Lets face it, televisual media opportunities for the sport are somewhat limited outside of the boat race and the Olympics, so when Channel 4 come knocking on the door with offers of fame and fortune, what can a rower do, but selflessly rush over to mingle with the slebs.

slebs in trainingThe program in question is this year's series of 'the games', which is including rowing for the women competitors, while the volunteers were a selection of the North's finest, from Grosvenor, Bradford and Durham, wooed with the promise of a star filled action packed day at the Rother Valley Country Park boating lake just outside Sheffield.

The plan for the day was simple... zoom (? well it's all relative) up and down with a celeb's name stuck to your chest many times in the 'Training Boats' covering the massive 120m course (yes, that's a whole ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY METRES for the stars to capsize in) whilst all of the technical preparation took place with lights and cameras, before running through the complete show at 21:00 hrs under the glare of huge floodlights.

games preparationCelebs were alas, somewhat lacking from the event, although Greg Searle was spotted late in the evening giving the event a once over as he has been teaching the 5 celebs to scull, and wanted as much feedback as possible to pass on.

slebs in trainingBrief (1 line) interviews with Jamie Theakston and Jayne Middlemiss were also to be had, as races were completed. Once filming was complete five of the lucky ladies were taken into the athletes village within the Don Valley Stadium to spend the night with yet more cameras, a hydro spa bath and 5 water-skiers.

Rumour has it that the highlight of the night was a competition to see how many Jelly Babies could be stuffed into one's own mouth, before choking - sounds fun...(?)

Live transmission of vaguely famous people catching crabs can be seen on Wednesday 30th March at 21:00hrs on Channel 4 with extra coverage before and after on E4.

More info, and details of how to get tickets to watch it live, at www.channel4.com/thegames

pasty or pasty? "…One of these rowers just doesn't belong,
One of these rowers is doing his own thing
One of these rowers is not the same…

Crews and observers at the Vets head on Sunday were treated to the unusual spectacle of the Taurus (ox brookes old boys) Vet A crew racing with seven cleaver blades and one er… macon.

Ah, was it due to last minute equipment failure?’ I hear you ask, ‘perhaps they miscounted the oars before heading off with the trailer leaving one behind?, or maybe one was liberated after the eights head the day before?’…well no…

For the odd blade out was attached to the Taurus 2 man, none other that the blue eyed Scotsman – Peter, Peter Pie-Eater Haining, the (very) ex-lightweight sculler and Oxford Brookes coach, and was being used at his own behest…

Curious to get to the bottom of this frankly rather odd situation the slug asked Mr Haining why he had gone retro and just how he’d managed to sell using one macon to the rest of his crew… the even more bizarre response being … wait for it…. that he’d rowed in a crew in the men’s head in 1987 and they’d come second to redgrave’s crew by only a couple of seconds and he wanted to row with the same oar he used then... so obvious really (?!? - ED).

Anyway, the macon obviously did the trick propelling the crew home to take first place almost 40 seconds ahead of the 2nd placed Crabtree crew – though as you will see in the attached photograph, the rest of the crew got the last laugh as someone had provided Mr H with an all-in-one in the small to medium size range and by the time the crew got the bandstand it was obviously causing Peter some considerable pain during the um, rock over, so his only option was to rip it open to make enough room.

Who knows, perhaps the resulting wife beater come wrestler ripped all in one look will catch on?

and finally, a little guess the boat name quiz... the request for all boats on the Tideway to be named produced a few do it yourself stick on options at the Vets' head, including one vessel which had been proudly named "ARABOC"...

Can you guess what it is yet?

(clue: ARABOC in this case does not refer to any form of Arabic music but rather is reported to be an acronym... with BO standing for "bunch of...")

Full results available at http://www.vrc.org.uk/vets_head/2005/results/

As with the WEHORR, there were plenty of red faces after the men's head on Saturday but rather than being from frostbite and artic winds, the cause was sunburn, as crews and spectators cooked in conditions more suggestive of March in the South of France than the South of England.

Of course some of the red faces may have been down to embarassment over some of the appallingly bad rowing / coxing on show but luckily the good weather was keeping the crustaceons at bay and the day was fairly event free as most of the comedy crews got away with it. (well apart from the poor Dulwich rower who caught a huge crab and quickly left the boat, leaving the rest of his crew to row over with 7 people in just over 32 minutes...)

Happily, everyone was keeping well clear of the black buoy and there wasn't much worry about crews stopping to put on kit before the black buoy, as most of them were taking the opportunity to strip off and give their pasty white british skin its first glimpse of 2005 UV rays. Mind you, the slug did notice one rower putting on his splashtop (just before they landed at Thames) - the bowman of crew 136, one er.... Dr Chris George, TRRC regional Saftey adviser...

The first few crews presented spectators ample opportunity to play spot the rowing treasure with lots of the GB squad taking part for their respective clubs. The foreign exchange programs also seem to be working well, with, amongst others, IC enhancing their first crew with a load of tasty Italians and Tideway Scrubbers (who came 6th) bringing in the Germans.

