Before you despair too much about people going on about the poor navigation and watermanship skills shown by rowers today and how they've declined compared with how things used to be 20 or more years ago, you might be inclined to read the attached text.

It's an extract from an article entitled "THE AMATEUR ROWING OF THE PRESENT DAY" which appeared in the Penny Illustrated Paper on 14th January 1871.

Looks like the "good old days" really were some time ago...


One poor crew got a nasty shock during their build to the finish at the Kingston Head last Saturday, when they discovered that someone had apparently installed secret 200 decibel speaker system into their VIII (the coxswain kept quiet about that one!)...

About One hundred metres away from Kingston RC, the crew's resident Freak made a call of 'Ten on the legs, to Kingston, GO!', which as we all know, would traditionally be followed by another final push to the finish line half-way down the island... because thatís where the finish is!

But no, this was not to be! For not satisfied with just ensuring the race proceeded safely and without interruption, a slightly over zealous marshal decided to berate their Freak to the effect, "THE FINISH LINE IS NOT AT KINGSTON! "... at full volume on the megaphone... just 10 feet away from the crew.

Now, if they hadnít been knackered after a 10min slog into a strong headwind, the somewhat startled (and now deaf) crew, may just have had enough puff left to left a few expletives let rip and get themselves disqualified! But fortunately both crew and cox kept their cool and pushed-on to the finish.

A source close to the crew told the slug

"Now, forgive us if we are wrong, but we thought it was our coxís job to steer us down the course and make the calls (even if he does screw it up), but maybe the rules of racing have changed. If so, could someone tell the coxes? Otherwise, polite reminders rather than raging diatribes from marshals tend to go down better!

Fortunately for all of us, most marshals do a fine job! We will keep you posted on the ear examinations of the three guys still suffering from ringing in their ears, and the cox who is now suffering a perforated ear drum!"

The HORR should be sporting a full 420 crew line up this year as it's been oversubscribed yet again. As well as the usual selection of UK clubs, there are entries from overseas crews from ten differnt countries, from Canada to Hungary.

Leander start in Head position and their top VIII is stuffed full of squad types including Steve Williams and Pete Reed. However, the same can be said for the Molesey crew starting 4th (featuring the hair bear bunch Hodge & Biff, plus Monkey and Norweigan internationl Morten Adamsen), the Oxford Brookes crew who start behind them (with the lovely Jonno Devlin and a bevy of last year's U23 squad) and the Scrubbers crew who start 6th (Alan Campbell, Tom Gale, Trigger and Tim Male to name a few)

Starting at no 18 , LRC 1 is also one to watch - it contains a number of last year's lightweights including Nick English, Danny Harte, James Lyndsay-Flynn, Paul Mattick, James Stephenson and the young LRC 18 year old who did quite well in the Kiwi National championships recently.

Of course, while both Leander (crew no 1) and IC (crew no 2) were beaten by Cambridge and Oxford in their respective Tideway races last weekend, its unclear if the crew line ups for the HORR will be the same. The HORR named crews are slightly different but these things can be subject to some change anyway, so those of you hoping for some insight on where to put your money for the boatrace, take note.

With BUSA having removed their endorsement of the event in favour of their own Head race, this year (in an experimental, if somewhat contraversial move) the University Prize (currently absent trophy) will be awarded to the fastest University or College clubs with top crews of Senior 2 status or below.

The start order is available at

Some alternative views on the Race at

The PLA were rather confused on Tuesday morning when they came across a launch belonging to Twickenham RC sitting on the river bank just downstream of the Teddington stone.

Apparently abandoned, it had been tied to a tree, but its outboard engine was sitting on the bank alongside it.

Confused as to why it was there and with the tide preventing the launch crew from getting to it, they tried calling the club to no avail. The lockeeper at Teddington, did however manage to rouse one of the club's coaches, who informed the club captain that he'd better go and rescue it - which he did.

With the Captain none the wiser to why it was there, it looks suspiciously like someone had attempted to nick it. Some TwRC sculling blades has also been taken and left in the boat, so whoever had taken it had obviously rowed it upstream to the stone then tried to remove the engine before abandoning it.

Again a timely reminder that as engines are not cheap and are easily sold on, just locking your petrol supplies away isn't going to stop the determined thief from having a go.

Those of you with eagle eyes who were out rowing on Sunday morning, may well have spotted the harbour master out patroling the river, while doing what looked like taking photos of rowers navigating off station.

Were the PLA practicing their photography skills after reading "rowing and regatta's" article on how to take pictures? Were they trying to compile a portfolio to rival the king of name and shame himself - but without the "leg in a launch" look??

Well no... they weren't.

The person taking the pictures was actually one of the rowing reps on the Salvage association working group, who was taking up the PLA's offer to see how the view of rowers' activities differs from the bows of the Harbourmaster's launch.

So fear not, the photography was not for the purposes of identifying miscreants, rather it was intended to collect some views which can be shared with the rowing communicty so we know what we look like to others... think of it as the on -water equivalent of "does my bum look big in this".

That said, video surveillance may well be something that Tideway rowers will soon have to live with, as the working group are investigating the possibilty of getting meaningful footage from CCTV cameras at the danger points (Chiswick and Hammersmith), which could then be reviewed after any incidents, to see what actually happened.

Finally while I'm sort of on the subject of navigation, crews using the Tideway before the HORR closure on Saturday should be aware that because of the large number of visting crews, the TRRC are making it a Tideway Navigation Education Day.

