With 1000 crews entered and racing scheduled from first thing on Saturday morning through to 6:30pm on Monday evening, the mad, chaotic and highly entertaining beast that is the BUSA regatta, kicked off over the bank holiday weekend for possibly its last ever appearance at Holme Pierrepont.

The regatta, which primarily aims to provide good, inclusive racing for all-comers whilst discouraging an overtly anal application of ARA rules, has finally got to the stage where most aspects (weather permitting) are bedded in and run smoothly – ironic then that the unsecured future of the National Water Sports Centre from 2009, combined with a 2008 booking for the course for the usual BUSA weekend for Olympic trails, by the British Canoe Union has left organisers searching for an alternative venue.

With Dorney an obvious no-go, the only options available are Strathclyde, Cardiff, or somewhere in Europe... none of which are likely to be that popular with the masses. University clubs will be asked to vote on the options soon, but the scope and format of the regatta may well have to alter accordingly and it's already been suggested that the Sprints part should be run separately.

The 2007 regatta demonstrated all the usual highs and lows associated with BUSA. Withdrawals, collapsed heats and straight finals in some events tempered the top level racing on show in others, but overall it did what it said on the tin despite problems with the weather on Sunday and Monday.

The wind made things interesting on Sunday, but it was towards the end of play on Monday when things got really nasty just as the lwt singles and novice fours finals were about to start. The remaining finals, including the junior and champ eights, were each followed down the course by multiple umpire's launches and safety boats, and although it looked more like survivial rowing than racing at points, all finals did eventually happen.

Other points of note:

The much heralded ARA trip to Parliament took place last week. Unfortunately - and to be fair, it was pure bad luck - they had a bit of a duff week with many Members being away for the elections. Though, despite this small spaner in the works, they still managed to get into the Guardian and got some fairly big names to take part (e.g. the Minister of Sport).

But, even so, a few facts and figures:

As to whether it was all a worthwhile use of SportEngland funding and CDO time?
You decide...

A while ago we posted some photos that displayed the poor state of Lake Wendouree in Ballarat, site of the 1956 Olympic rowing regatta.

Alas, the condition has not improved and the lake is still completely dry. This, however, has not dampened the spirits of the many schools and clubs that are based there! Rowers have been training in other locations in the area, despite the difficulties of organising camps and buses everywhere, and many school crews performed well in various regattas.

Attached is a this picture of the Ballarat Grammar School boys crew, in their formal end of season photograph on the lake (or lake bed!).

MARATHON ROWERS (now with extra added charidee)
Well done to all rowers and coxn's who successfully completed the London marathon on Sunday - if you or someone you row with did it, mail me the runner's name, rowing club and time and I'll do a list like last year (first few for 07 below).


Name Rowing Club Time (hr:min.sec)
Rob Holliday Ardingly RC 2:29 (wheelchair marathon)
James Waite London RC 2:57.23
Chris Morris CUBC, Jesus College (Cambridge) 3:06.58
Rad Hart George Thames RC 3:10.04
Jack Arnold Aberdeen University Boat Club 3:28.12
James Silk Thames RC and Rob Roy 3:31.41
Phil Harfield Tideway Scullers, ARA bod 3:32.56
Sheena Jack Victoria Bridge, Aberdeen (Robert Gordons University Alumni) 3:45.34
Tariq Hussain Marlow RC 3:49
Rich Dewire Black Prince 4:10.32
Sarah Dwyer RUMS BC 4:24.35
Amanda Skailes Globe RC 4:29
Louise Engel Thames RC 4:35.34
Claire Waterworth AK 4:58
Katy Young Bedford, Star, ULBC & Agecroft 5:39
Paul Cox Marlow RC (ex-captain) 5:47

Much mirth among the spectators, I hear, at Strathclyde Park Regatta last weekend, as Jonny Stevenson of Glasgow Rowing Club, racing in lightweight men’s pairs, caught the most spectacular crab while passing the mid-course commentary position.

With typical absence of sympathy for the competitor’s plight, the commentator gleefully noted that
"his blade handle would have gone right over his head if his jaw hadn’t got in the way..."

Bet that loosened a few fillings!

There was a packed race schedule in Nottingham on Saturday as the 2007 Junior Inter Regional regatta got underway at Holme Pierrepont, with most of the twelve regions sending a complete team to the regatta.

Racing started at 8.30am and ran through to 6pm without a break to accommodate the introduction of men and women’s J16 eights which brought the total number of events up to 25.

The weather wasn’t quite as good as forecast, and as the day went on the strengthening head wind made things difficult at the start However, despite the conditions, the last race started a mere 15secs late.

