THE ROOTS OF THE PROBLEM

Boat launching at Maidenhead regatta on Saturday was inevitably slow, due mainly to there being only one raft to be shared by all the non-Maidenhead crews competing.

In the midst of all the queuing, a Quintin Vet B crew, full of seasoned oarsmen, tried to hurry things along by boating on the side of the raft designated for returning boats. Alas, their cunning ploy was foiled when they soon discovered that they could not jump quickly in, as the no 2 rigger had been put on incorrectly .

While the queues of irate rowers grew longer for both the boating and the coming in platforms, the Quintin boat had to be lifted out and re-rigged on the raft, moving the rigger along a whole set of bolts. Needless to say, recriminations amongst the crew ensued. The self admitted rigging culprit turned out to be none other than Ian Roots - ex GB oarsman and coach of one D Flood


IN OR OUT?

After our recent comments on the carefully worded content of the Marlow website, the slug was interested to be pointed towards some examples, where factual wins appear to have been excluded... for neither the Chairman's report or the Captains report mention the Women's Henley Regatta Club Coxed Four win.

These same articles were in a Marlow year-ending publication, sent to all members.

In fact, the chairman has only the following to say on Women's Henley: "Nobody could show more dogged determance and single mindedness than Emma and Kristel who, although the current lightweight National Champions at their chosen discipline, have had a bitter pill to swallow when they lost narrowly to an overseas pair at WHR, both athletes suffering once again at WHR from an umpire's controversial decision. Poor steering, warnings by the umpire and a clash of blades would normally lead to disqualification of the errant crew. I am at a loss to know why in this case the opposition were allowed such luxury without being dismissed. That's racing for you, or should I say, that's umpiring for you!"

Now, before you jump to conclusions the slug would like to point out that the articles appear to have been written before Henley Women's, however the report came out in print and on the website after Men's Henley and since the chairman had the opportunity to include something about the lwt pair at Women's Henley, surely so should have the captain???

A case of simple omission or selective coverage???... who knows.


YOU WILL BELIEVE A ROWER CAN FLY

The slug has heard tell of some 'interesting' events following the last races of the recent Cambridge Town Bumps. The final day ended on a high for Rob Roy, taking head of both the men's and women's divisions and with another three Robs boats getting blades. The following celebratory barbecue/piss up was at Christ’s boathouse, and people were predictably in high spirits.

Indeed, with the ongoing revelry, it didn't take long before two club members decided to throw each other in the river. Rather predictably a certain Mr D Bertschinger decided that, as Captain, he should lead the way and stripped off his wet clothes to bare all, quickly followed by his friend (name as yet unconfirmed). Bearing in mind last year's Peterborough summer naked pole climbing performance, they then decided that some early practice for this year wouldn't go amiss, both of them making it in turn to the top of the flagpole outside Christ’s boathouse. Their task completed to their satisfaction, the pair (now wearing lifejackets and with a plastic bag acting as a nappy), decided to take the tub pair out and row down the river, visiting the various parties happening at the other city boathouses.

Their fine crew was coxed by two willing female members of the club, one being Dunstan's girlfriend. On their return, the Slug was glad to see that the fun wasn't over, as they proceeded to borrow a bicycle and peddle at full pelt into the river... but wait faithful reader, for this was still not quite enough excitement for one day and before the astonished eyes of those watching, a ramp was carefully fashioned out of a wooden board and a footstool and the trick was repeated.

Alas, Dunstan, hasn't been doing much training recently and is err... carrying a "little extra weight", the resultant load proved too much for the ramp, which snapped in two sending him head first into the river next to the bank. Undeterred by this small setback a sturdier ramp was then fashioned out of one of the tressle tables, held by two willing accomplices (one of whom was the ever so responsible Christ’s boatman - and member of the head crew). This set-up proved a little better, sending Dunstan & bike into the river several meters from the bank.

