Overheard on the radio on Saturday:
"Control this is Race umpire, I've stopped race 1, due to incompetence."
"Race umpire this is Control, would that be your's or their's?"

It's Sunday and Putney High School are in a final but the Umpire is a little unclear as to who should be racing, so asks crew who they are.

"Are you Putney A,B or C?"
"We were the B crew in the semi final but we beat the A crew so I think this makes us the A Crew in this race"

(the Umpire, who had had a long weekend, decided to umpire the next race instead)

David 'Sooty' Bidulph reckons he's seen everything there is to be seen in rowing. But even he had to admit he had never previously witnessed what occurred at Henley Veterans' last weekend - a 'not rowed out' verdict in a row over.

The first semi final of women's C coxed fours saw Grosvenor drawn against Avalon - an American club who had come over en masse for the older women's events. Grosvenor failed to show on the start and Avalon were awarded a row over to the final.

Alas for Avalon the blustery cross head wind on the start and the proximity to the booms on the Berkshire station, proved too much for their rowers and coxswain. Heard by the crews waiting for the next semi final were plaintive cries of 'stroke side pull harder' before the four careered into the booms.

Not a disaster in a row over you would think - but Avalon had clearly never encounterd booms in their rowing lives before. Pulling in their blades in an attempt to get off led to the inevitable tipping into the Thames.

Getting the rowers and their boat (a shiny empacher) out of this predicament held up the racing for some while, but luckily for all concerned the weather was unusually clement for this summer. The Henley Vets organisers however decided that in the interests of the Avalon crew's safety they would not be racing in the final.

We hope this hasn't deterred Avalon from coming back next year for further attempts to re-write rowing history.

Also on view at Henley Vets, was a certain ex-Olympian racing in Vet C 4- along with a few friends... Martin Cross, who was orginally supposed to be rowing in the crew, ended up relegated to the role of coach following back problems, thus reducing the tally of Olympic medals in the crew to a mere three Bronze and five gold.

After recruiting the big guns of Clive Kennedy-Burns, who along with Ian McNuff and John Beattie helped propel Sir Steve down the course, the four (perhaps unsurprisingly) went on to win. Although one crew member told the slug:
"I felt Redgrave kick in, with about 150m to go in the final and thought - the bastard's been holding back up until now..."

Full results should appear eventually at:

No doubt you've all seen examples of rowing being used in adverts, especially those for businesses who like to employ metaphors based on the "pulling together" or "team effort" side of the sport in increasingly cheesey adverts.

That said, ne does have to wonder what the ad company behind the attached advert for BrownRudnick was trying to convey - after all you know what happens to a four once all members of the crew let go of their blades..?

After an absence of several decades, the Commons v Lords rowing competition was revived on 27th June 2007, with crews racing over a 500m course between Lambeth Bridge and Westminster Bridge using replicas of the gigs used in the first Oxford Cambridge boat race.

As well as The House of Lords racing the House of Commons (All competitors were members of the All Party Parliamentary Rowing Group), there was also a match between London and Thames.

Thames' crew contained venerable Mr George amongst others, while the boys in blue had carefully selected their crew using the following criteria:
(a) those who can do sub 6min for 2K, or
(b) those who could get a half day off work...
...but mostly (b).

The umpire directed that off the start, the crews should proceed through the centre arch of Lambeth Bridge, and then go towards the Houses of Parliament on the appropriate side of the river. This meant being safe, but entirely out of the stream.

LRC had a horrible start - not helped by being a scratch crew obviously - but they came through fairly early on to gain clear water. This didn't stop the umpire from having a paddy about the steering, despite both crews being miles apart. Once they'd finished and turned, he expressed his annoyance that both crews had ignored his instructions and 'most reluctantly' gave the race to London - purely because Thames hadn't lodged a complaint.

The reception in the House of Commons afterwards was very nice, with Siemens and BT sponsors in attendance along with Simon the Docks Coach respledent in Doggetts kit.... Alas, Mssrs Blair and Brown were busy so didn't say hello.

The 6 mile paddle back to Putney - against tide and wind - helped to remind the LRC crew exactly why they stopped all this shenanigans in the first place.

All in all it was a memorable day: nice freebies; top medal and beating Thames again... though costly in terms of more physio and chiro appointments.

The winning London crew were as follows:
Cox Becky Ambler
Stroke - Herbie Griffin
7 - Colin O'Malley
6 - John Warnock
5 - Martin Harris
4 - Dan Knowles
3 - Alex Fothergill
2 - Stuart Masterson
1 - Chris Leonard

p.s. The Commons beat the Lords.

Overheard at Henley on Sunday morning, as the Greg and Jonny Searle-led Ladies plate eight (Molesey and NYAC) was taking to the water; spoken by one of their crew-mates, who shall remain nameless, to a friend on the bank:

"Just make sure that you have the defibrillators on stand-by..."

The first round of the Britannia has at least one race which will be worth watching. Last year in the semi-finals of the same event York City beat unselected Reading in a very tight race by one-third of a length. This year, who should be drawn against one another again in the first round but selected York City and unselected Reading, both crews based around the same personnel as last year.

