Comentator 1 (looking down the course through binoculars)
"Why is there a crew in yellow in lane 3? They're not supposed to be wearing yellow!!"
Commentator 2 (also looking down the course through binoculars)
"um... That's the umpire's launch"
Competitors at the National Championships were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by light winds and blue skies in Strathclyde over the weekend, and they weren't the only ones, as the regatta fell on the same weekend as the Glasgow fair, which, I am reliably informed is usually guaranteed to suffer under grey skies and end to end rain, so even the locals were looking slightly confused (and sunburnt).
Still, having the second champs in a row to have hot, calm weather was nothing much to complain about and the weather showed the course off to its very best. Conditions on the morning of finals day were so perfect that at least ten Nat Champs junior records fell before the wind moved round, which happened just prior to the seniors' finals starting.
Before the regatta, the officials manning crew registration were dismayed to find out that their portakabin was the wrong way round (the window was facing the rowing centre wall). This was soon resolved with the help of a wee man and a big crane. After emptying the portakabin of all equipment and levitating it, he simply held onto one corner and walked it round 180 degrees – while those whose boats were racked close by, held their breath. As one committee member commented "that's the last time we take advice from a feng shui expert..."
The lack of a bar in the rowing centre was made up for by the facilities in the Rowshow tent, and was well used by the umpires and officials at the end of the day.
Indeed, overall, the event organisation seemed to be well received by both coaches and competitors, with the exception of a few gripes from junior coaches about having heats on Friday and finals on Sunday, when they'd have rather been able to get home on Saturday and save the kids the expense of an extra night's accommodation.
Clubs and club composites looking for HIR selection, dominated the junior events, as most of the top rowing schools were notable by their absence. The quality of the junior sculling in the finals was impressive, especially in the J14 and J15 age groups, who were turning out fast times and very accomplished performances. There also seemed to be a lot less problems with junior crews getting attached (aided in part by the lack of cross wind over most of the weekend) so perhaps the message about ensuring that crews are adequately prepared to get onto stake boats is finally getting through...
The main bit of junior excitment happened near the end of racing on Friday, when during the last 250 m of the junior coxed fours event, the RGS boat in lane 2 suddenly turned into a guided missle and headed straight for the Rebecca crew in lane 5 -- finding its target with remarkable ease despite the frantic flag waving from the umpire. Rebecca had been in a medal position at the time, so after some discussion with the judges, the umpire placed them third and dq'd RGS, their sudden change of direction having been firmly blamed on "rudder problems"
Several members of the commentary team had kiddies racing in finals. On sunday morning after those on the 1500m station (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty) received news of their offsprings' gold and bronze in short succession, there was much excited shrieking over the comms radios... followed by silence, as they managed to drop their radio in the lake
(rowing parents **sigh** - Ed)
With both HIR and commonwealth selection being in people's minds this year, it was obvious that a lot of coaches had been hedging their bets and putting in multiple entries across events. The inevitable scratching that followed meant that a number of the heats were compressed, leaving gaps in the racing. Alas, it's difficult for the regatta commitee to do much about reducing scratching, as the timing and nature of the event will probably always mean that the situation arises.
The lightweight events were well subscribed this year, especially men and women's singles, which both had semi finals as well as heats and reps. The lightweight women's doubles final was in the unusual position of having medals awarded to four crews, as the judges simply couldn't distinguish between Mortlake and Notts & union for the bronze medal position – no amount of enlargement of the photo finish could tell them apart, and those on the presentation rafts had to rush off to find an extra set of medals. (Gold and silver went to the English and Scottish selected commonwealth boats respectively).
The race of the regatta was probably the men's coxed fours, which saw a number of HRR crews back for a shot at the medals, in the end UL (with Pete Wells stroking) took gold over Henley (half of their HRR Thames cup 8) in silver and a non-too happy Army crew taking bronze. The Army's boat then blew off the rack after their race when the wind picked up in the afternoon. (ouch)
The Furnivall wimmin, romped home to a decisive win in women's eights after taking the scenic route via the rep (they suffered a crustacean attack during their heat). Where as Brookes won the men's 8 by doing what Brookes do best – putting down a lot of work. Agecroft licked some of their Thames cup wounds by taking silver and beating Scrubbers into bronze.
One thing organisers should really look at, are the people they have presenting the medals.
