|NO REST FOR THE WICKED|
London RC entered 15 crews in the Royal this year, 14 of which made it to the main party, their Brit 'C' crew being the only one failing to qualify (just as well with the total LRC entry fee approaching the thousand pound mark). They also had representation in 2 other crews, including top Scottish rower Martin "steely-eyed Scotsman" Harris having a stab at the Goblets with another, little known, Scottish veteran lightweight.
The result of this mammoth entry, was several very tired coaches, who spent the first few days running or cycling up and down the bank, sitting in umpire launches, giving pep talks and gagging for a spare 5 minutes to down a pint of Pimms. Unsurprisingly certain London coaches were running around more than others, and Tam could be heard muttering expletives, after Dan Topolski, writing in the Independent, described Paul Reedy as "the busiest man in Henley" for sitting in the boat tents all day...
By Sunday, there was only one LRC crew left, racing Aberdeen BC in the final of the Wyfronts. The Aberdeen crew, which is shaping up as a rather tasty Scottish commonwealth boat, won the race convincingly to the delight of the Scottish rowing community, as it was the first time a Scottish club has ever won at the Royal (the LRC boat also had 3 Scottish rowers in it but they're trialing for the English commonwealth squad)
The ABC crew are also worthy of note because of their current sponsors... no, not some wealthy Scottish oil company but the somewhat apt presence of Prime Scottish Pork....
The slug has been assured that Pork is actually more appropriate than beef, as 70% of all Scottish Pork production happens round the Aberdeen area (?!?) so now you know. It also meant the ABC boys were racing in a boat with "www.getporky.com" emblazoned on the sax boards - sounds dubious, but it's definitely safe for access at work - just check out that picture on the front page... (I know someone who'll have it on her wall soon, and it won't be the pork she's drooling over...(grin))
|LITTLE AND LARGE|
There was a flurry of excitement in the press camp on Wednesday, when they realised the Lea crew in the Thames cup contained the largest ever oarsman to compete at Henley.
Craig Burrows, weighed in at an impressive 19st 3lbs (and it looked like most of it was muscle), though their coach, told us that he'd been 23 stone when he turned up at the start of the season...
The Lea boat also claimed the lightest competitor in the event - their 9yr old coxn, who is a tiny 6st and had to steer from the buoys as he couldn't see round the stroke man. The crew, which is fairly inexperienced (having started the year at Novice and progressed to S3), wasn't asked to qualify, possibly because the Stewards realised it would generate good media attention. They did however, to their credit, get through one round, only to lose out to the Germans of Homberger RK.
Ah well, there's always next year, he should be down to 17st by then...
|BARE KNEES AND PINK FACES|
Surely standards were slipping in the Stewards enclosure this year, as the slug even spotted a woman wearing trousers on Wednesday . The usual no of bare knees also made it past the gate monitors, though we did see one woman turned away, unimpressed with the suggestion that she could always buy a new outfit in Henley.
It can only be a matter of time until someone sets up a stall selling long skirts at the entrance. However, the slug did hear of one person who was kicked out of the Fawley bar despite wearing a skirt below the knee… Possibly because the rower in question was a man (rumoured to be one of the Kingston RC posse).
There were Pink faces in the Floating Stand at 11:56 on Friday, just before the heat of the Thames Challenge Cup between Leander and Thames. When the sound of a forbidden mobile phone ringing was heard, only to be answered by one Jurgen Grobler, trying desperately to hide it from the assembled company who had all turned to stare directly at him.
The reaction of the Stewards was swift, with Jurgen being told that even he was not above the rules of HRR.
The situation clearly threw the entire commentary team (mainly composed of Thames supporters) off kilter, as they subsequently announced that Thames had "increased their lead" rather than their rate of strike, although Leander were clearly leading by this point!
This occurred shortly after the throng of Thames members had cheered
Guin Battenacross the finish, in the Princess Royal Challenge Cup by shouting "Well rowed Thames!"
