Tideway stalwart "Grumpy" Bill Mitchell of Thames Tradesmen, was finally presented with his ARA medal of honour at HWR, after the end of racing on Saturday.
Grumpy Bill, who's an all round good egg and has done more things for rowing than you've had hot dinners, was even seen to crack several smiles during the introductory speech by Stan Collingwood (who picked one up last year) - but then again, mentioning the demise of Hounslow Hockey Club does tend to have that effect on him...
The reception was well lubricated thanks to some fizz provided by the nice people at Pricewaterhouse Coopers who sponsor HWR, however Bill was remarkablly hang-over free on Sunday morning, as he'd managed to slip off with his family for a meal before the rest of the regatta officials could pin him to the bar!
|RULES IS RULES...
Imagine the scene it's a balmy sunday in Reading and all the parents (see the rabbits guide to HRR for the rabbits views on junior parents) are waiting to watch their darling jennifers and janes race at the institution which is Thames valley park. After all, they are paying the national debt of a small african nation to keep their little darlings at the educational establishment of their choice, so they obviosuly expect professional coaching, and no-slips ups.
Alas, not so dear reader, for, as the slug knows, the umpires at TVP were conducting random crew checks and were most surprised to find one form for a coxed four with seven names on the sheet.
To make matters worse, when questioned, the coach of the crew seemed slightly bemused at the idea that it was necessary to accurately specify who was actually in the crew, before it raced.
Fortunately for all the parents who were there to watch the aforementioned crew, only two of the kiddies were not in the original line-up entered -- so the substitution of the subs stayed within the rules and they were allowed to race.
Take note, for the slug has been hearing that random spot checks of actual rowers against names on the entry form is the latest umpiring fashion of choice........
You have been warned.
|I TOLD YOU IT WAS WRONG
Whilst chewing the grass by the finish tower at Marlow Regatta on Saturday, the slug was surprised to see our own ex-national rowing treasure, Sir Steve, shaking his head in disbelief and staring at his stopwatch, shortly before entering the tower.
It seems that SSR was enquiring of the timing team as to the accuracy of the time of his charges in their race. Indeed, he felt that the time for the first 500m "seemed a bit quick". A fact which has not gone un-noticed by those who read and post on talkrowing...
So, I hear you ask, are they really that quick over 500m ?
Well - sadly no... for it trasnspires that the timing had indeed gone a bit awry with only 5 crews being recorded at the first split and thus a routine run to fix the data. Britain's favourite Rowing Knight was subsequently complemented for his observation, though the time has yet to be changed in the results.
Now the slug knows that the timing team were next to the finish judges and that many of the glitterati of the rowing world were on duty that day -- and therefore can imagine that a conversation with the judges occured likewise.
Indeed,could this be the moment that the timing team were told to find just why they were missing one crew in the first sector ?
Interestingly, SSR & Mike Sweeney were captured in discussion at the regatta by an observant spectator (see right), though we don't think any brown envelopes were passed over following the Redgrave 8's perfomance on Saturday, and the slug suspects they were more likely to be comfirming control commission duties this friday...
The region's child labour force was noteably out in force at the regatta (for 50p a day and as many fags as they can smoke?). Following their Junior officals training, they're all amazingly knowledgeable for their years - indeeed the slug was most amused to see Mike Baldwin on start marshall duties, being left in the very capable hands of Eleanor who is no more than 9 or 10.
for the official spin on the results, see the Marlow regatta press release,
For those of you who are not familiar with the interior of the Purple palace, otherwise known as UL's art deco fortress at Grove Park, it's a fairly large building with both a spacious club room and gym - perfect for holding meetings...
So it was perhaps unsurprising that the Thames Regional Rowing council purloined it for their June council meeting earlier this week, arrranged with the help of UL's new Div rep - Jill Cobbett
However... bearing in mind the 'other rowing related activities' of many of the TRRC council members, it was perhaps a tad unwise of the UL membership not to make more of an effort to hide their, um, trophies in advance...
