The slug is pleased to be able to bring you the attached video clip, which was taken on a mobile phone, during the Official sports presentation from the Bristol- Hanover sports exchange, which took place earlier this week

The vast majority of the city’s council representatives were present, including the mayor himself, not to mention the club captain, Ben Culverhouse and several members of Bristol Ariel Rowing Club.

Mr Culverhouse (along with an as yet unnamed Cox'n) can, allegedly, be seen in the attached quicktime file singing that old classic "The Lion sleeps tonight" ...

on Helium.

Where's Simon Cowell when you need him...

(n.b. due to the size of the file - you may find it works better if you right click on the picture and "save target" rather than playing straight from the hyperlink)

04-10-05 SCHOOL'S OUT...
Short of spotting the odd fully-laden boat trailer on the way to work in the morning, the school’s head remains well off the radar of most Tideway rowers (or those over a certain age anyway), mainly due it being hosted mid week and mid afternoon and therefore not encroaching on ‘normal’ Tideway activity.

However, the low profile of the race disguises a growing number of entries... and this is part of the reason that changes are afoot in the organisation of the event for 2006.

The 2005 event had some less than desirable events on the day, with, amongst other things, safety boats causing accidents (‘tis true) and some crews, who clearly weren’t up to standard, needing to be escorted down the course.

Combined with a growth in entries, the result has been a much needed restriction on the number of crews able to compete on the day, so according to the organisers this means that the Schools Head Race for 2006 will revert to become a sweep oar only event, with the ‘Scullery’ organisation apparently offering to run an additional event for Junior Sculling crews [quads and octopules] at Henley on the previous day ( though, as the new event hasn't actually been approved by the National Competitions Committee yet, it's all a bit hypothetical anyway...)

Now, this may all sound fine and dandy to those of you who don’t normally take the school’s head under your notice, but there are a few things worth considering...

  1. Many schools are unlikely to want to their rowing masters to have two consecutive days away from classes, especially those schools and clubs further a field – as many schools and clubs have the same staff dealing with all levels of rowing.

  2. Not every club / school has more than one trailer, so trailers will have to be loaded and taken to Henley, then return and be taken to the Tideway... and not everyone can do that especially from the schools and clubs in the midlands, south west and north.

  3. Removing the J16 and J18 Quads from the Schools Head, and indeed all sculling, is going counter to National policy which is to encourage sculling for juniors, as much possible.

  4. There are some outstanding Scullers at J16 and J18 level that should surely have the opportunity of rowing the full Tideway course – especially as the Hor4s is already oversubscribed and therefore other options are limited.
Now surely a better option would be to split the events by age, keeping the J 14 and J15 events at Henley, whilst allowing all the older juniors to race on the Tideway, regardless of boat type.

The other question regarding running two days consecutively is just how organisers are going to find the umpires and marshals for both events one day after the other, with both being mid week, when most umpires are doing their real jobs... Whereas to run a J14/15 event a week or even two weeks later (preferable as many youngsters only start in January) would surely make organisation a lot easier..

Regardless of what the end format is, one thing is clear – events that don’t meet the needs of their target market segment either have to adapt -- or they simply won’t survive.

We watch with interest.

It would appear that his move from Mortlake may not be the only change that coach Richard Tinkler has undergone recently.

For not long ago the man himself was spotted, coaching an unidentified eight at the top of the tide, near the Pink Lodge... The eight was proceeding up the middle of the river (assuming that the tide was still coming in) when a group of TSS scullers came down the middle of the river (believing that the tide had turned and was going out).

Neither party was inclined to give way (you're all supposed to move to starboard dearies), and the cox of the eight had apparently not even seen one of the scullers (who, it is fair to say, sat in the middle of the river yelling 'head eight' when those with less robust nerves might have been tempted to get out of the eight's way).

There ensued a slow motion collision - no-one hurt, no damage to kit - and the inevitable altercation, going something like :

Sculler: "What the f**k do you think you're doing? The tide has turned you are in the wrong place!"

RT: "Language - you watch your language!" (with every evidence of shock and horror at such uncouth behaviour)

Amusingly, on being informed of this incident, RT's other crew (a quad) nearly fell out of the boat at Little Miss Manners' sudden conversion to decency and decorum on the water!

Lets hope more people follow his example...

