SISTERHOOD PUT A TWIST ON 2008
Sporting celebrites including Freddie Flintoff, Josh Lewsey, Les Ferdinand and Ricky Hatton have teamed up with The Sisterhood, the first all-female dragon boat crew to cross the English Channel, to produce 'The Art of Sport', a 2008 sporting celebrity calendar with a twist!

Each month of the artfully shot calendar depicts one of the main sporting events of 2008, while in the photographs the girls pose wearing little more than the bodypaint of the appropriate sporting kit with the various sports starts playing a (fully clothed) cameo role in the background.

The pic with the GB 4- is quite amusing (see attached) - as they're all trying very hard not to look... Tideway rowers might also recognise one Ms Amy Sharpe (ex-Twickenham and Mortlake), looking rather glamorous.

The calendar can be bought for £7.99 (+ p&p) from www.thesuncalendarshop.co.uk, which not only gives you a quirky and fun calendarbut also supports two children's charities, the CHASE Ben Hollioake Fund and the Babes in Arms Appeal at Northwick Park Hospital.

So please spread the word and bag yourself a calendar! after all it's all for charidee.


SHADES OF GREY...
Some more information on the crash between the two quads in the run up to the HOR4s - this time from the sculler who was nearby when the accident happened... Puts a valid alternative view on the incident, which is worth knowing.
"On the approach to the crossover point I looked over my shoulder to see a light coming down stream and decided to wait. I was aware that there had been a 4x in front of me and had no idea whether it was crossing or whether it was waiting like me. On the basis that I knew the bowman to be an apparently experienced tideway oarsman didnít think for a moment that he would cross in front of someone.

I then heard the crunch as the two boats crashed and looked round to see the women's 4x going down. There were girls in the water and some shouting. I saw someone running on Chiswick Pier and I shouted to him that there were people in the water Ė I didnít have my mobile with me... He then ran back towards the lifeboats. The menís quad by now had paddled across to the other side of the river and waiting near the bank on the opposite side. A womenís 4+ which had been following me up the river then, with me, shouted to their coach to tell him what had happened. As is always the case, there was slight delay before he realised over the sound of his engine, what was going on. A second AK coach joined him and they assisted the lifeboat in picking up the girls.

On looking across the river I then saw the men's quad rowing upstream towards the bandstand and away from the rescue Ė I understand that they turned shortly after.

The fault for the accident lies only with the quad. Just because I was in the vicinity does not make me culpable in any way at all. How can I be expected to watch every boat cross the river when I am in the area? It was dark in a fast flowing stream and I was waiting for the river to clear?."

It's also worth keeping in mind that although it was a calm night, it was very busy, with boats everywhere doing pieces a couple of nights before HOR4s. And another source has since told me that the men's quad spun, followed the AK launches back and lifted the broken quad and blades out of the water when it was towed back to AK.

These were the lights the women's quad had on (bright but tiny):
/www.bblrc.co.uk/lights/circsuction.jpg

the bow girl (who incidentally was very good at making calming calls to her crew to stay with the boat after the impact, despite she being left holding only the bow section only) was seen holding the bow light in her hand as she drifted downstream and using to it to call the launch over Ė and the light could be clearly seen.

(n.b. link for illustrative purposes only - BBLRC were not involved in the accident)


ALEC HODGES
Terribly sad news. Alec passed away around midday on Thursday. He had a sudden deterioration in his blood pressure mid-morning and while the hospital staff were investigating and dealing with this, he had a cardiac arrest.

Alec was taken into hospital in September, just before Tideway Scullers were due to celebrate his 80th birthday. He had an operation for an Aneurysm some weeks ago and has never recovered.

He will be sorely missed.


LAUNCH SURFING THE TRC WAY
The slug was chewing on some vegetation on the island on Tuesday morning, while watching a Thames 4-, when along came a launch approaching at considerable speed. It wasn't long before it was recognised as a TRC launch, as the driver was doing his usual stand up stance - holding onto a rope with one hand and the engine with the other...