So, picture the scene... several council members arrive at UL..
"oooooh..." says council member one "I've never been here before"
"I don't think anyone has" says council member two
"whats in here?" asks council member three, as they enter the gym.
At which point council member two - otherwise known as Tony Evans, ex-Hon. Secretary of Marlow regatta lets out an audible squawk..
"I'll have that back" he screeches, running towards a three foot wide wooden roundel, emblazoned with the lovingly hand painted words MARLOW REGATTA - JUNE 18th, which is resting against the side wall of the gym.
As the other two council members crease up laughing, Tony turns around to spot yet another Marlow regatta sign resting on top of a four foot by three foot plastic Metropolitan Regatta sign, missing a corner where it was liberated...
Queue more hysterical laughter interspersed with several "if only Nigel Smith was here" comments.
The slug suspects that having been caught with their gimp suits down, UL may perhaps wish to stick the offending items in the post ASAP - should they wish to have their entries accepted again... ever.
|HOT AIR AND BALLOONS
Henley Women's regatta rolled into town on Friday morning, kicking off with time trials for Intermediate 8s and 4s.
The organisers struck it lucky with the weather again this year, and the sun cream was in evidence all weekend, though Sunday was blissfully cooler than Friday and Saturday. Spectators around the course early Saturday morning were even treated to the sight of two hot air balloons which had been taking advantage of the clear early morning conditions, landing near the course before the start of racing.
On balance, racing conditions on all three days tended to be better in the morning, as a head wind picked up in the latter part of the day. This was worse on Sunday when it turned cross tail, and there was a period of about an hour around the start of the finals when five races had to be stopped.
This was mainly due to crews being caught by surprise by the wind at the end of the island and over steering, though one race was stopped after the KGS S/J 8 decided to cross the racing course right in front of a singles race which then had to be re-rowed. The eight got an official warning and the best comment of the weekend - a plantive "Oh dear... oh dear... oh dear... from the race commentator.
One of the best things about HWR is the atmosphere in the enclosure, which was helped by the live commentary from the launches following the races (the only regatta to do so) and enhanced by the warm weather. The enclosure is also conveniently located half way down the course which means spectators can watch crews racing and boating while partaking of the refreshments on offer at the Barn Bar, and there was certainly some good racing to watch.
The time trials on Friday, re-introduced after a break last year, helped to sort the sheep from the goats whilst giving the crews an extra practice run down the course. The points mountain at S4 / S3 level in the ARA membership rowing means that there is a wide variety of ability on show in the crews which enter the intermediate events. Qualifying races help to close the gap as well as having the added advantage of reducing the number of row-overs due to no-shows once they get to the knock out races.
The crews who qualified were then put into a seeded draw ensuring some excellent semi-final and finals races. Osiris A played coy in the early rounds, then turned the power up for the final to carry off the I8 trophy after dispensing with a fast crew from the university of Birmingham. Meanwhile, Agecroft took I4+, setting a new course record (in a nasty head wind) while they were at it.
There were a few small glitches over the weekend: - gremlins in the computer system were doing odd things with the results (check the website to see what I mean); there was some confusion over lwt weigh-ins (apparently not helped by the most recent ARA rules of racing, not having all the info about what constitutes a lwt on the same page); and one of the boating marshalls was a tad over enthusiastic when pulling in a crew and managed to damage their boat (which was borrowed), but, as ever, the regatta was well run overall and seemed to be enjoyed by competitiors, offiicals and spectators alike.
And talking of spectators, some of the liverpool 8 were spotted making a suprise HWR appearance, one of whom was caught on camera by an eagle eyed coach (don't ask me what they're up to - I have no idea)
With the commonwealth regatta coming up soon, there were some good potential commonwealth combinations on show from both the scottish and english sides (spot the composite). Most of the Elite lwt events had a fair sized entry and there were some good battles on show in the early rounds as well as the finals. In Elite 4-, the Leander/Thames/TSS/UL composite lost out in the final to a Clydesdale/Clyde composite, a result possibly not unrelated to the appalling steering on show from the Leander composite throughout the event (they even ended up with their spoons over the booms at one point).
