|FIRST AID - VET STYLE
While chewing on the hedge by Upper Thames this weekend at the Henley Veteran's regatta, the slug was very amused to see that rather than requesting the services of the St John's ambulance, the organisers actually had a full scale Intensive Care Trauma Unit on site (evidence attached)!
One curious racegoer did ask if the paramedics had seen much trade but thankfully they hadn't and were getting quite bored by 4pm. Hopefully they remained that way until the end of the day!
Is it me or has Hackworth, taken his profile on the rent a date site to a new level and planned world domination as Dr Jonathan Crane (aka the Scarecrow) in the movie Batman Begins.
Could he perchance be plotting revenge on Acer?
|I'll 'AVE YOU...
It's day 2 of HRR and Vesta B and NCRA are attached and ready to go, with plenty of time, for their heat of the Thames Cup.
Suddenly the Vesta cox notices what looks like a log between the two crews, and mentions it to the start officials - which includes none other than Sir Steve Redgrave. Altered to the hazzard, the man himself shouts out that it shouldn't be a worry as they've still got four minutes to the appointed start time and that it will have floated through by then.
But soon after he appears to have a change of heart and wanders downstream of the start where a dinghy is moored.
The dinghy marshall moves out of the seat and SSR takes up the oars like a natural, proceeding to gently make his way to between the starting pontoons to deal with the flotsam (which turns out to be a suit carrier – someone's going to be even wetter than even the day's rain could be blamed for).
While all this is going on County's cox is doing the standard cox thing on the start: whispered focus talk, keeping the crew's minds of the job, eyes in the boat, thinking of the job in hand. Meanwhile, Vesta (who are quite pleased to have found themselves racing on Friday) adopt a slightly different style....
No, not for them the desire to be quietest, most introverted crew; and someone, sotto voce, suggests that this looks like it could be shaping into a three lane contest.
Another voice takes up the gauntlet, "you do realise that Olympians aren't allowed in the Thames Cup?"
Stifled mirth from all around, Sir Steve included. "Why... you fancy your chances?!"
Pretty soon, job done, the umpire appears and Vesta race County to ¾ length, having led them to the Barrier before NCRA noticed their fast'n'cheeky start ...
|TIGGER, TIGGER BURNING BRIGHT
There was what looks like yet another arson attack on a boathouse in Oxford on Monday night, this time the victim was the Longbridges boathouse, which is home to Hertford, St Catz, St Hilda’s and St Benet’s. It looks very much like all of the boats (of which Tigger was one) have been lost in the fire but that the structure of the building did not suffer too badly, however there is extensive smoke damage in the upstairs rooms. (more sad pictures here)
Sadly, the apparent claim by Direct Action that an Animal Liberation group were responsible for the fire has an sickening ring of truth about it. http://www.directaction.info/news_july06_05.htm.
The report does tally with what we know of how the attack was carried out - cut the lock off, set 3 fires/incendiary devices inside, relock the door, and superglue the rest of the locks.
The building was designed to resist fire - I understand it is only stone and metal inside so they would certainly need a lot of flammable material for the epoxy to slag - so 11 litres of petrol would help. Fortunately, the boathouse itself is fairly sound (the fire service got there pretty quickly after the alarm was tripped, and the boatman who lives next door was woken up to confirm if there really was a fire), and two bays were essentially untouched.
Now, while I can kind of understand the logic behind breaking into labs to free monkies or rabbits being used as test fodder, I'm not quite so sure as to just how setting fire to a privately owned boathouse which has nothing to do with Oxford University Holdings is supposed to do anything to further their cause.
Meanwhile, around 26 boats have been destroyed or damaged and the clubs involved don't exactly have lots of spare cash to throw around.