Rumours that Dunstan "Evil Kenivell" Bertschinger will attempt to jump across 15 burning VIIIs at the Peterborough 2000 Nekkid reagatta remain, as yet, unconfirmed.


ARTISTIC LICENCE?

The slug was interested to find out Marlow's side of the story regarding the Home Countries selection fiasco, so had a quick gander at the Press Releases section of their website. No joy, but it didn’t take us long to spot something far more interesting (if a bit dated): Marlow's entry for the ARA Creative Writing prize, aka their Women's Head race report:

'Marlow rowers Charlotte Hill, Alex Beever, Rowan Carroll and Ali Sanders were celebrating on Saturday night, because they were all in the winning crew at last weekend's 60th Women's Head of the River Race...' it begins.
...funny that, because a quick check shows that

  • Alex was representing Queen's Tower,
  • Rowan was rowing for Notts County and
  • Ali was under City of Sheffield colours.
  • Now to be fair, Charlotte Hill is a Marlow member - she's even going out with the Captain (although the slug was sure it spotted her in the QT Eight at Women's Henley..??) - but she was the only one who actually rowed as Marlow in the City of Sheffield/Marlow/Notts County/Queen's Tower/Thames/UL Composite based at Thames RC under the caring eye of sooper-dooper high performance coach Neil Diamond, sorry... Miles Forbes Thomas.

    The claim is even more bizzare given the events of last summer, when the girls were all part of Mike 'Yoda' Spracklen's training group based at Longridge Scout Hut (a few hundred metres from Marlow RC) and rowing in the then struggling GB VIII. At that stage, when things weren't going so well, certain influential people at Marlow seemed to want nothing to do with the girls and sided with Yoda during his appalling (in our opinion) treatment of the crew.

    After the VIII was effectively turfed out of the group, Rowan and Ali (who had only joined Marlow while being based at Longridge) let their membership lapse. As for Alex, a Marlow member since her early teens, she retains Honorary Life Membership (awarded after her 97 Worlds Gold) and is still very fond of many people there, although due in part to the behaviour of the "certain influential people" mentioned above, she now races for Queen's Tower.

    Come the Women's Head last March, there was much talk about Marlow's dubious behaviour in entering Yoda's squad scullers as "Marlow A" (despite the fact that six of the crew are more usually associated with other clubs) and much glee when Forbes Thomas's composite pipped this crew by two seconds from a starting position of 150th...

    Never mind, goes the Marlow logic, if you can't beat them, claim they were your athletes anyway.

    "I am delighted for all four athletes and the success of this crew, which means Marlow Rowing Club's athletes have been involved in the last three Women's Head of the River winning crews" says Club Chairman Peter Hunt in the press release.

    Success is fickle, they say. But apparently not as fickle as Marlow Rowing Club.


    BUMPITY BUMP-BUMP

    After watching the Cambridge University May bumps and observing the terrible standard of student coxing on display, the Slug was sure that the Townies would never be able to plunge to such depths... Oh, how wrong can one invertebrate be…

    Those of you familiar with the layout of the glorious river Cam will know all about the infamous Grassy Corner, source of much bumps grief for so many crews who fail to exit the corner and end up crashing quite spectacularly, with splintering bows, on the outside bank… or even if they do make it round, exit so widely as to lose most of the initial one-and-a-half length gap between boats and then have to put up with the following crew sitting right up their bottoms all the way down Plough Reach.

    Well, on the third night of the recent Town Bumps, in what the Slug believes may well be a first, the cox of Cambridge 99s 2nd boat (lying 5th in the first division and under no pressure whatsoever being 1/3 of a length behind Cantabs and 2 ˝ lengths ahead of Free Press), decided to "take the opposite approach" and crash into the INSIDE of the corner.

    In fact, members of the Cantabs crew were later heard to remark that the 99s cox steered so far into the inside that 2's RIGGER crashed into one of the boats moored along the inside bank, letting Cantabs out of jail and giving the Free Press an early Christmas present.

