It's amazing what starts to surface when one starts stirring... re the article on the Tideway navigation rules, a little birdie has told the slug that the rule changes are not in fact the brainchild of the PLA, because the Thames Regional Rowing Council have been asking for these changes for the last two years. Specifically the chair, Richard West and Safety Adviser Alan Hawes. The changes have apparently been discussed at the last five TRRC meetings and there are those who seem to think that the Div Reps are to blame for the lack of knowledge in the rowing community, for not attending the meetings.

So it would appear that we should avoid placing blame on the PLA for changes originating in the rowing community. It is, after all, not the PLAs fault that our sport has a Byzantine organisational structure which is incapable of any meaningful consultation...

ho hum

12-04-02 CROSS WORDS
"When you go down to the river today, you're in for a big surprise..."

...or rather you may be on the 1st May if the Port of London Authority has its way and implements its recently published changes to the Tideway navigation rules. Those of you who row on the Tideway (no matter how infrequently), who aren't already aware of what the PLA want to put in place in a couple of weeks time, can see all the details on the Notice to Mariners issued on 2nd April. (click on the map to the right for summary)

The changes have come as a complete surprise to most of the London rowing community, so its hardly surprising that the slug's little twitchy feelers are picking up rumbings of not too distant thunder about the safety implications; not only of moving the crossing point at Putney to UPSTREAM of the bridge - which increases the liklihood of inexperienced crews being swept onto and under Putney Pier, but also the new crossover point at Brentford, which anyone with any experience of trying to row round the bend at Syon house in the wrong tide conditions will confirm means that Isleworth Ait is primed to turn into a boat graveyard.

Now you would expect (hope?) that, as our representative body, the Hamersmith Mafia would have been consulted, and indeed the slug has been assured that both Tommy Thomson and Alan Hawes were involved, to what level I don't know, but bearing in mind they are both Tideway men of some experinece, it seems incomprehensible that these changes, which can shurely only serve to increase the level of risks to rowers, have gotten through without more resistance.

Oh well, I suppose it'll make sure the lifeboat is kept 'busy'...

watch this space.

12-04-02 A VALID POINT
As it's that time of year again, UK readers should take note that the ARA have changed the maximum point allocation for S2 and S3 events, the idea being (sensibly) to have more of a progression from novice through to S1, as last year quite a few crews went very quickly from racing at S4 to having to compete at S2.

The new point structure, which came into effect this month (April 2002) is reproduced below (changes in red), so make sure you're entering at the correct level dearies...

Status Level 8 o/x 4 o/x 2 o/x 1 x
Elite no limit no limit no limit no limit
Sen. I 64 32 16 8
Sen. II 40 20 10 5
Senior 3 16 8 4 2
Senior 4 4 2 1 0
Novice 0 0 0 0

A kind individual has pointed out to me that a video of Richard and Judy's pre boatrace guff can be found at: www.ucbc.org.uk/randj/randj.mpg

It's a large download (15mb) so probably not advisable on a modem

09-04-02 DARE TO BARE?
In the words of a friend of mine - "that dutch bloke's been putting pictures of naked people up again"


you wouldn't catch anyone doing that at BUSA....brrrr

With arses still smarting from their total thrashing at the Henley races, Cambridge University's thin blokes squad departed for a training holiday in Portugal hoping to cheer themselves up a bit.

Having parted with lots of hard-to-come-by student cash, the CULRC boys were looking forward to the promise of accommodation in their own rooms; good quality eights to borrow, and excellent training facilities.... But on arriving it appeared that someone had seen them coming and done a runner with the cash.

Accommodation turned out to be - "sleeping on the floor" in two table tennis rooms, plus a room with one single bed for the two coxes to share (mmmm cosy...). The "excellent" rowing facilities - advertised as 5 minutes walk away, were much more than that even by road. On top of that the minibus disappeared after 2 days so they had to catch the bus.

The rowing club consisted of a Rocky style gym in a concrete basement, positioned on top of a sewage works with a raw sewage outflow next to the pontoon (what a lovely image...ED). The only boats to borrow were a very shabby eight and coxless four. After each outing the boats had to be washed vigorously to remove the indescribable brown froth from them. The river itself was also a major commercial route with tankers ploughing up and down all day.

So they took to the water, not exactly happy but hoping to make the best of a bad situation. On one practise piece, Ness, the lightweight blue cox, was caning it along rating in the 40s alongside the zigzagging coxless 4....and er.... heading straight for a great big f*ck off channel marking buoy. A bit of twittering between coach and reserve cox in the following launch,
"Do you think she has seen it? What do you think? Shall we say someth....?"
followed by CRUNCH!!!!

"HOLD IT UP" comes the scream - with flailing arms from the bows by which time the buoy has already reached the 6 man, and the boat written off in great style.

