Saturday, 8 December 2012

CRA AGM and other useful stuff

The CRA AGM was on Wednesday the 5th December at the Boathouse pub. It was a cold night and attendance was a bit sparse. Nothing exciting occurred - which was all to the good. If you're interested in the agenda - and lets face it, who isn't - you'll find it here (rather than, say, on the CRA website, where no-one would look for information updated in a timely manner). The 2011 mins are also available.

This list of events on the Cam in 2013 might be of interest:

  • WL1: Sun 13 January 2013
  • WL2: Sun 17 February 2013
  • WL3: Sun 3 March 2013
  • Head of the Cam: Saturday 27th April 2013
  • Bumps: Tuesday 16th - Friday 19th July 2013

This may be a handy place for me to list old dox that people have sent me:

Monday, 19 November 2012

Winter head 2012, and farewell to Steven

406933_10100394072727260_2028389233_n First, read the Winter head 2011 post. It was sunny then.

Last year we (well, I'm writing this and I only care about "M1" :-) got 9:32: this year we got 9:16, so that's clearly an improvement. We still didn't win though - after age-adjustment, we came 2nd to Gripper's Wrinklies. Granta won overall in 8:20, but I don't think we're competing with them. This was also Steven Andrews' farewell row for the club - sob - <FX>wipes away tear, blows nose</FX> - although I for one welcome our new giant reptilian overlord.

The start and the marshalling was as farcical as last year, its almost as though they do it deliberately. The race was good and uneventful, except for us overtaking a ladies crew that had accidentally been entered as a mens VIII; happily they conceded us the inside of Ditton Corner, lord knows what would have happened if we'd had to unleash Tidy on them.

Cox: the firm hand of authority, in the shape on James Tidy. S: Andy Southgate; James Howard; Ollie Crabb; Steven Andrews; Tom "Welcome Return" Watt; Chris "Special Guest Star" Smith; Chris Wood; William Connolley.

Oh, and afterwards we went off to Clowns for breakfast, which was good. Then I escaped, but I gather a certain amount of watching-rugby-whilst-drinking-beer-in-the Rad went on. The evening saw a gathering at the Waterman for Katherine W's 40th, Steven's final appearance in a kilt, and some drunken balloon racing.

W VIII Division 2

215818_10100394073535640_378730439_n The ladies were also in div 2, but a bit later. I won't comment, but a certain well-known member of the ladies's side said on facebook "This appears to be a boat full of homeless, huddling with layers to fight off the cold!". Time 11:44, 4/8.

Cox: Ali. S: Anne; Joss; Lorraine; Sarah; Bev; Janice; Debbie; Annie.

W IV Division 1

417001_10100394068785160_1867729051_n That was in division 2. Division 1 was a bit damper, as the photo shows. Anne, Joss, Lorraine, Mel. And some rain. Coxed by Simon, I suspect. Time: 12:13, 3/7.

M VIII Division 2

540003_410813688988056_1896037074_n "M2" were in div 3, so "M1" swapped over at Stourbridge, which despite my comments about last year, worked OK this year. The weather got better for them. Time: 10:13, 5/5.

Cox: James T again. S: Andy "sucker for punishment" Southgate; Will "giant insect" Wykeham; William Dulyea; Simon Green; Luca Simonelli; Dave byrne; Paul "not a mason" Holland; Simon Emmings.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Vet’s Fours Head 2012

54720_10151163289905787_19433591_o [By Lorraine.]

Pic at start.
Somewhere else.
On facebook.

With the training done it was time to take lovely old Spare Rib down to a proper river - The Thames - for the Vet’s Fours Head. The race time was 1.30 so Anne, Joss, Alex and I set off at a leisurely 8.30 for our day trip to Town. It was a glorious Autumn day, blue skies and no wind as we headed into London to Tideway Scullers to pick up our number. Then off to Sons of the Thames Boatclub where we were boating from. Spare Rib was already there having gone down on the trailer the day before for the Fours Head. We met up with Robert, our cox, who had also been down in London coxing a City crew in the Fours Head the day before. With Spare Rib re-rigged we boated and set off up the Thames to our marshalling point on the Surrey bend. But there was a problem, the calls from our cox, harder on bowside followed by harder on stroke side becoming more and more frequent it quickly became apparent that we had no steering from the rudder. Were we going to have to scratch…racing 7km on the Thames with no rudder just wasn’t an option. Then everything suddenly got better, whatever Thames debris that was stuck on our rudder had obviously became unstuck. We managed to sidle up to a bowloader and get their cox to check our rudder who confirmed it was now clear, we could then “relax.” Although on the Thames with the flow you constantly have to tap just to stay in position. Before too long it was time for Division 4 to spin and out we went into the Thames and heading for the start at Chiswick Bridge…

And the race began. We were number 183 in the Master B category. As a rower the race itself passed in a manic blur. We were passed pretty much at the start by the winners of our category and by a couple of quads during the race, which is to be expected as they have eight blades and no cox! Robert kept us focussed with lots of encouraging calls. We kept a steady 30 strokes a minute and our splits averaged 1.40 - Thanks to the Thames stream!!! Coming under Hammersmith we heard Simon’s cheers “Come on Chesterton” which gave us a lift and then we knew we only had a Cam head course left to race! Then before we knew it Robert was calling for the last two minutes, we had a quad to hold off which we did and then it was wind it down and it was all over. Those of us in the bows were soaked through – thanks to Joss’s early catches and then we had the slow row back up to our boating point, coping with the chop and low flying geese. We were cold and wet but happy. We got the boat out of the water and then went into the Sons of the Thames bar for a well earned cup of tea. Then, de-rigging, boat-loading and home, via the CRA, to once again walk Spare Rib through the back streets of Cambridge safely into Peterhouse and home in time for Strictly!!!

Our time was 23.49 which was a three minute improvement on last year. We were 4th out of 5 in our category and 171st out of 199 boats to start, but were pleased with our performance and can’t wait to do it again. Rowing the Thames really is one of those must do experiences.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Devil Duck does Boston

TL;DR summary: 5:10:17 and I'll do it again but faster.

In more detail: I entered the Boston Marathon as a scull - something I've wanted to do for a while (ever since doing it with the ladies in an eight, and passing in the last few straights a number of sculls, apparently becalmed in the Sargasso-like seas of weed, and thinking: that must be really wonderful), but last year's cancellation foiled me, as did this April's IV. But this time nothing could stop me, I hoped. Trailering is the usual problem, and this time very few Cambridge folk were going, and no trailer at all. The St Ives folk offered to swing by Cambridge to pick us up... but then it turned out that they didn't start till 10:30 and I was off at 9, and they didn't fancy turning up 1:30 early just for me. So I was on my own.

2012-09-16 08.12.09 The solution was to put Joy on my roof rack, of course. But this involved constructing roof bars (since I have a rail and no bars, and the guy who kindly lent me bars that fitted his Audi didn't realise that the footings need to be different for a Citroen), and then (since the saxboard-bit of Joy is only 1.5m ish out of 8m total, and you can't strap her down too hard as she is wooden) using an aluminium ladder to extend the base forward so as to stop the front end waggling around. This seemed to work, but comments on why I was lucky to get away with it and should do it differently next time are welcome.

Anyway, having got up at 5 am, arrived at Peterhouse at 5:45, put Joy on the rack, waited for Silvia and Tanya (no, not that Tanya), and fiddled around, we left at 6:20 ish. Google swore it was 2:07 to Lincoln, but it wasn't really, so we were then by not-much-past 8. With me due to go off at 9:04, I no longer needed to panic and rush around. I had time to re-rig Joy (obviously essential), get my number (they give you numbers for Empacher slots, which Joy doesn't have, so I taped mine on, but badly in a hurry, so I had to keep calling out my number at the checkpoints along the way), have a shit (essential), buy two mars bars to eat along the way (see "nutrition", later), go through my kit and sort into going and not (partly done already but should really have done that yesterday), have another shit (optional but desirable, the two guys in the queue ahead of me who said to each other "I don't know what we're going to do for ages" were kind enough to let me queue-jump, since I was then off in ten mins) and then close up the car. Silvia gave me a hand with Joy, and down we go to the off.

