The Knee

Huggy was just snuggling down into his cozy armchair with a nice cup of cocoa and his favourite slippers, ready for
'Question Time' when the phone rang.


The earpiece rattled with extremely loud jazz music accompanying the tinkling of glasses and girlie giggling.

"Hugs!", shouted Henry.  "Get out of those slippers and get up here pronto.  We've got a party going on".

"I'm not wearing slippers", Huggy blushed.  "Anyway... it's 10 o'clock - way past my bedtime".

"It's Christmas and sleeping is for wimps, Hugs.  I'm on a promise with one of two spectacular birds, and need a rear gunner to keep the other one occupied...", shouted Henry, a tad too aggressively, then rapidly changed tack with a pathetic: "... and a friend in need, is a friend indeed".

"Give me strength.... Well, everyone is in bed here, I suppose I could sneak out for a couple of hours".


Edward Arthur Withers was an extremely good looking, but extremely ill-educated man.  Born just outside Maidstone Prison, ironically he had had a spell or two within as an inmate.   While not being the sharpest tool in the box, he did have a winning way with women, which he liked to combine with trips into London for a bit of "culture".  In 1986, "culture" to Edward extended to all things French.  And so he took his equally foolish wife, Esmerelda, to see Les Miserables, where he was bemused as to who the oft mentioned 'Madame Guillotine' was.  Equally bizarrely, he took it as French 'culture' when he went with his drinking mates to a back street Maidstone cinema to see 'Black Emanuelle 2 goes to America'.  And so it was no surprise that the following year, Edward and Esmerelda Withers named their twin daughters... Emanuelle and Guillotine.


Huggy and Henry finally met up outside Mahiki's in Mayfair.  Huggy recognised Emanuelle Withers from his visit to Henry's law firm.  The tall, leggy platinum, was no less spectacular than before, if a little worse for drink.  Guillotine, despite being Emanuelle's twin, was 5' 2", sober, exuded intelligence (an extaordinary feat considering her parentage), and bored.  Huggy initially assumed that the target of Henry's affections was Emanuelle, but quickly revised his opinion, after seeing the dewy eyed look on his face when he introduced Guillotine.  To make things crystal clear, Henry announced on seeing Huggy, "there you go, Miss Withers, your knight in shining armour".  To which, Emanuelle squealed in delight,"oh look, Guillotine, it's Sir Steve Redgrave"!


At 2 in the morning, bored of Mahiki's Polynesian theme, the group tottered up the street to the Dover Street Wine Bar, where Henry launched himself on the dancefloor with a terrified Guillotine.   With extraorindary skill, he swung her around with gay abandon, crashing her into the other dancers, swinging her under his legs and smothering her with his 6' 5" frame.  Mistaking her screams of fear, for squeals of pleasure, he started throwing her, doll like, into the air, and catching her on bended knee with an "olez!"  On the third throw, something seemed to have changed, Henry didn't get up, and the smile on his face was frozen.

Having escorted Henry back to a chair, Guillotine asked what was the matter, to which H muttered: "knee - old war wound - Korea.  Gone again, I'm afraid".

Seeing that Emanuelle had passed out, Huggy decided his escort duties were over and took the opportunity to leave.  During the long, and hugely expensive trip back to Kent, he pondered the longer term impact of Henry's gammy knee.


A couple of days later, and still a little hung-over, the two enjoyed their most competent paddle in a very long time, just about keeping pace over a 3.5k piece with one of the heaviest, strongest Vets fours to grace the Medway (Big Bob, Big Bill, Big Greg and Thor - the God of War).  Things are at last beginning to click in the Empacher.

Afterwards, Huggy confronted Henry about the knee.

"Well actually, both knees have gone old chap" said Henry almost sheepishly.  "I'm in discussions with the quacks as to when to operate, they tell me those new metal knees work wonders.  Besides, you should see this as your opportunity to step up to the plate and start pulling your weight!"

