The slug has been told that Windsor Boys School Boat Club organised a fundraising dinner for this Saturday, 24th November. Keen to make the event (scheduled to be the main fundraiser for the year) a puller, they managed to book James Cracknell to give a speech at the dinner, to impress and entertain the nice wealthy parents present...

... alas, it seems the poor dear forgot to enter the date in his diary.

Along comes well meaning Beverly Smeverly Fiancee creature, and peeks in his diary. Then like any good and loving girlfriend checks with his coach before booking a surprise DWA (dirty weekend away).

erm.... so exactly three days before hundreds of people are due to decend from all over the counrty for said event, the word is that it has to be cancelled.

Ahhhhh.... who said the life of a celeb was an easy one?

21-11-01FaT BOY SLIME
Overheard from one of the crew of a First and Third (FaT) Trinity boys beginners eight at the Cambridge Winter Head, as they blundered their way by the Slug with a passable impression of an epileptic spider:
"I'm sorry I'm rowing so badly".

(Well they say self knowledge is the first step to enlightenment...)

At least the standard of beginner coxes at Fenland Poly appears to be greatly improved (maybe CUCBC has some purpose and worth after all), as the Slug had to wait until the fifth and final division for some much needed entertainment on a cold and dull November day. It arrived in the guise of yet another FaT boy beginner eight which became the first and only boat of the day to come a cropper and failed to negotiate the infamous Grassy Corner without, ahem, "having to stop for a breather".

Mind you their unique status, wasn't through lack of trying on the part of all the others. Several foreign crews from such rowing luminaries as Imperial College tried their best to carve divots from of the outside bank of Grassy corner with their bowside blades but failed narrowly.

I don't know, put these Tideway coxes on a real river with corners on it, and they can't steer for toffee....

It seems that OUBC weren't the only ones to be nobbled by the organisers of the fours head for changing crew members as IC/Queens Tower II has since been disqualified for rowing with a crew member who was not notified on the entry form.

Interestingly the change only came to light because they were picked for drug testing and this threw up the discrepancy between the person tested and the entry form. The slug wonders how many other last minute changes escaped the organisers' radar, though it's probably a damn site less that there used to be, as the following tale, told to the slug illustrates....

" I rowed bow in a dog-slow Isis four in the 1986 head. We were entered as a Senior C 4+ (that's about a Senior 3 for you youngsters) and duly won the pennant, even starting from the pack of new entries on the slack tide.

However, Mike Royle had to confess to the organisers that we didn't deserve the win, since we "had a Senior B oarsman on board".

What Mr. Royle failed to mention was that we also had two Senior A oarsmen, and NO COX! This was a double advantage since we didn't have one of those little dense gits telling us to pull, and 90% of the coxes were so afraid of the Black Bouy leaping out and biting them that they seemed intent on beaching themselves on Fulham flats. Even my steering managed to pick us up several places on the run-in.

Quite how our shortcomings in the cox department weren't spotted while we were milling around the start amongst the "other" SC coxed fours I will never know. "

ahhh.... those were the days..

The slug has been told that the LRC coaching team is seeking support from other clubs who competed in this year's fours head race, for a change in the starting procedure.

The problem arises because the top 280 odd crews who finish get to keep their place as start position the following year, but there's nothing in the rules to say it has to be the same type or category of boat that gets entered. So a club whose Men's Elite quad finished 10th could next year start their women's s3 IV+ in this position, if that's the only boat they enter...

As a result of this "grandfather rights" approach to the top places, the almost random mix of boat types and catagories at the start is not always conjusive to a safe and fair race. It cannot be safe for Quad Sculls to have to overtake several crews ( coxed fours in particular) before they have even reached Barnes Bridge, particularly when, due to crews waiting for the start, the racing channel is relatively narrow.

Some years ago, the eights head banned front loader boats from their event, on the grounds of safety. This clearly cannot be done with fours, however the same safety concerns apply. The cox cannot, unless advised by one of the crew, know when to move out of the way of a faster crew comming up behind them.

With 550 boats, starting over almost two hours, there can be little corrolation between the conditions for the first boats and the last. The event is as much about the fastest novice coxed four as the winner of the open quad sculls. Under the present start order system, a large reasonably successful club, who believes that its novice four has a chance of a penant, could enter that crew in the slot won for it by a quad in the previous year. This could well give them an advantage, not open to smaller single crew clubs.