2012-09-16 08.53.00 There is a bit of confusion with start order - I'm a bit worried that I'm notionally late, but they aren't. What turns out to be boat 3 - a J15 quad - is still on the stage, and a couple of low-number sculls due off after me are already on the water. But it turns out that despite what it says on the race instructions they are quite kind about the start order, at least when - as in my case - there is no-one backed up behind you (don't rely on this too much: the race instructions are pretty fierce, and later when boats need to be fed through they might get more ratty. We're the juniors, the elderly and infirm at this time, so are given an easier ride). So they don't object when I float around for a few mins getting my kit into order around my feet, tying on the watch, etc. To keep their lives simple boats go off on the minute, so if you miss one you wait a minute for the next, backing and so on, but then: off I go!

The race plan and the race

The race plan was to keep below 5:45 (my GPS watch gives as its primary unit mins per km, not per 500 m, so 5:45 = 2:52 split) for the first 10 km, and 6:00 for the second, and 6:15 for the third, thus getting me to 30 km within 3 hours. And this happened, even allowing for the transfer across the lock (fairly quick in a scull, since someone there takes the other end; I was across and off again in 2:40). At that point I was supposed to take stock and see how I felt. But what actually happened was that I hit a patch of heavy headwinds, particularly obvious in the trace around 34 km, and slowed down nearly to 7:00 at times, though never quite that bad. Also my bum started hurting after 30 km, even with a seat pad. Also my left leg started hurting a bit, as though strained, and I eased off a little several times.

It was never boring: how can anything be boring when you have little numbers to watch? Some people, I saw at the finish, had the map of the race taped where they could see it. That seemed quite pointless to me. There were various corners, but they are all easy to steer. Another fun game, especially on the longer straights, is to see some distant dot and think "that won't come past me until another 4 km" (or whatever; of course this game only works if you're one of the early, slow, entries). I got passed, first, at 4.5 km (J15 quad); then at 8 km (scull); then a double; then I think I was at the lock. Which was an amusement in itself: I had it in mind that the lock was at 13+ km, and their map says 13.5 km - but of course that is in sign-distance, and the 1 km sign is about at the start. So I was merrily sculling along at about 12.4 km by the GPS, thinking "I'll need to start looking out for the lock in another km, oh, I wonder who that chap is shouting at me" when I realised he was shouting "sculler, please come in here". So I did, and all was well. The main thing to realise about the lock, though, is that it is at only 12.4 kkm into the race - not even 1/4 of the way.

Just past the lock I passed boat #1, a J14 girl sculling, which I thought was very brave of her - I'd never have done such a thing at her age. And although you can get support at the lock, and people do watch from along the course, its still a long and a lonely way to go: she ended up taking 5:51. However, it does rather pop the bubble of anyone thinking "I'm dead hard, I did Boston" and should perhaps encourage anyone else worrying about not being up to it.

After that I got overtaken a bit, but not too much. I looked at the scenery a bit, though there isn't too much of that. I looked forward to corners, especially when I hoped they would get me out of the headwind. After a bit, say at 30 km, I stopped saying "hello" to passing crews: the easy camaraderie of the early-starters was lost as the fast-later-starters started to come through.

2012-09-16 14.27.15 At around 40 km I got a bit worried, because I was starting to lose feeling in my hands, in a slightly odd way. I could still feel the pain, but I'd completely failed to notice that my right thumb was no longer over the end of the scull, for example - it had slipped down to being mostly along the handle. And on a few strokes I sort-of couldn't really tell whether I was squared or not. Either this went away, or I stopped worrying about it, I forget which. Certainly things got easier: the headwinds dropped, or I pushed harder, or the river turned another corner, because I speeded up again - though it was clear at this stage that I wasn't going to make 5 h, so I didn't need to push to try to get that.

Up to 20 ish km, I was happily counting up the km's. And getting to half way was a milestone. Past 30 km I was happy to start counting down. At 40 km I could say to myself: that's just a lock (and back). At 45 km I thought of myself at the lock; at 48 km I was at the Pikey and Eel with just the row back through town to do. So it was a bit of a shock to cross the finish line at 49.4 km, Bardney lock all over again, though I wasn't complaining. And I would have had that J15 quad #3 if I hadn't steered into the reed bed. Weather: cloudy to start, to sunny at the end; no rain. Winds not too strong overall, but with a distinct headwind component in the middle third say.


There I am, smiling and happy, with the Stump in the background and Devil Duck in the foreground. The reason I'm happy is that my sculling, at that kind of distance, is constrained by technique, hands and bum; and only fourthly by fitness; which is why I was much less shagged than Silvia (so to speak) who managed an impressive 4:25 in her double.

2012-09-16 17.54.30 Afterwards, having de-rigged Joy and found somewhere to rest her, I asked how I was supposed to get back to Lincoln (having been reassured that there would be plenty of lifts) and was told to ask the commentator to ask; so I did, and she put out a request on the PA, and... nothing. That turned out to totally not work at all. What did work - and which the commentator put me on to - was asking the Lincoln Boyz if I could have a lift with them. Obvious, in retrospect. And although it took a while (I got in, fairly early due to my early start, at 14:20 but we didn't start back for Lincoln till about 17:00) I did as a special bonus present get a lift for Joy on their trailer, thus sparing me the return trip for Boston. From there, it was a little matter of putting Joy on the car and drving back home, and re-rigging her, and tidying all up.


I took 1 litre of water, which was enough. I also took 2 bananas, 2 mars bars, and some energy gels, which was enough - I didn't use all the gels, preferring the bananas and the mars. One thing I'd definitely change next time is to tape the food, at least that for the first few stops, onto the boat in easy reach instead of in the depths of my bag.

I did the race in 10 km units, at least to start with, stopping quickly (a little more than a minute) at 10 (banana) and 20 k (mars), then when rather shagged at 30 km I had a longer stop for nearly four minutes (banana and gel, I think), and three minutes at 40 (mars). And quick stops at 35 (gel) and 45 (just a drink?).

If I was running a marathon, I would take gels at 10 km and every 5 km thereafter - which is about every 20 mins. Because this is rowing, where its easier to carry weight, I took bananas and mars instead of just gels. But maybe that was just me being mean, since gels are £1 each and mars are half that and nicer... anyway: when I do it again, and care about my time more, I'll rely more on the gels.

Never enough time

This is just advice for young folk who have never done Boston before and want to: there is never enough time. So you need to prepare in advance: what you're taking, what you're leaving, where your food and water is, taping up your hands. There is no spare time at the start, there is no spare time on the water, and there is no spare time at Bardney lock, where all is rush-rush-hurry to get your boat over and off and out of the way.

One thing I was very pleased with this time was not having to stop to tape up my hands, thanks to (a) knowing where to tape them up beforehand and (b) some nice elasticated strapping stuff, which held on the plasters underneath. And I wore (very thin Ron Hill running) gloves.

Category error

If, like me, you're not really intending to win stuff, then you probably don't care too much about exactly which category you're in. But.

I'm a novice, and a Masters (C), both of which get you an "easier" draw, and Masters novice is even easier, in theory. The downside is you have to start earlier: I was boat 4, at 9:04. If I'd chosen to be a Masters C (not novice) I could have started at 10:06, and if I'd chosen to be Novice (not masters) I could have started at 9:50. Either of which would have got me the convenience of being on the St Ives trailer, as well as more bed time.

Less obviously, and rather surprisingly, I'd have actually won the novice category (the winner came in at 05:28:03) although not the Master C (04:28:13, well ahead of me and only just behind Silvia).

