|I'VE STARTED SO I'LL FINISH
The veteran's fours head on Sunday was blissfully uneventful compared to the last veteran eights head, but alas the good conditions didn't help one Thames Tradesmen crew to stay dry...
Picture the scene, it's mid-race and the crew are motoring away nicely at a good pace, when suddenly, as they pass the eyot, they realise that the top-nut has come off the stroke man (Simon Wilson's) rigger, and slowly his swivel has started to fall apart...
By the mile post the disintegration had continued and all the pitch inserts at the top had worked their way off, but he was still managing to hang in there, and the crew didn't seem to have slowed down much. Praying that the gods would smile on them long enough to get to the rapidly approaching end of the race, they passed London RC and were heading for the finish with about 8 strokes to go, when Andy Knee-Robinson caught a crab...
With nothing to stop the strokeman from losing his oar, the laws of physics took over... so over, and in, they all went!
Afterwards one slightly damp crew member told the slug
"It was absolutely freezing (and very, very brown), but we managed to swim the boat over the line, so hopefully we got a time."
The safety boat then gave them and their boat a much appreciated lift back home to Castle Greyskull and even shared their flask of soup...
|WHEN I'M FIFTY FOUR
What can only be described as "good" conditions greeted competitors in the 50th fours head on Saturday, as they waited patiently for the start in relatively mild weather, though the raised temperature didn't stop the sewage levels in the tideway being increased by several female competitors, who obviously hadn't gone to the loo the requisite six times before boating and were merrily relieving themselves on "pee-beach" opposite UL, in full view of the other competitors and passing pedestrians - classy...
Setting off number 1, the Leander squad quad managed to come in first overall but only just - as a very smooth looking Tideway Scullers crew were only 0.63 of a second behind them... after the race there were repeated mutterings that Scrubbers were not happy, as the pink boys had refused to move over for them, and spent the whole race sitting just ahead of them and forcing them to row in their dirty water - the crews certainly looked to have minimal distance separating them as they came through Barnes bridge, but there doesn't appear to have been an official complaint upheld and the result stands.
Simon Cottle avoided a penalty despite complaints from two separate officials that he was wearing "offensive clothing" - he raced the course wearing a fake Burberry baseball cap.. and was later voted Chav of the night after getting asked to take it off by a bouncer in bar-M in Putney who was looking concerned by the chav-ed up masses gathering before the party at LRC (well we assume they were going to the party - though some of them did look very 'natural' in their shell suits and bling).
Staying on pink penalties, Leander VI got done for that old chestnut "audible use of foul language" but their attempts weren't as impressive as those of the Wycliffe sculling school junior quad, who's stroke man was heard effing and blinding by several umpires as they passed through Hammersmith bridge - except he wasn't swearing at another crew or a marshal, no, he was swearing at his own bowman for being out of the stream... ahem.
Illness and injury are always risks that can't be avoided, something well illustrated by the last minute changes necessitated to Molesey BC's record entry of seventeen crews, when an apparent plague hit the black death in the run up to the event. After scratching two crews and rearranging the remaining rowers, three crews had to race for time only (as more than 50% of the crew had changed), leaving them with Twelve legit crews and a win for the boys in S1 quads.
More good results for an impressive Cambridge squad, as their elite coxless four won their event and came in 3rd overall, ahead of the Molesey S1 quad. The light blues also picked up the S1 coxed four pennant (as well as coming 2nd, 3rd and 6th in the same event). Oxford, rowing as Isis, picked up the elite and s2 coxed four pennants. The OUWBC wimmin also won S2 and S3 coxed fours.
As you may already know, ITV is taking over the boat race coverage for the 2005 race, which explains to some extent why both squads were being followed around by a cameraman and reporter, filming their every move. The slug didn't recognise the reporter with the OUBC boys as a usual member of the rowing mee-ja-scum contingent, but no doubt time will tell.
Anyway the general poncing around and overly enthusiastic squad talks in front of camera were certainly providing much entertainment for those of us watching... though i'll be interested to see how they fit the footage into ITV's new commercialised version of Boat Race Guff..
The fours head is sometimes referred to as the "head that doesn't matter" being early in the season and bang in the middle of the cold and flu season, something that a number of crews and coaches will be taking heart in once they've seen the weekend's results... though as someone once said ""Denial ain't just a river in Egypt ...".
Complete, (but poorly formatted) results are available at www.hor4s.org.uk
It appears that LRC may not have a monopoly on all things 'purple' on the Tideway after all...
For the slug has learnt that another secret underground 'purple' movement to rival the boys in blue, has emerged at a club not far from their lofty halls.
The 'Purple Merkins' began as a quiz night joke and has now blossomed into a fully fledged club with members wearing their fashion item of choice for a variety of different practical uses. For those who have not come across this particular brand of purple attire before, please look at the attached photo for a clue as to where this item of (winter?) clothing is worn.
The gals apparently even have George W Bush backing them after he infamously uttered the words 'I'm proud to be a merkin' (to be said in a Texan drawl) last week, in the run up to the elections.
Readers are encouraged to look out for Merkin members sporting said apparel out on the Tideway once they have worked out how to prevent the curls getting caught round their blade handles at back stops.
|THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE WASHY
Just incase you hadn't noticed, it's that time of year when rowers who "aren't from round these parts" start to descend on the Tideway, merrily ignoring the navigation rules as they go.. yes, I'm referring to wash-poll favourites, Oxford and Cambridge, and with both clubs entered for next weekend's fours head, their inevitable presence has been picked up by the Slug's little twitchy feelers...
