|THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Further to OUBC's failure to tell the sailing clubs (and indeed some Tideway rowing clubs) about their match against the US/Dutch crew on Sunday, it is worth noting that one of the OUBC lauches made a point of stopping off at the LCSC pontoon as the crews wound down after their first piece, and publicly thanked the assembled sailors, who were waiting to boat for the Dark Wind Trophy, for delaying their race until after the OUBC flotilla had passed.
Such niceties do matter and it reflects well on OUBC that they did so.
CUBC should perhaps also take note as they don't appear to have written to anyone about their matches.
... Now if only the coaching and media launches would stop washing down local crews during training outings, perhaps the Dark Blues' reputation on the Tideway could be fully rehabilitated.
|IN THE BLUE CORNER...
Blue skies and watery sunshine did little to dull the cutting cold and snow flurries on the Tideway yesterday, as spectators shivered and the various crews lined up to race.
The morning saw London and Thames fight it out, in the annual Boustead cup match, from Chiswick to Putney. London held back their 2nd and 3rd VIIIs for the later Oxbridge races so the Thames 1st eight raced the London 1st eight in the main event, while Thames's 2nd eight had the London 4th VIII as competition.
The cold conditions (never good for precision blade control) and messy water along the length of the course reportedly caused problems with both sides. Thames’s 1st crew, were using their Empacher with wing riggers, which was a little on the small side (85kg boat with a 90kg crew) for the rough conditions, and crew members were complaining afterwards about the amount of water that had come into the boat, though happily nobody sank this year.
The water was terrible below Barnes and Thames were warned once by the Brewery and once opposite the White Hart pub, while London were warned approaching Barnes as they tried to break clear.
The race was very close up to Barnes, at which point London took full advantage of their experience coming into the rough water and did a big push as Thames faltered. London pulled away to four lengths by the top of the Island but Thames hung on doggedly and were nearly rewarded when London did their best to give the race over to Thamesthree crabs, starting at the top of the Island and distributed evenly between there and Funeral.
Thames came back strongly coming down to two lengths but then faltered badly and the London boys pulled away.
Once on the smoother water below Hammersmith both crews rowed markedly better, but LRC gradually extended their lead to win the cup by about 20 seconds, which isn't a huge amount over the tideway course.
The second crews’ race again saw London come under attack from crustaceans. Following a good start Thames had a 2 ½ length lead by Chiswick Ait, which London had reduced to ½ length by Hammersmith, but a couple of big crabs near Harrods put an end to any chance to pull it back further and Thames went on to win.
In a strange turn of events, Molesey apparently turned up in the morning expecting to race Isis, only to be told that they weren’t supposed to be racing them. Understandably pissed off over the confusion and having made the effort to come downriver, the situation wasn’t helped when Dan Topolski almost ran them off the water in his launch… the Black Death decided they weren’t having a very pleasant time of it, and headed off home again.
Goldie and the Cambridge and Oxford blue boats took to the water early afternoon, on an incoming tide,for the first of their pre-race pieces with other clubs.
Goldie got to go first, racing both London crews.The longer piece was raced against London 3, who are a lightweight crew (well the men’s head does have lightweight 8’s as a category for the first time this year) and were probably giving away at least three stone a man on average, not really the best situation to find oneself faced with a head wind. Though despite the weight disadvantage the boys in blue fought to hold on to the light blues and were only ½ length down for most of the piece.Goldie won by 17 secs. On the shorted piece they raced LRC 2 - who are a heavyweight crew. Again Goldie proved to have the upper hand but the LRC boys managed to hold on to them for about four minutes before Goldie pulled away to win by eleven seconds.
Cambridge were racing a crew from Bydgoszcz Academy, Poland, who looked very sharp despite reportedly not having much time out on frozen Polish rivers recently. The slug, was most taken with the polish rowers' kit (bright red leggings with a pale blue top), which makes them look like giant smurfs…
The match has raised a lot of interest in the Polish media, who were out in force to record the day’s events. There were also quite a lot of polish supporters waving red and white flags about, though unfortunately for them, the Cambridge crew, who have a very smooth powerful fluid style, were just a little too good and managed to hold off the visitors winning both their races.