The obvious solution to these problems is to have a start order similar to the Pairs Head. That is, crews start in their clubs finishing order within each status and boat class.

What are your views?? Let us know Slug@twrc.org

Following one of their most successful seasons on recent record, Sons women were eagerly anticipating the Fours head, and had even commenced winter training in several crews well before their more traditional starting date of the head itself.

However this looked to have been in vain when they learned, by email, that only one Sen 3 crew would be entered since only 4 or 5 girls were deemed fit and capable of rowing the 4 and a quarter miles of endurance that the Fours Head requires.

Following some entertaining (for those less involved) email correspondence and bar conversations, another Sen 3 crew was entered, but accompanied by dire warnings that the race would prove "a very unpleasant experience" for them.

The slug can only presume this was clearly an inspired motivational tactic on the part of the coaches, for - the 'unfit' crew came 3rd in class, comfortably beating the other crew who came 5th.

Comments that the younger, blonder status of the 'fit' crew might have had something to do with the selection policy are (of course) totally unfounded.

Those interested in more details of Oxford's exploits last weekend, should read the articles about it on the boatrace site, the first of which includes provisional times pre-disqualification..

Details of what happened HERE

and Sean has a grovel HERE

The weather at the fours head on Saturday was a stark contrast to the conditions that resulted in last years event being cancelled. A bright sunny day, even the wind stayed down, resulting in pretty much perfect conditions and good water along most of the course. Predictably, there were still some clashes, not least the Wycliffe Sculling Centre Junior quad who tried to take out a marshalls launch on the way to the start and lost their bow ball in the process.

Indeed the marshalls launches appeared to be providing most of the excitment... as they were going a float at Chiswick Pier house the comment "doesn't that launch look a bit low in the bows" was heard, just before the launch in question sank... leaving a couple of soggy, and rather embarassed officials (you know who you are) and apparently another launch overturned near Quintin before the race started.

The slug was interested to see that our current national rowing treasures made an appearance sitting at stern pair in a Leander COXED four...and although rumour has it that pulling some "dead weight" down the course was something that neither of them was particularly happy about, their crew still managed to win the Elite Coxed IV event, beating all the coxless fours entered in the process and coming 12th overall.

Those looking at the fours head results as an early indicator of form for the boatrace, will have noted a strong showing from the light blue contingent though there's still a long time till march and Isis 1; 2 and 6 are nowhere to be seen in the results, after they were disqualified for swapping too many bodies around in crews at the last minute - can anyone shed any light?? )

Looking at more local rivalries, both Thames and London had large numbers of crews in the event and both had good results... the slug is waiting for the Boustead Cup grudge match this year with quivering anticipation. The Thames wimmin again stamped their authority on top level sweep rowing, winning the elite coxed and elite coxless events.

The provisional results were later coming out this year and were greeted by the usual "these timings are wrong, we passed the crew infront, yet this says they got a faster time than us". There is usually an element of truth in these mutterings but don't underestimate the problems with trying to work out times for 600 odd crews who are quite often not arriving at the start line in numerical order... There must be an easier way??

The after race parties were at the usual drunken level, TRC were operating a strict "if your name's not on the list you ain't getting in" policy though they had to close a little early after some idiots were spotted by the police, using a ladder to climb in through the balcony. Crabtree ran out of beer, (which never does a party much good) and the LRC party was heaving, (all down to the purple boys sporting lovely purple hair I'm sure).

Finally quote of the day has to go to one of the marshalls who, commenting on the sunny but cold weather announced:
"My wife keeps telling me to put more clothes on"

Never a good sign in a marriage...

The slug has been told that Quintin may have to leave their beloved clubhouse soon, as they've been told by the owners and co-habitants of the building (The university of Westminster) that they have to get out by May 2002.

Quite where this leaves QBC nobody knows. It's also unclear if UW are planning to lease it to another rowing club or keep it all to themselves. Not a pleasant situation for their committe to sort out, though I'm sure club captain Richard White is hoping that it is sorted by the time he finshes rowing the Atlantic...

Any clubs on the Tideway got a problem with pigeons??

During a recent training trip to a London Rowing Club secret training location, one member of the squad announced at Dover that he had er... "not been able to find his passport".