Of course, this year Reading are no longer racing in a Janousek, though York have secured the Berks station for the first round - Expect some fireworks either way...

It should help sharpen the appetite just before the Wednesday tea-break.

With qualifiers out of the way, many of the crews made their way upstream to Thames Valley Park to take part in Reading Town on Saturday. Those who were sensible hitched a ride on a trailer to get there, as the Enviroment Agency had already been on to the Henley Stewards and the boat tent officials were clearly telling people not to row up because of the strength of the stream.

Regardless of what the official advice is there are always a few people who think they know best, and several American crews made the trip up through the lock anyway, though at least one wished they hadn't.

St Pauls School Concord, managed to flip a pair coming out of Shiplake lock on Friday evening. Their eight got through unscathed but extracting the pair required quite a lot of help and was accompanied by lots of "Gee" and "Bud". Happily the pair were Ok after their adventure, and turned up to race on Saturday looking dry if a little sheepish.

On water conditions during the regatta were difficult to say the least, and the stream (which was strong to start with) increased considerably during the course of the day as the lock keepers opened more sluices to let the excess water out. Though even with the measures to remove water the level rose around 15cm during the regatta and rather unsurprisngly, on the mud front, the area around regatta control was staring to resemble Henley women's by the end of the day.

The strong stream resulted in an obvious bias in favour of those on the Berks station and many crews (especially in the junior and novice categories) had problems getting attached and straight - not helped by inexperienced coxn's and rowers who have no idea how to "scratch" a boat round by passing blades forward. In both cases, blame lies firmly with the coaches, several of whom should be asked to explain exactly why they felt it was OK to send out unprepared junior crews in such difficult conditions.

When I suggested earlier in the week that you might want to consider washing off your wellies for the Royal, I really wasn't joking. Though if you're still not convinced perhaps the attached photos might help change your mind...

On Saturday morning it was already pretty soggy at the cafe end of the boat tents - apparently not helped by roof bursting under the weight of water the night before. In the rest of the boat tent area the wood chip seems to be working quite well inside, but Lion Meadow was sporting a new water feature near the regatta radio shack - leading the slug to wonder if those 'lucky enough' to have secured the parking spaces affected will have to pay mooring fees.

Butler's field (the main competiors car park area) was already getting slippy on Friday morning, so heaven knows what it's like after 24 hours of continuous rain and vehicle movements, one thing I can confirm is that it wasn't nice by the Barn bar on Sunday morning - not really ideal conditions for towpath picnics...

At the time of writing, there's standing muddy water on large sections of the footpath (including an area by the Stewards' Enclosure) and I'd estimate that more than 90% of the bank is water logged and muddy. The picture of the towpath alongside the barn bar is representative of most of the tow path, not just the worst sections. It's pretty awful just about everywhere except inside the Stewards' Enclosure, Remenham and the Barn Bar where, of course, there hasn't been any major footfall yet. With more rain forecast between now and Thursday, things are unlikely to improve and if anything they're going to get worse. It's anyone's guess what it's going to be like come next Saturday or Sunday.

Copas seem to have shipped in large amounts of soil which they appear to be compacting into raised roadways for access to the parking, picnic and hospitality areas near the start, but again, I'd advise you to leave the car at home if possible ,and just get the train - especially as it's 150 years since the Henley to Twyford branch line first opened!

The Army Visitors Coxless four were seen training on Thursday. Unfortunately, in the rush to get afloat, they forgot to take off their Army head gear, can you guess their day jobs????

All silly captions welcome to

Henley Qualifiers kicked off on Friday with dark clouds lurking, however, the weather gods behaved themselves in the end and although the strong stream and head wind (which swung round in the middle of the Thames cup races) ensured some curious results, it stayed dry.

There were a couple of "why do they have to qualify?" moments but overall George seems to have done an excellent job researching crews in his first year; though the conditions did ensure that several crews, who should probably have qualified, missed their opportunity by steering into the strongest stream rather than avoiding it (always worth doing your research kids).

Withdrawls in the Princess Royal and the Double Sculls removed the need for qualifying races for those two events, but the rest went ahead as scheduled.

Entries this year reflect the strong growth in University; and junior rowing in the UK, the Fawley being heavily oversubscribed despite being up to 24 places. The biggest entry, however, was in the Temple with 56 crews going for 19 places. All credit to F&T, Jesus and LMBC Cambridge, for managing to get through and ensuring there's some Oxbridge college representation in this year's regatta.

The most expensive wasted trip probably has to go to Sydney University Women's Boat Club, who came all the way from Australia and failed to qualify for the Remenham Cup, though to be fair there were a number of North American crews who are also licking their wounds.

The draw was done on Saturday afternoon, and is now available at:
Now you can see if praying for Berks worked...

Sadly the Grand is down to three crews as the German and GB eights have withdrawn (probably to focus on Lucerne). Also MIA is the GB 2X of Wells and Rowbotham, although the Molesey/Leander 4- is still in.

