The slug wandered down to the glorious international regatta centre in charming North Greenwich at the weekend, for the return of Docklands regatta - reincarnated as a one day event after going AWOL last year.

docks in the afternoonEarlier in the week, the weather forecast for Saturday seemed to carry a portent of doom, but in the end, although the gusting cross-tail winds threatened to get worse several times, they settled down intermittently and never got bad enough this year to result in any sinkings or suspension of racing . As the sun came out towards the end of the day, the water could even have been described as "nice"...

new buildings going up at the startWith it being a full two years since the slug was last at the royal docks, the change in the local environment was very noticable - the course is no longer in set in a desolate wasteland of broken concrete and weeds, and new buildings are popping up left, right and center (well towards the start anyway), which, as well as making it a bit more inviting, also have the added benefit of acting as a bit of a wind break.

There was a fairly good turn out for the regatta, though a few scratched crews meant some heats were compressed into finals and racing finished twenty minutes early. No major incidents to report, although one women's sculling race had to be re-rowed after an over enthusiastic saftey boat decided to head to his position in lane three, washing down one of the scullers so badly that she had to stop rowing...

One of the nice things about Docklands regatta is that they give bronze, silver and gold medals out, though there was a slight problem with the prize giving on Sunday, as Parcelforce had somehow managed to deliver a box of bronze and a box of silver medals to the regatta centre, but had delivered the gold medals to somewhere in Coventry...

Alas, suggestions that organisers nip down to Halfords to buy a can of gold spray paint were not taken up, and the medals will be posted out.

Full results at http://www.mikrotime.co.uk/rowing/row2005/ldr05.html

16-05-05 SINGLE AND ALONE...
It's always interesting to see what tactics different regatta organisers try out to make their events run smoothly. Shrewsbury regatta were operating a "pairing" system on Saturday, where competitors have to meet up with their tabled opposition in a particular area and are not allowed to proceed past this point to the start (by specially chosen anal officials), until they are both present and correct.

While this sounds like a good idea at one level (pen systems are used with great success by several regattas - Docks included) the possible downside became very evident after one sculler was kept waiting for an hour until her opposition turned up.

Officials tried calling the missing competitor's club, but they couldn't track her down, so the sculler who'd turned up was kept waiting... and waiting... and waiting...

Her rival eventually arrived, twenty minutes after the designated race time - apparently she'd raced earlier and had gone for a bit of a rest until she felt recovered enough to go afloat again...

Of course, umpires can DQ crews who are late to the start, but if you never actually get to the start it's not always that easy to demand a row over...

The Walter Scott Edinburgh Glasgow Boat Races took place on Saturday on the river Clyde by Glasgow Green in what was a busy afternoon, with 6 races and an erg challenge to boot...

Glasgow, who showed good form at BUSA regatta earlier this month, took the Men's 1st & 2nd VIIIs on the 2.5k course, but all the races are given an equal rating when working out the overall winner, so as Edinburgh took the Novice Erg challenge, the Men's and Women's Graduate Races and the Women's 1st and 2nd VIIIs they won overall by five to two.

The Women's 2nd VIII race was a tad controversial, after the Glasgow cox got a bit confused about where the finish was and stopped the crew 20m before the line...

Edinburgh then simply rowed past Glasgow (and the finish) to claim victory, however, feeling that their win was somewhat hollow, the Edinburgh girlies showed a true sense of good sportsmanship and gave their winner's medals to the Glasgie ladies, no doubt some consolation to the losing crew.

The poor Glasgow cox was getting bit of a hammering on the Rowing Beast Chat board until their coach admitted that her had told her that the finish was somewhere past the viewing platform, and not to go the coxes meeting as he wanted a longer warm up for the crew (then didn't bother going to the meeting himeself)

Now, there's a lesson to be learnt there children...

Photos from the event at http://cofd.co.uk/eu_gu_boat_race_14th_may_2005.htm

13-05-05 SYCM DAY

Well, on behalf of oarspeople everywhere, we are very very glad to officially announce tomorrow as SLAP YOUR IRRITATING CREW MEMBER DAY!