But the loss of the eight was not the killer blow in itself for the training camp, since the boats became somewhat unnecessary. For after living on rice cakes and 10 calorie soups for the last few months, the disgusting greasy slop being dished out as food did not exactly help their well-being. It would come as no surprise that after a couple of days one of the guys got diarrhoea. The sickness spread, and by the 4th day the first man was being flown home. Cox Ness succumbed, and after being in bed for 30 hours was flown home too. The poor thing is still sick and has lost 4kg.

The skinny boys dropped like flies until there were only 5 men still fit enough to do the training, who thus flew back prematurely too.

Thin blokes coach Adrian Cassidy, under fire from Fenland Poly students after the Henley results, for his alleged poor organisational ability, is reported as being "not overly impressed" by the results of the training camp....

oh dear...

Picture the scene, it's a couple of days before the boatrace and with the usual media machine grinding into top gear, it's not overly surprising to find that even Richard and Judy have felt the need to get in on the act.

How bad could it have been? well think bad, think VERY bad... then multiply it...

for your enjoyment I have replicated the following transcript from Rec Sport Rowing, I forget who posted it - someone with far too much time on their hands, clearly, but very funny and worth the read... (chiz whoever you are)

Richard and Judy are on their sofa, James Cracknell is on an adjacent one. The others are on the hard at Putney, and shown on a big TV next to Richard.

Richard: ".One of the closest races ever. With us here we've got British Olympic rower and all-round hero, James Cracknell. I must shake your hand young man."

JC: "Thank you."

Judy: "Why?"

Richard: "Why??"

Judy: (laughing) "Because he's big and brown?"

Richard: "Because he's a hero! Oh yeah, that's right, I'm shaking hands with a guy because he's big. What must they think down at the Thames listening to this?"

Judy: "I'm sorry, I don't know anything about boats."

Richard: "Excuse my wife. But first we're going to go straight to the banks of old father Thames and meet this year's coxes and crewsies. Speaking for Cambridge is the president of their blues, Tom Stallard, and their cox, Ellie Griggs. And bigging it up for Oxford is their cox, Peter Hackworth, and their president Ben Burch. Hello everybody!"
(deathly hush. Someone in Putney tells them to say hello)

T,E,P&B: Hello.

Richard: "What's the weather forecast for tomorrow look like? Can somebody tell me? Um, Ben is it going to be nice? Sorry, for Saturday. Is it going to be nice?"

Ben: "I think it's going to be quite nice. There'll be a bit of wind but hopefully not too rough. And it should be a good race."

Richard: "Right. Now. I understand that Ellie and Pete, the two coxes standing in the middle of you there, did you have some kind of, um, relationship in the past?"

Ellie: "Who's that question directed to?"

Richard: "You."

Judy: "You."

Richard: "Um, Ellie."

Ellie: (hand on hip, looking rather bored and cold) "Yeah, we were friends from when we were 15, but nothing more than friends."
(both look distinctly uncomfortable)

Richard: "Although, and I won't push this, but we want to get an edge in to this race on Saturday, I understand that Pete, you were very keen on Ellie, weren't you?"

Pete: "Sorry, what's that?"

Richard: "You were very keen on Ellie, I was given to understand."

Pete: (everyone in studio is laughing, so's Ellie) "Well, uh, at an early age I was vaguely attracted to Eleanor, but nothing more than a friendship now, so, it's not really part of the focus for Saturday."

Judy: "Now, can you just tell me, and I don't know anything about boating, but obviously as coxes."

Richard: "Boating?"

Judy: "Boating. Obviously as coxes."

Richard: "Rowing I think."
(James Cracknell laughs)

Judy: ".you two are much smaller and slighter than the rest of the team. Now why? Why is that?"

Ellie: "Wellll. we don't actually. we just sit there, so in effect we're dead weight. We don't pull our own weight."

Judy: "Riiiiight"

Ellie: "So there's no point in us being heavier."

Richard: "Ellie, I don't think Judy actually know what you do."

Judy: "Yeah, what DO you do? What is your function on the boat?"

Ellie: "Pete, do you want to take that one?" (laughing)

Pete: "Um. well. well. although we slow the boat down the aim is really to minimise that by steering a really good course. On the Tideway during the race, it is a bendy river, and tactics do come in to it, and if we steer the course well, then we can give our crew a slight advantage."

Richard: "I must apologise for my missus."

Judy: "That's it. I won't say anything else now."

Richard: "That's rather like asking a goal-keeper isn't is, why are you allowed to touch the ball with your hands and the other players can't? You know what a cox does!"