Jurgen exited quickly, following both Leander victories, with those left on the Floating Stand chuckling over his embarrassment.
|BUT IS IT ISOTONIC?|
It appears that, after their recent telling off at Docks for peeing over the side of the boat, the Thames boys were taking no chances at Qualifiers. Indeed so scared were they, of the wrath of the Stewards, some of the boys in red white and black, were spotted relieving themselves at the start - - into their waterbottles...
The slug can only hope they see fit to purchase new ones before their next outing.. eeugh.
Elsewhere in Thames land, the toys have been flying thick and fast, on the TRC groups page, as the fallout from the Brit 4 qualifers comedy hits the fan. The slug suggests a less public venue might be infinitely more suitable for venting blame, lets face it, there are few things worse than a bad loser...
the slug loves qualifiers. A chance to watch some good quality racing and some top comedy rowing; to meet up with old friends and share in the agony and ecstasy of the crews waiting to find out if they've made the grade. Conditions were good this year, with those entered in some events having a much easier time than others.
OH THE IRONY...
After the river closed, the majority of crews were milling around the competitors' enclosure waiting to boat when the Leander B quad came sailing past a watching crowd of Stewards, to land at their club. Incensed by this breach of conduct, the badged officials soon dispatched one of their own, to reprimand the miscreants for ignoring the river closure. In a beautifully ironic gesture, the person sent to tell off Mark Banks and his crew, was none other than Matthew Pinsent.
On returning, to the pack, Pinsent was asked "well? did you disqualify them?"
To which he was heard to respond "no, but I gave them a very stern talking to"
no surprise there then...
DIAMONDS IN THE WET
The Diamond challenge sculls had a low entry this year, leaving a mere 3 scullers chasing 2 places, including one who'd come all the way from Australia. Of course, it would have been 4 for 2 if a certain Leander coach had actually remembered to put in an entry for one of the pink boys... ho hum.
The results for the Diamonds became apparent sooner than expected after Peter Meaney of QBC, capsized as he passed the grandstand. A few nervous moments passed after it became obvious he was having trouble getting his feet out - popping his head above the water to shout "help" before disappearing under again. Several spectators on the bank were ready to jump in, but luckily he managed to get out as help from the safety launch arrived to take him and his boat back to dry land.
The slug can't help but feel slightly sorry for the
Thames B, Brit cup crew, who were running around shrieking with glee after their crew was named as having qualified. It wasn't long, however, before the published list disappeared from the notice board with no explanation.
Some digging soon revealed that the London coaches, who had been doing their own unofficial timing, had queried the results as neither London B nor London C were listed at qualifiying, despite their own times indicating that LRC B was one of the fastest crews. After reviewing the video footage, it became apparant that the Stewards had mistakenly given the LRC B crew, the LRC C time and had listed the LRC C crew as a no-show?!?.
The list was amended and re-posted to show LRC B as having qualified, and a distraught Thames B crew, as the fastest non-qualifier..
Sounds of manic laughter could then be heard from the LRC coaches after discovering just who'd come out the worse for the change, it's good to see that the neighbourly relations continue as strong as ever at Putney.
CRASH BANG WHALLOP
There wasn't too much in the way of dreadful steering going on, but one incident the slug did spot was a nasty clash in the PE race, when a very slow Halliford crew swung across the bows of the Kings college school crew who had caught up with them. After colliding, both crews then bounced off the booms on the far side and collided again.
Fortunately it appears that someone was looking after the Kings college crew as they managed to qualify despite the clash.
A few pictures from Qualifiers are available here, and the draw is now available on the HRR website
The slug got a present from the nice people at the PLA last week, a copy of their new Pleasure User's guide for the Tidal Thames.
The booklet, which contains a lot of useful information for all river users -- including those under oars, is nicely set out and illustrated with amusing cartoons. However after reading through it The slug asto ask, if the cartoonist has some "issues" with rowers, as there seems to be a bit of a theme going on...
Think you know it all already? Well, here's a little test for readers, taken from the booklet. Below is a list of sound signals used by power driven vessels, to indicate their own intended actions to other vessels (and that includes rowing boats)... How well do you understand what the boat bearing down on you is trying to tell you?