Of course, as with all official things, there are rules you must follow:

  1. You can only slap one person per outing - no more.
  2. One person can be slapped as many times per outing as there are crew members p**sed off with them
  3. You can slap the same person again if they irritate you again in the same day during another outing / in the showers / in the bar.
  4. You are allowed to hold someone down as other crew members take their turns slapping the irritant.
  5. Holding under water while slapping is NOT allowed
  6. Weapons are NOT allowed... though you may gesticulate with your rigger jigger in an agressive and threatening manner
  7. To be on the safe side - follow government guidelines on slapping, and don't leave any red marks on the skin.
  8. If questioned by a Water Safety Advisor, Club Captain or Coach (or Police, if the former persons are the irritant), you are allowed to LIE,LIE, LIE!
Now, study the rules, break out a list of Crew Members that you've been wanting to smack for years and get slapping!!!

The River Thames Society , assisted by the Environmental Law Foundation, has apparently made a complaint to the European Commission about the non-implementation by the UK Government of the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive 91/271/EEC ("UWWTD") with the result that discharges of untreated sewage are regularly made into the River Thames.

The European Commission taken up the complaint, and have sent the UK Government a letter of formal notice asking them to respond to the complaint by the end of May 2005.

If the Government's response to that letter of formal notice is unsatisfactory, the EC will then bring proceedings against the UK Government in the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.


The Thames Tideway Strategic Study (TTSS) was set up in 2000 to assess the environmental impact of the CSO discharges, to identify objectives for improvement and to propose potential solutions.

As reported previously, the TTSS's preferred option for the long-term prevention of such discharges is to build a 20 mile long "interceptor" drainage channel under the Thames, to be used as a gigantic drainage duct for rainwater and sewage.

However, as Thames Water, the sewage undertaker, is a private company (and the government don't want to have to pay for it), it would be necessary to increase water bills by 24 per year to fund the scheme... But prices rises are determined by OFWAT and their decision on price rises for the next five years was published on 2nd December 2004 -- and there was no budget to build the interceptor drainage channel.

DEFRA, in a document called 'the Final Guidance' stated the Government's concern about the impact of increases in waterbills. The Government sets out under the subheading "Thames Tideway" the need for further measures to address discharges. However, it was decided that in relation to intermittent discharges from combined sewer overflows into the Thames Tideway, that the proposed interceptor tunnel should be the subject of further consideration in the light of the scale, the costs and the long implementation timescale.

It is unclear how this decision was reached in the light of the outcome of the TTSS. The present position of DEFRA in the Final Guidance sets out no programme for achieving compliance with the Directive but instead simply states that

"bearing in mind the scale, costs and the long implementation timescale, further consideration is necessary before decisions are reached. The Government has therefore asked Thames Water and the Environment Agency to undertake further work on the interceptor tunnel proposal and on other measures that might be alternative or additional.

So, while considerable work was done by TTSS (of which DEFRA was a participant) leading to its preferred option for the tunnel interceptor, this option has been put on hold pending the consideration of other solutions. The Final Guidance from DEFRA states that cost is a factor in not proceeding with the proposed tunnel solution.

The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive sets out to achieve its objectives by providing that Member States shall ensure that all urban areas over certain sizes are provided with collecting systems and treatment facilities for urban waste water.

The UK Government is currently in breach of the UWWTD, in that there is no collection system for the untreated sewage and run-off which is discharged regularly into the Thames (this should have been provided by 31st December 2000) and no secondary treatment of such (deadline of 31st December 2000 has long passed).

and we all get to row on it....


06-05-05 BIG BIRD?
Tyson the Terror of Staines has apprently been at it again - as he recently tipped their head of rowing out of in his single in an airbourne attack - obviously showing his complete disregard for authority.

Swan attacks are no laughing matter, the largest male mute swan on record weighed 50.7 pounds and they are one of the few species that will fight each other to death. The aggressor "rides" his prey and holds its head under water until it drowns or dies of exhaustion.