As he went past, still at speed, the cox of a nearby crew from anoter Tideway club could be heard mumbling curses between shouting about the wash he was making (which was not that much to be fair), soon followed by:

"Oh! Hold on... guys, errr..." -as the Thames coach went flying head first into the water...

Thankfully he soon managed to get back on board but those present couldn't contain a few laughs as they went past him... and I believe there were a few smothered smiles in the Thames crew too.

Stoically (or foolishly), the now soggy coach showed good resistance to the cold as he carried on coaching for the rest of the outing... of course, perhaps heís used to the colder Canadian climate.

Whether heíll carry on driving the launch while standing up in it remains to be seen...


SHORT TERM MEMORY ISSUES?
Overheard by Putney Bridge from a coach from one of the Hammersmith Clubs, in a launch alongside a women's coxed 4.

"Now 2 I want you to concentrate on the same thing that I told 4"

Pause while 2 says something.

"What do you mean you can't remember what I told 4? I only said it two minutes ago!"

Ahem.


BONKERS IN HONKERS
With less than a year to go until rowing is included in the Paralympics for the first time, the GB Adaptive Rowing Team have recently been training in Hong Kong in a bid to acclimatise to the likely weather conditions that they will face in Beijing (ie smog, sweat, and stifling heat - oh, and some more smog).

It seems the words of the Noel Coward song still ring true:

"Mad dogs and Englishmen
Go out in the midday sun.
The smallest Malay rabbit
Deplores this foolish habit.
In Hong Kong
They strike a gong
And fire off a noonday gun,
To reprimand each inmate
Who's in late."
...As they still fire the noonday gun, and it seems that mad dogs and Englishmen do still go out in the midday sun.

The rowers were worked hard in all weather conditions on ergs or on hand-bikes (a modified wheelchair arrangement that would give any serious bike mechanic a hard-on). Very few rowers would want to do a 90 minute ergo at all, let alone do it in the sun on a sweaty Hong Kong. day!

A dinner was held in honour of the team at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (HK's oldest rowing club) and the team coach and physio presented an outline of the program, whilst Helene Raynsford (2006 World Champ, 'arms only' single) gave a wonderful talk that followed her preparation and win at the 2006 World Champs.


COACHING COURSES - LEVEL 0.5?
Now, one of the important things to learn about rowing is timing - the essence of which is that the crew should do things together and at the same time and all keep their eyes in the boat...... (see attached)

Still, at least a bunch of parents (LEH / Hampton) were interested in having a go at what their kids spend lots of their lives doing.

Photo c/o John Packer


BACK TO BLACK
If the assembled crowd standing around at Molesey Boat Club last Saturday morning was anything to go by, it would appear that getting back into rowing "is the new black"...

The Molesey all-stars, already sporting more than their fair share of ex-national rowing treasures from across the ages, put out two eights on saturday, including amongst their numbers Steve "Isn't he the one who plays golf" Redgrave, and Matthew "I'll train but I won't race" Pinsent.

Sir Matt wearing a fetching, if large, German splashtop, looked less than comfortable in the four seat of one of the crews - but the slug is sure that a few 16km outings will soon sort him out. Rumours that Cracknell is planning to walk to the pole simply to avoid having to row with Martin Cross, are as yet unconfirmed, but we have noticed that Tim Foster (who has made guest appearances in the past) does not appear to be in any hurry to return from the safey of Switzerland.

Suggestions that they should approach Viagra for sponsorship did not appear to be appreciated but with a rapidly expanding squad the temptation may prove too great.

If you have a few international appearances under your belt (any country - they're not fussy), a few olympic medals gathering dust and own no lycra purchased after 2004 - you too may be eligible to join... simply e-mail Jonny Searle at MBC...


NOW WASH YOUR HANDS...
The Health Protection Agency have finally published their report on the cleanliness of the tidal Thames and how safe it is for those who use the river for leisure activities (i.e. most of you lot).

