|WE ALL STARTED SOMEWHERE...
The Sparrows Offshore Aberdeen Inter Company Regatta has persuaded Katherine Grainger to sprinkle some Olympic stardust on the event this Saturday by presenting the prizes.
The regatta has 40 crews competing none of whom had ever been in a boat until 6 weeks ago. So spare a thought for the starter, who has to send off 76 races of complete beginners at 5 minute intervals – on a tidal river.
One of the less well publicised stories about Miss Grainger is that her first attempt at sculling was in Aberdeen, in 1997; she capsized twice in the first 10 minutes (but blames a seal for putting her off).
Winning a Silver Medal in the Olympic Quad in Sydney 3 years later was a pretty reasonable recovery, really...
Oh, and speaking of Pubs and Clubs events, that other more financially selective version has started in the South East and Sir Fatt is spreading the love with his Top Tips (some of you lot could probably benefit from reading these)
|HOT AND COLD
As if Friday wasn’t hot enough, temperatures recorded in the South East over the weekend were hotter than Miami and whilst this provided great conditions for lounging around watching racing, it wasn’t very comfortable for the officials and competitors at HWR… not to mention that the insects were out and biting as much as they could.
With a refreshing cool breeze and a good view of the racing, the best place to be was surfing the umpire’s launches (with a hat on) but there were still plenty of cooked officials glowing red on Sunday morning due to a lack of suntan lotion on Saturday.
The main focus of the premier women’s regatta in the UK, now seems to be more and more directed at Senior 3 level racing in 8’s and 4’s, so it wasn’t surprising some of the most exciting close racing (especially in the heats and quarter finals) was to be found in the small boats events where there is no intermediate category to pull standards down. One Queens Belfast crew even managed to hit the booms twice, drop back by 2 lengths and still row through to win the race. There was also some very good lightweight sculling on show throughout the weekend.
Unfortunately the low points level of the intermediate categories is simply encouraging coaches with good crews to stop them from racing at other regattas, so they can race down rather than up ( points limbo dancing)– this means that you see crews which could quite easily win enough points to be in the higher categories if they wanted to, racing alongside crews which really are of S3 standard.
And, when you see an 8 that won it’s 1st heat by 5 lengths get beaten by 4 lengths in the next round, you start realising why this isn’t doing anyone any favours.
There is an answer - Raise the points limits for Intermediate and Senior – make crews have a minimum number of wins under their belts before they are allowed to enter and so give coaches a reason to make their crews race outside of multilane regattas. Something certainly need to be done as currently the intermediate event criteria at HWR is killing off women’s racing at the local regatta circuit in the UK and that’s not good for the sport.
Indeed, even those that try to do the right thing can live to regret it - The Vesta crew were kicking themselves for racing up last year – as in 2004 they had been eligible on paper to enter Intermediate 8’s but had done the “honest thing” by entering the Senior event, which they then went on to win forcing them to race in Elite 8’s this year (the only british crew who did). In their straight final they failed to make any impression on an impressive Yale crew (who had put in a 6:15 2k time at the recent NCAAs in California).
The other 8’s finals did produce some tight races – the Osiris / UCD final in Senior 8’s (and again Osiris were the only british crew in the event) was a particular nail biter (UCD won), as was the final of the junior 8’s between Oakland Strokes and Kent School. In that final the crews were neck and neck until the enclosure when Kent suddenly cracked and Oakland shot up two lengths.
In Intermediate 8’s, Thames won as expected – this is a crew that could clearly have been very competitive in both the Senior and Elite 8’s event. They took out Durham and Furnivall en route – both of which wouldn’t have been out of place in the senior event either – but then, that’s what careful points management during the rest of the year can do for you...
An impressive IC crew won intermediate IVs after knocking out their main opposition, Mortlake, in their semi-final but MAA did manage two other wins (in Elite pairs and the Lwt 2X).
The other clubs with multiple wins were University of London (Senior quads and Lwt 1X); Imperial college (SBL 1X and I4) and Thames, (who won Lwt quads to go with their I8 win).
Finally, apparently when Jonny Searle was asked to present the prizes he replied "how many people have turned you down before you got to me!!"
If you're after the full results, then they're available at www.hwr.org.uk/admin/user_race_table.asp, (in a rather web user unfriendly format)
Parrs Priory may have got a name check, but sources at Vesta confides that obviously U2 have chosen their favourites for success at HRR:
And (more disturbingly) it looks like the new Vesta-rization machine for new members has just completed its trials and is due to go into production for all new members joining in September:
U2 were playing Twickenham stadium on Sunday night, and at one point in the show the crowd were asked to text their name to a number in support of the Africa campaign.
Then later in the show the names of the people who texted start scrolling across the big screen...
And then in the middle of all these names of people you've never heard of, suddenly "Parrs Priory" scrolls across...
Some people spend too much time thinking about rowing!
|HENLEY WOMEN'S DAY 1
With no time trials to sort the sheep from the goats in the intermediate coxed 4s and 8s this year, there was a marked variation in the quality of the crews on the water on the first day of racing and very few close races as a result.