The Americans were over in force again this year, but were notably absent from Elite eights (which went to University College Dublin). The US crews dominated the School / Junior eights event taking out the english junior crews entered despite some determined efforts from the like of Molesey and Headington. In the final, between Oakland Strokes (California) and Mercer RC (New Jersey), the crews were matched stroke for stroke until the halfway point, when Oakland put in a cheeky push and moved ahead by a canvas - from that point on Mercer started to lose it, and the defending champions moved further and further ahead, and took the title back to the West coast with them.
Senior eights belonged to IC, who (having sorted out the boat issues they had at the Met by going back to their old empacher) were on top form - taking out the US crews from St Jospehs and Villanova universties on the way to the final, and a Dutch crew from Nereus /Skoll to secure the trophy.
All in all a good spread of clubs and universities took home medals. The quality of the racing at HWR is increasing and the three levels of senior events introduced a couple of years ago seems to be bedding in after a little tweaking, however, although elite coxless IVs and pairs were popular, it would have been nice to see a few more clubs entering the other hwt elite events, especially the 8s event.
Well done to all those who took home one of the new-design medals (and veh nice they are too). Alas, I can't name check everyone, but most results (there are a few still missing and some of the times and verdicts are garbled due to aforementioned gremlins) can been found at
Twickenham received a phone call to their clubhouse on Sunday morning from one of the Swan Island houseboat residents, who was MOST upset at being knocked out of bed by the wash from a passing coaching launch.
This led to much scratching of heads as all the Twix coaches have been well lectured about both slowing down and to try to avoid yelling through megaphones at this particular point, due to previous complaints.
That, and the fact that most of the club's coaching launches are currently out of action due to one problem or another, reducing the probability of the incident being TwRC based, even further.
The mystery was solved a little later, when a second call was made to the club by the same houseboat resident to APOLOGISE for his earlier tirade; for having reviewed the VIDEO he took at the time, it apparently wasn't two members of TwRC who were busy laughing at his requests for them to slow down, but some other club; perhaps some tideway tourists, taking advantage of the high tide to come up throught the lock.
The resident went on to confirm that he hadn't managed to identify the culprits, but they were two "old maniacs' in a tin fish, one with a substantial MOUSTACHE...
... and quite possibly accompanying a coxless 4 from a certain medium performance club near Chiswick Bridge, whose wimmin have been bringing home more silverware than their men of late.
The slug was amused to hear that there were a few red faces at the ARA council meeting earlier this month, after the Chairman of the TRRC thanked the other regions for their support in implementing the Tideway boat codes but then commented that he was rather concerned that there was one club, goverened by people in that very room, which had still failed to comply with the ARA's dictate.
As the quizical looks passed around the room, the penny finally dropped to much embarassment.
Suffice to say, that following a few queries from Poznan about the precise three letter code, and the exact size and colour of the font, some suitable "GBR" stickers are now being made up...
|KEEP ON THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW
There are certain things which will always be associated with the English summer... thunderstorms... hayfever and, of course, the sound of carbon fibre on willow. Yes, it can only mean the weekend before Wimmin's Henley, when everyone descends upon the partially boomed course.
The Slug was munching on the lush vegetation, taking in the mixed standards on display, when two coxless fours came a charging down the river (looking pretty handy too). However their dual appeared to divert their attention from the booms and before long....you guessed it.....thwack.....that distinct sound that one never wants to hear but for some strange reason, is instantly recognisable.
One wet head later and thankfully no serious damage done, it's perhaps worth a timely reminder for this coming weekend - the booms show no mercy...
you have been warned...
|IRRITABLE MALE SYNDROME?
After watching what can only be described as an "unpleasant situation" unfold while chewing on the grass verges at Dorney on Sunday, the slug canít help but wonder just how impressed the committee of one of the countryís top clubs would be to hear about the public behaviour of their head coach...
