Crews competing in the Veteran Fours Head on Sunday mostly arrived early at Wandsworth Bridge for a scheduled start time of 9:30am - assisted by a tide still ebbing fast towards Tower Bridge.

Predictably the race time was delayed, but a near absence of flood stream led to a long slog for the Vets, while, with the river still open for other users and an apparent absence of umpires and marshalls, it was soon obvious that the fastest route of cutting all the corners, would require risking life and limb.

The winning Thames composite Women's Vet D 4x were understandably aggrieved to be initially awarded no medals, as they beat all but one of the other women's crews - but were the only one racing as D. Next year perhaps they should simply pretend they are younger...?

The overtaking rule reverted back to the more traditional one of the boat being overtaken, being expected to give way. But no one seemed to have told the men's E fours, who were rapidly overtaken by the women's A and B quads which the organisers had seen fit to start immediately behind them. (a case of age before speed...?)

With much life experience in dealing with intransigent old men outside of a rowing boat, the winning Barnes Bridge/Sons/Thames B 4x ploughed on regardless, knocking one crew's number off as it refused to move over and later placed their bows firmly on the stern of another four which was firmly holding its mid river course.

The slug wonders it is perhaps unfair to require men, who started their rowing career in an era when a women's place was firmly back in the clubhouse making the sandwiches, to be expected to make way, now they are allowed to compete with them...

The RNLI crew were spotted on Sunday, drinking in the one club bar they are welcome on the Tideway; that of London Corinthians whose members have had reason to be grateful for rescue assistance on days when more of their crews are upside down than still sailing.

A certain Sons member was disappointed not to have had the opportunity to quiz them on why they need to 'practice' at such high speed - slowing to the legal speed limit of 8 knots when spotting a small sculling boat and with the resulting wash ensuring that the river is unrowable for the next 30 mins.

The slug (and, we suspect, the rest of the rowing community on the Tideway) asks that if the boys in orange do need to hone their speeding skills then please could they either do so only at low tide, when the wash dissipates much faster (and presumably also the river bank suffers much less damage), or post outing times somewhere obvious, in order that other river users can plan outings to avoid RNLI playtime...

Of course... even better would be for them to use a vessel say.... more suited to a river than the open sea; a catamaran for example?

Overheard at the Kingston Small boats head - during the race the reluctant stroke of a junior double responding to his coach's comments from the bank.

"But I've got cramp.... EVERYWHERE"

This year's fours head was mainly uneventful, much to the relief of the organisers, who had taken onboard the criticisms levelled after last years event and changed how the start positions were allocated. The majority of competitors seemed happy with the changes, the only exception being a view that the junior quads would have been better set off after the elite coxless IVs rather than in front, but then again, no system is ever going to be perfect.

The change in the overtaking rule was more contentious, with a lot of crews appearing to be in ignorance of the change and more still complaining of clashes and uncertainty during the race.

One LRC member told the slug "we just asked crews if they'd please move anyway and said 'thank-you' when they did. Most people seem happy to move if you say please and thank-you..." hmmmm.... perhaps asking nicely should be added to the rules, though the slug suspects that the sight of a LRC boat saying "please" and "thank-you", without the usual accompanying "olde english", is enough to shock any crew into moving...

The slug rapidly stopped chewing on the hedge at Bulls Alley, near Chiswick Bridge, when it became apparent that the spot is a favoured "toilet-stop" for women's crews on the way to the start. Those of you who are familiar with this stretch of river bank, will realise that there ain't a lot of coverage and the exasperated marshals, trying to move the lower divisions down through the bridge, were "treated" to views of squatting women...

The Slug suggests anyone who can't survive in a boat for an hour despite "going more times than you know before I boated" should seriously consider whether their bladder is really suited to any event longer than a sprint.

On water entertainment on the way to the start was provided by Cambridge University men's squad who had had both bizarre "Aberdeen Asset" jackets and space blankets to keep them warm, leading to a totally unsurprising chorus of Turkey wrap and bacofoil comments.

The slug was also greatly amused to spot one crew who'd dyed their hair blue and yellow to match their kit but hadn't taken the weather forecast into account and er.... used non-water soluble dye. By the time they got to the start it was running down their necks and the rowers concerned looked like they were having second thoughts....

Full results are available HERE

Judging by the latest missive to land in the slug's inbox, it would appear that the rowers at Furnivall scullers may be slightly too keen to defy their traditional "Funeral" nickname.

The accompanying photograph (click to enlarge) shows the Furnivall boys stripping down to their all-in-ones on the stage at School Disco in Hammersmith.

Exactly why they all went wearing their kit.... and whether any of it had been washed beforehand, remains unknown.