    It all got a bit hairy for the Slug who was steering a crew a handful of places behind 99s, showing off to the spectators with its stunt coxing, bringing the tips of the strokeside blades a mere slime trail's width away from the moored boats, only to suddenly come upon the forlorn 99s crew ensconced between two longboats in the exit of the blind corner. The Slug hardly had time to scream "GET YOUR ****ING BLADES IN NINES" before whizzing past by a feeler's breadth.....

    Earlier in the evening in the women's division, the Rob Roy IV which had gone head the previous night came crashing back to earth, quite literally, as they caught the bank on the inside of First Post Corner soon after the start gun, to be retaken by the chasing Free Press crew.

    The Slug later overheard this embarrassing little mishap being blamed upon "the wind", an interesting observation for although First Post Corner is subject to unpredictable cross gusts, they tend to be directed towards the OUTSIDE of the corner..

    Excuses, excuses....


    VE HAVE VAYS OF MAKING YOU TRAIN

    There are far too many people in rowing who take themselves far too seriously and the latest slime eminating from Auriol Kensington suggests that someone at the club needs to be taken to one side and sat down in a darkened room.

    Now, the slug knows that AK is trying to throw off their old image and reputation and replace it with a new hard-core tough one - all very admirable, and their men's squad did a good job at HRR this year, however, the latest dictate to the rowing membership seems to be a bit harsh.

    For the Slug has heard rumours that the powers that be at AK have decreed, all club members who want to play at Peterborough must go down to the club this Sunday and do a 2k erg test. If one achieves within 10secs of one's last erg test, one will be allowed to race at Peterborough.. if not - one's entry will be scratched. Anyone not turning up or not meeting the target set will not be allowed to race and neither will the crew that he/she is entered in.

    "Eh?" I hear you cry, "pray tell slug, what rationalisation sits behind this cruel decision", well it would appear that AK's senior coach Nick Wilde believes it to be necessary because of lack of training, as he's worried that if AK loose everything, it will reflect badly on him.

    Understandable sentiments perhaps, but what ever happened to having a bit of fun at the end of the season??


    CANNON AND BALLS-UP

    With the student races well out of the way, it's time for the Cambridge townies to have their go again, as the Cambridgeshire Rowing Association Town Bumps get underway, thought not without a slight hitch.

    Those of you familiar with the bumps will know that normally the 18 boats lined up along the river bank are started simultaneously by the use of three cute little Nelson and HMS Victory-style cannons using real gunpowder. These are fired at 4 minutes to go, 1 minute to go and finally for the start

    The Slug was peacefully toddling up to the start, to be bank party for a crew in the first race, when it was accosted by a marshal telling us that, er, there were no cannons. It turned out that:

  • Bloke with key to gunshed arrives at said gunshed at 4pm promptly (as previously arranged), to wait for bloke who fires cannons. Bloke who fires cannons is not there. So bloke with key waits. And waits. And waits. Eventually bloke with key thinks "f*ck this for a game of soldiers" and buggers off.
  • Bloke who fires cannons finally arrives at gunshed at 5.30pm. Bloke with key is not there. Bloke who fires cannons waits. And waits. Bloke who fires cannons thinks "f*ck this for a game of soldiers" and buggers off.
  • Now this puts the organisers in a bit of a quandary. Even if bloke with key were to turn up again, you can't have just any Tom, Dick or Harry firing the cannons because legally an individual has to have a license to use gunpowder, don't you know? (Quite wise too....) Secondly, the lovely organisers haven't thought to have any sort of back-up device available such as a klaxon horn.

    Queue several marshals who begin moving down the line from station to station to get each bank party to synchronise their stopwatches with those of the marshals, and each bank party was expected on trust to start their crew when their stopwatch reached zero. Needless to say, with the logistical difficulties of trying to synchronise 18 stopwatches... and the virtual freedom of each bank party to choose their own start time as they wish, the Slug observed an unprecedented "veteran handicap style" staggered start for the bumps. Also needless to say, this resulted in much fur flying and exchange of blows by handbags with unseemly accusation and counter accusation between crews of the other crew "starting early", the repercussions of which are likely to last for years to come.

