06-05-05 NUMBERS UP?
Cygnet lead the wayWith clubs on the Tideway scratching their heads about how to sort out their new boat registration codes in the next 6 weeks, there are lots of things to consider... With all these things to consider, it might be all too easy to forget the important issue of how to display the codes on your boats. The picture above on the right shows Mike Collier, Captain of Cygnet RC, jumping the gun on the new boat naming convention...... but what if you already have the boat name stuck there?

So, ever alert to the needs of our readership, the slug brings you a range of possible options... (Click on images to enlarge)
on the shell
on the shell
on the shell
on the shell
on the shell

06-05-05 PASS TWO WHO?
On the subject of 'bow passing your blade to two'...

It was the last race of the two day Strathclyde Park Regatta a couple of weeks ago and keen to get it off on time, but blighted by an awkward crosswind and a couple of distinctly inexperienced crews in the line-up, the umpires resorted to 'coaching' the unfortunates onto the stake-boats and offered the advice, as the crosswind took hold,
"Now then, bow pass your blade forward to two".

Whereupon all four crew members shouted in mystified unison
"Who's two?!"


Overheard amongst the very posh gazebos at Wallingford Regatta on Sunday...

Parent A to Parent B:
"I thought it was so very unfair that they wouldn't let him race. After all, he was ONLY one point over the limit for his category."

05-05-05 CLUELESS
At Marlow Spring on Monday, one of the umpires was getting ready to take a junior quads race.

Keen to ensure that the race went smoothly he spoke to one of the crews - a bow-loader quad from a VERY good rowing school, before their race started:
"Bow, if I give you steering instructions during the race, will you be sure to tell your cox which direction my flag is pointing"

On hearing this their cox emerged from his burrow in the bows:
"Flag? What flag?"

Picture the scene, Chiswick regatta last Saturday and a Sons of the Thames S3 VIII is getting ready to race.

As they marshall for the start a beady eyed umpire, spotting that the bowman is wearing a red and white all-in-one with "POLSKA" written on it, saunters over in his launch and enquires of the crew...

"Sons, are you actually entered as an international composite, or is your bowman just colourblind?"

Realising that he'd been rumbled the bowman proceeded to remove the offending item - rolling it down to reveal a Blue and white Sons T-shirt underneath...

That wasn't the only interesting going-on at Chiswick either, as there was also a slight altercation with one of the PLA harbormaster launches, which came through Chiswick Bridge heading up stream in the centre of the river took umbridge to the three boat race going on at the time and refused to steer to starboard (as per Colregs) and stopped instead, claiming he didn't know there was a regatta on.

To be fair, there was no river closure and the race had strayed into the port side of the fairway where it shouldn't have been, but the organisers had informed the PLA well in advance and arranged for a 'proceed with caution on the Chiswick reach' advice notice to be sent out every 30 mins on VHF channel 14 from Woolwich.

So as you can see, there are still quite a few things to smooth out in the wake of the Salvage Association report, the slug just hopes that all parties will be able to come to a relatively painless compromise.

Lets all play nicely out there...

and the windsock hangs straight downThe well oiled BUSA machine kicked into action on Saturday morning, as record numbers of student crews again headed to Nottingham for the UK's biggest regatta. Despite a promising Friday evening, the sunshine that had been forecast had given way to light rain by Saturday morning, but the wind was low and the conditions good as racing got under way.

The sun eventually came out on Saturday afternoon and the light head wind disappeared completely giving very fast conditions for the finals, and fast they were...

BUSA's decision to simplify the entry system for eights and fours several years ago (removing all need to count points), appears to be partly responsible for a positive effect on crew standards, as there is now no opportunity to reduce the quality of a boat and get it in a lower category - as all universities' 1st boats MUST enter the champ events (something of which the ARA competitions review would be well advised to take note). Nowhere was the standard of top level university rowing more obvious than in the men's champ 8's final on saturday, where times ranged from 5:48 to 6:05 and two crews (Brookes and UL) came in under 6 minutes.

