|DEATHBOAT PROVES ITS WORTH
The much maligned life boat proved its worth on Saturday morning after a coxed four from Parrs Priory Boat Club (a.k.a Nat West Bank) took it into its silly little head to proceed downstream of Putney unaccompanied by a launch, at the top of the tide, in a force 5 gale, on day when even the sailing boats were having trouble staying upright.
At some point, though exactly where is not clear, the conditions got the better of them and they sank. Alerted by a passer by, the rescue services were called as was Chas Newens. Two LRC launches and one TRC Launch, responded and reached the stricken crew, (who by this stage were hanging on to the grab chains just downstream of Wandsworth Bridge) before the Lifeboat. The three rowing club launches were able to pull the oarsmen and their cox from the water as the Life boat arrived on the scene.
By this stage, the Conditions were so wild that it was clear that the coaching launches, now somewhat awash with water, taken on whilst undertaking the rescue, would not be able to return the oarsmen to Putney without risking a further sinking. The soggy rowers were therefore transferred to the lifeboat which preceded, blue lights flashing, back to Putney, leaving the coaching launches, with the assistance of the River Police to pick up the boat and oars and proceed very slowly back to the Hard.
This incident, coming the morning after BBC local news covered the Goodenough College incident, should be an eye opener for those who have questioned the need for the new lifeboat service.
Putting my Safety Slug hat on for a moment, and getting serious, all crews need to be reminded that, once below Putney, there is no safe means of getting out of the water, once the foreshore is covered. Non-Tideway crews should only ever go below
Putney Bridge with a coaching / safety boat in attendance.
|WET AND NEARLY WET
The lifeboat is definitely being much more rower concious in its behaviour on the river, but it appears there is a new successor to the title, a black police inflatable that looks like a leftover prop from a James Bond movie and some of the London boys got a nasty shock recently when they discovered it was heading at them at speed. Making the rather niave assumption that the high powered, highly manoeuvarable craft would avoid them, they had do do some hasty pulling in of blades as the boat shot past about 2 foot from their riggers, just as well, for if they hadn't done so, they would have probably gone swimming with a couple of snapped oars floating in their wake.
Elsewhere on the tideway, well opposite the lifeboat station actually, a LRC four, under the watchful eye of coach Mike Owen tested out the emergency response by performing what looked like a perfect dead roll to the observers on the bank - only problem being that it wasn't intentional.
As they waited in the freezing water expecting the lifeboats to rush to their aid, they were sadly disappointed when er... nothing happened
|LIFE'S A BITCH
Following on from our article on the new Tideway lifeboat and its amazing multitalented wash, it would appear that the men in orange who man the boat are less that impressed with the rowing community on the Lower Thames after but a few weeks on the job.
By all accounts they have already pulled out no less than 26 rowers from the drink in their first month, (though at this point the slug is unclear how many of those they caused to get wet in the first place) but their rescue attempts have not always been welcomed, as several rowers have refused their assistance in a rather impolite manner - one sculler stuck in a tree in the dark apparently told them to "F*uk off and get the F*ck off our river" or words to that effect... (lovely)
As well as this uncharitable behaviour, other complaints revolve around lack of suitable lights on rowing craft (always a favourite of saftey slug) and that old chestnut - the behaviour of certain rowing coaches in their launches. On the side of the "deathboat" drivers, I should point out that even though the design of their craft is not what one would ever refer to as "low wash", they are all qualified power boat drivers unlike most of the tin fish destruction artists accompanying crews of a weekend.
Of course, regardless of the current anonmosity beween the two parties, both appear to be here to stay as the lifeboat is required by our lovely government to be out at specific times. So perhaps the best approach would be to work something out, starting with a meeting with representaives of the Tideway clubs who row in the dangerzone. If we point our issues with them and let them explain what they can do for us, maybe we could come to an "understanding"...
One suggestion is that if they have to be out, that perhaps they should pootle along and moor up somewhere strategic, rather than practising their spot stops at the crossover points... creating a lovely standing wave the size of a house. As the slug has suggested before, it might not be a bad idea to take some of them out sculling, so they can see what it feels like from the other side.
The slug hopes that this is one instance where the Hammersmith Mafia might actually prove that they're worth the 40 quid membership and act as the go between... but I'm not holding my breath.
|IT'S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD...
The slug can already hear the chorus of "I told you so", echoing from rowing clubs up and down the Tideway, after news that the new lifeboat claimed its first victim (shurely that should be rescued ?..ED) last weekend.