Swans kill dogs in the same way, and on at least two occasions, have killed people: a child in Massachusetts around 1930, and in 1982, an Indian fisherman drowned when a swan capsized his boat and beat him on the head and shoulders. One swan has been observed crushing a galvanized bucket and another attacked a 19-foot motorboat. They are also known to attack humans on jet-skis, so rowing boats aren't much of a challenge.

General advice for avoiding swan attacks, seems to focus on making youself look like a "big swan" as they will tend to defer to larger birds - any takers to go sculling wearing the following?


The Bristol Varsity boatraces took place on Saturday watched by a crowd of 1500 people. Fortunately, the wind and changeable weather that was upsetting regattas elsewhere in the country was absent and the crews had ideal conditions for racing,

With the second of the Bristol men's squad coach's reported three goals for the season riding on the race, the slug was paying particular interest to the last race of the day... but alas it look like Bristol will now have to sooth the pain by winning Henley, as UWE won 3:2 overall, taking the senior events for both the men and women.

To be fair, there was only a canvas in it for the men's senior VIIIs. The women's novice race wasn't quite so close, though UWE did give Bristol a sporting chance after they had some major crab action, however, despite the crustaceons they still went on to win easily.


pics are available from the nice people at jet photographic

09-05-05 BORNE AGAIN
By all reports there was plenty of fun at chiswick on Saturday, with the high winds making 'atlantic conditions' which forced organisers to suspend racing at Borne regatta for a while. When it restarted, spectators on the balcony at MAABC were treated to the spectacle of umpire launches narrowly avoiding collisions with boats crossing the river on their way to the start.

A Vesta veteran double almost came a cropper and, later on, a women's eight was crossing the river as a launch turned to go back up to the start...

Alerted by shouts from the shore, both parties stopped, and sat watching each other as they drifted closer. Finally the eight began to back down (again in response to shouted instructions), but the umpire launch still caught the bow of the eight hard.

Maybe the umpire's driver had a similar problem to one rowing coach on the Tideway, who was recently heard apologising to a pair - 'sorry I didn't see you - couldn't see over the top of my launch...'


06-05-05 HORSES TO WATER...
A coach writes...
" I read with with interest your piece on coxswains and stake boats. Completely agree - however...

...I do feel a little under the kosh as a said coach currently struggling with getting concepts of positioning on stakeboats across to a particular cox. Particular cox has been run through the drills on land and water, been taken to lakes and inland rivers, and has had more than enough time to master the effects of stream.

However, despite all of this he still manages to go completely blonde at precisely the wrong moments.

At such times, am I allowed to tw@t him with a large spanner in a Basil Fawlty stylie coaching manner? "

We never said it was easy...

OK, I'm not one to lecture (much) but as the regatta season starts, it's bringing with it that old problem of incompetent crews who can't get attached to the start pontoons.

As well as making you all look like you're complete mongs in front of both the officials and your opposition (quietly watching on while safely attached to their own station), this also adds to stress levels and can lead to delays in the regatta timetable - it is a PARTICULAR problem at multilane regattas where crews can't just row past and then back on.

Problems with this have already become evident at both BUSA and Wallingford this year and will no doubt also be in full view at Poplar Spring / Docklands in a couple of weeks time.

If any rowers reading this haven't had enough (if any) practice on getting attached to stake boats and/or pontoons, then DEMAND that your coach coaches you in how to do it, before you make a public show of yourselves... which begs the question as to why the hell are coaches putting their crews in the situation where they need to ask - some of you do enough seat racing at Dorney, so how about practicing getting onto the start pontoon while you're at it?

Coaches should be teaching the basic skills to crews - taking account of wind and tide/current (i.e. spinning far enough infront of the pontoon so they don't get blown onto it side on), passing blades forward, and tapping it round on frontstops, and realising that bowloaders can't rely on the cox to make the relevant commands, so the crew have to have a clue.

Rowers / coxns do not magically know how to do these things - at one regatta last year, when the umpire asked the bow of a junior 8 to "pass his blade forward to Two", he started to undo the gate...

It's simply not fair on the (mainly junior) competitors, who are stressed enough at these big multilane events, to send them out unprepared, and it's not fair on the other clubs who DO teach their coxes how to do it.

Now sort yourselves out.