Oxford Brookes look unstoppable at the moment and they undoubtedly have their eye on a Temple or Ladies plate medal from HRR, which has been so elusive from them in recent years (mainly thanks to the efforts of the Harvard Crimson contingent).

Durham took home the Victor Ludorum again, after getting about twice as many points as their nearest challenger - their usual biggest threat, Nottingham, were never in contention this year, as their entire men's squad had been banned from racing after a Nottingham men's crew was caught cheating last year.

Tiger does the erg challengeOne of the joys of BUSA is the wide range of experience and ability across the competitor field, everyone from novices getting their first taste of racing to Olympians showing them how it should be done. The inclusion of time trials for novice 8's, fours and men's singles, again this year, meant that no entries were turned away while ensuring a high standard of rowing in the heats and finals and some close exciting racing for the crowds.

Debbie Flood went home to Reading university with three gold medals Sunday - having won both the Champ women's double and pair events with Tash Page- and also picking up the Champ women's single while she was at it (Tash won the women's Junior 1x). They didn't manage to dominate the women's pairs event to quite the same extent as the double, but then again, it was the first time that Debbie had been in a pair since 1999 (now that's what I call a scratch crew).

The weather on Sunday wasn't quite as good as Saturday, with some of the pairs finalists having problems steering in the strong headwind, but all in all, the crabs weren't biting as much as they could have and only a few people went swimming: the stroke of one of the Bath men's 8's caught a whopper crab at about 500m and went flying out of the boat, winding himself quite badly in the process; One four got a bit wet by the pontoon after the wrong side went to get out and the laws of physics took over, and one of the novice girl scullers capsized with about 100m to go.

However, the star of the regatta was a sculler from Sussex University who having battled his way up from 5th place during his heat of MN 1X, was just about to take the 3rd available semi final place when he fell in, about 10 strokes from the finish line.

In front of the watching crowds he then did a text book demonstration on how to get back into a sculling boat (making the slug suspect he may have done it before)- pulling himself up and onto his scull and setting off to cross the finish, before the rescue boat had even managed to get to him. He may not have made it to the semi final, but he did get a large round of applause. Amusingly despite falling in, getting back into his boat and finishing 5th, he wasn't last in his heat - as the last remaining sculler crossed the line a minute and a half later...

Full results are available at http://www.nationalwatersportsevents.co.uk/BUSA%20Results%202005.htm

As the TRRC executive stood round in LRC on Tuesday evening, meeting clubs and events from the Tideway area, The Regional Water safety Advisor could be seen cringing after about ten people drew his attention to an unlit four rowing past...

The reason for his ultra-disgusted look was that the crew was from his home club - Thames.

Scenting blood and spurred into action the local Div Rep shot out to have a go at the crew in question, only to report that they did have lights - just totally useless little ones - including a red light on the stern.

When quizzed about their poor lighting, the coxn replied "Oh, I'm new to the Tideway, I didn't realise red lights weren't allowed..."

Oh well, nice to see Thames rowing in their club colours - red, white and BLACK.


prince charles
28-04-05 TRC MEMBER #723?
His mum's cousin may be Club Patron but we have to ask...

has this man paid his fees?



The salvage association report on Tideway rowing is a very comprehensive document, it very fairly sets out the facts of the current situation and apportions blame and praise to both the rowing comminity and the PLA, and, as such, it's very difficult to disagree with many of the statements made.

The document in its entirity will be available on the Thames Regional Rowing Council website, as soon as a soft copy becomes available (as I ain't scanning in 92 pages). In the mean time, a summary of the key points follows.

Over the key question about whether the current rules allowing us to work the slacks should be removed and reverted to the standard International Regulations for preventing collisions at sea, the findings depend a lot on the understanding and limits of the channel, however, the exact definition of which bits of the Tideway constitute a "narrow" channel has yet to be agreed. The current rowing rules are seen to increase the risk of collision but reduce the risk of other river hazzards to rowers.