    The Slug is curious to know whether this is the first instance of this ever happening in the entire 180-or-so year history of the bumps, and would like to hear if anybody has witnessed such a bumps cock-up before.


    SLUGS AGAINST SEWAGE

    We've all rowed in shit (and frequently with shit), especially those of us who grace the Tideway, but river pollution is something that the rowing world shouldn't simply sit back and take. Everyone has the right to a clean, safe water environment and the right to enjoy that environment, without fear of getting ill. That's the philosophy of Surfers against Sewage a UK based pressure group, who have taken on the UK Government, the Water Industry and the legislators with success.

    The Slug asks that you take the time to check out their web site at www.SAS.org.uk, and consider joining up, for although the group was originally started by Surfers, they're after all river and sea users too. It doesn't cost much, you get loads of stuff and it's one way to do something positive about a problem that effects us all.


    BRITS ABROAD

    Last weekend saw the 2000 Home Countries (that many of you may have already heard so much about) take place in Gent despite the English coach driver oversleeping on Saturday morning... A fine selection of racing followed including an exciting final of the men's VIIIs where the Irish and English had a close race, alas the quality in the English VIII (including superstar rower Ian 'He is too good to row for England' Watson and John 'How much more could the ARA shaft me' Warnock) was not good enough to wrest the gold from the Irish... however all of the VIII's entered managed to give the Welsh a damn good kicking.

    As is traditional, the evening after this event entails a large party where many of the 'athletes' get off their faces (and with each other..?ED) and become very nationalistic. Indeed, thanks to the Irish throwing their beer around, celebrating their VIII's win, the staff at the Gent holiday Inn closed the bar, however, this small setback did not stop three English boys usually seen in blue (Whipper, Rudy and Theo), riding in a glass lift while showing all but a handful of themselves to the assembled group, having 'risen' to a challange set down by the English lightweight women.

    The slug was disappointed to hear that these little lightweights girlies did not keep up their end of the bargain and refused to return the favour. But to keep in the spirit of the event and hold up nationalistic pride, two of the Welsh lightweights (a third girl bottled it when they had to wait for a lift as nature intended) decided that it looked like a good fun game and rode up and down in the matching glass lift, using both hands to help avoid possible over exposure, amidst much cheering from the assembled crowds.

    The slug has also heard rumours that Mary Stevens had an 'eventful evening' after throwing up the lovely food supplied at the Holiday Inn in an unidentified street in Gent, though we were glad to hear she soon recovered with the help of her oversized partner, and they were soon keeping the Chairman of Welsh Rowing awake with their antics...

    Two of the Welsh lightweight four discovered an alternative way of sweating down to the max, when they got trapped in a lift with eight members of the Welsh junior men's team for over an hour and a half, after four guys rushed in and over loaded the lift on the first floor, causing it to stop. Both of these lightweights weighed in lighter than ever before, (there could be something in this...hmmm)

    One report does worry us slightly, as according to those in the near vicinity, Nick 'Superstar Welshman' Wakefield had a couple of hand shaped limpet mines attached to his arse for most of Saturday evening..??


    SNOW'S WHITES

    We could almost feel sorry for Oxford boy Dan Snow, as having one's bodily functions discussed once by the slug is bad enough, but to add insult to injury, the slug has heard cruel whispers that the poor chap suffered from digestive tract problems of a slightly different nature, during the heat of the Visitor's, in which Isis was beaten by UL at Henley Royal earlier this month.

    This time Mr Snow's "mid-race trouble" was less obvious to those watching, though we're sure it added a certain something to the racing experience.

    Rumours that Dan is in fact a member of LRC are as yet unconfirmed...