Ah the joys of New England in the fall, as the rowers come out to play at the Head of the Charles. Despite the hasty withdrawal of The TSS contingent, the slug was pleased to see a healthy GB representation at this year's event, including crews from Black Sheep; Crabtree; Funeral scullers; Boars Head; Free Press (it was actually them this year), Molesey; Upton; Twickenham and a peculiar entry from the University of West England - (aka Bristol Poly). I say peculiar, because subtle investigations prior to the race, revealed that the UWE coach had no knowledge of ANY crew being entered or any clue as to who could be in it. Careful scrutiny of the VIII in question as they passed by, resplendent in Superman shirts, showed them to be using Dartmouth College Blades and the slug recognised at least one of the crew as a Dartmouth Alumni... Now, bearing in mind the events the slug reported on at HRR a couple of year's ago (see here and here), involving certain Dartmouth boys and certain Bristol types...could this perhaps be a form of warped revenge??? All very curious...

The Black sheep boys were in fine form, drinking heavily in preparation for their race and running round their van at traffic lights. One of them even turned up at the press conference sporting a kilt, which resulted in them getting booked for a slot on local Boston breakfast television on Monday morning. The Sheep not only hired a big black van with blacked out windows, but had scored black blades and a nice black boat from the man at Resolute, who'd named it "Missing Ewe" just for them. This reportedly caused a bad case of "black boat envy" from the Crabtree boys, though it didn't stop them putting in a faster time in Championship VIIIs.

Masters events in the USA are not viewed in the same light as on the UK Veteran circuit (ie a temporary distraction to drinking), for, to quote one well known US rowing e-journalist who seriously neglected his beer drinking duties on Saturday night in favour of stroking a Masters VIII on Sunday afternoon "These guys are serious maaaaaaaannnnnn!!!".

A prime example of the art of Masters boat stacking, was demonstrated by Palm Beach RC, Florida, a virtual club which consists mainly of Philly based ex US-Squad members, who may well have never set foot in Florida in their lives.. now re-christened "Ne-Palm Beach - they destroy everything in their path", they easily won the masters IV event and came 2nd in the VIIIs. At the other end of the scale, the Twickenham and Molesey masters IVs battled it out for last place, Molesey winning the honour of coming last, thanks in part to a 20 year head start. The Molesey Vets (in the company of Jonathan "it's not a pig it's a hippo" Steele) were last seen heading down to Florida to check out retirement condos.. errr, I mean, for a training camp.

Special mention is due to Phil "blind date" Vondra who, didn't quite manage to reclaim his 1995 victory in club singles, but achieved a respectable 3rd in the event, the rabbit came fourth after hitching a ride with Rivanna RC member Oli Rosenbladt in his empacher. After the race Oli told the slug "I owe it all to the rabbit, for steering such a perfect course, I couldn't have done it without him" - or words to that effect.

The rabbit has agreed to stay in the US for another week to take part in the Schuylkill in Philadelphia next weekend - (Oli, if you let ed feed the rabbit to his dog, you die...)

Some random pictures from the event are available HERE

The slug watched with increasing amusement as an e-mail war of spectacular proportions came to a head yesterday morning, leaving the air over Henley resembling the aftermath of a bomb in Toys R Us. The subject of this suberb handbags at dawn episode, was that perennial favourite - crew selection for the fours head, at the club known only as UTRC...

Although the run up was entertaining enough, the slug feels it only right and proper to share with you all the following piece de résistance from the keyboard of one Steve "Basher" Bicknell. A gem if ever I read one.

"Recent advances in Bushnellian Logic (The speed of a crew is directly proportional to previous performance and ego size) have prompted me to enter the following quad for the fours head.

Sid Rand (very experienced),
Steve Bicknell (very bloody good)
The late Steven Fairburn (very dead, but won it a few times)
Paul Rogers (Cos he's my mate)

Unfortunately I don't have an ARA number for Steve Fairburn, so I hope this won't cause too many problems. Unlike recent confusions over entries, I can confirm that none of them are still in Australia and none of them have been really awful to me, so on paper this looks like the fastest crew the club can put out.

As the fours head is quite a high profile event (a scratch crew is a fast crew), it would help if you could have the Empacher Quad rigged up on the day and we will turn up and have a bash. Not sure about which kit will be using, but I would advise people to wear stout shoes, a scarf, take a hanky and hip flask as it is liable to be cold.

God save the Queen and Hurrah for the Jolly Sport of Rowing !"

The Slug would like to clarify that it was in fact one Andy "Greener" Green who was planning on retirement and was then spotted stroking a quad down at Tideway Scullers School, not the Hardman as reported. For although Dickie did have a seat in the TSS HOCR crew, quite what he intends to do rowing wise is up in the clouds - especially as he seems to be telling everyone a slightly different story.

Our deep apologies to any women of the Tideway, who many have been traumitised by our erroneous information... and deeper apologies to those who are now even more traumitised by the possibility of Mr Hartmann staying...

Those of you out and about on the Lower Thames may well have noticed that one Mr Richard "coalface speech" Hartmann, has been guesting for Tideway scullers school of late. Yes, for despite Dickie's protestations that he's had enough of rowing and is giving it up, the call of a place in an VIII for the Head of the Charles, was too much to ignore, and the nemesis of many tideway women, headed down to Chiswick to join up and join in the fun.