Oh, which reminds me: I was 3/3 in the Masters C novice category, though the split in times wasn't large in the grand scheme of things: 04:59:21, 05:04:08 and 05:10:17.

Advice and stuff

Is liberally sprinkled throughout this posting. I also see that I wrote some down after the first time in 2009. Of that I'd update:

* you can do it without support, as I proved (though incidental support, in the shape of someone to help you out of the water with the boat at the end, and across the lock, is needed but always available; thanks to the unknown people who helped me this time, and to Silvia who helped me at the start) but it makes the dance at the fnish hard. It was suggested that driving myself after the race would be unsafe; I don't think it was, but I did have more than 3 hours gap.

* I see that in 2009 (when it took us just under 5 h in an eight I strongly recommended getting a tailwind, which we had that day. I'd still recommend that :-)

And lastly, as the J14 sculler proves, you don't need to be some kind of Iron Man to do the event, so don't be discouraged: give it a go next year! Then I can have a place on your trailer and a lift in your car :-).

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

AGM 20/09/12 @ CB2

Chesterton's Annual General Meeting will take place on

Thursday 20th September
7pm (note earlier time than in previous years)
CB2 Bistro, Norfolk Street

This meeting will be an important one as a lot of key positions will become free.

As many members as possible should come, and all members, even relatively new ones should consider taking on a committee role. (I became Secretary before I'd even been in an Eight!).
Most roles are fairly non-arduous and its a good way to get more involved and give something back to the Club, as well as have a say in how its run. 

Any changes to the constitution need to be proposed at this meeting.

The roles to consider running for are as follows:

(If you are interested in standing for a position, probably the best way to contact Chris (Club Captain) as well as person who currently holds it if you want to know more about what they do.)

Club Captain: The official face of the club, who also keeps an eye on everything that the other committee positions are doing, and co-ordinates important matters.
Chris Wood

Keeps minutes of meetings, emails the club about important issues from the CRA
Amy Tillson

Keeps track of the financial situation, including who has and hasn't paid
Sarah Coates

Mens' Captain
Co-ordinates the Mens' training plans and outings
Steven Andrews

Womens' Captain
Co-ordinates the Womens' training plans and outings. This position is currently the only one that can be shared between two members.
Meg Richards Lorraine Turvill

Water Safety Adviser
Records any incidents, ensures the club complies with safety regulations.
Dave Richards

Kit Officer
Places orders for new kit, organises sponsorship t-shirts and other kit
Lorraine Turvill

Equipment/Maintenance Officer
Makes sure equipment is in working order
James Howard

Social Secretary:
Organises social events
Becca Scourse

Keeps the website and mailing lists up to date
William Connolley

Race Secretary:
Organises race entries and fees
Emma Howard

A rough agenda is as follows:

Committee reports: Treasurer/membership, Mens Captain, Womens Captain, Water Safety, Kit, Equipment, Club Captain.
Dissolve committee
Committee Elections
Any constitutional changes
Equipment purchases and priorities

Hoping to see lots of you there!

A new boat booking system

The summer rowing season is over (I'm counting Nines regatta as the start of the autumn) so its time to start preparation for the winter. And what better way to start than fiddling with the long-standing boat booking system?

The old system is good, because it works, quite reliably and with no perceptible input from anyone. It is bad because no-one [*] ever looks at the old site anymore, and I can't remember how to authorise new accounts there. I'm sure I could dig into my email and find out, but I'd like to trial use a google calendar system for booking the boats, and here it is.

Well, it is a calendar, and to use it (to write to it) you need to sign up for a google calendar account (if you just want to read it, well, there it is below). Since these are free, I'm rather hoping that won't be an insuperable barrier. Once you have that, you need to add this calendar: it is called the snappy name of:
To add the calendar to your google calendar account, you need the "Other calendars" menu item, which is at the bottom on the left, and you need to paste "" into that box.

I'm just a touch unclear about permissions... the calendar is public, but I think I need to OK you for write access. If you're having any trouble, just send me an email and I'll add you.

Over to you lot:

Notes, queries, complaints

Feel free to complain at me if this doesn't work for you. Comments I've had:

* It doesn't work (by which I think is meant, adding bookings) by iPhone. Answer: I haven't got an iPhone to try, but via Android, if you switch from the "mobile view" to the "desktop view" then you get full functionality including booking.
* Comment: it doesn't allow block booking, and this is good.
* Update: the new calendar is now official. The old calendar is obsolete. I will remove it soon.
* I need to contact Kings, Peterhouse to tell them this.

A bit of help

Some people have trouble making this work. Here's a bit of help. Note that you cannot add events just by clicking on the display of the calendar in the posting above; that's just a display-only read-only copy I'm afraid. You need to go to to start. Once you've got the boat-booking calendar installed, to add an event on it, click on your day to add the event, then select the correct calendar from the drop-down menu:


[*] I mean, of course, that I don't. I can't tell what you do :-)

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Eyes in the boat!

There were moments in M3s bumps campaign when I wondered whether I had spoken outloud whilst coaching, was just muttering to myself, or not speaking English.

My suspicions were confirmed when I saw this photo...

Chesterton M3 - Bumps 2012
M3 Crew: Chris S (cox), Rasmus, Tim, Rumman, Harish, Joe W, Bryan, Luca, Dave C

The pressure of a sandwich boat rowover, saw all credible technique, especially heads forward, thrown out of the boat...

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Its almost over....

The final installment from our bow seat correspondent...

Day 4 (Bump Down)

We’ve not made life easy for ourselves.

A realisation that the months of prep, the icy winter outings, the endless hours of erging, the strict protein diets really are worth implementing next year.

We desire to be winners… to experience again the unbridled joy of grinding out a bump.

Today “Automaton”, the rising Champs 9 boat, are our relentless assailant from behind. This will be tough!

Our W2 crew thrash past looking good for their bruising week & it later transpires they went all the way with a gutsy row-over ensuring they missed the spoons. Inspired, we line up still at the head of Division 4, ready for the race of our lives…

At the gun it’s like an out of body experience… smooth & firm we power away, not a lobster pot in sight.…& so it continues… the settled tones of Chris; “rhythm & power, rhythm & power” are punctuated with astonished snippets of praise.

Hey… we’re really moving!

There was no inevitability about the end this time & we ground it out all the way to Ditton Corner or thereabouts (my awareness tunnelled into the boat by this point). They were ultimately too strong for us & deserved their ‘blades’ but we gave them their hardest contest.

…& so we were denied our final row in Division 3 but finished knowing we had improved, rowed our socks off & had acquitted ourselves well with by far our best row of the week.

Next year… stronger, leaner, fitter, slicker, BETTER. We, or a new incarnation of us will be there!

M3 - Town Bumps 2012… The pictures speak for themselves!

Bow Seat Correspondent, M3

The battle of Armageddon

M3, Day 3. (Row-Over… Twice!)

Chris has us catapulted to 1577 & Drake’s 3 year circumnavigation, pillaging his way around the world. We fear it’s gonna feel like it too!

So duly installed back where we were day 1… at the head of Division 4… we seasoned warriors cheer our gutsy W2 boat past to their much later bump down (Dang!) & install ourselves at the start point.

The start’s not perfect but we’ve had worse… much worse. Smooth water ahead, “Outspoken” clattering their way down the running order behind…what can go wrong?

The answer is... despite our best efforts... nothing!
A steady charge up the river, the pressure is soon off as the bumping chaos behind leaves the last opposition with an unattainable over-bump to get us. Steady & firm we start to settle & grind it out.
As we tire the crabs creep back in & the corners are not the tidiest but we make it in good order & not totally shagged.

Immediate spin & back down to the lock we go… crikey it seems a long way!!

Chris has by now taken leave of his senses & we are mounting a “mighty & valiant charge to Mount Meggido by the chariots of Thutmoses III”… The battle of Armageddon. Not my period to be fair but it sounds about right!