- 1 short blast
- 2 short blasts
- 3 short blasts
- 5 or more short blasts
- 4 short blasts followed by 1 short blast
- 4 short blasts followed by 2 short blasts
- 1 prolonged blast
- 2 long blasts followed by 1 short blast
- 2 long blasts followed by 2 short blasts
a 'short blast' lasts about 1 sec; a 'long blast' lasts for 4 - 6 seconds
Eyebrows are being raised down Chiswick way, as to just why boat builder Bill Colley has been removed from the old Mortlake clubhouse.
Bill, who has been running his business out of the old Mortlake shed, next to Putney town RC, since Mortlake Anglian and Alpha moved across the river to their lovely new home in the Ibis boathouse, was given 3 months notice by the club, but without any obvious reason.
Despite the prime river front location, it doesn't appear that any developers are sniffing around the site... well not yet anyway (expect the Ibis boathouse to be sporting a new set of windows and a smart new coat of paint once that happens) and indeeed, the club are still using the old site to store equipment, so having a regular resident must have been a bonus to security.
The slug is sure there must be some politics behind the decision (what.. at MAA? never...Ed) and is watching with interest.
|POINTS MEAN PRIZES|
It's a sad fact that apart from those given out at Molesey regatta, the standard of medals on the UK regatta circuit tends to be, well, on the poor side. Now I prefer medals to tankards, as they take up less space than pots, and lets face it, there's a limit to the no of pen holders one really needs, but how many times does it happen, that the winning women's 8 get medals with pictures of a men's coxless IV on them...
So it was with interest that the slug pulled out a brochure of new rowing and regatta awards from its weekly pile of rowing junk mail... and what a treat.. for what sculler would not be happy to receive this beautiful token, (pictured on the right) as a lasting memory of how well they rowed their race.
Of course, if neither medals, nor pots are to your taste, maybe you should lobby your favourite regatta committee to consider awarding trophies instead, The slug particularly likes rowing Tango man and Sculler letting go of both blades.
Readers of that erstwhile publication the Daily Telegraph, should give themselves a pat on the back if they spotted the slight faux-pax in Saturday's first couple of editions. For the slug was interested to note that an article appearing in the print edition of the paper, mentioning Matthew Pinsent was illustrated by a nice picture of er...
Readers will be assured to know that the grevious error was remedied in the later editions.
|HENLEY WIMMIN'S - THE SENISBLE STUFF|
This was the first year that Henley women's regatta has been run over 3 days, with racing starting at 2pm on Friday, to enable the huge entry to be processed without qualifiers, for even with a total ban (ah-hem) on doubling up, there was still upwards of 300+ entries across the 21 events.
Alas, the disparity in the quality of entries, has led the slug to conclude that rather than 3 days of racing, what the event really needs, is a re-indroduction of qualifiers to get rid of a lot of the dross that was painfully evident throught the first rounds.
For some reason, some clubs still think it is acceptable to scratch from HWR. As a result there were a lot of disgruntled oarswomen, who had taken an extra day off work, just to row over on Friday. Sadly there was also little close racing on Friday, in fact the minority of races that were close, generally only fell into that category because both crews were equally bad.
While the slug applauds the race committee for positively encouraging women's rowing in the UK over the last 14 years, we feel it's now time to raise standards, especially if HWR is going to retain it's image as the UK's premiere women's event.