If the colleges keep this rate of burning/building boathouses there'll be a distinct shortage soon. It's been six years since the last fire, and both the new OUBC (foundations now underway) and the new Univ (replacing last fire - plans apparently now approved) have been in the pipeline that long without presenting evidence.
|WE KNOW WHERE YOU ROW
Belfast Royal Academical Insitution (or Inst as they're known back in sunny Norn Iron), entered an eight in the Royal for the first time ever this year. The entry co-incided with the 65th anniversary of the school's boat club and although the guys didn't manage to make it through their first round against Abingdon, they are hoping that at least some of them will make it back next year with a bit more weight and a bit more muscle power.
The crew did however break records in one regard - they had the lightest cox in the regatta, who at a mere 6 stone 6 lbs was a third of the weight of the heaviest competitor!
The Thames Tradesmen boys were proudly wearing their new gimp suits at HRR and getting much praise from some of the Harvard lwts whose eyes widened when they saw the kit, declaring "those are awesome, dude" True they're not bad as gimp suits go, but the slug is just a tad concerned at how pleased Tristan seems to be with his..
The UL contingent were looking fine in their purple gimps at the royal (much better at hiding rigger dirt than white ones) but curiously had matching purple wrist bands to go with them... http://www.nlroei.nl/Fotoboek-display-37761.html
Best gimps still have to be Scrubbers though - especially with the white sun visors...
Hats off to the PLA’s senior management including chief executive Richard Everitt for braving the potentially hostile audience of a wide array of recreational river users, and hosting an open meeting at London Corinthian Sailing Club in Hammersmith on Monday night.
Rowers hoping to hear more about any changes to their river rules were in for a disappointment; the PLA neatly kept off this topic by announcing that the results of the working party on this issue wold be published shortly (???-ED). And indeed there was relatively little of interest for either rowers or sailors in the meeting, which fast became dominated by parties who pay rent to the PLA, and who feel that these have been randomly and unfairly increased of late.
The meeting did provide a fascinating insight into the new workings of the PLA – which has in the past relied on its income from port traffic and is now seeking to replace this with more from recreational users. The PLA’s annual turnover is £38m and last year it made an operating surplus of only £0.5m - definitely not the sort of company you’d regard as a safe investment.
Richmond lock currently costs £0.25m a year to run and any hopes of dredging under Hammersmith Bridge were dashed, as the only likely dredging is of the bank of Kew – which is indeed the most dangerous stretch of river.
The PLA also noted that the level of water in the river at low tide is entirely dependent on the amount coming over Teddington Lock – which after such a dry winter is not very much at present.
On the more contentious charging issues, according to the Chief Executive, the Act which governs the PLA states that it must seek to achieve ‘best consideration for moorings’ (although we have failed to find this clause in a subsequent brief reading of the Act) but ‘says nothing about treating fairly’.
Indeed the wording ‘equitable treatment’ in the PLA’s mission statement handed out at the meeting seems absurd given this remit. The clear message from the meeting was that house boat owners see massive difference in rents between same sizes boats, while rowing clubs with pontoon access must pay the PLA a 200% increase in charges amounting to several £000s, while those who access the river straight off the foreshore do so for free. It appears that the Act either forces or allows the PLA simply to charge what it can get away with.
Other issues rasied included a non rowing resident of Eel Pie Island asking that rowers should be made to wear life jackets – which the representative from Thames RC smartly batted into touch. And the quietly spoken umpire's rep from the TRRC, forced an aggressive American, with an apparently personal and long standing vendetta against the PLA, to shut up to the general relief of all
Perhaps surprisingly water quality was not on the list of the PLA’s stated objectives. But this didn’t stop a canoeist complaining that the houseboats empty their sewage straight into the river. This is still a legal practice in the UK (it’s banned in the Med) and there is nothing the PLA can do about it.
It was in any case pointed out by the rep from LCSC that it fades into insignificance compared with the amount that Thames Water can and does dump in. This expensive problem should be rectified within 15 years, and when another vocal member of the audience complained that this was too long and the PLA should intervene, the TRRC rep noted that the improvement in water quality in the past 40 years had been massive...