What ever turns you on...

23-10-02 RI:SE AND SHINE...
The slug was watching RI:SE (breakfast TV on Channel4) on Tuesday morning, when they went to an outside broadcast from Fulham. For some reason the little twitchy feelers started well, twitching.... so we kept watching..

Filmed in Bishops park, they were having a contest to find the "Ultimate Hero". The title was to be battled out between two contestants who had to use a child's swing to gain momentum, and propel one of their shoes as far as possible.

Contestants? hmmm.... An American footballer - (low IQ, stacks of padding etc). and er..... a sculler from the GB team - PETER WELLS !!!! Ah ha!! thought the slug - time to show those Americans how it's done....

American footballer? 63 feet after some fairly shite swing technique ( I know - I was a kid once too)
Sculler? a MASSIVE er....2ft... after chucking his shoe a huge height straight up.


Stick to what you know best, mate.

Lessons in the art of customer service and the downside of direct debit, no 1.
Membership person: "Membership..". (Rude tone and an Aussie)
Rower: "Hi, I'm looking to cancel my membership for next year."
Membership person: "Membership Number" - (What about 'Please may I have' ....??)
Rower: " Sorry I don't have it."
Membership person: : "Sighing and tuting - Name"
Rower: "Sorry is there a problem, I don't like your tone".
Membership person: "No! -- NAME!
Rower: "Xxxx-Xxxxx, thats Xxx..." (name disguised to protect the guilty)
Membership person: "I heard you the first time"
Rower: "Excuse me, but you are being well out of order and you should get some manners."
Membership person: "You're the one with the problem"
Rower: "F*ck you you fat slag. You complete and utter f*cking wh*re."
Membership person: "I beg your pardon:"
Rower: "You heard me you b*tch, f*ck off back to that sh*t Aussie country of yours"
Membership person: "Right, I'm going to get my husband to come over and f*cking kill you. I know who you are and I know where you live."
Rower: "Bring it on... After I've smashed his face in I'll be coming after you. Now f*ck off you slag"

Ahhhh......and who says the art of conversation is dead?

If your club uses running as a training activity you might need to review the risks involved following the release below, from the Chief of Surrey Police in response to the series of rapes in the Surrey area over the last few months.
Police are working hard to catch a serial rapist who has now struck nine times, eight of those over the past three months. His victims are women and girls aged between 10 and 52 years old. In Surrey he has committed offences in Epsom, Redhill and the Woking area.

The offender takes considerable risks, attacking his victims on well-used public footpaths or common land adjacent to nearby wooded areas, mostly during daylight hours.

Police are asking everyone to be vigilant and not put themselves in unnecessary danger by walking alone in the type of locations that the rapist uses. The offender approaches his victims from behind and has targeted cyclists as well as females wearing headphones.

The rapist is described as a white male, aged between 30 and 50 years old, with short dark hair, of medium height with a muscular build and rough, tanned skin.

If you see anyone matching this description acting suspiciously, or threateningly towards you, please contact police on telephone 01483-571212 or e-mail to 1034@surrey.police.uk

This is a real problem that you could be involved in, one rower who's attack was reported in the Richmond guardian last year ( Woman hurt in sex attack) tells her story below, in the hope it may help stop this happening to other rowers:

As a rower I take personal safety in a public space a little for granted. I scull in the dark on the tideway, safe in the knowledge that a mugger, or rapist, would have to be able to walk on water in order to have any great effect on my being. My personal space is 100m wide and several km long. In the dark, as sound travels well across water I am less likely to be startled and though most often lost in my own thoughts, less likely to be interfered with by another human being accidentally or otherwise.

Not so when in the confined space of a London suburb. Here, just as on the water, I can be lost in my own thoughts out training, tired but pushing my body that little bit further after working all day, inorder to achieve the goals set out in my training plan. However it is here that I must be more aware, more observant, and utilize more than my physical strength. On land personal safety cannot be taken for granted. It is this which I am hoping I can make more people aware of inorder to prevent someone else from having to fight for their life, as I did.

I went running along a well known, well lit route, at a time when the majority of people would be returning home from work. There was traffic on the roads and people on the footpaths. People were getting off trains. However, stupidly, I was taking for granted the environment I knew well during daylight would be as safe in the dusk. Running is a great reliever of the tedium of gym based training but the caveat is that clubs must be made more aware of the risks that face their club members, particularly in inner city areas. There are many female single scullers on the tideway. Many of them will be following training plans as individuals, with coaches only alongside early in the morning, or at weekends. What if one of those individuals is part of your team? Do you know where they are if their kit bag seems to be in the changing room but they aren’t in the clubhouse?