"Give me a timescale, Henry", said Huggy, as he transfered Mark Tompkins' mobile number to Speed Dial.

"ooh... 6 months, 1 year, 2 years... who knows" came the cagey reply.

No rowing this weekend 4/5th Dec

The road down to the club is treacherous and only passable with a 4
wheeldrive vehicle. The site and everything within it is covered in
snow, as are the steps and the ramp. Everything would have to be cleared
and salted prior to doing anything, it would then become slippery.
Therefore a red light for the weekend.

On behalf of the chairman.

Huggy's Blog - A Hit and Miss Autumn

The Pairs Head

After a solid performance at the Small Boats Head, we just can’t explain the Pairs Head.

Henry took one look at the water and the wind at Putney, and instantly reneged on his promise to let Huggy stroke the boat.

“Hugs old chap”, he opined, “These conditions call for experience and a calm head... so that counts you out”.

We felt we had a reasonable race: a strong start, and while the last half was really bumpy and a bit slack due to the awful conditions, everyone else said they had it bad too.

So how did we come last in category? Beaten by 3 of the boats we beat at Nottingham. Badly.

Inexplicable. No Excuses. Move on.

Hardcore Training

Our two heroes set about “moving on” with true professionalism. Henry went on holiday and caroused through 4 capitals of Eastern Europe, chomping his way through as much goulash, borsch and caviar and drinking as much vodka and jet fuel as he could feasibly cope with.

Meantime, Huggy took full advantage of Henry’s absence and delighted in the balance and power of ‘No Excuses’ being stroked by one Mr Mark Tompkins, who (despite the occasional snigger at the gasping mess behind him after a “gentle” 2k piece) was equally impressed with what could be done with the boat... in the right hands... Huggy is slowly getting used to the now obligatory grin and a wink from said Tompkins, as well as a conspiratorial “hello partner”.

"Hello partner"

Then Huggy went on his own European carouse – Venice: ate and drank even more than Henry did, but in less time; so when the fatter and fully debauched champions reconvened, they decided to forego any other attempt to train and just go to...

The Docklands Head

Henry’s face dropped at the sight of the milk-pond before him. He only agreed to go because he knew that the Docks in November are, 9 times out of 10, blowing a gale with waves the size of mountains. Any excuse not to sit in the bow seat had dissipated in one go. So it was a triumphant Huggy who eased himself into the unfamiliar surroundings of the stern, happy that the steering would be in safe hands... after all, what could go wrong, the course is pretty much straight.

They tanked off at 32, zipping past the MIRC Veteran Novice Lightweight Four before they could say boo. Settling into strong and steady 30 strokes per minute, Huggy entered the zone and happily closed his eyes to concentrate on the rhythm and his legs.

Clearly, so did Henry.

They both opened their eyes to the sound of marshalls screaming at them left, right and centre:

Huggy: “everything all right back there, old boy”

Henry: “all tickety boo, old chap... just a little tickle with on the left will see us clear...”

Huggy: “...clear of what, perchance”

Henry: “oh nothing important (grunt), a little more left (grunt) perhaps”.

They missed the swing-bridge by a hairs breadth.

Despite this, as they entered the second half of the race, the power was still coming on. Rating – a solid 30.

Henry: “Now where did you say the finish was?”

Huggy: “Didn’t you check?”

Henry: “Not again... you are supposed to check”

Huggy: “Au contraire old chap, it is de rigeur for the steersman to check”

Henry: “Exactly, you’re the steersman”.

Huggy: “Not today, I’m not”.

The rest is a story of various detours, the questioning of various marshalls and competitors they passed as to where the finish was (they were still moving the boat despite the ongoing argument). False pushes for imaginary finishes were to take place before the exhausted pair collapsed in a heap when they finally found the end, easily adding a hundred metres or so to the 2.75k course.

Fortunately their only opposition from Erith were a bit ill, and the Maidstone duo finished well ahead with an OK time of 11.49 mins.