Those on the unpleasant end of the boat's wake were reportedly a Goodenough College girls crew (or Goodenough College London Rowing Club to give them their full title) who were out in an IC boat on Sunday afternoon (27th Jan) at the top of a very full tide.
As the new lifeboat hooned past, the eight broke in half and sank, and the girls had to be rescued. Always happy to receive girls in wet t-shirts, the poor sods were welcomed into LRC, and following a hot shower were reported fine, though apparently one was taken to hospital for checks.
Issues of their ability to swim in panic situation not being quite er... goodenough (sorry couldn't resist) apparently arose, but more importantly this doesn't bode well for future oared encounters with the Deathboat
|BOYS ON TOUR
As the boys in blue ready themselves for their titanic battle on Saturday, representing queen and country at the Australia Day regatta in Melbourne, our slugs down under have been feeding back details of their holiday… er I mean training trip.
The fun started on arrival when certain members of LRC encountered problems at Melbourne International Airport. The majority of the party managed to identify the appropriate response to the questions at passport control (ie lied through their teeth), but unfortunately one honest rower decided to declare his malt loaf and was thus subject to excessive security measures until the offending foodstuff could be cleared for entry to the country.
A more sensible approach was adopted by his regular pairs partner, who disposed of his incriminating item by consuming it at baggage reclaim.
Further problems were encountered when two other party members were asked
"Have you been in any non-urban areas in the last 3 months" after some consideration they owned up to participation the the Wallingford Head on the basis that "Well, it's in a field, isn't it?". They were immediately whisked away by panicking officials for instant decontamination.
Soon after arrival the boys hit the Yarra river, dressed even worse than cricket fans or even Australians. Last Thursday the London crew had a hit against a strong looking Mercantile eight in preparation for the big regatta at Lake Wendouree last weekend (site of '56 Olympic regatta) and the Australia Day challenge race on the 26th.
The sight of a big boy's eight with a flag gracing it's bow caused much interest and comment along the boathouse row. "Doesn't that flag look smart" commented one passer by, and, "Who do those wankers think they are?", commented one of the more 'grizzled' elder statesmen of local rowing.
As for the rowing, Downunder Slug was called away for a massage session back in the club and cannot comment. However, many of the single twenty-something girls from his club's women's eight were later heard to mention the fine appearance of the lads in the crew. Apparently the rowing wasn't too bad either.
In general, the local rowing contingent has reported that they've actually been all right, keeping to the right side of the river, and being courteous to other river users - and this is not a wind up! - But the Boys in Blue have however disappointed the locals on three points. The fact that they are not IC and are not wearing camo was disappointing, as was the fact that Reeds seems to have banned them from wearing florals. Also, they've in place of a bow number a small Union Jack. Not the English flag - but the British.
There has also been some media interest in these fine specimens of british lycra-clad lovliness, and after poseing for pictures in a very cold city square they then were made to row in amongst the bateau mouches of Melbourne for another publicity shoot for The Age. The slug has a copy in its in-box, which I’ll post later in the week if I get a chance.
On the racing side the LRC boys raced a few notables at Ballarat on the weekend. At the thousand metre mark of the senior 2x, a Mr Phil Vondra came out with the classic call "Well, ah'm fooked".
The slug presumes this was probably something to do with the fact that they had rowed approximately 1250 metres by this stage, pushing one of their oppo crews from lane 4 into lane 9+. As the Mercantile double was sitting over in lane 2 and for the first time that day holding a straight line, this was rather amusing…
|CONCERNED.. BUT WITH WHAT?
The Quitin / Westminster debacle continues with The poly appearing to resort to what look suspicously like underhand tactics to encourage their unwanted lodgers to move out in the holy name of planning permission.
For the slug has heard that after sending down their "Safety officer" to have a look at the premises, Westminster have boarded up the Quintin boys beloved fireplace as, in their opinion, it's a safety hazzard (well the building could burn down), problem is they won't allow them to replace it with an electric bar fire either, because apparently that's also a disaster waiting to happen.
Despite the resultant cold conditions in the club bar, the QBC posse are still holding out, though as if this wasn't bad enough the slug was gobsmacked to hear that the same over enthusiastic safety officer has also closed down their indoor rowing tank.
"but why dear Slug?", I hear you cry "surely it's not filled with flammable liquid? or have they recently stocked it with pirahana fish?"
Allegedly Westminster have shut down the tank because... wait for it...