On to the results and there were few shocks in the large boat events:
The commonwealth 8, beat Oxford Brookes in the semi final of open VIII's (though it was really the final as TSS were never in the picture despite their by to the final) the Thames A club 8, coached by Tessa Millar, lived up to their recent performances at Docks and Met, cruising with ease through their heats and only moving into top gear in the final against Auriol Kensington, where they won by 2 lengths in an impressive time of 5 mins 4s. A very smooth Durham Uni crew, who dominated the field from the start of the event, made easy work of all in their way, to pick up a deserved win in college 8's against Dublin uni. The event that did raise eyebrows was the J8 event, won by the USA crew - Kent university, who beat a neat Headington crew, in a fine display of how brute force can win over technique. Finishing in an respectable time of 5mins 11sec - it's frightening to think what they would be capable of if someone bothered to teach them to row properly...
in the four's events, the club fours final went to City of Oxford, and the college fours went to the fairly inexperienced crew from Eden high school in Canada when they beat a strong UL crew. By all accounts, the Canadian girls have only been rowing for a year, but don't seem to realise they're not suppose to row that fast! -- adding HWR to their already impressive list of wins, in both Canadian and US events.
The slug also has to mention the sculling events, as we were very glad to see Guin Batten winning the open event, showing that she has finally gotten over the over-training syndrom that plagued her earlier in the year (which resulted in her pull-out from the Thames world sculling challenge in March). The biggest grin of the event -- if not the biggest grin ever seen on god's own river, must belong to Naiomi Ashcroft of UTRC, who picked up a much deserved medal in lightweight singles. Atta girl!!!
|HENLEY WIMMIN'S - THE SLIME|
We know what you really want...
"Bliss was it in that dawn to be in Henley/ But to be munching on the vegetation was very heaven"
ooh, where to start... probably at the beginning, with the "why did we bother coming" award going to Clare college Cambridge who found themselves in race 4 on friday, competing against their local rivals, and bearers of foul lycra, Churchill college, Cambridge.
Having paid the entry fee and driven to Henley to race a crew from their home water, Clare then managed to get disqualified within 10 strokes of the start, for repeated interference. To add insult to injury, 10 minutes later, their B crew raced in race 6, and got duely stuffed by Tufts university USA... leaving Clare to starting loading the trailer and heading home a whole 30 mins after the start of the regatta...
The "bad steering" award goes to University college Dublin, who somehow managed to end up with their eight stuck halfway across the booms while on the way to the start. Giving the umpire following the race on the course at the time, a minor heart attack in the process.
Maximum respect to the official who was asked to "investigate the sexuality" of a rower in one of the fours events, after the umpire following the race expressed some concern about whether "she" was in fact a "he"... When asked just how he had accomplished this task without being thumped, the official in question replied:
"well, I had a look, and although she didn't have bumps where she should have... she also didn't have bumps where she shouldn't... so I let it go"
The "naughty... naughty" award, for coaches mucking around with entries, goes to to Ian Shore and Osiris. For after confidently remarking to the Thames coaches "well it looks like it's you against us for club VIIIs", it seems that Mr Shore decided to pull the Oxford entry after "injury" struck the crew - (absolutely nothing to do with the release of the draw and realising that his girls would be meeting Thames A in the 2nd round-- of course). By all accounts he then decided to strengthen up the Osiris college 8 entry by moving 4 of the club 8 into the crew. Didn't stop them getting stuffed by Durham though... what a shame.
Maybe it's just me, but in both Henley events, those few crews who succeed in getting re-rows because of "knackered rudders" always seem to be American. So when the Groton school eight was disqualified from the J8 event for "repeated interference" it wasn't overly surprising that the coxn's response to the stony faces of the coach and parents on the bank was a plead of inability to steer...
what the slug did find amusing were the events following the crew de-boating at upper thames
For as soon as the boat was out of water --- video footage and numerous photographs were being taken of the rudder by the parents, while the crew wailed and blubbed at their untimely demise from the event. Now, with Groton parents representing the cream of the New York lawyer community, a plea for a re-row was to be expected...
As far as the slug has been told, the race committee didn't want to know (for equipment failure is equipment failure and while unfortunate, has no claim for special treatment under ARA rules). However, in a bizzare move the muppets from Kings Sch Worcester, announced that they wanted a re-row because they felt it was a "hollow victory" (note this was the first round)... the officials relented and Groton stuffed Kings handsomely by 3 and 1/3 lengths.
and of course there was the shocking behaviour from the men's pair... but you'd better read the next article for that one...