Oxford were racing a Dutch / USA crew, most of whom turned out to be American (well 5 out of the 8). Oxford again turned out to be the faster crew winning both pieces, the first by several lengths of clear water, the second by about three quarters of a length.
As for who looks the better bet at the moment? Well, the Oxford crew is clearly powerful but isn’t yet matching Cambridge’s fluid technique. Then again, both the Oxford and US/NED crews looked like they were having more of a problem with the rough conditions at the start than the Cambridge / Polish crews did.
Of course, the main event is still a month away, and plenty of things can change in four weeks and, more importantly... anything can happen on the day.
... ... ... ...
After Friday's fun, Oxford's festival of comedy rowing wound up with no major incidents, though Friday's men's division 3 dispute wasn't cleared up until Saturday morning.
Somerville continued their slip, dropping a further 2 places but elsewhere the day's stories of note were based around more ill advised coxing activities...
Special mention has to go to the Mansfield cox who decided to wave to at the race desk/mansfield boathouse during their race (in response to yet more tannoy banter)... Unfortunately the Jesus crew behind were switched on, spotted the wave and took the hand gesture as a concession and pulled out. The commentator then announced 'Mansfield have conceded to Jesus'...
Incase you were wondering, the "bump" stands, even though Mansfield were, um... a length clear at the time. The moral of the story? never raise your hand to wave to spectators during a bumps race.
Whilst chewing on the hedge at the start, the slug's little twitchy feelers also picked up some 'ill-advised' behaviour from the Balliol cox, who was observed at the start calling the countdown "6...5...4...3... then threw the bungline down a tad early, followed by "...oh, shit...".
The Umpire was oblivious to these goings on, so their bump on Jesus stood, though to be fair, the early 'disconnect' didn't actually gain Balliol any advantage.
The New College women bumped up to Head of the River for the first time in their history on Saturday, by rowing five or six lengths clear of Oriel. After taking the Eights Headship last summer this means they now have a clean sweep on the Isis - something which has only been acheived twice before in women's rowing at Oxford (Somerville and Osler-Green).
And last but not least, Oriel rowed over comfortably at Head, and were last seen singing "magdalen boys can f*ck off home" as they carried their boat up the High Street.
Full results from the week are available at
|THREE DAYS DOWN, ONE TO GO
Following Wednesday's promising start, Oxford's winter festival of comedy rowing continued to produce some outstanding displays of incompetence, outrageous luck (good and bad) and plenty of opportunities for schadenfreude for the neutral spectator.
After a comparatively quiet Thursday, Friday saw more racing controversy, with race committee decisions going on for several hours past the end of racing - although a break of tradition saw these deliberations occurring at the boathouses rather than the Head of the River pub.
This year's most spectacular (yet all too familiar) "ram the bank and watch the division row past you" manoeuvre was performed by Lincoln Women's 1st VIII, who managed to hit the bank, restart, then row straight into the path of St Hugh's, earning a total move of down 10 (beating Teddy Hall Men's 1st VIII's offering of down 9 on Wednesday). Though, on the plus side, this did finally shut up the commentary from the members of "The Lincoln" on the committee - definitely a good thing as the musings of the OURCs Captain of Coxes Alex Macdonald, in particular, have been annoying half of Oxford for some time.
Oriel also had a bad day Friday, with their women's 2nd eight dropping seven after ramming the bank, and their men's 3rd boat doing exactly the same. Fortunately for Oriel 3, they now can't drop any further, as going down 16 places in 3 days sees them residing safely out of harms way at the bottom of the river.
Other big drops over the first three days have been seen from, Somerville (down 9 so far), and Christ Church (down 7) which sees them leave the top division for the first time in 50 years. Interestingly, both Somerville and Christ Church's performances are reportedly accurate reflections of rowing ability rather than being caused by unfortunate coxing incidents, and as such, more downward movement is expected to come on Saturday. Something that, alas, doesn't quite match up with the expectations posted on the "about the club" portion of the Christ Church website:
"While the Headship in Torpids was last taken in 1991, the House has not held that position in Eights since 1985: it is time for the House to regain - and retain - that position.".