A very valid point, but maybe the PLA could ask Thames Water to let river users know when they have just made the water unsafe to drink. Not a big problem for rowers – but try capsizing a sailing dinghy in waves and not swallowing large mouthfuls of water.
Picture the scene, a nervous Britannia cup Thames crew was waiting around for their final in the crew cafeteria at HRR on the Sunday.
As they sit and stew, Gonzo, heaves himself along resplenent in his LRC outfit and spotting the group, in a moment of true sportsmanship wishes them good luck..,
Alas this historic moment in LRC/TRC relations is somewhat ruined when he subsequently slaps one of them on the back and bellows "... anyone but Thames, eh!"
It seems that one of the TRC crew, who happens to be ex-army was wearing a pair of army shorts, and with brain not fully engaged, Gonzo somehow missed the small clue that all of them were wearing Thames tops and concluded that anyone wearing Army shorts must be in the Army and therefore getting ready for the Wyfold final, also against Thames.
After a slightly stunned silence, the TRC coach responds "Gonzo, you idiot,we ARE Thames... Oh well, I would of course wish you luck but then you haven't got any crews through to the final have you?"
Not in any way put out, the London walrus responds "Oh well, guess I just showed my true colours then" and wanders off. Presumably to offer words of encouragement to Ukraine, Leander, Durham and the real Army (if he could find them).
Howver, those of you hoping for an extra good LRC / TRC grudge match in the next Boustead cup may be disappointed, as it appears that Thames afterwards received a letter of apology from Gonzo for his slight gaff.
Indeed, Thames sources confirm he not only wrote the crew a letter of apology, but he also congratulated the Wyfold 4 on their efforts in that letter.
Finally, TRC would also like to say thanks to the LRC contingent for bellowing mightily for Thames at Henley on Sunday (ok, it was just for the women's crews and they did try and persuade some of the TRC men to defect, but....)
|HENLEY WIN HENLEY
All in all, it was a rather peculiar HRR this year, both on and off the water. Despite temperatures soaring just before the regatta started, the main event suffered from cold weather with occasional heavy showers. The result of which was that, even on Saturday, the enclosures seemed less busy than normal - though possibly not because there were any less people, but rather because they were all staying under cover as much as possible in the grandstands and restaurants (and apprently queuing for the toilets)...
The results on the water, especially in the early rounds, were also throwing up unexpected results, with clubs who normally do well being relegated in the early days and those who normally get so far and no further taking home little red boxes.
The win of the regatta, must surely go to Henley Rowing Club, who took won the Thames Cup with five of last year's semi-finalist crew. Most of the guys in the boat learned how to row at Henley RC and it's great to see that it is still possible to win a Henley medal with a home grown crew from a bog standard british rowing club.
Some of the guys in the boat were apparently so nervous that they hadn't been able to eat for the last couple of days of the regatta, but all the same they shot out of the blocks like men on a mission and Lady Lizzy never had a look in.
Other wins of note were those of: Sydney rowing club in the Fawley cup - the club has been coming from Australia to HRR for the last eight years, and it's good to see them finally crack it; and the Army in the Wyfolds - another well deserved win that's been a long time coming.
Eton followed up their School's head win with a PE Henley medal after putting out a strong but fairly inexperienced crew from St Joseph's (USA) in an exciting final. I did hear various people muttering about the Eton guys "mincing" around between races, but as far as the slug's concerned, as long as they can thrash the hell out of any opposition on the water, they're entitled to do what they want on land. Eton are coached by Alex Henshilwood, who took Pangbourne to a PE medal in 2003. It's always good to see a technically superior crew medal over brawn, so credit where credit is due.