They will have four large launches patrolling the river between Isleworth and Putney from early morning until the river closure, offering advice and guidance on the current Tideway Rowing Navigation Rules and practice.

There's more info and a downloadable map on the TRRC website

Some impressive figures from the WEHORR's attempts to fundraise for the Breast Cancer Haven. Apparently the total raised by competitors was £10,498.41 - around ten percent of crews making a donation towards the total.

Reading RC A was the crew that raised the most - a massive £3,713.67 and Reading RC as a whole raised a total of £4,859.44

An impressive effort!

If you're the sort of person who loves pouring over race statistics in the search for the holy grail that will tell you where your crew has been going wrong all these years, then the HORR have come up with the goods.

For the first time, Race Timekeeper David King has released painstakingly compiled Performance Charts which are now on the HORR website. So (should you really want to) you can now derive "tactical conclusions" (woo) from the charts, which record the performance profiles of all top finishers over the last five years from all the timing points on the Course.

More fun than you can shake a spreadsheet at.

138 eights, fours and quads took to the water on Saturday afternoon, 18th March, for the 2006 Kingston Head. With just a week to go to the main HORR, many clubs appeared to be using it as a final 'sharpener' and there was a strong contingent up from the Tideway as well as crews from further afield.

The weather was almost pleasant, but a bitterly cold wind kept competitors, spectators and officials shivering and roughed up the water in several places down the course. There were no capsizes or swampings but the safety boats did end up pulling one poor junior from the bows of a quad by Ditten Bend, leaving the remaining trio to finish the race by themselves.

The strong field of S1 and S2 eights delivered some good quality racing.London were out in force with five eights entered, all of which came in the top eleven; their S1 "A" crew winning overall some ten seconds ahead of a Molesey All-stars crew, with Martin Cross and the Searle brothers in it, whilst the Army (with some dodgy old bloke at two) came third.

The race had its fair share of crews taking the scenic route down the course - either from pure inability to control their vessels; not reading the overtaking instructions properly before racing or from attempting to go down the wrong side of Raven's Ait -- then trying to argue with the marshall about it (never the best idea).

Organisers had taken the trouble to speak to the Lock keepers at Teddington and Molesey before the race (which has a river closure) and their co-operation in preventing cruisers from heading through the locks and therefore down the course during the river closure, really paid off as there was much less trouble with non racing traffic than in previous years.

Bizzare coxing call of the day:
"SUCK IT IN" -(I can only presume he meant their guts)

Full results are available at:

Cambridge and Oxford had their final pre-race trials on the Tideway over the weekend.

The overall conditions and wind direction were similar for both days, though it was perhaps slightly colder on Saturday, for the CUBC / Leander Race.

Cambridge, on Middlesex, started at 45 to Leander's 40, in a race to Chiswick Steps. By the Black Buoy Cambridge had established 1/4 length lead, which they extended to just over half a length by the mile post - Cambridge rating 34 to Leander's 32. Approaching Harrods Depository, the light blues had increased their lead to 3/4 length.

As the Middlesex bend ran out and the course started to favour the Surrey station, Leander started to move back and as both crews approached Hammersmith bend, the umpire had to warn both crews to move over to Middlesex as a MAABC veteran quad was slowly making it's way back to Chiswick.

Just under Hammersmith Bridge, Cambridge were warned and moved back to Middlesex taking Leander with them and as they shot the bridge, the crews clashed. As a result the umpire stopped and restarted the race (with Leander 2/3 length down). In the strong tail wind, neither crew really settled and in the short distance between the restart and the Chiswick Steps Leander failed to make make up the lead they had conceeded on the restart.

Sunday's race between Oxford and an Italian IC eight was less eventful. Both crews started at 44 and were neck and neck until just after the end of Putney Embankment when Oxford started to edge ahead. By Barn Elms they had settled to 36 and Oxford had noticibly relaxed into a much longer smoother rhythm than they had against the US eight two weeks ago.

Putting on an impressive show, the Dark Blues continued to edge ahead and had clear water on their opposition by the Mile post, after which IC never had a look in.

Oxford dominated the rest of the race, and after steadily increasing their lead over the rest of the course to about six lengths by Chiswick Steps.

A reminder that Oxford and Cambridge are back racing various opponents on the Tideway again this weekend.

Cambridge will race a Leander eight stacked to the gunnels with national rowing treasures at 3pm on Saturday, whilst Oxford take on that well known Italian acadmic institution, Universitŗ Imperiale, on Sunday at 3:30pm - for to quote a source at IC:
"we're not fucking around: we've got eight of them this time" (and by the looks of thing they weren't joking)

Isis race a Polish crew at 3pm on Sunday

The Oxford / Cambridge blue boat crews are as per the crew announcements (with Seb coxing Oxford), their opposition meanwhile, looks like this


Toby Garbett
Marcus Bateman
Matthew Langridge
Steve Rowbotham
Peter Reed
Rick Egington
Alex Partridge
Steve Williams
Cox Steph Richards


Carlo Mornati
Leonardo Raffaello
Dario Dentale
Mario Palmisano
Elia Luini
Pierpaolo Frattini
Niccolo Mornati
Lorenzo Porzio
Cox: Abbie Stephenson.

Visiting crews who are planning to be out practicing for next week's HORR should take note as the crews will be following the racing line, so probably best to avoid the river between Putney and Chiswick when the races are on.