According to his dispatches “the King of Kadesh bumped out early leaving the M3 chariot milling about the field looking slightly non-plussed.”

…& so it was. A valiant start, giving it our all, closed the gap initially but bumping up ahead left us with a daunting over-bump to chase. We ground it out, managing to keep station but in the end making little impression.

Chris throttled us back at Ditton Corner, sparing us valiant galley slaves the unnecessary whip; an act of kindness & mercy calculated to position us for even honours at the very least on day 4...

I’m all for positivity but I can’t help now seeing Chris with bristling tash… as General Melchett… uttering his finest rallying cry… If all else fails, a total pig headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see us through!

War of the Spanish Succession

... more from M3s Dave...

Day 2. (Bump Up, Row-Over)

Chris has us re-grouped back in the War of the Spanish Succession… The Duke of Marlborough’s 250 mile march across the Low Countries to the Battle of Blenheim (1704). Frankly despite his rousing intent he’s sounding more Churchill than Marlborough. I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears & sweat…

Still, a tidier row down & we’re soon back to our ringside seat for another mowing down of W2… Further this time but they’re caught just beyond us... (Bollocks!). Hey ho… minds to our own daunting task...A tidier spin & we’re lined up, buoyed by some previous night spy footage of our
opposition courtesy of William C.

At the gun we’re off with the customary lurch & a spectacular crab but we’re all facing the
right way & we’re moving!!

It’s not quite the coordinated volley fire of a well drilled platoon… more ‘individual rapid fire’
but “Outspoken” are simply no match. Oh the glory as we clatter into their flailing paddles at full tilt (well a brisk jogging pace).

A BUMP!!… Fantastic.

And so, swelled with pride & self belief we rattle back down stream to our well earned place at the lock for round two. Cocky now, Chris has us perform some sort of reverse spin (“not bad boys”)… & with an eleven point backing manoeuvre & a bit of terse shouting we’re safely at our station.

At the gun we’re off… improving! improving!… And so we rattled our way up the river. The photographic evidence tells the story in itself.
We’re tired, a little ragged, decidedly odd around grassy, but we hold it together & make it to the end not a million miles behind the illustrious X-Press boat.
A row over at 2.5 lengths… not bad.

And so, only day 2 & we’ve experienced it all… A bump down, a bump up & a row over. Tired & happy we contemplate day 3 ahead.


Zulu warriors at Isandlwana

or M3 do bumps...

From the man in the 'copter, Dave C, a bumps write up for the week, day by day...

Day 1. (Bump Down)

The months of prep, the icy winter outings, the endless hours of erging, the strict protein diets… it all comes down to this moment.

Following a variable row down & some interesting practice starts we coast down to the motorway bridge, narrowly avoid an embarrassing capsize in the spin then sit & watch W2 savagely mown down in front of our eyes before taking up our station.

By now we’ve come to terms with the fact that the ‘sandwich boat’ isn’t in fact an early doors retirement to the hospitality tent & that the months of prep, the icy winter outings, the endless hours of erging & the strict protein diets would probably have been handy as we’re rowing twice nightly!

Chris’ theme of the day is the Zulu warriors at Isandlwana… A long rapid march to the field of battle (a row over) followed by a swift dispatch of the enemy (the subsequent bump). So with Cetshwayo perched in the cox seat in captured colonial head dress we experienced that rising angst at the sound of the distant cannon…

…fair to say (& totally out of character), the Zulus panicked.
Chris will I’m sure forever dine out on the fact we reversed our blades & on the gun, backed ourselves rapidly through the boat behind before crashing the lock. A slanderous exaggeration but not entirely absent of truth. A reversed blade corrected, 3 air shots, a gentle crab, a huge lurch to starboard & we were off! Crabs?… the river’s been mined with lobster pots & despite weaving like the Bismarck we’re busy collecting them all!
Needless to say the half-length or more we conceded before we even remotely got our act together was entirely unaffordable. This was Rorke’s Drift... X-Press 6 were the 24th Foot, their blades crisp like coordinated volleys of rifle fire, Michael Caine in the cox seat.
The Zulus were mown down in short order & in harried disarray… & ironically, in front of the aforementioned hospitality tents.

In the later words from the trenches of the immortal Captain Blackadder…Made an entry in my diary today… simply says “Bugger”!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Bumps day 4

339393_10100315486739210_1260095019_o Overall: M1-, W1-, M2+, W2=, M3-.

Tally at the end: M1 =, W1 =, M2 +1, W2 -3, M3 -1; overall -3.

[Day 1, Day 2, Day 3]

Again, a skeleton that needs filling in. For the moment, I've nicked some of David Pontings fine pix: find more on facebook.



Tonight the plan was to eschew the hard-but-steady attack on Nines of yesterday in favour of the all-out attack that had worked so well on Tuesday. Ah, hindsight: had we but flung this at them yesterday, it could all have been so different. But it seemed to make sense at the time. A lesson.

A reasonable start, again as per day 2 up to 41 and holding it high until past the motorway bridge. St Neots, behind, as expected were coming up - but not too fast. And we could hear the "nearly a length" calls from the bank on Nines 2. By the end of first post reach that had closed down, to maybe 3/4 - but at the same time St Neots had come up shockingly fast; that shows rather clearly on the video I saw in the Waterman last night. We had a rocky patch of maybe 10 strokes where things just weren't right, a little before the corner.

Not far around the corner St Neots thought they had got us - they certainly had overlap, and maybe enough, but James didn't concede and the marshall didn't give it, although St Neots stopped. But they very soon got going again, and although we then got to perhaps 1/2 length on Nines - I'm not sure exactly - St Neots came back like a steam train and it was all over.




'Oh look, I can see a plover'


Final day of bumps and it needs to be glorious. Our crew line-up needed to be changed around to get a last minute sub for Chris W. (who fell ill the night before) into the boat. This meant shifting Dave B. to stroke side and Tom into seat 5 behind me.

(Now! Please excuse the metaphors but ...) On the menu for tonight is one hot and juicy serving of Club 99's 4 boat and we are very hungry. As was noted, this crew was on its way to earning their spoons for this year and so we would have to bump them ASAP to retain some kudos from it. Our start was brilliant and we managed to lengthen out smoothly after the completion of the winds for a fast (for M2) boat. We gained rapidly on 99 and almost crammed our bow into their stern just the other side of the A14 bridge. After that things became generally chaotic as we scrambled to get out of the way of the other on-coming boats. This ended with a decidedly disturbing thud after hitting the bank and snapping off about 7 cm of P O' Kanes bows (oops!).

Oh no not again thought the P O'Kane.


At last! A row-over, which must have felt as triumphal as a bump up. Well done.









Thursday, 19 July 2012

Bumps day 3

Summary: M1=, W1=, M2=, W2-, M3 ==

Tally so far: M1 +1, W1 +1, M2 =, W2 -3, M3 =; overall -1.

[Day 1, Day 2].

For anyone who hasn't stood under the motorway bridge when the guns go off, I took a little video of it. You need to hook up some big speakers to really appreciate it.



Well, we knew this would be hard, but we had high hopes. Yesterday's superb bump of Tabs 3 had brought us a respite behind us and a clear shot at Nines 2 ahead of us. And we all agreed on the strategy, which was not to expect it to be easy and not to expect an early bump. And we mostly put it into practice, except somehow along the way it just turned down the spur a little too low; perhaps the respite behind us wasn't what we needed. In retrospect, too much like a replay of last years day 3. So while we closed to within 3/4 a length of Nines, we couldn't get closer. Rowing in the choppy water was hard, and they had clearish water ahead of them, Champs 1 having sprinted off to take out Robs 2.

Tomorrow we have St Neots behind us again, so its back to the all-out sprint off the start strategy: no lack of spur there. I'm looking forward to it.