Judy: "No I don't! Not really."
(James Cracknell is sitting on the sofa laughing at them)

Richard (to Pete): "We'll come back to you in a second. We'll talk a bit more about the race. Let's have a chat with you (James). It's funny that the world does divide in to 2 camps, people who don't understand boating as my wife so genteely put it."

Judy: "I like watching it!"

Richard: ".and those who watch it with a passion which is what people like you have encouraged. Do you think enough people follow the sport yet?"

James: "The sport as a whole or the boat race?"

Richard: "Both."

James: "I think people follow the boat race because it's been around for 170 years and people either support one or the other, or just turn up and watch them race through London. Whereas rowing at the Olympics has obviously been brought up and up every four years as Steve's won his medal right through from '84 to 2000. It's growing every time. It's better now that the boat race is associated with Olympic rowing as one sort of sport rather than it just being seen as an institution and nothing to do with what we do at the Olympics."

Judy: "What's the attraction for someone like you? You're obviously extremely fit, you could do all sorts of different athletic things. Why do you love boating so much?"

Richard: "Rowing."

Judy: "Rowing."

James: "I'll let the boating slide. um. I used to play a lot of sports when I was younger. No matter how many times I tried to play football or bounce a ball on my head I was sort of limited by talent, whereas rowing I found once you've got a decent physical make-up, the more you practice the better you get and you can see the effort you're putting in being rewarded."

Judy: "It is a talent isn't it? It's not just brute strength. It is a talent."

James: "Yeah, you've got to have the strength and then work on your technique to make sure you can use your strength as much as possible."

Richard: "I must say, you've got arms like a tree. Do you do any extra exercises to work out or is all that coming from rowing? They say rowing exercises virtually the whole body anyway."

James: "It is a total body workout. Because it's an endurance sport we get the chance to run, cycle, cross-coutry ski."

Richard: "Build up stamina."

James: ".so we can do a whole variety of stuff as well so that keeps it interesting."

Richard: "I think Judy has another piercing question for the boat crews." Judy: "No I'm not. I'm saying, you're obviously, are you all quite good friends? You lot, in real life. The rivalry's confined to the rowing, is it?"

Richard: "The boating."

Tom: "Yeah, we do know each other from university and from national team rowing as well, so we are all quite good friends, but not so much this week."

Judy: "Who d'you think's going to win then?" (laughing) Judy: "Well, why not?"

Richard: "Go on then, you tell us first Ben."

Ben: "I'm sorry, I didn't hear that."

Richard: "Judy's asked the question that's on the nation's lips tonight. Who 's tipped to win on Saturday? Oxford first, you tell us first."

Ben: "Who's tipped to win? I'm not sure who's tipped to win. I think, we're going to obviously put in our best performance and hopefully that's good enough for us to win the race, but I'm sure that's exactly what Cambridge are planning."

Richard: "Yeah well, Cambridge? Have you got anything to add to that?"

Tom: "Well, our aim's obviously to beat them as well so I'd say we were tipped to win."

Richard: "OK. Well, we'll be watching with tremendous interest. I hope you have nice weather for it. Thank you very much for coming out tonight, and the very best of luck."

Judy: (to James) "You've been rowing with them this last week or so."

James: "Yeah, I've been out in both boats."

Judy: "What do you think?"

James: "They're very, very different. The Oxford are more aggressive, and

Cambridge probably longer and relaxed. So I would say Oxford may be ahead to start with, then Cambridge."

Richard: "Cambridge might (lots of hand-waving)."

James: "I think it's the one that has the Surrey bend, there's a big bend in the middle. I think the one that has the inside there is, probably, the favourites. There's a toss at about 1:30 and I imagine that either Ben or Tom, whoever wins that, they'll choose the Surrey side."

Richard: "But it'll be too late to bet then. Come on, if you had to."

James: "Can they hear me?"

Richard: "Yes of course they can!"
(James makes "not saying anything then" gestures)

Richard: "Who are you going to put money on?"

James: "Who'm I going to put money on? I think um. I can't say now!"
(people at Putney all laugh)

Judy: "No, you might demoralize them."

Richard: "Oxford have got a hard habit to break- they've only won once in the last 9 years."

James: "Umm. umm. good luck!"

Richard: "All right guys. Thanks very much for being there. It looks beautiful down there where you are."

Judy: "Lots of luck."

Richard: "Lots of luck."

Judy: "You shouldn't give me any items on sport! Anyway."


Readers of the The slug may be interested to know that after the light blues historic drubbing at Henley last weekend the CUCBC web site has been (not surprisingly) rather busy with comments about the defeats.

Under the sub topic of 'Henley races', the conversation got more and more heated and, looking for a scapegoat, centered on the ability of the coaches and the squad organisation, with people demanding that the coaches be sacked, when lo and behold - mysteriously (and dare I say, conveniently), the server went off line for a day and half...