The rowing community don't adhere to the letter of the current law, as in some cases this mitigates the risk to them, which is why the PLA has been happy to ignore some of the common transgressions.

However, the value and credibility of the rules has been undermined because of this behaviour and the apparent conflict between their requirements and the COLLREGS. The fragmented nature of the current rules severly reduces their effectiveness and makes it difficult to ensure that all river users are aware and understand them.

With this in mind, the SA are recommending that the PLA:

  1. Repeal Notice to mariners U6
  2. Introduce a code of practice covering rowing
  3. Introduce a river user's guide
  4. Increase simplification and promulgation of whichever rules are in place
  5. Streamline and combine the actual legislation
  6. Define the channel limits
  7. Clarify the relationship between any guidance on rowing and the COLREGS (rule 9 to apply to ALL vessels when in a narrow channel)
  8. Identification of all boats used on the Tideways under Byelaws, with standard size and formatted name plue club alpha/numeric code - This to be ENFORCED by the rowing authorities and MONITORED by the PLA
  9. Maintain a log of transgressors from the rules as noted on the river by the PLA Harbour Service (i.e. visiting crews not displaying code), and action to be taken if boats seen again.
  10. Increased enforcement for a period of introduction of any new rules or code.
  11. Review the type of Harbour services vessel used - consider using shallower vessels creating less wake etc.
  12. Greater enforcement of speed limit
  13. Formalise dispensation from the 8 knot speed limit for rowers and accompanying coach boats
  14. No overtaking approaching bridges (distance to be assessed)
  15. Monitor wash levels
  16. Consider pros and cons of designated crossing points
  17. Consider application of Rule 9 through Kew bridge at low water
  18. consider options for navigation at low water between Kew bridge and the Isleworth Ferry Gate
  19. Improve Promulgation of rowing rules and COLLREGS (lots of stuff on this including signage and cross-user comms)

On top of that little lot, there are also a list of recommendations to the ARA/TRRC:

  1. Identify novice crew / cox /steers with day-glo vests (cox and bow/steers to wear for a probabtionary period)
  2. Or use differing colours, with ALL coxn's / bow /steer to wear day-glo vests as greatly improves visibility.
  3. Certification of cox /steers SHOULD BE COMPULSORY: syllabus recommend to include a minimum time on the water in a training capacity.
  4. Certification of coach boat drivers should become COMPULSORY e.. RYA level 2 with ARA specific modules (hurrah!!! - ed)
  5. Increased education and effective training amongst the rowing community
  6. ARA to continue looking into design for a suitable Personal Buoyancy aid for rowers
  7. Increased internal enforcement by CLUBS / ARA / TRRC
  8. Consider appointment by TRRC of 'duty marshalls' to monitor activities at busy periods such as weekends.
  9. Review of accident statistics and action on trends to be visibly improved.
  10. User risk assesments should include better assement of interaction with other craft
  11. Water safety code to address naviagtion and collision avoidance
  12. If a system of rowing routes outside of the main channel is chosen by the PLA, emphasise within training etc that rowers proceeding against the stream are to remain adjacent to the bank - must be greater awareness of other users.
  13. Bouyancy - it is imperative that all boats are sufficiently buoyant. Ensure adoption and compliance with international/national standards.
  14. Navigation lights - standardised design of lights for fitting forward and aft with lights also visible from the side. Also boats to be fitted with light monting brackets forward and aft and consider best lighting options i.e. combined fixed and flashing forward white light
  15. Coach boats to have a white light plus red and green sidelights.
  16. Coach or safety boat to accompany all rowers at night / poor visibility - particualrly single sculls as mosty vulnerable
  17. Use of Day-glo and reflective strips on vests or tops of single scullers and at least the bowman and cox in larger boats.
So, as you can see, still a lot of work to be done, but it looks like changes to the current navigation rules are going to happen.

Watch this space.