As to be honest, random members of the organising committee and the visiting "TRRC rep on the National Coaching committee" are probably not what the competitors would prefer... (not that they didn't do a fine job handing the shiny bobbles over)
Full results are available at
A selection of pics...
|ERIC'S GARDEN POND
Dorney lake from about 8000ft. Shows the pinch point at the far end of the return lane nicely
|DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME KIDS
A lovely clip of LRC in the Thames cup final at HRR this year...
Watch carelfully as Krankie at bow celebrates their win by waving his arms in the air, only to crab and lose the blade entirely. Then marvel as the London coxswain manages to somehow grab the blade as it floats past!!
|GRAND DAY OUT
The Sales Director of Fuller's Brewery, Richard Fuller, always comes to HRR on the Friday for lunch in the Remenham club with the committee of the head of the river fours (which has been sponsored by Fullers brewery since 1979).
This year, however, despite leaving at his usual time, Richard found himself caught up in traffic which was tailing back (almost to the M4) following a nasty road traffic accident on Remenham Hill.
Arriving slightly late at Remenham for lunch, Richard confided that he had given a lift to some Dutch rowers who had been knocking on car windows on the road into Henley. Apparently their minibus had to leave them to go back to pick up their other crew from Dorney. When asked if he knew if the crew was going to be racing later that day, he replied
"no, they're not racing until Saturday..."
As the penny dropped, his fellow diners complimented him on his choice of hitchhikers, though Richard was emphatic that it was the Dutch cox who'd picked him, as he'd admitted that they were only knocking on the windows of quality cars!
Although he was only able to fit three of the oarsmen into the back of the car, the others were determined to secure lifts with other drivers, as in response to the suggestion that they could always run the rest of the way, they replied
"Running is for animals"
Still, the whole experience didn't seem to do them any harm
OUBC Stalwart Dan Topolski is apparently rather unimpressed with Belfast rowing club's blades, which have been resprayed in a lovely Cambridge blue hue...
"who’s are those? he demanded" on seeing the oars laid out by the boat tents on Saturday.
The Belfast coach, who assumed Dan was complaining about them being left around, admitted they were his and that the crew was on the way... but no, that wasn't the problem.
"Why are they THAT colour?" he continued...
The Belfast coach explained that the colour was a sore point, as BRC's colours used to be Red, White and Blue but as that can cause problems when rowing past certain areas near the Ormeau Road, it had been decided that they should change to light blue. Looking non too impressed, Dan replied "well you'd better change it back, or we will!"
At this point fellow Steward Ben Hunt-Davis, who'd overheard the conversation cut in with a sigh..
"Oh Dan, what age are you? Get over it..."
|MIDDLE FOUR, DROPPING OUT...
The London 12 oar, crewed by their Brit four and two Visitors fours, did a row past to mark the club's 150 anniversary during the Saturday tea-break - no doubt causing some of those in the enclosures, who'd been partaking of the liquid refreshments on offer, to question their sobriety.
However, those with eagle eyes may well have wondered why the boat was named after a prominent member of local rivals, Thames.
Sadly it seems that the London 12 Oar, which was exactly the same hull design, has died a death – the middle section disintegrated and the riggers lost, so they had to borrow the TRC boat instead and covered the Thames logo with a stick on LRC crest for the outing!
While broadcasting on Regatta Radio at this year's HRR, the Club Secretary of Colwick Park Lifeguards (the providers of water safety cover at HRR - amongst many other rowing events) managed to get a bit wet...
Having declined the kind offer of a glass of Pimms as he was on duty, our water saftey guru sat down for the interview with a large glass of cool lemonade instead. Alas, mid way through the interview he suddenly realised he was due out on a Safety Boat and quickly looked over his left shoulder to check the time on the clock behind..
... and so drenching himself with the full glass of lemonade in his right hand...
In the the spirit of true professionalism, both interviewer and interviewee carried on seamlessly (if slightly stickily). and during the interview it was announced that Colwick have a new Safety Boat that is looking for a name!
If you have a suitable suggestion then email firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone wanting to sponsor the boat (for a reasonable figure), or simply see a picture of it, can contact them via their website to discuss options & possiblities for support at corporate events, etc.
The British Association of Rowing Journalists held their annual dinner and awards ceremony at the River and Rowing museum on the Tuesday before HRR.