After much begging and grovelling with a P&O supervisor along the lines of....
"my crew mates will emasculate me with a blunt and rusty potato peeler if you don't let me travel"

he was allowed through... on the basis of his ARA membership card and his birth certificate.

So perhaps Mafia membership is of some use after all!

Strange mutterings from the hedge at Putney...
The great club in Red, Black and White is known for having many different facets to the coaching team of its female section, but recent events have been seen by some, if not many, to take the biscuit...

Last year the coaching team at the palace of Red, Black and White contained:

  • an Old Bloke,
  • a small pink schoolboy,
  • an ex boy in blue,
  • a guy from Fenland Poly, and they all worked under the guidance of
  • the constantly capped - but not always available coach.

    Oh! yes and a certain notorious female sculling coach, well... according to the launch drivers poll...

    Following the successes of last year, the usual shift around of coaching took place at the start of the new rowing year, and ...after the retirement of the constantly capped coach and the ex boy in blue returning, (albeit very briefly) to rowing, the small pink schoolboy took a much more serious role than last year, with the support team of an old bloke and the guy from Fenland Poly.

    But apparently the guy from Fenland Poly felt that his talents - honed in a year of coaching experience - meant that he deserved more than he was being offered and he wanted to play with the big girls now being attended to by the female sculling coach (who likes to have a deadweight to keep the front of her launch in the water, for extra wash), rather than the slightly smaller girls to whom he had been assigned to.

    After a hard weekend keeping the front of a launch in the water the guy from Fenland Poly circulated an e-mail stating that, due to a difference of opinion with the small schoolboy in pink, he would no longer be coaching the slightly smaller girls but would become a permanent fixture in the big girl's launch - to keep the bows in the water, and make sure the notorious female sculling coach, wins the launch drivers poll ahead of the boys in blue own Ginger Woolly Mammoth.

    This is of course the prerogative of the guy from Fenland Poly... fast tracking to the role of launch weight, rather than getting hands on experience and working his way through the ranks like most other coaches have had to... But the small pink schoolboy knew nothing about this disagreement and only found out about the decision via the e-mail that was circulated to the slightly smaller girls.

    The small pink schoolboy is still somewhat confused by the decision.

    The rest of us however realise that the guy from Fenland Poly had probably found his optimum use... as a deadweight in a launch.

    LAUNCH DRIVER POLL 2001/2002
    Who\'s been washing you down?
    IC - Scooter
    IC - Mason
    IC - other /unknown
    LRC - Gonzo
    LRC - Reedy
    LRC - other / unknown
    TRC - Hawes
    TRC - Duncan
    TRC - Millar
    TRC - other / unknown
    TSS - Dave the wave
    TSS - other / unknown
    AK - Bedford
    AK - Wilde
    AK - other / unknown
    Tradesmen - Tinkler
    Tradesmen - other / unknown
    Putney Town

    Current results
    Thank you all for sending in your nominations for those to be included on the 2001/2002 bad launch driver's poll, which is now open for voting. Some of the comments sent in with the nominations are too lovely not to share, so I have included a selection for your enjoyment...

    You can vote for more than one guilty party, so make your selection and get voting!

  • "Mr 'I-have-no-choice-but-to-wash-you-down' Furnivall - aka Mr "Even-though-I-am-following-the-slowest-boat-on-the-river-at-the-current-tim e-I-am-going-to-use-max-throttle" Coaching Man"

  • "thanks for the launch driver malarky, except you failed to point out that Mason also washes down the FEMALE crews of his own club"

  • "I wish to nominate a launch driver from Royal Free Hospital Boat Club who was out with a men's eight on the Tideway on Saturday Morning around 10.00. He washed me down twice - once by the pier at Kew Bridge whilst approaching the inside arch. I was in a single scull and his wash threw me dangerously close to the pier before I could regain total control of my boat and then he drove away with no acknowledgement to my shout. Then approaching the barges I had the misfortune of catching him up by the barges where he and the eight were stationery - he then moved off and swamped me completely - my boat was so full that I had to carefully scull to the bank and empty it out - again no acknowledgement of regret or offer of help on his part."