In the I8’s event there are several crews who are obviously of a higher standard than the bulk of the other competitors. Thames, Upper Thames, Furnivall, and Durham University are all looking rather useful and there is a promise some good close racing from the quarter finals onwards.
Whilst in the I4’s, Imperial college and Mortlake look like the main contenders, but early days yet…
Conditions for racing were generally good, with a light breeze on the water to help cool the competitiors and officials down when the sun came out, though there was still some dodgy steering on show with a couple of the eights (yes eights) managing to run up the booms.
The Environment Agency asked for the buoys round the back of Temple Island to be moved out, to enlarge the rowing channel - after they nearly got run over by the Upper Thames 8, who came steaming up in the wrong place, then got bollocked by a certain "grumpy" official, and finally went too far the other way and ran into one of the umpires launches waiting before the start...
As the official in question finished ranting at them for not knowing better, a shout of "Calm down Bill, it's only a regatta..." could be heard coming from one of the other umpire's launches, followed by much laughter...
The last race of the day, was an "invitation" event - which was actually carefully staged for filming on behalf of the river and rowing museum.
The race featured Guin Batten stroking a coxless IV for Upper Thames against her sister Mirium, who was stroking a coxed IV for Henley RC. The event was supposed to be carefully planned so that everyone knew what was going to happen and the outcome predetermined, however....
the UTRC crew, although coxless, were racing in a stern coxed boat - except instead of a cox they had a camera and a 20kg weight... Alas this wasn't quite heavy enough to ensure that the rudder was in the water, which made steering a bit of a problem, and the two crews managed to change stations during their "race"...
There's quite a lot of driftwood in the Tideway at the moment...
And the attached photographs illustrate just what can happen when you run into it, at speed, in an eight... (the boat was otherwise OK)
The slug was having a chew on the interweb recently after the little twitchy feelers started to pick up vibes from the Take Me To Dinner website - which is a spin off of the quickly closed down www.oxbridge-escorts.com.
The website is aimed at people who are too busy to meet people the old fashioned way and would rather just fork out money for someone they like the sound of to go to dinner with them...
Yes faithful reader, dates come at a variety of prices but for a mere (cough cough) 100 quid (oh - and you're buying them dinner too), one might expect a potential date with a good complexion, charm, and conversation skills a bit more advanced than Beavis and Butthead...oh and a bit of extra um, well, height.
Yes, For £100, Dan Snow would do, but Pete Hackworth??
Of course, if your 8 is short of a cox one evening that is just a little over £12 a head...
More info on Cherwell on-line
|WORLD CUP PICS
Been meaning to post these for a while - a few shots from behind the scenes at the recent World Cup Regatta at Dorney lake.
Click to enlarge (pictures open in a new window)
Picture the scene... Hughes Hall men in Cambridge wanted to enter two boats into May Bumps.
Nothing wrong with that, however, although their first eight are guaranteed a place (as every college has the right to have at least one men's and one women's crew take part), they realised that their 2nd eight had about as much chance of qualifying as the proverbial snowball in hell, so they came up with a cunning plan... they would get most of their first men to race as their second boat in the Getting on race...
Alas, the best laid plans of mice and students often go awry, and they er, not only failed to qualify but would have possibly failed to qualify for the women's event (They managed 9.13 vs the fastest non-qualifying women's crew time of 9.20).
It seems their captain assumed they'd get their triallists back for Mays, but out of three strong rowers and the Blue Boat cox, they've got precisely... one -- in their 6 seat, a World record holder in the M4- and Blue Boat stroke. (He wasn't rowing in their ringer GOR crew though, and neither was their captain. The other 6 were all first eight).
The slug watches with interest to see how many of the "non-qualifing second boat crew", suddenly get subbed into the "first" boat on Wednesday (giving that we're not sure if they even have 16 bodies).
Mind you, it appears they're not the only college who are struggling to fill their first eight. Reports suggest that Corpus men are in a similar situation and recently sent out an eight which had precisely one rower in it who is actually going to row Bumps. The rest were subs and mates.
Tut, tut... would never have happened in my day...
|NORTH SOUTH DIVIDE
Private university grudge matches seem to be a growing trend, and one of the latest additions to the racing calender is the North Vs South Challenge between Queens University, Belfast and Trinity College Dublin aka the "Lomac Tiles University Boat Race" (well every proper university challenge needs a sponsor no matter how odd...)
The event, which took place for the first time in 2004, had it's second outing again on Saturday. The venue was the same as last year - the river Lagan - and the sun even came out for the crowds (which is no mean feat for Belfast in June).
For those of you not familiar with the river Lagan, it's not unlike the Tideway in being rather bendy and having lots of bridges. Luckily since the introduction of the lock a number of years ago, it doesn't smell as bad as it used to... though there is still a healthy spattering of locals who are always happy to throw things at passing rowers...
Anyway, the nippy Norn Iron crew, managed to avenge last year's defeat by Trinity, winning both the men's and women's senior races.