Picture the scene, a menís coxed 4 race is heading down the course, and following in hot pursuit is the coach, cycling along the bank with the race taking times and suchlike. However, heís on the wrong side of the lake, where many other cycling coaches have already been severely told off by passing umpires and marshals.
Anyway, whether he was oblivious to the rules or simply didnít care, the coach was so busy watching his crew that he proceeded to cycle straight into a random spectator (quite hard). The spectator then grabbed hold of him - seemingly more in reaction to being hit and to stop himself being knocked fully over, than in a particularly aggressive way.
So does our coach apologise to the person heís just run over while cycling in the wrong place?
Oh no, no, noÖ.
Instead he grabs the guy by the collar and starts ramping up the aggro, with such charming suggestions as
"if you ever f***ing touch me again, I'll f***ing shove your head up your f***ing arse." all finished off with the immortal words "Who do you think you are? Don't you know who I am?"
At this point a woman on a bike (identity unknown) intervened and tried to calm the situation down. The coach then cycled off (still on the wrong side of the course) leaving the poor bloke who he had run over and then threatened quite shaken.
what an ambassador...
|ALL MET UP
With a mere two weeks until Henley Women's and just over three until the Royal, the cream of English club and University rowing was out in force at the Met at the weekend Ė the women hoping to bed down crew combinations and reassure coaches while the men hoped to catch Angusí all-seeing eye, in the annual bid to by-pass qualifiers.
As well as the usual strong mix of abilities and boat types across the two day event, competitors and spectators were treated to a rare glimpse of the English summer, the hot sunny weather resulting in a marked increase in Leander tans around the course. while a strong tailwind helped to produce some fast times.
Saturday saw a spattering of junior composite crews, which may explain why the headmaster was in evidence, Brookes managed to keep the juniors in their place in both Elite and S1 8s, though they did pick up a win in E 4-.
Of note on the University side, apart from Brookes -- IC appear to have got a good coxed four again this year. While Exeter picked up wins in S3 8s on both days and both Bristol and UWE put in a reasonable show at S2, Bristol avenging their varsity defeat by the latter by 5 seconds over 2k on Saturday.
LRC had their usual large entry at their 'home regatta', and AFAIK all of the Saturday crews got to the finals Ė there seem to be a couple of fast coxed IVs floating around in the mix, but nothing much of note in the eights stakes. Meanwhile Thames seem to be favouring the coxless version, winning E 4- on both days with some pretty impressive times.
Added entertainment at the regatta was provided by the Liverpool 12 who were racing in S3 4s and 8s. The crews were easily identifiable by the cameramen following them around and there was even one standing next to the umpire in Casamajor during a couple of their races Ė(they even had a cox-cam installed at one point).
Sir Steve was mentoring the boys in person but having just moved up from S4, the competition at S3 proved harder for them, and they seem to be lacking a little speed out of the blocks at the moment (but then again, they're clearly not the only ones and there are still a few weeks to go). Anyway, most amusing to watch the sound man stick his furry boom up the commentary speakers in search of enlightenment (I donít think he found any).
Black Death boys Clive and Biff, turned up slightly late for their elite 2- race on Saturday only to find themselves being repeatedly reprimanded by one of the officials in rather peculiar manner.
"Molesey, perhaps you should proceed to H G Samuels and buy yourself a cheap time piece"
(Though, in the end they made it up during the race crossing the line a good 11 seconds ahead of Notts and Union, they won on Sunday too)
On the womenís side, a Scottish composite won the S1 8s race on Saturday beating a junior composite crew into 2nd and another composite made up of crews from the North East (Durham Un/Nottinghan Un/Notts County) into 3rd.
Funeral picked up a wins in E4- on Sunday and S2 4+ & S2 8s on Saturday, the eights results leaving 2nd placed IC muttering about problems with their new Empacher, while Reading beat Thames to take home S2 8s on Sunday.
Osiris stomped home to convinving wins in S3 8s on both days.
Full results are available for your perusal at http://www.metregatta.org/