Off the water, CUBC were making themselves useful down at Putney , rescuing floating vehicles from the incoming tide, when following the unintential launch of a 4x4 from opposite Chas Newens on Friday afternoon on the exceptionally high tide, the Cambridge team leapt in to action to prevent a repeat performance on Saturday.
n.b. The 4x4 on Friday made it's way slowly upstream before doing an impressive impersonation of the Titanic just short of LRC.
On the water, however, their efforts were less appreciated, and the squad's knowledge of the Tideway navigation rules yet again appears to be somewhat lacking - indeed, perhaps someone should point out to them that it's been THREE YEARS since the PLA rules changed, requiring crews to cross to Surrey below Chiswick Bridge. The Fennland Poly boys on the otherhand were managing to seriously wind up the locals by going upstream on the Middlesex bank and crossing above Quintin.
Yet again NOT A VERY CLEVER THING TO DO WHEN THERE'S A REVIEW ON...
|THE OTHER BOSTON
Whilst some UK rowers were enjoying themselves in Boston USA last weekend, the great and the hopeful of British rowing descended on the Boston UK, for GB squad trials.
As is traditional for these things, the wind was howling so racing was brought forwards to try to avoid the approaching storms which the competitors finally hit driving home afterwards.
Though the careful re-planning didn't help the heavyweight sculler who apparently capsized 100m from the line and chose to swim his boat across the line rather than swimming it to the side.
Elsewhere a lwt girl fainted in the boat in the misdt of a pack of scullers and while some were able to avoid her as she capsized, one Nottingham girl was stopped completely by it. As it was quite near the end of the division she was rushed back to BRC by a launch washing down girls still racing.
Also picked up on the grapevine, a few mutterings about lightweight weight enforcement - but that's another story...
|BOATS, BASEBALL, BEER AND BRIDGES
This year's Head of the Charles regatta hit Boston at the start of the Red-Sox's first attempt at the World series since 1986 and despite the less than perfect weather, Beantown was in a good mood both on and off the river.
The HOCR is now so popular that organisers are having to turn away 50% of all entries, with the program already taking up most of the two day weekend (excluding Saturday morning which is kept for practice outings for crews who've come long distances to compete or couldn't get any extra time off school/work) there isn't much room for expansion, so thanks in part to some clever filtering by the entries commitee, the standard is getting increasingly better, something very obvious in the juniors women's VIIIs and masters women's categories this year.
This year showed a good spread of UK crews, though sadly only in the men's events. Molesey were happy to be told that their second place in club eights was actually a first place, after Harvard were disqualified for having ineligable rowers in their crews (apparently at least one of them had raced in an Eastern Sprints final - the big cheats)
On Sunday, Cambridge uni won Champ VIIIs after the USA squad crew going off number 1 managed to take out Eliot bridge (which just goes to prove anyone can f**k-up).
To see how not to take the corner- check this out... http://www.deardale.com/hocrchampionship8/
The USA crew wasn't the Olympic gold medal winning boat - as four of them were in the winning champ IV+ (and there's no doubling up at the HOCR).
Watching the crunch from the dock on the other side of the bridge with a few members of the US squad who'd raced on Saturday, the conversation soon turned to what was going to happen to the coxswain after the race and how "interesting" the long drive back to Princeton would be as a result... as one rower put it
"he's not going to be allowed to forget that for at least five or six years..."
Those who like to have a punt on the boatrace will be noting Cambridge's strong performance with interest - if they can put out a boat good enough to beat some very healthy competition at this time in the season, it could make things interesting come March...
Both Oxford and Cambridge have a large number of crews enetered in next month's fours head, so one to watch... Of course i shouldn't forget to mention the 3rd UK win at the HOCR was Bosporous (OUBC old-boys). who won club IVs.
some pics of Ship's cat living it up...
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
|RABBIT'S GLOBAL REPORT no 1
Frequent Slug readers will be pleased to know that the Rabbit has finally found his sea-legs, stopped throwing up his stuffing, and started to contibute to the performance of VAIO in the first leg of the Global Challenge.
He's currently sailing from Portsmouth to Argentina, and passed the Cape Verde islands on Monday, about 70 miles off to the east.
The Rabbit has his own roomy accomodation, although in true celebrity form he is being a bit of a tart due to the amount of hot bunking, and currently has three regular bunk-mates.
Regular duties for him inclue soothing furrowed brows, and weight distribution (normally lying around on the high side of the boat) He has avoided being eaten by the Ship's Cat due to the large number of suicidal flying fish that launch themselves at the boat every few hours, and was surprised last week by a sandstorm (orange!) and plague of locusts from the Sahara- 400 miles back east.
Still, VAIO is creeping up the fleet, and they plan to stay there - next land they come near is Brazil, in about a week, after the hot equator crossing and the variable winds (and lack therof) of the Doldrums.
|PINSENT ON PARADE
Gotta love the Daily Mail - only they could do this to an already bad picture of Matthew (or is that Michael) Pinsent
Check out the caption...
|TIME MARCHES ON...
On the subject of old people, the slug was recently lurking in in the Catherine Wheel in Henley near Blue-eyed scotsman Peter Haining.
On returning from the smallest room, Peter recounted that a local lad had held the door open for him, remarking
"after you, Granddad!"
We suspect that this was the same night that someone smashed a plate glass window thinking it was a door!
Ah, the Henley locals...
|ON YER BIKE?
Can't afford the latest rack fee increases?
Fed up with paying extra to your club, ripping you off for the privilege of not using any of their boats?
Well, why not try this latest invention from the US; keep your boat at home, and only bring it down when you need it. Added bonus of an extra cardio workout on your bike while you're at it.