[Pic by David Ponting; see his facebook page. Nines 2 look composed. And at least they know how to hold their heads up.]


W1 - Champs sandwich!

From our in-boat correspondent:

After Day 2's debrief we decided what we needed was an outing! But we settled on a legs only warm up, after which we had a powerful and confident row up to the start. The race started well with a better start and we had Champs 2 in sight. With no danger from Champs 3 behind we kept grinding on. At grassy Champs 2 bumped out in front of us. But it wasn't game over... we were on for the overbump. With fabulously motivational coxing we pushed and pushed all the way down the Reach but the finish line came too soon. A truly epic row-over. And Day 4 we have Naz's crew. Bring it on!

[Pic by DP. Another: on the way to the start].


From our in-boat correspondent: By day three this this starts to feel like another routine. Tonight we chased City 7 with Champs 5 behind. The general race prediction was that there was no chance of catching City 7 before they bumped and that we would have no problem holding off Champs. Personally I think this was setting the wrong attitude in the boat to make predictions like that, but that's just me. As it turns out City 7 bumped just after the A14 bridge and we did manage to keep Champs far enough astern (but they did manage to get uncomfortably close at times) and we rowed over with no chance in hell of an over-bump. Excellent job by the crew in keeping it together and once again to our cox (Fio) who is managing to bring boat and men together skilfully.




Row over head of M4; followed by a (distant) row over at the bottom of M3. Well, they can't say they aren't getting their money's worth.

Tomorrow will be more testing: they have a crew on for blades behind them at the start. Here is a bit of video of them idling back down the reach, if you want to check them out.
616058_10100314978587550_804382758_o The Smith, in its unnatural habitat.


* JET, M1 * JET, W1

* Amy

Bumps day 2

Summary: M1+, W1=, M2+, W2-, M3+=.
Tally so far: M1 +1, W1 +1, M2 =, W2 -2, M3 =; overall 0.
[Day 1, Day 3]
Chesterton now has a twitter feed, courtesy of Amy. #TownBumps seems to be the bumps tags in other people's feeeds. We're @ChestertonRC.


The glorious summer weather was out in force for the start of mens division 2 yesterday. But scroll forward to about 2:45 for the 4-boat bumpfest coming round first post: champs 4, followed by champs 5, with our boys chasing them, and the hi-quality low-practice Chaotiques featuring Tom Watt coming up behind. Well rowed chaps, and nice steering from Fio.


Another day another race. Today's task was to bump Champs 2 and hold off City 5, who were keen to get us back for bumping them the previous night. We had a good start but City 5 were faster and although we gained on Champs before we knew it City 5 were bearing down on us and with whistles blowing and their blades in sight we gave a hard push, they panicked and caught a crab and we escaped. As they faded into the distance we turned our attention to Champs in front. We kept plugging away and gave a final push out of Ditton but it wasn't to be. But we kept pushing nevertheless as tomorrow we'll get them. A valiant row over.

[Some video by madprof featuring the world's latest concession, but us only briefly.]


Picture by Amy After a first night of relative calm Wednesday was always going to be rather more challenging. St Neots traditionally give it all at the start (perhaps because they fear Grassy Corner?) and this year is no exception, they are blisteringly fast and they were right behind us. In contrast Tabs 3 ahead of us are a weaker crew than they were in 2010 when they bumped us. So it was bump or be bumped and all three boats knew it.

After an inspirational team talk the row down was excellent, composed and focussed (aside from 7 losing his seat in the first practice start, but we won't dwell on that). Marshalling went smoothly and Chris S gave another rousing call to arms as the heavens opened at the 4 minute gun. The rain stopped again as the countdown ran down and we launched off the start winding up to 41 and "settling" at 40. As we had planned there was no transition to steady state and Andy kept us charging toward 1st post corner sacrificing efficiency for outright power and short term speed. The whistles came quickly, a length then half a length from Tabs 3. However, behind us St Neots had made the expected quick start and rapidly gained on us eventually gaining overlap at the entrance to 1st Post Corner. They were well placed on the inside and for a moment they looked like they might just have us, but just when it looked impossible Chris sounded his horn to tell us we had overlap with Tabs 3 (he was lying as it transpired but it was an inspired move). The crew responded magnificently pushing St Neots back as James took a superb line around the corner and in seconds it was all over. Tabs conceded and we easied. St Neots were only a couple of feet behind and also had to stop as we scrambled for the offside bank to let them past. Eventually St Neots fought their way through and disappeared around Grassy Corner with Champs close behind while we fought for breath and tried to make sense of what had just happened. As we collected our willow thunder rolled ominously and the skys darkened, we rowed back in dramatic conditions the usually tranquil Cam unusually fast flowing and brown after the recent floods and the threatening sky brightened by occasional lightning flashes. Strange bearded natives cried "beer" from the riverbank but the Pubs were calling us home for a well deserved celebration.

[By James Howard. Picture by Amy. "madprof" has good video from Grassy, though it doesn't include us. Does show the eventual St Neots / Champs / City pile-up. Mel has Jo's video of us.]


Down again I'm afraid :-(


Bumped Outspoken with no trouble, well done! [I have some video I hope which I can add.] That put them back at the head of M4, and therefore sandwich boat for the men's third division, chasing Press. Who were still fast. Ahead of Press were the Vets, who Press could catch, but ahead of them was "the slowest boat on the river", who the Vets could catch... ah, but if they held out long enough, Press could get the Vets and we could overbump the snails. But alas: the Vets disposed of the snails in short order; ahead, the next few pairs were gone too, leaving Press nowhere to go. We gallantly chased them at a distance of about 3 lengths, but it was a row-over.


Please email (or leave comments) of any coverage.

* Amy

* Electric Six - Down At McDonaldz

* CN report

* M2 in post-bump willow

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Bumps day 1

Summary: M1=, W1+, M2-, W2-, M3-.

[Day 2, Day 3]

It was looking like a poor start for Chesterton: m3 went down to a fast Press crew off a harried start; w2 were rowed down by St Mary's; and M2 did a superb start outside the Plough but then crabbed just after the start in the actual race.
However, W1 came back happy and smiley with willow in their hair having bumped City 5; and M1 had an excellent row-over.


181374_10150909855480373_287460316_n w1-city5 From our in-crew reporter:
W1 - With a warm up on the ergs at the Combined followed by a confident row up to our station we were ready to hunt down City 5. Even the premature firing of the four minute gun didn't spook us. Janice was soon counting us down for the final minute and Freya pushing us out. We were tuned into Janice's voice 15...14... (all except Alex our Bumps Virgin who was caught by surprise by the start!).
After a shaky start we soon got into our rhythm, going round First Post Corner we were still on station. The crews had bumped out behind us so we knew we were safe and we knew we would catch City because Alison, our cox, said so, so we knew it was true even if from the bank it looked like the gap wasn't closing.
With fabulous coxing round Grassy and out of Ditton us older ladies came into our own. Alison called for a Bumps 10 and we went off like a rocket. Alex could hear their cox saying they're going to get you - and we did! Lots of smiley faces and willow.
For City's view (from which I nicked the pic, about 0.1 secs before they concede), see this video. They look so tired by Grassy.


