossed that the HORR goes the same way.

Full results are available at:

Jurgen Grobler slipped and broke his leg while checking out just how slippery the ramp was while in Spain on the GB men's training camp earlier this month. As you may have already guessed it was indeed quite slippy.

Apparently after his accident the squad were gathered in silence in the hotel lobby as the ambulance came to cart their coach away - silent that is apart from the gleeful calls of "somebody get a camera... somebody get a camera!!!" from one of those present.

tut tut...