The ladies of Furnivall Sculling Club as seen in 1902, were out on the Tideway a few weeks ago, following a morning with the BBC wig department.

Eight Furnivall girls were transported back to Edwardian days to star in a BBC1 documentary in the "Imagine" series, hosted by Alan Yentob - which will be shown on this Thursday at 10.35pm (18th December). In the days before women rowers wore trousers, let alone shorts or lycra, the Furnivall girls sculled in a uniform consisting of long skirts and club scarves ( wouldn't want any errant ankles showing after all...).

The basis of the programme is the book "The Meaning of Everything: the Story of the Oxford English Dictionary", by Simon Winchester, which charts the characters involved over the 70 years needed to create the Oxford English Dictionary.

Dr Furnivall, a socialist, scholar and founder of what became Furnivall Sculling Club (started as Hammersmith Sculling club for Girls), played a dominant role in the formation of the Dictionary. The good Doctor was played on land by actor Bill Homewood and on the river by club member Hugh Bantin. The club is grateful to St Paul's School BC for the loan of the boat.

Click on the thumbnails to see full size

09-12-03DES RES?
Readers of last weekend's Sunday Times property section, may have spotted the old Sons of the Thames boathouse at Hammersmith, featured as 'House of the week', complete with large photo artfully taken to imply the house is actually on the river rather than on a road.

Interestingly, it's now on the market through Hamptons for a mere £4.7m...
The developer bought it off Hammersmith council for £1.4m

The article charmingly states that 'The Boathouse has been reconstructed from the ruins of a former clubhouse on the banks of the Thames' and describes the pontoon as a 'private jetty' - not much of a jetty below half tide when there is no water around it..

You can check out a scan of the Article on the Sons Website as www.sonsrowing.org.uk

04-12-03REALITY BLUES...
Not sure what I think about this, apart from being somewhat surprised that Timmy Mallet went to Oxford... Apparently the coaches will be a certain Mr Matthew Pinsent and Sir Steve Redgrave, so will at least be interesting to watch to see it they're just as rubbish at coaching novices as most people are...

Rowing champs to coach celeb crews

Ann Widdecombe lined up for new reality television show

Widders puts oar back into reality TV

dear god...

GB rowing calender boys take note -- French Rugby players do it better, in the Dieux du Stade, Calendar 2004 - that's "Gods of the stage" for non french speakers...

(oh momma..)

Mind you - the Canadian rowing squad appear to make quite a good stab at it too.. in theirCountdown to Athens calendar, be sure to check out the samples -- though can't say I'm convinced about the bloke top left...????

The annual Christ Church Regatta (an event in Oxford, for total novice rowers who aspire to reach the dizzy heights of college 2nd boats, in the comedy rowing festival you all know and love so well) took place last week, and sure enough, didn't fail to provide on the 'entertainment' front..

Trinity College womens A crew showed great talent, by managing to race into the transit lane ( which is really rather difficult to do, as you shall see) and hit an Oxford Institute of Legal Practice boat that was just pushing off.

As you will see from the attached photo (click to enlarge), the results are fairly clear. The Trinity crew was disqualified naturally, but the fun hadn't finished...

To quote a newsgroup user and marshal who was present at the time:

"can I suggest that if you are the representative of a crew that has just ploughed into another boat causing eight rowers and a cox, to end up in not very warm water, that you aren't pissing yourself laughing, thinking its oh so funny, when you arrive at race desk...."

Fortunately all concerned were fine, thanks to the close proximity to the land, but we doubt the swim was an enjoyable one...

While the England Rugby team finally proved that the British can be world champions in sports other than rowing at the weekend, the slug was impressed to see that one of Twickenham RC's finest has managed to use the occasion to raise her own profile in the world's media.

Opening the sunday papers, we nearly choked to see the one and only Ms Nicky Ware (who's other half is England rugby player Joe Worsley) doing what Nicky does best in a "players wives and partners" picture... across most of the UK press.

Click on the thumbnail to see enlarged (Nicky's the one in the middle incase you hadn't already worked it out)

More mutterings of discontent about ARA personal injury cover but this time complaining about inability to get, in full, what it's supposed to provide...

The issue this time is that people over 70, who still want to compete, must pay for full ARA membership (actually they can claim a whole £3 discount) but don't get the full insurance cover on offer to younger members.

While 3rd party liability insurance IS provided to the over 70s, personal accident insurance is NOT provided, as it is not believed to be required.

Now, you would be forgiven for asking why over 70's should be excluded from injury cover... excluding payouts for death while rowing/ competing may be understandable (because clearly old boys are a tad more likely to pop off in the middle of an outing than younger members) but surely losing an eye or a limb isn't any less traumatic once you get to 70, and age shouldn't increase the risk of it happening, as older people are no more or less likely to have accidents in a racing boat in a regatta, or H.O.R., than anyone else.

Well, the reason given by the ARA for this strange situation, is that the main benefits of the policy refer to total permanent disablement - loss of limbs, eyes - caused by an accident which as a result would preclude the member from his/her chosen employment, and it is expected that people over 70 are retired.