266008_10100313849066120_1283725588_o M1, you'll remember, ended last year in a Champs sandwich with their M1 ahead and their M2 behind. We knew we were about as fast as last year - and the timed race confirmed that - but we knew very little about Champs, since they hadn't entered. St Neots, behind Champs 2, were rumoured to be fast; as were City 3 behind them.
I'd gone to watch M3 and W2 and found that my pre-race calm was being disturbed by all the excitement and the cheering. I settled down as we fell into our pre-race routine, which I found enormously helpful: we did just the kind of stuff we'd normally do, and James called the practice starts just as he normally would. All routine. Steven Andrews was just back from Greenland, and due to the rainfall and treefall on we hadn't managed to have our Sunday "re-integrate Steven" outing; but that didn't seem to matter.
For the race itself: we got a good start, and rowed well. Before first post St Neots had got Champs 2 behind us, and City were way back; and just before first post we passed Champs 1 who had bumped an apparently poor Tabs 3 (Hills Road) crew. At that point we needed to be heedful of the pre-race warning to not relax too much, in case City 3 did the unthinkable and overbumped us. But as we went past the Plough they were still way back, and although they caught up a little on the reach it was a calm make-no-mistakes row on our part by then.
For the second day: we have a fast crew behind us and a slower crew ahead: there is all to play for.
[Pic: David Ponting. See his facebook page for many more.]
[Update: it turns out that City 3 are very short-sighted ;-)]


From William D:
After being polled out at 40 seconds to go our bow was pointed a little too far out to the far side of the river and our cox had to make some quick calls to get bow pair pointing us back into position for the start. We were still manoeuvring when the final gun sounded but we managed to get it together quickly enough for a fast start. Now, from what I heard, the city boat we were chasing did not have a such great start, so I think we had a very good chance of catching them in the gut if all things had remained equal. However our 4 seat managed to get the crab from hell within 3 or 4 strokes of lengthening out and he had a hell of time to recover it giving the chasing boat time to get within half a boats length of us before we could get our selves together for another big push. Now with the Champs crew less than a boats length behind us we were off again and for about 5 strokes we actually managed to push away from them. But, the panic had set in at that point and too many in the crew shorten-up to try match the rating stroke needed. And that was it; Champs made the bump before the A14 overpass. What a miserable way to start and end the first night.
In consolation, we have an excellent chance at catching Champs for day two.
Crew: Boat: PO Kane. Cox - Fio B; s - Ralph; 7 - Dave R.; 6 - Will D.; 5 - David B.; 4 - Andi R.; 3 - Simon G. (Boat Captain); 2 - Giulio B.; b - Simon E.


JET (thanks Meg): M1 (Chris stop diving at the catch), M2, W1 (nice backsplash). By goodness there is some ropey old rowing at the top of M1: Robs 2 look awful.
Every year tech advances...
W2: an exciting race, and when you pulled away to clear water around first post I thought you stood a good chance. But alas.
M3: the start is a bit harried (and getting the blade the right way round will help tomorrow; well recovered, though). Watch out for the worlds slowest runner in white. The Press crew behind you looked to be pretty good for their position. Another M3 fragment from someone else; much better quality video.
M2: practice start.
This one isn't Chesterton: but its for M3. Its the bottom of div 3, and shows Press (who bumped M3) bumping Outspoken very quickly; rather quicker than they got you. So tomorrow you should start at #2, and have Outspoken at #1, and should have a good chance of getting them.

Other views

* Amy

Saturday, 14 July 2012


It has been a wet July but last night was just silly. Here are some pix.

From Drop Box

The willow downstream of the Fort St George bridge has gone in, nearly (but, we think, not quite) blocking traffic.


Apparently the little bridge there is damaged too.

From Drop Box

Peterhouse fours shed is distinctly wet underfoot, though it looked to me as though Wild Thing was OK. The view from outside shows that the main boathouse, being higher, was OK.

From Drop Box

City looks damp. Lets hope they didn't leave anything on the floor! Lucky Duck is riding high.

And finally, just for me


* Amy provides the narrowboaters view (and some sympathy for town folk flooded) as does Pippin from Bottisham. * CN pix

Monday, 9 July 2012

Bedford Sprint Regatta

We went to Bedford Sprint Regatta - the ladies W1 in Dawn Treader as IM3 and Nov, in order to get at least two races; and me in Joy as MasC 1x. In this I continued the care in event selection that Will and I displayed so well at Peterborough, only worse: my opponent in the first round, a nice chap called Audinis, won two FISA gold medals in Poznam, and only the day before had won the MasD category at Henley Vets. Oddly enough, I didn't get past the first round (verdict: "easily"). However it was still fun, and afterwards I had a nice quiet scull under the finish bridge and further. But I learnt a useful lesson, which is: enter more than one category if you have the spare time.

My race was just before 1, and the ladies as IM3 were just after 3, leaving me time for tea and cake in Bedford's rather pleasant boathouse overlooking the river (jealous, moi?) and a quick browse of Hobbes. They were against Bedford Girls School, and despite a decent row ended up two lengths down. However, that was as IM3, so there was some hope for them as Novice at 4:30. That one was against Norwich, and I stood on the start bridge to video it, as you see. It looked about level as far as I could see, with Norwich perhaps slightly ahead, and alas they did win by 1 1/2 lengths in the end. So, no medals for us this time round.

Bedford is a nearby regatta and easy to get to. We really should have put some more boats in - the novice IV's looked quite ropey and distinctly beatable, and perhaps the pairs too :-)

A couple of pix, in case you don't know Bedford. This is a view of the start (oddly enough) taken from the right (embankment) bank. I rather likes the situation of the start-girl on her moored pontoon in the middle of the river.

After the start there is a slight curve around to the left (as you look down the course) that I should have studied more carefully, as a scull, though its clear enough for a coxed boat. I watched a City pair on the left (boathouse) bank nearly hit the bank on the corner.

And her is Joy, looking very bright and shiny and pleased with herself for getting a chance to go off Cam for what I suspect is the first time in ages.

Oh look, here is a view of the course I happened to take, because I liked the foreground of the pontoon. These are all with my poor quality camera phone, sorry. You see the bend in the course, and just at the end, on the right bank, you can just make out the rightmost low arch of the bridge - its a bit of a nightmare getting back through that arch.

There is lots of nice space to warm up after the bridge, and Star Bedford is down there too, and several km of quiet river after that.

The Ladies start as IM3. No-one can ever sit bolt-upright at the start, not even the lovely young girls from Bedford Girls School, and they have probably studied Deportment and Bearing.

Saturday, 9 June 2012


We took a ladies (novice) IV and a mens (masters B) pair to Peterborough on Sunday 27th May; for the usual convoluted reasons we couldn't get more than that. The full results are here. To spare you the suspense: the ladies got through their heat, and then came third in the final. They were 15 secs off the leaders, but only 6 secs off second, so it was exciting. Here they are in the final.

Mel, get your head up. Though who am I to say such a thing, since I stare at my hands all the time - well, if you don't stare at your hands, how do you know whether they are the right height above the saxboard, or rising up to the catch nicely?

Anyway, enough of them, "what about the men?", I hear you cry. I thought you'd never ask.

Inevitably, I'm going to write about the mens pair because, well, I was in it. It was quite fun to go "alone" in that this was the first off-cam race we'd entered (well, actually, it was about our 6th outing in the pair together, and the first race we'd ever done, but hopefully you see what I mean) just-by-ourselves, without someone in the club organising it for us. We were on a City trailer, and carefully loaded up on Thursday night, because it was going up on Friday afternoon. However, on Saturday, we realised we hadn't been quite as careful as we'd thought - we'd left the seats in. Oh-err. But an email to City brought back the reassuring news that the seats were still attached, so all was well. Or so we thought. But when we got there on Sunday... err, oh dear, only one seat was there. I suppose we were lucky even one stayed on. So the intended we're-there-well-in-time-and-can-relax-and-spectate turned into a rather frantic scrabble to find a spare seat. Luckily Peterborough could lend us one. So we had our practice outing on the Neme, which turns out to be even wigglier than the Cam, and got back in time to see the ladies final.