  • "Any launch from Emmanuel School should be avoided like the plague - they have no respect and consideration for any crew or sculler except their own pupils - I have been washed down numerous times by them whilst in my scull and never a backwards glance let alone an apology"

  • "Those drivers to be praised include Richard Tinkler of Thames Tradesmen who thinks about what he is doing and its effect on other boats and is polite and friendly. Also an unknown launch driver from Latymer Upper School who apologised on the spot for his slight wash when passing."

  • "Top of my nominations is Scooter (IC) who did an impressive job of washing me down the other day while following some dog slow IC birds in 4's and 2x's."

  • "Has to be Gonzo. He actually washed me down last weekend..... I was in a launch."

  • "Dont know his name but there is that grey haired tw*t from Sons or the great Bill Barry. "

  • " It's good to see AK up among the big boys of London, Thames and IC, however it's not just Wilde who drives a launch. Bedford (Giles) should also be nominated, especially as unlike the others, he washes down his own club rather than the oppo."

  • "It's been a while since I left the tideway, but while I was there, Mostyn? Field, freshman coach at UL, had to be one of the worst launch drivers! I don't know if Mr. Field is still coaching at UL or not, but if he is, I seriously doubt his driving skills will have improved! "

  • "Anybody driving that wooden hulk "Beaujolais" from TRC (it should be torched). "

  • " Dave "the wave" Cowell (Tideway Scullers) has something of a reputation for, well, waves. Can't fault IC enough though for a long service award when it comes to producing wash."

  • " Whoever it is that drives the launch with Natwest on the side - I think it is Dulwich college? Either a) driving up the middle of the river stopping and starting to permanently wash down everybody, b) zipping up and down not apparently coaching anybody."

  • " I was in a 4- chugging along past an A-K sculler who was likewise suffering from Wilde's enormous surf and looked plaintively at us as we flopped over the breaking rollers and said "Don't take it personally - he washes his own club down as well" "

  • " Tessa " I bet I can get out and churn up the water no matter what time you get up" Miller (TRC) "

  • " Scooter "I'm a Gonzo in training" (IC) "

  • " ANY LAUNCH FROM LONDON. Who would have thought such a small watercraft could generate such a mountain of rolling wash that could threaten even the most stable 8 on the tideway? This is not just a rumour, but personally experienced.......... "

  • " Giles Bedford (AK) - even washes his own crews down....."

  • " Furnival are becoming a bit of a menace - what with their new found prediliction for doing pieces inside the boats at Putney and their launches following them ..."

  • " Leggett (CUBC) - May only be around for a few weekends a year but is still enough of a menace to last the whole year round."

  • "Tinkler (Tradesmen) - At least I think it's Tinkler. Drives a complete bathtub/tank thing and has nearly rammed me. Twice. "

  • "I still think Gonzo wins though. Its the cheery wave he gives you as he sends huge volumes of water in your direction. "

  • "there has been an early morning consensus, that TSS coach Dave Cowell should be added to the worst launch drivers poll. He not only washes down most of the tideway, but members of his own club!! Outrageous!! "

  • "I'd like to nominate Reedy for 'best show of consideration' for using the back of Chiswick Eyot instead of washing us down in singles the other morning (I know - a fairly rare occurence, but he did confess the new tactic when I tackled him on the subject)."

  • "I have to say that Tinkler and Smallbone form TTRC despite sounding like East Enders extras are quite the most polite launch drivers on the river. So for positive marks on the poll they should score highly. "

  • " I would like to nominate 'Dave Cowell' from Tideway Scullers, the club mens coach, who has an ability to upset many a coxswain/rower/coach/sculler from another club from his 'wash'.!!...In fact he also has the innate ability to wash down scullers from his own club, leaving behind him a 'tumultuous wake of white water rapids' for any poor sculler/rower to endure. He also has the great ability to wash 8's down.....something many have tried, but sometimes fail! "

  • " i vote for Gonzo, based on an amusing incident last week: I wasout sculling at 6.10am along with the band of nutters who frequent that time of day. Had just paddled past an LRC pair coached by Gonzo, who had his megaphone switched to 'Full Blast'. I was just chuckling to myself whilst reflecting how loud his megaphone was (the sound was reverberating off the buildings either side) when a resident of Harrods depository (now posh flats) opend the window and yelled at him to turn it down - I don't think he heard. I then got to wondering (as I wound my way along the Thames) whether the Estate Agents' sales particulars for the said posh flats would have made any mention of rabid coaches, nutty rowers and the like...."