There is no doubt that there is safety in numbers, but simple awareness of who is and who isn’t in the club, at any given time is the most fundamental obligation. It is better to run in groups and perhaps a club run or running ‘grapevine’ can be established. Running allows you to talk to your team mates (wow…think what it might do for team dynamics!). However it needs a little forethought and not just in the form of the right trainers.

Unfortunately rape alarms have become part of the mysterious contents found at the bottom of a lot of women’s handbags, along with the obligatory dead tampon and the lipstick they’d never wear in a million years. That’s unfortunately where they tend to stay. Perhaps it would be good for clubs to provide free or subsidised alarms. Definitely clubs, particularly student based clubs should encourage female members to train together and to watch out for each other. I would love to see martial arts/self-defence classes introduced as an alternative session during the week and it could work if people are prepared to let it happen.

These are ideas. It’s a start. As a community we need to make sure that the next person who is faced with the situation I was does not become another newspaper headline far worse than mine.

Be careful.

The world of Scottish rowing was rocked to its core last month, when the SARA executive committee announced it was getting rid of umpires, as they no longer served any useful purpose.

"Umpires, have had it their own way for far too long", stated a SARA official " they think they can get away with saying any result they feel like. Well we're not going to let them use regattas as a springboard for their unchallenged opinions any longer"

Scottish rowers have widely welcomed the change, and plans are now afoot to allow individuals to post their views on race results using a visionary new web-based notice board. "This really is a victory for democracy and common sense" said Aberdeen rower Hamish McPork.

The slug managed to track down the umpire at the heart of the scandal, who expressed his dismay at the ruling. "This has ruined my life. Despite making an apology to all concerned, I've been forced into hiding in the sports pages of the Scottish Herald... the only place I'm confident no rowers will ever find me"

Mick Hucknell is 104

11-10-02 IN THE BAG
Those at TRC suffering acute blazer envy, as reported below, might want to take heart in a similar tale from Worcester RC.

At Worcester, the white blazers were reserved for present and past captains but a couple of years ago the elite squad at Henley decided to award themselves white blazers, and very nice they looked too.

As was to be expected, there was much discussion in the club from the Black Blazer brigade along the lines of "what's the point of having rules if everyone can ignore them" or "couldn't we have got away with doing that 30 years ago??", however, at the next AGM there were enough elite squad and supporters to agree the proposed rule change, so now any member of Worcester can wear a white blazer.

At about the same time, one of the club members agreed to loan his best blazer to a member who didn't own one. He even delivered it to the borrower's house... but unfortunately there was no one at home. Being the kind trusting soul he is, he left it in a black plastic bag, by the side door.... which also happened to be er.... quite near to the dustbin.

Yes, you've guessed it ..... Suffice to say that at the rate Worcestershire's waste tip is growing, the best blazer must be half the length of four from the surface by now.

The lack of a GB women's 8 at the World Champs this year, caused considerable comment along the towpath, so it's hardly surprising that interest and rumours are running high around the new "Womens Pathway to Excellence" programme being run by Maurice Hayes and Louise (remarried) Kingsley.

For the purpose of this programme is to fill that gap. It is designed to produce an eight capable of qualifying for Athens 2004 (i.e. be in a Worlds Final by next summer) and there are currently around 20 athletes in the group, mainly from the England Commonwealth Eight, the Tideway Scullers Eight and the Brookes Eight that won the Remenham Challenge cup at HRR last summer.

However, latest rumours would indicate that their 20:8 odds of securing a seat may just have taken a turn for the worse..... as the slug hears that the plans are afoot for a comeback, by the core of Miles Forbes-Thomas's group who formed the eight in Sydney.

Names currently believed to be in the frame include:

  • Lisa Eyre (World Champion 4- 1997, Bronze medal 8+ 1997),
  • Alex Beever (World Champion 4- 1997, Bronze medal 8+ 1997),
  • Francesca Zino (Bronze medal 8+ 1997 and U23 2- Gold medal),
  • Cath Bishop (Silver medal 2- 1999, 2- world cup winner in 1999 and 1998)
  • Ali Saunders (Sydney Olympics) and
  • Helen Raine (who just missed being selected for Sydney).

    Whether this has anything to do with MFT building himself a powerbase (and a job) back at Thames by clearing the boards and re-recruiting his old squad back, remains to be seen, but it doesn't take a genius to work out that the addition of six experienced players into the equation, doesn't leave much room in a GB 8 for current sweep squad members Kate MacKenzie, Ros Carslake and Bev Gough, let alone any of the newcomers...

    oh well Louise, there's always Beijing...