Then it was our turn. Backing down onto the start boat turned out to be possible. This was a masters B/C race, and we were the B, whilst our opponents were C - that meant they got a 5 seconds head start. Boo hiss. This was because while I'm nearly old enough to be your grandfather be masters D, Will is so insanely youthful (though dissipated, of course) that he only just scrapes into masters A; and we average to B. So, the other boats start, and we're counted down the 5 seconds to our start. And, regrettably, we stayed at the back the whole way. Steering proved to be quite a challenge. Clonking our first lane-buoy woke me up with a bit of a start, and I paid more attention after that; but we spent some time not hitting the buoys only because we were so close that the oars went over the top. However, we were 16 secs (=11, remember) off the lead and 7 (=2, oh so close) off number 2; so I don't think we can blame our loss on the steering. Here we are, just crossing the finish line:

We look OK, I think, though just possibly I may be biased. Will isn't looking at his hands, but then again no-one is perfect. There is another one of us here and again Simon has contrived to take just the stroke when we went in perfectly together. And here we are looking Manly afterwards:

[Photo credit: Simon Emmings. Note that via some miracle of tech these pictures went from gmail via gplus to blogger without touching my harddisk, or at least I think and hope they have.]

ps: the new seat was £120 with VAT and carriage, and Andy Nicol kindly cut it down to size, and made me a cup of tea too (well actually Elspeth did). Anyway, the point is, don't leave your seats on during transit, bozo.

pps: oh yes, the other point: so, our recorded time was 4.04.5, but remember that has 5 secs added, so really 3:59.5, so we made it in under 4 mins, oh good. But then we looked at the results and realised that had we entered IM3 2-, we'd have been second, and only 2 secs behind the winners - that would have been a really exciting race to be in.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Your ergmeister shrieks

Here it is at last, the updated 30 minute ergo table. Feast your eyes.
Person          Raw  Weight Factor Adjusted

Steven A        8358 93     0.984  8,222.727
James H         8144 83     1.004  8,178.879
Chris F         8300 95     0.980  8,133.892
William C       7862 72     1.030  8,096.343
Chris W         7908 80     1.011  7,994.207
Dave R          7568 68     1.040  7,870.948
Simon E         7489 64     1.051  7,869.722
Will W          7650 80     1.011  7,733.395
Paul H          7531 74     1.025  7,718.501
Andy S          7606 90     0.990  7,527.776
Anne R          7076 65     1.048  7,416.197
William D       7534 94     0.982  7,397.566
Gary D          7250 83     1.004  7,281.050
Dave B          7099 78     1.015  7,208.679
Lorraine        6782 64     1.051  7,126.780
Source data is here. Only this season's scores are included. Before we get on to the 2k table, let me try to interest you in the running-the-head-course table, which so far has two entries:
Steven A     10:36
William C    11:26

The course end points are

  • The Motorway (A14) bridge, upstream (town) side. Start line is where the concrete of the bridge turns into towpath grit.
  • In Ferry Lane, about opposite the Green Dragon, metal lamppost with a "4" on it.

You can run it either way. At the corner near the beer tree where the path bifurcates, you have to take the (ever so slightly longer) path that stays nearer the river.

For comparison, the club record in an VIII is 9:30 I think.

And now for the 2k table.

Person          Raw   Weight Factor Adjusted

Steven A        6.648 95     0.980  6:47.05
James H         6.832 82     1.006  6:47.27
Chris F         6.800 95     0.980  6:56.33
William C       7.213 72     1.030  7:00.27
Will W          7.130 79     1.013  7:02.24
Dave R          7.350 68     1.040  7:04.03
Simon E         7.525 64     1.051  7:09.66
Paul H          7.427 72     1.030  7:12.70
Luca            7.657 75     1.022  7:29.30
Andy S          7.545 90     0.990  7:37.40
Rasmus          8.040 68     1.040  7:43.83
Anne R          8.152 65     1.048  7:46.66
Simon G         7.667 95     0.980  7:49.39
Harish          8.663 80     1.011  8:34.19

Some familiar faces there. Don't see yourself? Well send me a time / distance them. Note that the raw times are in decimal not mm:ss, sorry. And now for the "misc" table:

Person          Raw   Weight Factor Adjusted

Giulio          18:38 79     1.013  18:23


Sunday, 29 April 2012

Head of the Cam - results and round-up

The original Head of the Cam post got treated as a live document and updated as we went along. So this is a new post for the wrap-up.

Thanks to all our competitors, support, marshalls and umpires for making it a successful and fun day. We had a total of 860 rowing seats in 136 crews. The fastest crew was... 100-Caius-snap1 by Andy Southgate

...yes, you guessed it, Caius. Congratulations. Fastest womens crew was, rather less expectedly, also Caius. They beat Downing by 14 seconds.

Full results are available from here (a number of people were kind enough to thank us for the speed of the results; its all thanks to googly docs). Video of the event is just going up as I speak at spannerspotter though it will be a while before its all up. For those of you who prefer the security and solidity of a PDF, this is the final results, sorted into time order.

Oh, and someone lost a pair of glasses in a kangol case on the towpath. If they are yours, do let me know [now reunited with their owner].


138-sculler We didn't really have any serious issues - at least, we thought not. Hopefully you agree. Even the weather, whilst grey and occasionally a bit damp, spared us from downpours.

Turning boats back

We had to turn one, or perhaps two, boats back who were late for their division. Sorry about that, we don't do it lightly, and where possible we'll give you a chance to race in a later division. In at least one of the cases the boat was late because it had failed safety inspection: the heel restraints weren't in place and had to be put in place. Moral: check your boat is all in order in good time.

The Cow that could Swim

Half way through the race we were informed of a prodigy - a cow that could swim, on Stourbridge Common. We thought it best not to trouble you with that.


We hope to make things even better next year - please feel free to email ( with any suggestions. One thing I do want to do is to seed the draw better, probably by asking people to submit a recent head course time, or their own best guess.


Everything went well with the timing except the problem with boats 117 and 118, which was only resolved right at the end. Unfortunately it turned out to matter for the prizes for the W2 Mays. So let me bore you with the tedious details. Before I do that, the timesheets are available for div 1, div 2, div 3 and div 4. Feel free to look, but you won't learn much.

115-rowback So, the sequence began with boat 115, Xpress MasB IV, which broke their rudder (they eventually and boldly started, and here is a nice pic of them trying to take Grassy with an improvised rudder, but they had to retire in the end). Their dropping out caused a hole in the start order, which got filled by Kings W1 (118) going off out of order ahead of Cantabs W IM3 (117). Not in itself a problem, but the start times and finish times as we got them looked like:

114 CCRC, CRA MasD 0:24:53 0:34:51 0:09:58
117 Cantabs, W2 IM3 0:23:31 0:37:57 0:14:26
118 Kings, W1       0:26:02 0:36:39 0:10:37
120 Cantabs, Mas E  0:26:54 0:38:38 0:11:44

You see the problem. Kings (it became clear) had started before Cantabs, indeed just before Cantabs, so 23:31 isn't a believeable start time; and Cantabs total time is implausibly slow. Eventually, after a considerable amount of indecision and hearing from both crews, we decided to go with Least Modification, and resolved the conflict by assuming the Cantabs 23 was really a 26. That fits with what the timings Kings coach gave us; and it also fits some times we got belatedly from video on Grassy: Kings had gained 18 secs on Cantabs by then. ps: Champs head vindicates us. Kings W1 did well there, too.



Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The DIWLF boat does Oxford

elite-squid DSCN2489-w1-r1 After our extended training outing it was time for the Elite Squid to show the Oxford City bumps what we could do. And after many a roundabout we all met at City of Oxford RC boathouse down by Donnington bridge. For those who don't know, I rowed at Oxford for SEH from 1983-1989 (indeed, most of the reason for doing my D. Phil. there was to continue rowing, how silly I was when young). But either there were no City bumps then, or we didn't know about them - not unlikely, the Town and Gown rowing is far less mixed in the Other Place. So this was my first visit to CORC, but I digress... I was pleased to see that ANU is still God, though... oh come on, get on with it man...