Merton women's first 8 started the week as head of the river but were soon descending merrily... though loud cheers were heard to emanate from the Merton girlies at the klaxoning of their race on Friday (The klaxon means a race stoppage), which saved them, in the nick of time, from an obviously faster Christ Church eight and thus helped them avoid picking up 'spoons'. Oh well, at least they managed to use their own blades this time - having locked them in the boathouse on Wednesday.
The Coxing award of the week goes to Leanne Hodson of Osler-Green, who managed to spin right in front of the Environment Agency regional manager's launch ... Perhaps not what one expects from an international cox, but maybe there's a bit more room in New Zealand...?
Elsewhere, just to show they're not all bad, the race committee took pity on Exeter men, who have lost the majority of their first, and much of their second eight with some sort of food poisoning - a technical bump of down one was very generous.
And whilst damage on the river has been minimal this time round, partly due to Pembroke finally learning how to steer their yellow boats, St Hugh's men still managed to keep the side up and knock the bows off their boat by ramming it into their boathouse.
Finally, on the plus side, the Oriel men's 1st VIII are rowing very well - a bit of a rare phenomenon on the Isis.
A pity about that white lycra, though...
|HE'S A LADY...
It's rumoured that this charming, demure young lady was someone's date at the LRC dinner last Saturday night.
Reports suggest that she's making an effort to break into the first eight at Thames this year, but might not be heavy enough.
|SUITS YOU SIR
As well as playing golf and lending his weighty support to the London 2012 bid, it emerges that Sir Steve Redgrave has been spending his spare time dabbling in other career options (well it's always good to have something to fall back on).
Following directions given in a mysterious phonecall on Thursday night, the slug tuned into the QVC shopping channel only to be greeted by images of men's leisure wear -- being sold on at knock down prices, by none other than the man himself.
Viewers were not only treated to an opportunity to stock up on Steve's 5-gold range of leisure wear range at a discount but also got to hear SSR's views on his chest sagging, why t-shirts are never long enough, london and the Olympics and if he's ever going to get in a boat again...
While some rowers may be disturbed to discover their one-time hero co-hosting a shopping channel, the slug is actually more disturbed by the revelation that you can watch QVC live on-line...
|TORPIDS BY NAME...
Someone at Iffley Special School obviously had a sense of humour many years ago, as curiously enough, the word "torpid" coming from the Latin for "stiff" has several different meanings:
- Deprived of the power of motion or feeling.
- Dormant; hibernating.
- Lethargic; apathetic.
Now, whilst any of the above could be applied to any number of the Oxford college crews currently taking place in their annual festival of comedy rowing of the same name, those crews who are the current frontrunners for proving they are truely "torpid" are Hertford's women's third crew who dropped Seven places on day one, and, Teddy Hall's Men's first crew who demonstrated just how good they are at 'going down', by dropping a phenomenal NINE places from 3rd in div 2, to sandwich boat at the top of div 3.
Also worthy of note are the Christ Church Men's crew who started 6th in Men's division 1.. but more of that as the week progresses..
|THE NORTHERN VIEW
Whilst our ex-national rowing treasure may be coining it in the City of London pubs and clubs rowing challenge. Our Scottish correspondent, McSlug, reports that the UK's largest community challenge regatta, the Aberdeen inter Company Row, is now in its 20th year.
Note the use of what is clearly a wooden restricted boat - painted white.
Likely a genuine Eton Racing Boats original and no doubt worth a fortune on ebay
For their £200 entry fee the 40 mixed crews (yes, forty crews, that’s 160 brand new rowers each year) get six coached outings, leading in to the regatta where they race 3 x 500m races in a round robin before group winners progress to a knock-out.