Leander retained the headship with a crew that had been seriously re-jigged since their spat with Oxford the week before (Steve Williams stroking and Alex Partridge sitting at seven). The pink boys pipped Imperial college (Kieran West Stroking and Tom Stallard at Seven) home by a second, though there was much grumping from the IC crew about the timing after the race (well those of them who speak english) as they thought they'd made up enough distance to win.

It appears that Leander were being caught up at Hammersmith but put down a seriously powerful second half to their race and took it back again -- despite steering a very wide line round the corner coming into Barn Elms (something that they weren't alone in doing). Molesey, (stroked by Biff Simmons) started 2nd but were being overtaken by IC approaching the finish and ended up slipping down 2 places to forth, behind Fiamme Gialle.

A few unexpected results from the rest of the field as London 2 beat London 1 and Molesey 3 beat Molesey 2 (which had Jonnny searle in Bow).

Some other results worth noting - Kingston pulled one out of the bag and came in 20th (which I'm assured by one of the crew, is all down to their coach teaching them how to row properly). Leander 2 picked up the first lightweight pennant in the event, and University of West of England (who have been getting coached by Fred Smallbone, collected the S3 pennant) - Oh... for those wondering, the University of Bristol didn't quite manage their goal of making top 10, but they did make top 100 - coming 98th (the paper must have left a zero off in their orginal article..)

Finally, good conditions aside, the event's safety police were out in force, calling random crews into the hard at Putney after the race to do equipment checks. At least a couple of crews got done for not having all their heel restraints attached but it wasn't just the crews being scrutinised, as one of the marshals' launches also got pulled in for a 'safety check' due to an apparent absence of life jacket - tut tut.

Full results are available at http://www.kingston.ac.uk/~kx21229/finish.htm


Not since the days of the infamous FSC "video nasty" has the seedier side of the sport tainted the green and yellow halls of Hammersmith, but when the Furnivall men’s squad went to get changed in the men’s changing room, after their pre-river closure outing on Saturday morning, there was a shock in store.

The boys first had to evict a large crowd of nervous women queuing for one of the only two toilets in the whole club, as they didn't seem keen to leave even when the men started stripping off.... but it wasn't long until the newly vacated changing room soon gave up its sordid additions... - as the boys found a see-through pink vibrator and matching love eggs - described by one Funeral member as "in need of cleaning" (i shudder to think).

The mystery deepens, as the Furnivall men's changing room is used by two other clubs, American school of London, and London orion – either way it doesn’t bear thinking about - but the FSC boys were convinced that a female was to blame (don't ask).

When the lads went out rowing on Sunday morning there were still a lot of Scottish ladies snoozing in the bar, so when they handed their key back, the subject of the, er, "lost property" was mentioned to their captain... at which point she developed a rather rabbit in the headlights look – although the FSC member responsible suspects that it was probably more due to his overbearing and loud manner rather than any guilt on their part.

As for the vibrator? well the men's squad were tempted to put it up in the bar, but it went missing (from the now men only changing room) before it could be hung in the trophy cabinet….

All very curious...

08-03-05 SCHOOLS' HEAD
Monday afternoon and the UK's junior rowing community made their way to the tideway for the annual School’s head in conditions that were pretty similar to those for the women’s head.

There was a large entry and the quality of rowing on show was very variable, but the standard of first boats was impressive in the main and indicates the current strength and depth of junior rowing, though less can be said of the coxing (ahem). It was also good to see several Northern Irish crews over for the event, RBAI and Methody both being represented (with the Inst boys coming 22nd in the first 8's)

The day had its fair share of events – one crew managed to hit the first orange marshalling buoy at Hammersmith snapping an oar, whilst one octuple picked up a snapped scull after crabbing opposite Fulham football club. Indeed, the local crustaceans were out in force and seemed to be attacking with great voracity. There was also a bit of an incident with one of the safety boats acting like a muppet – but more on that to come.

The boys crew to keep an eye on is definitely Eton, who picked up the first 8 pennant despite KCS refusing to move out of the faster stream for them (KCS collecting a time penalty in the process) though Shrewsbury, Abingdon, Kings Chester and St Paul’s are all knocking on the door and there’s still quite a while to go before HRR and Nat schools...

On the women’s side, Molesey didn’t quite manage to repeat their women’s head win, coming second in the JW8+ to a strong Headington crew by 6 seconds.

Full results are available www.wsbc.org.uk/shorr/results.htm

The bad omens of wind, hail, sleet and snow that, on Friday, seemed to portend doom for the 65th women’s head of the river turned out to have more bark than bite as Saturday morning broke with clear blue skies and light to moderate winds.