The Oxford City bumps are rowed in IV's (including bowloaders!), with two men's and two women's divisions each rowed four times, all in one day. Because it is IV's, and only 13 boats to a division, the half hour spacing between divisions works fine. They are rowed to "Torpids rules" which we (we?!?) in Cambridge know nothing of: the boat bumped keeps going. These are the same rules used in the Torpids (== Lent) bumps; the university summer eights are rowed to "the usual" rules. As it fell out, these rules worked well for us, in the sense of making the racing more interesting. Oh, and the bumps are non-contact: if there is overlap, the umpire on the bank whistles and the bump is given. This works.

Round 1

We started 3rd in division 2. Start order Tabs 2, CORC Heavyweight developement, Us, Tabs 3, etc. As it happened, Tabs 3 were mostly the good half of their second summer VIII, which is well ahead of our first VIII. And so they caught us fairly soon (just on the exit from the gut) and very definitely. But due to the Torpids rules, we had our chance to row on and try to bump CORC. Which we stuffed up - one of our number de-seated when we were a canvas down and gaining rapidly. But otherwise, it was a pretty good row.

In the course of waiting for the start - Mike P-J was our poleman - I remembered why Oxford bumps don't do the push-off-at-20-secs that Cambridge do: its because the banks are too high to allow you to get your blades on them. That means (as I remember well) lots of tapping on and nerves before the start if there is wind or stream. Fortunately today there was little of either.

Round 2

From the bowcam.

We started 4th except, confusingly, the sandwich boat wasn't there as boat 1, so we were the 3rd physical boat on the river. Never mind, we're off. As expected Tabs 3 caught CORC in the gut. With a bit of experience of this kind of thing under our belt we realised that (a) CORC had a start but would fade rapidly after the gut and (b) rowing in puddles is hard (perhaps especially in a IV?). So the cunning plan, on leaving the gut, was to pick whichever side of the reach CORC didn't and get them. And so it was; I think we got them half way up the reach. Abingdon had held station behind us and even looked threatening once but (to our surprise) didn't go on to catch CORC.

Incidentally, if we had managed to catch CORC in round 1, all that would have happened in this division was that we'd have rowed over behind Tabs. So, Will, all is forgiven.

Round 3

From the bowcam.

This is the one that (in retrospect) we really stuffed up. It turned out that the missing sandwich boat from round 2 was Claire's Court School who (perhaps not used to bumps sandwich boats) hadn't realised they were now in div 2. So they got bumped down to 4th. So the start order is now: sandwich boat, us, CORC, Claire's, etc. And the sandwich boat was Jesus. I've always wanted to bump Jesus. We knew nowt about them, except that they were slower than Tabs, but that wasn't saying much.

To cut to the chase: we rowed well and got to perhaps a half length at the top of the reach (look at the video, its great). But when they crossed over and we were again in their puddles we were unable to close the gap. And (to give them credit) they held up well under pressure and kept us at bay. So (having pondered this) what I'm now sure of is that we should have pushed much harder and pretty well thrown everything at them down the reach when we had the chance to get overlap in clean water.

Round 4

Claire's Court caught CORC, and Jesus didn't bump up, so we were chasing them again but now with a fast boat behind us. And they proved fast enough to get us. But, the glories of Torpids rules meant we didn't have to worry about that: we could continue with our grudge match against Jesus. But despite our rowing at least as well, and probably better than, last round; and them having been sandwich boat in between; Jesus held us off again.

[Oh, and looking at the results, I remember: the some-what disappointment of this, over and above the not-bump, was that Jesus rowed as sandwich boat and caught Press; and since we were faster than Jesus, we'd have done that too, if we'd got Jesus in either round 3 or 4. Ah well, that's the bumps.]

Round up

DSCN2514-the-elite-squid And so we ended up with one real bump up, one technical bump up, and two down, for a net gain of zero. But no! We gained a great day out and a lot of fun and entirely new rowing. We'll be back next year.

Oh, did I introduce the crew? We were:

  1. Mr Wykeham, the Cantab Calamari
  2. Mr Holland, the Tentacled Sucker. Then follows the better educated stern:
  3. Dr Howard, the Legendary Kraken
  4. Dr Connolley, all Conquering Cephalopod. Then the quality drops right off:
  5. Mr Tidy, Tetrapussy
Also thanks to the invaluable assistance of Mike P-J, our poleman; and to Simon Emmings who was our Judge. Oh, and did I forget Emma, and indeed George, the finest squid of all?


Monday, 2 April 2012

To Ely and back

We were going to enter Boston - indeed, we did enter. But come the draw and we still hadn't found a trailer, and the reason became clear: there were no other crews going from Cambridge (other than Katherine and Anna-Rosa, who won their class; but they were in a double, and didn't need a trailer). It rather looks like the organisers hadn't publicised the change-of-date widely, and only had 1/3 the normal number of entries.

And so we thought: rather than all the faff of trailering there, why not "just" row to Ely and back, which is about the same distance (actually 51.5 km, starting from Queens's boathouse, over Boston's 50). And so we did:


That is our route, annotated, from the GPS trace. You'll see we stopped a bit: Baits Bite (5k) and Bottisham (10k) locks were necessary, as was the pint at the Cutter Inn at Ely. Upware (5 miles from anywhere pub; 15 k) was a lovely sprawled-in-the-grass-with-drinks stop on the way back, and I think we happened to stop to adjust footplates there on the way up. And then the formerly-Fish-n-Duck at the junction of the Old West river was another landmark, 20 k. Note that at some points where we had long stops (Ely, Upware on the way back) I stopped the watch, so you don't see the full gap.


Our proof that we really did get to Ely :-). and if that isn't proof enough, here is more:

My hands - taped to match my nail varnish. When oh when oh when will I learn to tape up my hands properly before getting blisters?Paul's hands - worse than it looks from a distance. And he was taped up like an extra from The Mummy.James Howard's mighty Blister of Doom. I added the arrow in case you missed it.

There is no picture of Will's hands - apparently, as a result of some odd formative experiences at Eton, he doesn't get blisters ;-).

DSCN2453-beer-from-pippin DSCN2455-tea-and-biccies John-from-Pippin was kind enough to let us through Bottisham lock both ways (side note: if you had no friend but you had the key, you could probably do it by letting the cox out at the landing stage, though the Cambridge side is awkward. It almost looked possible to get out on the bank before the stage, which (if possible) would be much quicker than waiting for the lock gates to move). And on the way back, he even more kindly lifted over a few cans of Old Speckled Hen in a net, and then mugs of tea for James and Will (not in a net).


Here we are in the lock, on the way up. James H has a somewhat worried expression, because I've insisted that James T stand up to take the picture, and (as you can see) we don't really have our blades out very far. I've cropped the picture to spare you the worst of my pallid chest - I rowed up Topless, though actually it wasn't warm despite the blazing sunshine, so I rowed back Topped.

The very last adventure of the day was discovering, half way down the reach, that we'd lost our rudder. Watching James's face was quite funny, as it slowly dawned on him that pulling the strings was doing nothing. But he then did an excellent job of coxing us back just with extra pulls from either side as required.


At the end, we could still smile (L to R: Paul Holland; William Connolley; James Howard; Will Wykeham. Front: James Tidy). Because we knew we were headed for the Fort. But how was it, overall? Fun, yes. An interesting excursion and definitely something different and something to remember. Hard work - we didn't just pootle along, or even back (the GPS says avg ~13 km/h on the way out, which is 2:18. And a bit lower on the way back - perhaps 12.5, which is 2:24. Tiredness, or difference in rover flow? Those GPS splits are about 5 pips worse than the impeller splits we were getting at the time). Would it have made a decent time if we'd been doing Boston? Hard to know - we wouldn't have got all the rests, so the split would probably have sagged somewhat from what we have here. We'll find out next time!

[Update: oh, and I forgot to mention: we got off to an appallingly bad start: as we passed under the Fort footbridge, having taken about 20 strokes, James H said "are we nearly there yet?" in a perfectly deadpan voice; I could hardly row for laughing for a minute.]


* GPS track