This again raises sereval questions;

  • Does the ARA Registered Members Insurance Scheme discriminate against members over 70?
  • Is this stance in contravention of EU Human Rights legislation?
  • With the small number over-70s still competing, would the ARA's premium have to be increased appreciably to provide them with cover?
  • Should members only get basic liabilty insurance as standard with membership, and then be offered a range of addtional insurance that can be purchased on top?

    As the Auriol Kensington hoard left their annual dinner at Simpsons on the Strand on Saturday, evening to board the coach back to the club for further debauchery, the club Treasurer decided to make enquiries of a tall, athletic looking woman guest.

    Do you row” the Treasurer asked.
    "Yes” came the response.

    Are you a paid up member of the club” the officer further enquired.
    I believe I am an honorary member” furthered the guest

    Do you take boats out?” continued the inquisition.
    I sometimes take a double out in the summer with my boyfriend” cautiously ventured the lady.

    Well you should be careful. The Tideway can be a very difficult piece of water. I will check on your membership status, and with the Captain to ensure he is happy you are competent to use our equipment” was the parting shot from the dogged Treasurer...

    ... who was then was rather embarrassed to be subsequently informed that he had, um..... been grilling none other than Gillian Lindsay, Olympic quad Silver medallist.

    Following on from our article on the KRC sculler, some more info on insurance which may be worth your while reading... First of all a little background info you might not be aware of

    The current insurance arrangements owe much to a single incident, that happened over twenty years ago on the tideway. In February 1982, a coxless four from London RC was involved in a head on collision with then GB lwt 8, in the dark, at or near the bottom of the tide.

    In the initial impact the bow ball of the eight was knocked off. However, the momentum of the eight was such that it continued into and through the small of the back of one of the four. The oarsman in question only just survived but was in hospital and then recovering for a very long time. The cox of the eight was deemed to be at fault but, having just graduated from university, had few if any assets that could compensate the injured LRC athlete.

    As a result, the insurance provided by the ARA is, first and foremost civil liability insurance (with a few death/injury benefits thrown in), a bit like the basic third party insurance you need in order for you to drive your car. Consequently, in order to claim, you need to find someone blame… and a solicitor

    So, Oarsman A, whilst in the wrong place, runs into Oarsman B and severely injures B. Oarsman B should issue a personal claim against A. Hopefully A is registered with the ARA and can fall back on the ARA policy in order to meet the third party claim.

    This system begs a lot of questions.

    1. Some how you need to prove that that A was at fault.
    2. Who pays for making the claim.
    3. How does the policy fit in with any personal or work related medical insurance
    4. Do we want, as a sport, to end up in a blame and shame culture.
    5. What happens if A isn’t an ARA member and has no alternative insurance

    On top of this it’s worth a reminder that the rules of navigation require all vessels to take action to avoid collisions whether they think they are in the right place or not.

    For Example, imagine you are in an eight in the centre of the river, doing a piece of work, with the stream, and ahead of you there is a sculler in the wrong place who has not seen you. The crews hit each other and the sculler is injured. The PLA would deem the cox of the eight was at fault because he was in the best position to see what was about to happen and thus take action to avoid the collision. The point of this example is to stress that, of all the people who might need ARA insurance cover, coxes are the most at risk….

    More info on your options to follow as we get it.

    20-11-03STAR STRUCK
    That well known social branch of Thames rowing club, have recently purchased a new pair to add to their growing collection of boats for slightly overweight, party-going, beer-loving, ex-rowers....

    ...and, The slug was amused to hear that in true Acheronian style the boat has been named "Kylie", which is currently emblazoned on the bows in red-gold sequins...

    Asked why the boys had chosen this particular name the response was -- wait for it --- "because it's a really great pair"

    As it's unlikely they'll persuade the pop-princess to come to Putney to name the boat, the slug suspects that the task may fall to that more usual royal presence at TRC, Prince Michael of Kent...

    or maybe not

    20-11-03TIME WARP AGAIN...
    More tails of timing woe from the Vets 4s head giving credence to the slug's theory that a hole has appeared in the time space continuum somewhere in the vicinity of Barns Elms...

    A reader rights

    "I think that Veteran crew could count themselves lucky. We had one crew that, though previously noted for the enthusiasm of their splashing, rowed something of a blinder - they even overtook other boats. Having finished in triumphant fashion they were a little confused to find they were a DNF.

    They definitely thought they had finished, as did their rainswept supporters who despite their failing veteran vision clearly saw them go through the line with all rowers and cox still in the boat (and they were still afloat at that point).

    After protesting they got a time 4 days later, but it didn’t give them much confidence in the result."

    While another reader comments

    "There appeared to be only two differences between the provisional results and the final results:
    1. A Vet A crew was completely missed from the provisional results;
    2. Reading Vet D 4+ had 1 minute added to their time (probably about right in comparison with other crews near by but very strange that it was the only timing error discovered) and so came second to CORC in that category. "

    curiouser and curiouser...