For those who make it that far, the finalists will have raced 7 races on the day (except that 2 yrs ago the final was a dead heat, leading to an 8th race immediate re-row, which was also a dead heat, leading to another immediate re-row, which meant the poor sods wot won it rowed 9 x 500m sprint races on their first ever regatta day).
Rules are not just ‘no previous serious rowing experience’: all participants must be absolute rowing virgins. Any ‘ringers’ spotted in the training outings are either chucked out or so heavily handicapped as to make ultimate success almost out of the question.
Now as any fule kno, 40 crews x £200 = £8000 revenue which is darned handy in any rowing club’s terms - though a lot less that 12+Crews x £3500-- (PS just where are the proceeds from the Dorney event going?).
Furthermore, as you can imagine, 160 rowers plus support on site for a full day = a very profitable day’s bar and barbecue takings. Add sponsorship income and the proceeds of a seriously wild regatta party for those with the energy left, and it’s a pretty lucrative affair. And lest anybody suggest it’s all about money and not rowing, a significant but variable percentage of participants ‘catch the bug’ and join the club proper after the event. Indeed McSlug has been told that one of the Aberdeen Boat Club (novice) crews competing at Tideway head this year consists almost entirely, I believe, of guys who took up the sport through the Inter Company Row in 2004.
Perhaps they are a bit late starting the sport to be planning on Olympic glory, but high mountains need broad bases, so all participation is welcome.
Poor Sir Matt; how the mighty are fallen -
2003 P&C = Pinset & Cracknell (most feared pair in the world)
2005 P&C = Pubs & Clubs (which just about sums up their relative interests at the moment)
well, not really promoting rowing as an inexpensive sport for all, is it?
Please note, from unfortunate experience, the slug would like to warn rowers that Matt's money raising website is located at www.corporateregatta.co.uk IT IS NOT www.corporateregatta.com (unless he's branching out into areas i really don't want to contemplate) and UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU ENTER THE WRONG URL WHILE AT WORK...
|PINSENT'S PUBS AND CLUBS
The slug nearly spat out its lettuce yesterday morning on reading that our recently retired national rowing treasure has moved into the lucrative "pubs and clubs" corner of the novice market (previously dominated in the South East of England, by Staines and Twickenham RCs ).
Bizzarly, Sir Matt's foray into the 'corporate market' is only open to Men and 'Open 4s' (aka 'mixed - at least 2 burds per crew). Hasn't anyone told him that wimmins rowing has been the fastest growing bit of the sport for the last umpteen years? Didn't he notice all those girlies starting to appear in GB kit at more recent Olympics, you know, the ones with gongs round their necks, to boot???
Needless to say keen observers at Twickenham RC are watching with interest, as they're wondering if they could get away with increasing this year's TwRC entry fee from £100 to somewhere a bit nearer Sir Matt's [purported] £3,500 per crew? (cough - cough - choke...ED)
As one Twickenham member told the slug, "Never mind winning 'blades' - for that kind of money, we'd give them the whole bloody boat afterwards!" (well they are 25 yr old concrete Jano's.... ahem)
Quite why anyone who wanted to learn to row, would be daft enough to pay the equivalent of more than 3 years average rowing club subs per person for 4 training sessions and one regatta is causing the slug some pain? I mean, it's £100 - per head -per session, if you include paying for the cox.
OK, we realise you have to pay for Docks & Dorney, but the per capita fee last time I was at Dorney was less than a tenner...
|SPORT FOR ALL?
Wallingford RC produced a rather interesting crew selection for their Senior 1 8+ entry at the recent Trent head, as the scratch eight (mostly lwt), included a female bow pair.
They came 14th overall, 90secs behind CUBC - good to see clubs taking full advantage of 'open' events when selecting crews...
Full results Curious to find out the story behind the mixed crew the slug asked a source close to the Wallingford Men's sqaud for clarification on what had gone on, and just who the big ugly girl at three was...
"I know, it's a shock isn't it. We planned for 4 girls but some of the men improved in the last few weeks so we had to relent and put them in.
As for three... Her name is Andy Hunt. Feel free to abuse her."