The eights races made for an exciting end to the day, with Abingdon School putting in a strong performance in the men’s A final, pulling away from the rest of the field to secure a comfortable win for Thames upriver. With another 5 golds, 6 silvers and 4 bronzes under their belt, the Thames Upriver team won the Victor Ludorum but not quite as easily as they have done in previous years, as their lead was threatened by a strong team from North West, who came in second and won the boys events overall.

There was a dead heat in the WJ16 4- final, and as no amount of pouring over the finish photo could separate first and second, both Eastern (Dame Alice Harpur) and Thames Downriver (KGS) got gold medals.

As well as some good racing on show, the crowds were entertained by the Canford J14 4x+ representing Wessex who did a full triathlon during their heat: warm up run, row to the start the right way up, followed by an upside-down row!

Although a bit soggy (can someone please tell me how they managed to flip a quad?), they recovered from their exploits enough to race in the B final.

Finally, a digital camera was found in the boating area after the regatta finished. If you think it is yours, please contact Chris Williams at c.williams@penspen.com, tellling him the make of camera and who the pictures are of, and he will return it direct to the owner.

Full results and points breakdown can be seen at www.JIRR.org

Friday’s veterans’ boat race was the dummy run for the ITV cameras, so as well as making them race all the way to Furnivall, the crews then had to continue to the finish of the championship course before being allowed to return to Putney (cue much grumbling). Cambridge won by a country mile and this result added to the light blue spare pair win, meant that as of Saturday morning the tally was Oxford 4, Cambridge 3, with two to go.

The gorgeous spring weather made the previous week’s HORR conditions feel like a horrible dream, and with the race back on a Saturday where it belongs, there were plenty of crowds and a good atmosphere down at Puntey – ‘enhanced’ by the pre-race commentary coming out of Crabtree (where do they get them from, eh Potts?).

Before the race, I asked Peter Drury the ITV race commentator if ITV were putting in a time delay on the sound this year, he laughed nervously "no, we’re live".

Both coxes seemed quite well behaved on that front as well as the steering and although the umpires were kept busy flag waving during both races, there was no clashing and instructions were followed. As for Seb Pearce, he was happily doing his duty with the finish flag.

Overall the tone of the day was definitely light blue, with Goldie and the Cambridge blue boat winning in surprisingly similar times.

Ante Kusurin, the Oxford stroke, said last week that he wanted to "make Cambridge hurt" – and he looked to have succeeded when the crews came through Hammersmith with the dark blues 3/4 length up, however in the end it was Oxford who started hurting first.

Cambridge, with an extra foot of cover started to creep back as the Oxford four man, Magnus Flemming, started to show signs of exhaustion, his catch going in half a blade late. With the door now opening, Rebecca urged her crew through and upping the rate they crossed the line one and a quarter lengths ahead.

Oxford, obviously spent after giving their all, ended up drifting through the Surrey arch of Chiswick bridge. It’s never a nice race to lose whatever the circumstances, but credit where credit is due, and the dark blues put in one hell of a performance.

Back on the bank the champagne was flowing and there was a feeling of relief from the Cambridge camp. Tom James, finally winning one as president after 3 previous attempts, made it clear just how close it had been, claiming that he was only sure they had won it in the last thirty strokes.

There was a strong military presence around Ibis lane, as the Royal Marine Reserves were drafted in to protect the crews, media and VIP guests at the finish of the boat race. Rumour has it that threats had been received by animal rights activists but on the day HM forces did a great job controlling access and smothering everyone going in and out with Royal Marine Commando stickers.

Finally, kudos to the winning Cambridge blue boat, who took the trophy into the Quintin bar after the race to show it off in a real rowing club. Quintin salutes you (even though their kit is about to turn back to Oxford blue).

Snapper Ron has been busy updating the Committee of the Dee website at cofd.co.uk with photographs of the Universities' Boat Race (no, not that one, the one that took place in Aberdeen last month).

Of more general interest, he has also posted a lot of shots from last Saturday’s Tideway HOTBOR (Head of the Bottom of the River). These include a series of shots of the lightweight pink-sock crew struggling to get through Hammersmith.

At one point, you can see the stroke man stop rowing to (very sensibly) loosen his feet in anticipation of going down stern-first.

Saturday morning and Cambridge coach Duncan Holland pops into a local barber’s in Putney to get a quick trim and shave so he’s looking sharp for the press.

While his locks are being cut, the barber starts the usual chatter and asks him if he’s in London on holiday

"no, I’m working" replies Duncan

"oh, what are you doing” asks the hairdresser

"I’m at the boatrace, I’m the Cambridge coach" he responds

"ohh… how long did it take you to drive your coach here then?"


Overheard at the Women's Boat Race in Henley last weekend:

American Oxford student to friends:
"So how far does the water go past that island?"(points to Temple Island)

Warning - the attached is a good illustration of what can happen when you stop rowing and start eating in the BBC canteen.