Thanks to generous sponsorship from Camelot and Aberdeen Asset Management, a fine time was had by all - which included: the great and the good of Britsh rowing media; a few of the usual suspects; some national rowing treasures; oh, and a selection of rather disturbing cardboard cutouts...
Henley, you wait for it all year then it's over in a flash. The lucky few have shiny bobbles to show for their efforts, but for most of us, the only signs that the annual train has passed through are sore feet, an empty wallet, a few missing hours and (this year anyway) sunburn.
WORLD’S TOP ROWERS- SINK OR SWIM AT HENLEY - nice little clip for atmosphere!
IF YOU CAN'T STAND THE HEAT - GET OUT OF STEWARDS
The weather did it's best to help with upping the bar takings this year, getting into the high 90's on a couple of days and daring the stewards to relax the jacket rule, as a steady stream of "bring out your dead" were stretchered off to hospital and the paramedics pleaded for some respite. However, the Chairman wasn't for turning and blazers stayed on in the Stewards enclosure until the bitter end (well 7:09pm on Sunday to be exact). Those at Remenham Club were no doubt counting their blessings as they removed jackets at will and dug their toes into the soft cool plush grass of the best lawn in Berkshire (ah, the benefits of drawing your own water).
The spectators weren't the only ones suffering in the heat, and two of the TSS Thames cup eight were carted off for some medical attention after their hard semi-final race on Saturday, which no doubt had some negative effects on their ability to keep the pressure on during their Sunday final against LRC.
Though rumours that the illness was actually caused by being in close proximity to Alan Campbell's new TSS blazer are as yet unconfirmed
SOME LIKE IT HOT
Scullers Member, and World 1x Champion Mahe Drysdale had no such problems in the sun, announcing that he just loves racing in the heat (nutter). Despite being entered as West End Boat Club (NZ) Mahe was spotted wearing his scullers all in one while racing UTRC member Will Hoodless in their Saturday Semi final.
Will knocked out the Selected Spanish lwt sculler, Aguirre Barco on Friday but couldn't manage to keep up with the large New Zealander, and too add insult to injury, was cheered on by some old boy saying "Come on Henley, well done Henley" despite his one piece clearly saying Upper Thames on the back of it.
Putney embankment must have been partying hard on Sunday night, with Thames winning the Wyfolds - they were lucky not to be penalised by the umpire for their steering in the final against Marlow, but were clearly the faster crew (no doubt aided by their "Putney Tandoori the Athlete's choice" T-shirts).
London picked up the Thames Cup, with a crew which had only been together from just before Dorney 4 (the icing on the cake for their 150th Anniversary year) and IC took home their newly presented Prince Albert cup after a hard fought race with UL, which took place to commentary silence, after there was a power cut in that part of Henley just before the race, which was the last of the day. The crew contained Ben Smith and Olly Moore who rowed U23 last year and were racing at the World cup in Poznan as a senior hwt 2- earlier this month, not too shabby considering they’re only 19.
OUT IN FORCE
The forces were out playing again this year, and the Brit went to the Army, with a crew with two previous Henley finalists on board -- Charles Foinette and Andy McDermott who missed out on 2005 because they were both on active service in Iraq. The combined services crews were less fortunate in the regatta though it's rumoured that one of their four was involved in the incident that took out Leander's Wyfold boat on the way to the start on Saturday (with a little help from a member of Stewards, two young ladies and a skiff....) ahem.
The Army Visitors four got turned over by the Molesey/IC all-stars crew on Saturday, with both Searle brothers, Monster and the rather useful German international Jan Herzog. At the Barnes Bridge Ladies annual dinner in September 2004, Greg was heard to declare that "If London win the 2012 bid, I’ll trial for squad again – so the slug couldn;t help but wonder if this was the start of his return to international rowing.. Keen to pursue the issue we asked Jurgen, who'd rushed into the Chicken Coup to watch the race, if this meant he was considering having the Searles back in the squad next year. His response - a knowing but perhaps slightly nervous laugh and a hasty retreat. (I wonder why..?).