Having made us lesser mortals question her sanity by electing to spend well over 100 days rowing single handed across the Atlantic, former Twickenham oarswoman Debra Veal (now Searle) MBE is out to confirm it by seeking to become the first female to sail solo non-stop around the world against the wind and currents (nb not the 'easy' way Ellen Macarthur did it).

See www.ybw.com/auto/newsdesk/20050826164748ywnews.html for more details. And any of you with a thirst for a deeper understanding on what makes Debra tick should visit her website www.DebraSearle.com

Debra claims that learning the finer arts of ocean racing from scratch (Ellen of course famously saved her school dinner money to buy her first boat) should not present a problem because 'she'd never rowed before she rowed across the Atlantic... (Ignoring all those training outings at TwRC in a 2X I presume)

Perhaps more surprising is her choice of boat - a Volvo 60, designed to go the 'right way' round the world, ie downwind, with a crew of 12 men... And let's hope that Debra's boat doesn't follow the fate of another rower's Volvo 60, which sank mid Atlantic last March.

On the plus side, Debra has secured the backing of Ellen Macarthur's company, Offshore Challenges, which clearly has total faith in her insanity.

22-09-05 WASHED AWAY...
The slug's twitchy little feelers have been picking up allegations that everybody's 'favourite' gin palace - the Clifton castle, surpassed itself on Wednesday afternoon, when it managed to wash down a Dulwich School quad by Kew Railway bridge to the extent that the quad broke in half...

Happily I can report that all the rowers involved are safe and sound and I believe the PLA is currently investigating...

coverThose of you keeping an ear to the ground may well have been picking up mutterings about a possible new rowing development at Hammersmith.

Well, the slug can confirm that the rumours are indeed true, as the developers Akeler and Delancey were told by the PLA that their development at Distillery Wharf on Barn Elms Reach would only be approved if they included some sports facilities.

Anyway, to cut a long story short the current plan is that the development will host a junior rowing centre for the region as well as providing office space for the Thames Regional Rowing Council and a venue to host organisation of the major tideway events.

The proprosal will go to ARA council for endorsement at the next council meeting, and the developers are also asking local residents to input their views on the plans either via their website (www.hammersmithconsultation.co.uk) or at a public exhibition of the proposals at the Distillery Centre, Distillery Lane in Frank Banfield Park which runs from Friday 23 September till Sunday 25 September.

Attached below are some pics from the architects presentation to the PLA, which give a good overview of the proposal.
overview rowing centre viewing platform rowing brief

15-09-05 TATTY BOY

The slug has it on good authority that one well known coach is now sporting a GB rowing tattoo...

Prize for the first person who e-mails me photographic proof of this crime against rowing (and no, I can't say where on his person it's located).

15-09-05 VENI, VIDI, VICI
Not content with total Putney domination, this year's Acheronians Feast went on tour to the Palais Remenham, Henley.

Acheron and global explorer, Mr Will SmithAcherons (in full battle gear) and guests were marched from TRC to Henley to show the West how we do things tidal-style.

As sunset drinks were served on the Remenham lawn, it looked to the assembled troops as though a battle might yet be avoided.

Dinner was served and the front-liners were nearly caught napping when sounds were heard out on the Bucks bank. Fearing the worst, an elite band of the fearless set out to secure the far shore.

In accordance with ancient Acheron law, the braves quickly donned their "traditional battle dress" (hmmmm.... Ed) and slipped silently into the dark waters.

Fortunately, the threat proved benign. Nevertheless, in recognition of their selfless gallantry, a sizeable crowd quickly assembled on home shores to welcome back the troops. Or perhaps to steal a quick glimpse of the sacred, ahem, "battle dress".

Once safely re-seated for dessert, the party ceremoniously cast away their cutlery, in dignified remembrance of all those who have lost their hands in the field of battle.

Although there were further skirmishes, offering another chance to see the now infamous ceremonial fighting attire, the evening passed without serious casualty.

Those who passed the evening safe in the fold of SW15 may have cause to reflect; never...has so much, been owed by so many, to so few.

RATS new posterRATS issued a press release last week complaining yet again about the sewage based pollution that we have to put up with in the river Thames only to receive an almost instantaneous response from Thames Water disputing many of the points made...

"The Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive (UWWTD) is European legislation that is enforced by the Environment Agency (EA) in this country. The EA sets standards based on the Directive for us to adhere to. Discharges to the Thames Tideway are permitted by our operating licence, and we are meeting the standards set for us by the EA. We are not, as RATS claim, in breach of the UWWTD.