The early spring sunshine did little to ease the cutting cold but most of the 265 crews were, in the main, well prepared on the clothing front and those few loonies who considered boating wearing only their racing kit were quickly advised by officials to put more clothes on. That said, the slug still managed to spot several crews boating in bare feet from the various host clubs along the river – a piece of advice for non local crews for future reference… the word TIDEway, gives you a hint, bring your wellington boots.

view towards Chiswick eyotGusting winds resulted in very changeable conditions from the bandstand round to Hammersmith, which gave some advantage to local crews used to dealing with mucky Tideway water. One result of this was that technically good crews stood out visibly from their less capable opposition both in terms of being able to achieve higher rate and the lack of spray surrounding their boats. This year was never going so see any course records, as there’s very little stream on the Thames at the moment, but the weather at least behaved for the duration of the race, the hail and snow holding off until just after the last crew had finished.

At the top end of the racing ability scale, last years grudge match between Leander and a the IC/MARLO/READING UNI/ROB ROY/TH/TSS GB Squad eight was re-run, with an outcome that nobody expected...

Close results are uncommon over this distance but amazingly Leander, starting second, managed to tie for head with the composite crew, in what must certainly be the first ever dead heat given in hundredths of seconds in any of the main heads. Curiously, although the official results now show the top two crews with exactly the same finishing time – 19 minutes 20.83 seconds, the first cut provisional results gave Leander a lead of about 3/10s of a second… (the composite crew won in 2004 in a time of 18mins 18s – which illustrates this year’s slower conditions.). Though, may lead to a few fights as to who gets to go off first next year....

The Leander crew, stroked by Debbie Flood, also contained Guin Batten, who’s been doing more coaching than training in recent months (running the women’s squad at Upper Thames). By all accounts, Guin arrived back in the country on Saturday morning at 8am after being press ganged into rowing with effective use of the “but we’ve only got seven people without you” tactic.

Whilst Guin is definitely a Leander member of several years, the suggestion was mooted that for some members of the Leander crew, the pink is um, somewhat “less than skin deep” and that perhaps they really should have also been entered as a composite… but of course, the pink palace would never do that now, would they..?


Also worthy of note with the upcoming burds boatrace, Cambridge university put in a stonking row, and came home in 5th place (20 mins 3.38 sec) to pick up the University trophy pennant (S3) – ahead of the Senior 2 and BUSA1 pennant winners, Durham University, and the Senior 1 pennant winners – Molesey 1 (n.b. The black death’s 3rd crew also picked up the schools pennant)

Oh and Furnivall picked up the Senior 3 club pennant giving the girlies a nice set after getting pennants at the pairs and fours head too (will that keep him happy now?)

The Oxford university squad seem to have dropped off a bit from last years pace, only managing 12th place, though the slug did pick up something about a bit of a barney between Oxford and the Durham girlies (whilst Durham was overtaking them) and accompanying complaints about being pushed out of the stream, though I didn't catch which of the two crews was doing the complaining.

It’s not clear why the number of entries was down on last year’s record but even with the drop, there still seemed to be plenty of dross on the water and, unfortunately, a lot of it seemed to be Durham college based. Whilst it is understandable that these student crews want the chance to compete, four and a quarter miles of tempermental Tideway is not the best place for inexperienced college B crews and it’s a pity that Durham don’t have their own version of bumps like the other collegiate universities (Cambridge, Oxford and London) do, to give their college crews something else to aim for, as the wisdom in some of these crews entering the main heads really should be questioned.

but more evidence of that below....

The women's head and how, er, not to do it....


Results are now on line at www.wehorr.org.uk

03-03-05 LENTS
pile up on the CamCambridge's festival of Comedy rowing is well underway, but seems to be fairly controversy free so far.

Apart from the usual smattering of fines for swearing, late acknowledgement, dodgy steerimg and big bank parties, the only incident of note that has reached the slug's twichy feelers is the super-carnage that happened in the women's 2nd division on the first day.

The nine boat pile up started when Magdalene women's cox turned around to the crew rowing into their backsides and yelled "hold it up" so they did... but, unfortunately, so did Magdalene.

There's a great selection of photos of the ensuing chaos on Jet Photographic...

03-03-05 LEFT-HAND-DEAD?
The slug is always interested to keep up with new rowing styles, so these photos of the technique illustrated by Canford's four man during the recent Reading Head are worthy of note...



suggetions on an e-postcard to the usual address...

The TSS prize raffle to raise funds for their new boathouse, was drawn last Friday the 25th Feb at a packed annual dinner... and the Winners were (drumroll please....) The prize for the most ticket sales went to David Sprague, and the efforts of the two youngest boys present, Hugh Browne and Matthew Williams in selling £250 on the night was also magnificent. Over 150 members of the club sold tickets, and raised over £13,000.

The dinner was impeccably organised by Ruth Hatton and there were no speeches -- with the President Andy Ripley keeping his few remarks, made with his usual rapier like wit, brief and to the point.

Other highpoints were Tideway Sculler's Chairman Chris Williams being presented with the ARA Coach of the year for Young Persons award and the presentation of the traditional Underwater Sculler of the Year award, to Peter Egbe for his remarkable feat of falling in during the final of the Olympic Qualification regatta.