There was rather a lot of stressing from the organisers of HWR last Thursday as they waited with baited breath to see if the course would be finished in time for the start of racing on Friday. The workmen laying the booms were apparently slightly less concerned as they installed a grand total of three booms during the morning before breaking for a two hour lunch... Happily their productivity increased considerably in the afternoon, and as a result it was matters on land rather than on water that will ensure that the 20th Henley Women’s Regatta will be remembered for some time to come.

Let’s face it, prolonged, heavy rain and fields really don’t mix, especially when you add lots of people, boats, cars and heavily laden trailers into the equation, so it was hardly surprising that things started to get a little mucky on Friday morning.

With an eye on the weather forecast, organisers had asked Copas to employ some preventative measures earlier in the week, but their pleas remained unheeded and by Friday lunchtime cars and trailers were being prevented from entering Remenham Mudslide car park. Meanwhile the boating area wasn’t faring much better and umpire’s whites were rapidly turning into browns as the mud frothed and the paths disappeared.

Overheard from one of the the Copas parking attendants, "We don't want people parking on that (decent, unswamped and accessible) part of the field because we want to protect it for Henley Royal", meanwhile many competitors felt that uncomfortable sinking feeling once again as cars slid into the quagmire!

Even though the slug did suggest early on in the regatta that any close races could possibly be resolved by a bout of post race mud wrestling, we were still rather bemused to see four members of Conestoga High School (PA), indulging in full on mud wrestling by the boat racks on Sunday, Suffice to say the male observers were rather entranced by the activities, one Thames coach (who really should know better if he values his health) commented that "It was a beautiful thing to behold", while one of the regatta officials was heard wistfully reminiscing that normally he’d have to pay to watch such activity...

With the regatta land rapidly turning to mush, it was lucky that on-water conditions fared somewhat better, for even though the strong stream gave a notable advantage to those lucky enough to have been gifted the Berks (enclosure) station via the draw (especially at the start), the wind was in line with the stream so it the water was fairly flat for most of the regatta - though it did get a bit lumpy towards the end of Saturday (when the heavens opened and a few of the commentators radios got fried as a result).

Friday morning qualifiers in the intermediate events did a good job of removing dross and although most of the Friday and Saturday morning races were less than exciting, there was some excellent racing to be seen later in the regatta, especially in the semi finals and finals on Sunday.

The Brown machine was back this year and again dominated elite eights thanks to their powerful style (must be down to their supporters’ giant name buttons). If you didn’t get to see them in action, fear not, for they’re staying around for the Remenham cup at HRR and rightly so. The school / Junior eights also went to North America – not exactly unexpected as three US crews and the Canadian winners secured the four semi final places.

LEH made a good tactical move by entering S/J 4+ rather than 8s (after losing at least one key rower to exams) and walked off with a well deserved win. having fended off a challenge from Middlesex School USA.

And, whilst on the subject of overseas crews, one really has to wonder about the Sydney Uni lwt 2x, who flew half way round the world to compete, only to fail to make weight...?

OUWBC picked up a win in senior eights, while Thames had a rather hollow victory in intermediate eights after the Osiris crew they were due to race in the final withdrew just before the race, after it was pointed out that one of their rowers was ineligible because of a junior win at Nat champs for St Paul’s School, four years ago.

This appears to have been an honest mistake which was neither picked up by the Oxford coach or the HWR entries sec until it was pointed out by someone who knew the individual in question and was aware of the eligibility rules for the event.

Not the best thing to happen, as the Thames crew (who’d been consistently posting the fastest times in the senior event) was denied the opportunity to win fair and square, and the Osiris crew were obviously gutted, Mind you it does provide yet another good justification for simplification of the HWR categories and making the whole regatta elite.

Most of the other wins were spread around a number of clubs, with no one dominating – worthy of mention:

The prize giving was somewhat marred by the mud (though I doubt the medals were any less sweet to the winners), as was the long trawl home for numerous clubs who founf their trailers stuck in the mud. Copas’ one available tractor appeared to be suffering with competing demands between rescuing cars from one field and fishing trailers from the hillside. A sticky situation was made even stickier when a certain purple university club from up North jumped the queue by blocking the field exit for trailer rescuing much to the ire of a number of other waiting clubs, upon which the tractor zoomed off again to recover more cars, leaving everyone else to wait another hour....

Ahh, nothing like solidarity in the face of adversity...oh, and is driving around with three wheels on a double axled trailer entirely legal?

Full HWR results can be seen (if you have the right browser) at:

A few photos of mud etc on facebook.

The prize for the most entertaining departure from the prize giving raft at Marlow Regatta on Sunday has to go to Cygnet RC.

Having rowed over as their opposition had failed to turn up, they duly collected their medals and got ready to push off.

However, whilst pushing off the raft, their cox (one foot in boat) used her other foot to push the boat away from the raft quite firmly. Stroke's blade, in the mean time, was still on the square and caught on the bank side edge of the pontoon.

With the laws of physics taking over, the boat stopped but the cox continued away from the raft, giving herself a ducking. She promptly got back in, looking rather soggy and the crew paddled away to the landing raft with the stroke man trying to hide a huge grin.

A few pictures from the regatta can be seen at