All was going swimmingly well until last week, when a member of the crew confided a certain something to Scullers Captain Rob Chisholm... that certain something involved, a previous altercation with the US immigration department, something about deportation and the fact that he would probably be arrested on arrival at Logan airport.... (well, it's the sort of thing that can slip your mind when you agree to do a race...)

Er... so the slug can confirm that a somewhat "annoyed" TSS crew will not be appearing in Boston next weekend after all.

As for Mr Harmann? ... he was spotted stroking a TSS quad on the weekend.. perhaps his days aren't numbered just yet...

The London Fire Brigade were on a training exercise on the Tideway last week , when they found an abandoned pair and an upturned launch floating ominously down the river. They later rescued two (living) Kings College rowers and their coach from an projecting tree on one of the Kew islands...

The slug dreads to think what would have happened if the Fire Brigade hadn't been on exercise, though we've been told the coach did have his (soggy?) mobile phone with him...


Sadly it seems likely that Tim Foster may have to knock rowing on the head, as we've heard he's still having trouble with his back and every outing makes it worse... though the slug hopes for Timmy's sake that this is one story that is over exaggerated.

On another note it appears that Tim has been offered the flat above the University of London boathouse, and he may take up residence as a UL coach...

The Slug moseyed on down to Eton at the weekend for an afternoon of wading around in the mud, with the great and the good of the UK rowing world, at the Supersprints. The venue, although only ½ finished at the moment, proved a lot more convenient than the Docks, though one couldn’t help feeling sorry for the residents of Dorney as they watched several thousand cars descend upon their small village, “but rowing’s not supposed to be a spectator sport…” they must have wondered what hit them.

There have been several disputes with the local residents throughout the building of the lake, and the involvement of environmental health meant that the organisers weren’t allowed to turn the tannoy system up very high, this led to a few complaints from those spectators standing more than 10 m from the regatta centre, as they couldn’t hear any of what was being said, but hell, you can’t have everything.

There were a few mutterings in the Elite division about the London RC entry, after they pulled a women’s double out of the bag - not a bad feat for, what’s usually considered, an all male club. However, the main spectator interest was the International races, featuring various Olympic types parading around in their re-cycled Sydney kit. The US men’s pair looked set to cause a bit of an upset and win their final until they were the victims of a particularly vicious crustacean attack about 50m from the finish, conveniently allowing Mssrs Redgrave and Pinsent to pip them to the post. The slug is concerned that the Eton crustaceans appear to be a breeding colony as the other GB 2- were also attacked, this time on the start.

Outside of the racing the best entertainment was to be found in the competitor’s café, in the regatta centre, where we spent many happy minutes watching members of the GB IV- and VIII being harassed by hundreds of children (and one red-head who’s old enough to know better) who wanted everything, from t-shirts to programmes, signed. True to form Tim Foster was happily lapping up the attention smiling and shaking hands like a pro, though Matt Pinsent looked more than slightly irritated at the whole thing, not surprising as every time he tried to sit down and eat something he got mobbed…. Ah, the price of fame…

The slug can reveal that a dangerous collision was narrowly avoided at Hammersmith on Wednesday night. Though quite how the Auriol Kensington IV managed to get so close to the other craft without seeing it is a mystery ...

...especially as the Police boat was showing correct navigation lights and had its searchlight on at the time..

ho hum.

Feelering through the pages of the excellent Steve Redgrave autobiography "The Golden Age" recently, the Slug was tickled to read a portion which in no way makes reference to any Arsesome Foursomes which may or may not have presumed to be faster than our current Olympic champion coxless four.

Reproduced without permission, but credited wholly to the authors Mr Redgrave and Mr Townsend, the book reads (page 176, pp1-2):

"One of the most frustrating things was when we were out on the Thames at Henley, doing our training session. You could guarantee that on different occasions in the year, a crew from another club would come along and try to take you on. They'd be pulling harder and rating higher and "beating" us. It would infuriate me, because I knew we could repel them if we wanted to. I'd have loved to just put them in their place. .......Inevitably, after such incidents, you'd then hear all the stories circulating about "how such and such a crew is faster than Steve Redgrave's" and "we're quicker than the British Four"."
Now, after an incontestably-non-Arsesome Foursome managed to "beat" Mr Redgrave's boat during several pieces, earlier this year, one (fat) individual was heard to declare (to the slug on the telephone), on the matter of their boat being faster: "we know it, and they [Redgrave's 4] know it".

Judging by Sir Steve's own comments, what do you think he "knows" about the gentleman in question??? Answers to the Slug in no more than 50 words, avoiding as many terms as possible that rhyme with tanker, punt, flosser and parse.

Not that I'm one to spread idle gossip, but the slug has heard whispered rumours that, although one particular member of the GB women's squad didn't quite make it to Sydney in a boat, (although we know she was out there, coz we saw her on the telly...) she still managed to get her oar in elsewhere and got pretty close to a Gold medal...

...of the boxing variety..

A latter day Beauty and the Beast perhaps?? though ....

The slug is happy to be able to bring you the last in our short series of Olympic flame photos sent to us by our slug down under. This little gem amply demonstrates the famed Aussie ability to spot a photo opportunity a mile off..

Just CLICK HERE to see.

It would seem that Peter "Smile while you scull" Haining is planning to keep himself busy this year, for the slug has found out that as well as doing the UTRC thang, the blue eyed scotsman has also taken on the role of top squad coach at Westminster School Boat Club on the Tideway...