"somebody could fall in and drown"
Now apart from missing the obvious fact that THERE'S A F*CK-OFF BIG RIVER NEXT TO THE CLUB HOUSE that a suicidal QBC member could always throw himself into, this does begger the question - what next? - Preventing access to the balcony incase someone jumps off? Closing the bays incase a boat drops on someone's head while they're taking it out?
Or maybe just replacing the whole lot with some nice safe rugby changing rooms...
All for their own good of course.
|CALL THE FASHION POLICE
Ever needed to persuade someone in your crew as to why White lyrca is simply just not a good idea?
Well worry no more, for a picture can speak a thousand words - CLICK HERE
The slug suspects that the RSPCR may have to be called after hearing news of recent cruelty at London Rowing Club.
It seems that LRC head coach, Paul "the impaler" Reedy, has taken his particular brand of training sadism to a new level with the introduction of a killer new abs circuit... which very nearly did.
The circuit, which involves such joyous activities as catching a medicine ball while doing situps, has resulted in one poor individual being unable to row (never mind do anything else) for an entire week. Another victim of the impaler's lastest fad was "the Kranster" who, soon after complaining that his stomach hurt because of the circuit, was escorted off to hospital to have his appendix removed.
When the slug asked Mr Reedy if this heralded a new dawn in rowing torture, he replied
"eh... yeah... I was quite proud of that... eh... I've never ruptured an appendix before..."
get well soon boys...
|CAUGHT ON CAMERA
Readers who like to endulge in rowing voyeurism of a form, will be entertained to find that the FaT boy novices recent "encounter" with Grassy Corner in the Cambridge Winter Head was caught on film. Turn the volume up for the full effect of the "crunch".
(If they send the clip into you've been framed, the 250 quid should cover the cost of a new bow section...)
ah, the wonders of modern technology.
|FAME IS A FICKLE BEAST
It's been a while but the slug has some news from God's own river - the Henley reach...
Picture the scene... it's a weekend morning and Upper Thames are sporting some boats from its hallowed banks, including an eight coxed by a 3 times world champions sculler; a double; and various other craft.
Owing to the fact that the UTRC landing stage is not of gigantic proportions, some of these craft were sorting themselves out a little adrift of the stage (although tucked into the bank).
However, at this very moment, the Henley RC armada were tootling down the river.The usual calls of "look ahead sculler" etc. ensued, however, not wanting to let the opportunity of doing some coaching go by, the blue-eyed cox of the eight, got hold of the microphone on the cox box and used it to direct the crews around him, asking the scullers coming down the river to easy oars whilst the congestion was being sorted out.
All of the Henley crews complied apart from one J15 sculler, who despite repeated requests, continued to paddle down stream, making his way through the stationary boats. Upon approaching the eight, he turned to the one and only Mr. Peter Haining, and uttered the words,
"And you are?....!"
and for once the scotsman was lost for words... though the expression on his face spoke volumes to those watching!
The story continued last weekend, when the Upper Thames eight ( once again carrying its usual cox) and the Henley J15 scullers paddled past. Peter, accepting the joke, called out to them, "And you are?...".
Quick as a flash the J15 sculler responded, "Very well thank you!"...
Henley Juniors 2, Peter Haining 0
News is that FISA has found itself in a very unenviable position, after its main sponsor, Zurich announced a couple of days ago that, as of the end of 2002, it was pulling out of their sponsorship deal...
Like The slug, you may wonder why the people with the chequebook at Zurich have made this decision, after all, in the words of FISA's own executive director, Matt Smith
"Zurich is the perfect partner for rowing, Zurich recognises the essential characteristics required for success in rowing -teamwork, focus, precision and passion - and these actually reflect the company's own core values."
Well, although FISA claim, the loss was because "The transformation of the Zurich Financial Services Group and the associated decentralization of former core competencies was coupled with a revision of the company’s sponsoring strategy", the word coming from Zurich is rather different...
It would seem that the reason that Zurich is citing for completely pulling out of everything, is actually FISA's lack of work in making their main events (ie. those with Zurich sponsorship - like the World Championship regattas) more attractive to attending and TV audiences.
Reports from Switzerland indicate that the turning point was this past spring's World Cup in Seville.... where there apparently were "more athletes than spectators"...
Quite where this leaves international rowing remains to be seen, but now is probably not the best time to persuade large corporates that they really, really want to hand over lots of dosh to rowing. However, regardless of who picks up the bill for the 2003 events, the issues around the viablity of selling rowing as a televised / spectator sport reamain.