Long term slug readers may remember the HPA asking for individuals to send in reports of illness to help them evaluate the risk to river users and to ascertain whether there was an increased risk of ill health following water contact associated with rowing and canoeing.

Some of the findings make worrying reading, as evidence that concentrations of microbiological organisms exceed the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended levels for recreational use was found at Kew, Barnes and Putney.

It was also found that less than 1% water samples taken from the Tideway were deemed acceptable by the WHO guidelines and that frequent contamination of harmful bacteria including salmonella was present in these samples.

The full report can be found at
www.hpa.org.uk/london/pubs_pdf/Thames_rec.pdf
(extra points if you can ID the sculler on the front page)


CONCEALED WEAPON?
Extra points for those of you who can correctly identify the subject of the attached photograph - that's the one admiring himself in his mankini.

A force to be reckoned with, this individual doesn't take any prisioners, and is sure to get your attention - after all what girl (or man of an alternative persuasion) wouldn't want to give him a "21 bum salute"?

He can apparently also be found frequently sporting a rather smart bronze medal from his most recent outing.


BILL HELPS
Bill Helps, a familiar figure coaching beginners in the Sons of the Thames tub pair, died peacefully at home last week. He had been a member of Sons for over 50 years. The funeral will take place on Monday 17th September, 12:30 at Mortlake Crematorium and then at Sons.

Bill always loved being on or around the water. He started rowing on the Tideway around 1950 with his brothers and friends. They boated from Kent House, the working men's club on Lower Mall. This was not his first experience of the sport as he had previously rowed whalers on the Crouch as a wartime evacuee. He joined the Royal Navy as a volunteer as soon as he was old enough but this was immediately post-war, a period when the navy was cut back by 80% due to the national financial emergency. He was discharged honourably having, he said, defended Skegness valiantly and entirely successfully.

Bill joined Sons in the West End boathouse around 1953. Sons was not permitted to affiliate to ARA, nor were crews allowed to race in Amateur regattas, because manual workers were allowed to join the club. This was generally regarded as pure snobbery and that was certainly Bill's view. Sons used to race against other tradesmen's clubs, always in clinkers. Usually on the Tideway though Bill once mentioned racing at Maidenhead having travelled in a coal lorry with the boats strapped on top. He said that he received very good coaching from professional boatmen, including Doggett's Cap and Badge winners. His active rowing career ended when Sons were evicted from the West End boathouse around 1969.

Bill played a very important part in the re-establishment of Sons after the move to the old St Paul's Boathouse (Number 28) in 1976. He did the maintenance of the building more or less single handed. Every job had to be done in the cheapest way possible as the club could not afford more. Among many Bill legends was his technique for checking whether a wall was structural - he eschewed professional advice for a sledgehammer, quick reactions and a sprint start when needed!... It was no great surprise when the subsequent purchaser of the building had to have it demolished and rebuilt.

On the water meanwhile, Bill was coaching beginners as this was essential to rebuild the club after the period with no settled home. This was not easy, as rowing was out of favour as a sport and remained so until the late 1980s. Bill's naval sang-froid was frequently tested in the tub or restricted four as he drifted sideways towards Southend with a crew of uncoordinated beginners losing the battle against the tide. I have no idea how many people Bill taught to row - certainly a very large number.

Bill's third era as a Sons member came after the move to Linden House in 2000/1. He became the club's face for newcomers to the sport, on duty every Saturday and Sunday at 9:00 a.m. to welcome potential recruits. He believed firmly that the wall between the rafts at Linden House commanded the best view of the Tideway by virtue of being on the apex of the long bend from Harrods round to the Crossing. As those who knew him know, he would happily spend a couple of hours there before adjourning to the cafe for a cup of milky tea or (more likely) Kent House for a whisky or two. He was still coxing beginners until Xmas 2006 when failing health made it impossible for him to get out in a boat.

The wall by the rafts will look a bit empty at the weekend in future.