Discharges to the Thames take place from both combined sewer overflows and sewage treatment works. The tunnel proposed by the Thames Tideway Study Group (comprising Thames Water, the EA, Defra and the Greater London Assembly) would tackle discharges made to the river - but only from combined sewer overflows. The current situation is not sustainable in the long term, and we're ready, willing and able to plan, design and build the tunnel - but need Government authority to proceed, and are still awaiting their decision. A solution of this sort was first proposed by Thames Water over 15 years ago - but has been put on hold by successive governments.

Our regulator Ofwat has recently approved our plans for a nine-year, £400m programme of work at Mogden, Beckton and Crossness, the three large sewage works on the tidal Thames. We will increase the capacity of the works, significantly reducing the size and frequency of discharges to the river, and improving river water quality as a result.

The feasibility of a separate surface water drainage system, which RATS propose, was examined by the Thames Tideway study group - and found to be impossible. The installation of a separate set of pipes throughout the parts of London where the sewer system currently receives both waste and rain water would be massively disruptive and prohibitively expensive.

Despite the discharges, the Thames is home to a rich ecosystem, including more than 120 species of fish. We've invested £1bn to improve the quality of sewage treatment in our region since privatisation in 1989, which has helped improve the quality of river water."

Of course following the heavy rain over the weekend, Thames Water appear to have hit back by backing up all the drains in Vesta and Thames Rowing Clubs over the weekend (obviously purely coincidental rather than an act of vengence).

Indeed one observer at Hammersmith on Friday noted that he could see see both the water gushing out of the storm drain by Hammersmith bridge and a slick of black water making its way upriver...

12-09-05 FISA MASTERS '05
The 32nd FISA Masters regatta took place in the wind and rain in Scotland last weekend. The event was originally awarded to Copenhagen but they dropped out two years ago – leaving Strathclyde, Venice and Plovdiv in Bulgaria vying for the privilege of hosting the logistical challenge that is now the world’s largest regatta.

Boat transport logistics ruled out Bulgaria while still painful memories of the chaos that was the Masters event in Italy - never mind more recent regattas – ruled out Venice. How ironic then that the first day’s racing should see the biggest Masters shambles since Viareggio back in 1989.

The huge number of competitors the event now attracts requires more than 6 lane racing to fit into FISA’s demand for only two full days of racing (despite pleas to run it over 3 days) – and so Strathclyde duly increased their lane number to 8. Alas, the increase numbers in veteran rowing meant that racing was still scheduled to run from 8:30 am to after 6pm each day – with a race frequency of every THREE minutes.

Strathclyde Park is unusual for a rowing lake in that it is very wide in the middle of the course – i.e. at the 1000 metre start. This makes for very fair racing in a cross wind – unlike some other UK courses – but consequent lack of shelter means that getting onto stake boats can be pretty tricky.

Add to that the proliferation of novice veteran crews, running late by the end of the first half hour.

By mid afternoon racing was over 2 hours late, and with no contingency for running any races the next day, the later races looked likely to be cancelled – tough luck on those competitors who'd travelled to Scotland from around the world to attend. But by then the organisers had intervened and improved the start marshalling – and by getting up to three races on the course at once (with one men’s double overtaking an elderly women’s four in the race ahead), the race programme was completed in near darkness by 8pm.

By Sunday the sun was out, the racing programme had been completed and many had enjoyed some great Scottish hospitality by dancing the night away in the regatta tent. FISA can thank the Scots and congratulate themselves on another successful event – but there are some clear questions to be asked about the Masters format.

Why is the event not held over more than 2 days – with no room for manouvre if weather intervenes? Given the costs of transporting boats and people so far – never mind the training hours put in – to risk racing not being completed because there is simply no leeway is surely not one competitors views as worth taking.

The open nature of the Strathclyde course and the vagaries of Scottish weather always meant this was a big risk in this case, but further south thunder storms can have a similar effect on racing even on a more sheltered course.

The variation in times within events and the random nature of heat winners’ times provides something of a lottery nature to any win - with frequently no real opportunity to know where your crew really stands. Events saw heats with massive differences in standards and in times from first to, while frequently up to four crews in one heat would have won another heat.

While recognising that moving to the US system of full heats, repechages and finals might be too time consuming and costly, could it not be run (like Gent regatta) with time trials determining who makes the final and 3 medals begin awarded per event?