It wasn't long before the rumour that it had been pulled to let everyone calm down, started doing the rounds, and sure enough as of Wednesday it has sprung back to life...

... with sub topic of Henley races missing !

What the slug will add, is that those on the receiving end would be wise to realise that just because it's no longer there, doesn't mean that people have stopped thinking it...

26-03-02 WELL I NEVER
The slug has heard a little bit more about the naked antics of the Robert Gordon university crew (see the article on nekkid rowing below).

For, faithful reader, we have heard rumours that that their "exposing it all to the elements" antics caught the attention not just of the BBC but also of a German porn channel who approached them afterwards, asking if they would repeat the exercise but without the use of flesh coloured pants and strategically placed band-aids.

Alas (or is that luckily - ED), it appears that the kind offer of "sponsorship" was declined, probably just as well as an unforseen cold front, may have lead to diminishing er..... interest.

There was an unusual full dark-blue-wash in Henley on Sunday, as Oxford beat Cambridge soundly in all of the other cuppers races, from skinny boys through to the big girls, the Oxford contingent were smiling broadly as they won every race. Fast conditions led to some good times and the lightweight girlies only finished a second slower than Osiris.

The media's attention will of course be focused on the 'main event' next weekend, especially now as Oxford have a chance of making their first clean sweep ever. The slug hopes Oxford coach Sean Bowden will be up on his feet again in time for the event, as Sean put his back out recently while on a skiing trip... dangerous business skiing, isn't it Sean- especially lacing those boots up...

The most amusement that can be found on the banks of the Thames at the end of March, came in the surprising form of the Henley boat races Official programme, which the slug was intrigued to discover, included the'ambitions' of the crew members... a lot of these were lame in the extreme (it appears the London marathon and the world travel market may see a boom from the ex-rowing sector soon) but some of them are worthy of note for their "pass the bucket" quality.

Reproduced for your amusement:

  • To become a successful doctor with a fit wife, five wonderful children and maybe a jag
  • To row so hard I bleed from my mouth (er.... yeeeesssss...ED)
  • To work for JP morgan
  • Whatever I do, to do it all for the glory of god
  • To dream like I'll live forever, live like I'll die today
  • to make meaningful contributions to the development of science in my future career
  • to make the most of each and every opportunity and to push myself above and beyond my abilities and see where I end up
  • oooh I feel like I've fallen into a self-help book...

    25-03-02FUN IN THE SUN
    Over 400 crews made it out for Saturday's head of the river race, which saw a nicely stacked Leander crew assert their dominance over the rest of the field, coming in an impressive 21 seconds ahead of the rest and putting to an end their recent run of taking 2nd place to QT in the event.

    Last year's winners Queen's Tower lost the advantage of setting off in top spot, after de-affiliating from the Mafia, (as IC is now an open club so the no longer need a separate identity). The resultant IC crew, which sported a few familiar faces, started 7th and finished 3rd losing out to Brookes by a couple of seconds - Brookes showed the strength of their current squad by also managing to place their second crew 12th in the event.

    London failed to get a crew in the top 10 for the first time in quite a few years, not helped by the Irish and European crews returning to the starting order (after missing last year due to the foot and mouth scare). One surprise show in the top 10 was Aberdeen Boat Club, later spotted out partying in force at the Thames party resplendent in kilts.

    Another result that raised a few eyebrows was the Henley RC crew that came 39th, as on closer inspection it became apparent that HRC have been "widening their catchment area" as the boat appeared to be stacked with a selection of "OUBC-would-bes" picked fresh, from a selection of Oxford colleges.... hmmmm

    The conditions, though windy, were nothing compared to those at the women's-head-that-wasn't, so luckily there are no sinkings to report. The slug did hear that one of the Molesey crews had a bit of a rigger-incident on the way to the start but, apart from that, everything seems to have gone smoothly and in the slug's view, the race committee's change to the way start places are allocated to new crews is to be applauded.

    There was plenty of comedy rowing on show in the lower divisions (for those who can bear to watch) and the usual range of hideous lycra and strange boat decorations. The slug was particularly intrigued by the Clare college crew who were sporting a pot plant in their bow number... a lucky-yucca perhaps?

    The post race parties at Putney were heaving, as the early race time this year obviously left plenty of opportunity for pre-party alcohol consumption... some individuals being in a worse state of wear than others as the night moved on (you know who you are). TRC are now operating a strict if-your-name's-not-on-the-list-you-ainít-getting-in policy on the door at all parties, which resulted in long queues outside London. Inside, the purple boys were running round in, er... camouflage paint, (or was it bad fake tan?) and one of the ladies toilets got pulled off the wall - the slug suspects the culprit must have been pretty upset with her finish position...

    The final finish order for the event can be found HERE.
    A few piccies to follow soon.