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
The MBC/IC composite lost out in the final to a Brookes / Reading Uni crew, which didn't actually contain any Reading uni rowers... The lettuce along the towpath was that there had been a bit of a barney between Mark Banks (coach of the crew's one Leander member, James Orme) and Will Rand (coach of the original Reading Uni member Sam Townsend), over what the crew should be called on the entry. Mr Banks initially tried to enter the crew as Brookes / Leander but Mr Rand insisted that Reading Uni should get second billing as Sam was the strongest of the two non-brookes rowers in the crew (Both Brookes rowers Matt tucker and Ryan Davies are U23s as is Sam).
After some gesturing and threats to pull rowers out of the crew, the dispute was settled on the toss of a coin... Reading Uni won, but then Sam had to pull out with a rib injury and his place was taken by another Brookes rower - and poor ickle Leander never got their mention (awh...)
Also on the name theme, the UL A crew in the men’s quad had borrowed a boat from Dulwich college. The boat is named "Andrea Dunley" who happens to be the mother of crew member James Dunley - well, you can imagine the general tone of the resulting comments - "I've stroked your mother" etc, etc, etc... let this be a lesson to you all.
VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR
Leander Club upped the anti this year, installing a megolith two story restaurant marquee next to their club house and spending an alleged 10 grand on putting in a live video feed to the clubhouse, broadcast from the roof of one of the houses opposite the boating rafts in an attempt to make up for them being way past the finish line. Alas it seems they had taken for granted that the Stewards would give them a feed of the live commentary for free, and baulked somewhat when they were assured that it was certainly possible and the bill would arrive shortly after the first race...
The other new appearance on the HRR skyline was "regatta radio", run from a portacabin in the corner of the Leander car park and bearing more than a passing resemblance to a 6th form school project. It took a little while for the presenters to find their way round and interview every man and his rabbit - but there were some excellent bits in amongst the live reports on the car park filling up and me speaking drivel first thing in the morning. A good first attempt all in all (even if the music was a bit dodgy).
One of their less successful broadcasts was an interview with the GB women's 4X. The equipment kept cutting out during the first part of the interview and as they finished and the presenter put on the soothing tunes of Aled Jones and "Walking in the air", he was heard to declare (having left the mike open) "well that was a bit shit wasn't it?" over the airwaves...
Those with Eagle eyes may well have spotted a dark brown version of Molesey pin-up boy, Mike Reynaud making a couple of appearances in the regatta. Although officially over with the University of Southern California crew in the Ladies plate, the six time HRR winner was also drafted into the Bristol 2X as a medical substiute, after Tony Larkman's partner had to drop out.
After seeing Mike being drubbed by both Harvard in the 8 and Spik and Cop in the 2x, one spectator was overheard to remark...
"If he spend less time tanning and more time training, he might have won something"
COACHES AND BIKES DON'T MIX
A reader writes"There I was walking along the towpath Sunday in the early afternoon with brother-in-law and 3-year old nephew in tow, and what did we hear but repeated screams of "Get out of the way", emanating from two villians on bicycles riding at speed and with complete disregard for the public masses enjoying a sunny afternoon on the banks of the hallowed waters of Henley.As well as being dangerous (especially to the little people - and I don't just mean coxes), it shows complete disregard for the general public and doesn't exactly put the sport in a good light"
One member of the general public took exception to the reckless behaviour of the two wheeled demons and requested the two cyclists to slow down. The response from the lead villian, none other than one 'blue eyed scotsman' responded with the immortal words, "F##k Off" to the reasonable request of being told to slow down..."
Oh, and apparently there were some students racing and it was vaguely important.
Tut, Tut, Tut.
FOOTBALLERS COMING HOME... The football on Saturday didn't have much of a noticble impact on the regatta, apart from a small decrease in the amount of river traffic in the afternoon and a slightly more easily manoeuvred towpath when heading to Remenham club for the fireworks, oh and the commentary team in the floating grandstand were doing their best to watch the match on the big screens in Phyllis Court between races, using their binnocculars.
The combination of heat, beer and football did however add to an increase in the idiot level from the usual drunken spectators and as well as nekkid swimming, releasing a couple of the booms and demolishing the barrier, there was an interesting variation on the theme of naked pole climbing on the Saturday night...
...the columns of the Temple on Temple Island being the poles in question.
|CAUGHT ON CAMERA
Rabbit didn't get out much at HRR this year due to heat stroke - but here are a selection of pics of the usual shennanigans...
(hold mouse over picture for caption and click to enlarge)