Olympic Gold medallist Kieran West may have come a cropper against the South African pair of Di Clemente and Cech, but he was still celebrating as amazingly this is the first time he’s ever won a heat at HRR (though not through want of trying) – it’s only taken him 5 years since winning gold in Sydney with the GB eight…
LRC paid the price of putting most their eggs in one basket (or rather in three 8's) and most of their eleven crews were out by the end of Thursday (though they did manage half a medal as the Leander/LRC composite of Hunter & Lindsay Finn won the double sculls). Thames on the other hand had four crews in finals for the first time since 1928 -- which was more than Leander had if you discount composite crews. Out of the red white and black finalists it was the Thames women who managed a well deserved win in the Remenham Cup against a strong Oxford/Leander/Durham crew.
Also having a bad week, were Mortlake, who surprisingly didn't manage to get any of their club crews through a single round. Dave Gillard, rowing in a Molesey/MAA composite quad, did get through until Friday but the Mortlake/Wallingford composite women's quad never even got to race after one of the girls injured her bicep and they had to withdraw; their Thames cup crew and selected Brit crew got knocked out on Wednesday and the Wyfold IV went the same way a few days after wrecking their borrowed boat on a moored barge during practice. The boat which contains current MAA captain Luke Howells, was rather ironically knocked out by a TTRC crew (where he used to be captain) but only after giving them a good race to the halfway point.
That aside, we must take time to note that the new Mortlake stripey blazers are particularly fine - as are the Thames Acheronians eyesores, and Twickenham's endeavors to return to the original blazer format.
The GB IV-, racing as Leander and Oxford University in the Stewards on Saturday, picked up a false start days before their event even began, after they were spotted out practicing after the river had closed on Wednesday by Regatta Chairman, Mike Sweeney. The Molesey/Brookes squad eight, also very nearly came a cropper but were told to get off the course just in time. Apparently Jurgen got a bit confused about when the river closed... needless to say regatta control sent Sir Matthew over to wave his clipboard at them in a telling-off type fashion.
For a local club Leander aren't particularly popular amongst spectators at HRR (wonder why that is - ED) and the slug was interested to note the differing levels of support between the Henley/Lady Elizabeth Thames cup final and the Leander/Cambridge Ladies plate final - where the light blues seemed to be the popular choice on the towpath and in the enclosures. Cambridge (with 7 of this year's Goldie 8) won by just under 2 lengths despite having the race of the regatta against the Brown Alumni crew on Saturday (they won by 3 ft). Their win over Leander reflected their respective placings at Marlow regatta - which may help to explain why the Leander coaches apparently asked for the Cambridge crew to be moved up to the Grand, before the regatta started - tut tut.
(pics open in a new window)
|WAYS TO GET WET
Last year's pre-Henley swim down the course was repeated this year the Sunday before the regatta at 4:30am. Unfortunately it was a rather grey and drizzly morning, so no nice photos this time, but there was a better take up - with nineteen people (mainly UTRC members) getting out of bed for a spot of extra training.
They weren't the only one's spotted in the river this year - one of the scullers from the Willem III & Die Leythe, Holland quad in the Fawley, broke a scull during his race and after rowing with one for a while, did the honourable thing and left the boat.
Less honorable than either of the above, was the was the nekkid swimming on show on Saturday, when, despite the cold weather someone thought it would be a good idea to swim across the course by Temple island, just before the Eton / Abingdon PE semi-final... (pictures not for the faint of heart).
Yes, the usual number of drunken idiots were in evidence this year, one of whom apparently decided it would be a good idea to borrow daddy's crusier and drive it over the booms. After the boat started to sink, the police arrived to arrest the person in question, whilst his equally inebriated grilfriend screamed abuse at them - the boat was towed to the side of the river where it stayed... (there's a good picture on row2k).
Then of course, there was the indiviual in Remenham club on Friday - rather worse for wear we suspect - who was spotted staggering down from the mound wetting himself as he went - alas he was wearing a normal blue blazer, so no further identifictaion is possible... well, unless any of you know otherwise.