The boys were oddly pleased with the result. Standards have clearly slipped.

Their second row in the Vet D Eight, was entirely pleasurable. So, tired but happy, our friends went to their homes to watch the Formula 1 ... and to do more plotting.

Docklands Head - 2010 - Vets Report

Maidstone Vets went mob handed to Docklands with no less than 27 competitors. Unfortunately, very few Vets from other clubs turned up, so for the most part we treated the day as a useful and enjoyable training exercise.

To add to the general pandemonium, most got 2 rows, which meant the day was incredibly busy.

For me, the result of the day came from our heavyweight Novice 4+, in the fantastically newly refurbished Sword (thanks yet again, Pat Tenters). The crew, coxed by Andrea Barker in her first ever race, were (like all the novices) asked to row at Open Masters level, yet still only lost the only Vet event – Masters D4+ by 2 seconds! The time was a strong 12.04 mins. If you consider that Liz Macham’s Top Squad rowing at Masters C4+ came in a very reasonable 11.26 mins, that’s quite an achievement. Well done chaps, it’s a bow shot on your oppositions for the future.

Andrea coxed her first race!

A couple of Heavies.

The lightweight Novices, coxed by Tui Thain, also rowing as Masters D4+, looked comfortable, but were disappointed by their 12.52 mins despite beating the Old Duffer D4+, who came in a surprisingly slow 13.10 mins (note the latter rowed in the second division when the headwind had stiffened significantly – probably a 20 second handicap).

A couple of Lights

So to the lightweights, I say “keep at it”, the heavies are punching above their weight as Novices, but you are still in the right ballpark. We may need to give the set up a tweak though. To the Old Duffers (who all felt it was a nice comfortable row - Alan Rickwood tells me he set a comfortable rate in the mid twenties) – probably just a bit too comfortable chaps. :)

Old Duffers: "Nice and comfortable lads, take it nice and comfortable"

Huggy and Henry in the Masters D2x delivered a respectable 11.49 mins, despite the usual sightseeing and other shenanigans which will be explored further in the Blog!

In addition to the small boats action, we all combined into 3, yes 3 Eights. A D8+ containing the top squad and the experienced Vets, a C8+ containing the Old Duffers and another C8+ containing the Novices – Poplar clearly have an aversion to Masters Novice racing.

Vet D8+ overtaking an extremely pretty ladies quad from Poplar...

In these combinations, all three boats did admirably well. All came off the water with broad smiles on their faces – it was lovely to see. For the record:

Experienced D8+ - 10.44 mins (9th overall)

Old Duffers C8+ - 10.55 mins (12th overall)

Novice C8+ - 11.39 mins (28th overall).

The question I have left with the Poplar organisers is: “why no pot?” We await their response.

Well done everyone – a great day out.

 "Do you think I'm sexy?"

Who was in what boat.

Docklands Head - 2010 - More Wins for the Senior Squad!

I will leave the vets to tell you all how they got on today. Their reports are always much more amusing!

Another weekend, another race! This time to the east of London when MIRC went, en masse, to the Docklands Head. A bitterly cold start but at least there was no rain and, unusually for the docks, no wind! Once again though, thanks to everyone who turned out to support us - it really is valued and I am convinced you spur us on to greater things.

Frenetic activity saw all the Maidstone boats rigged in double quick time, and out on the water for a 9.30 (ish) race start. The conditions were as good as you were ever likely to get at the docks in November and everyone was looking forward to a good morning's racing.

The MasA 4+ had a last-minute seat swap and Mark 'Free Rate' Tomkins stroked his first ever head race, and what an excellent row it was for the crew, overtaking two IM3 coxless fours in the process and rowing down Poplar's Elite 2-! All the crews were happy with their racing , the Nov 4x having stormed through the field and the Nov 4+ performing really well.

The wind picked up and changed direction slightly which made the conditions in the second division very different. All crews found they had scrappier rows but generally coped well. We then just waited for the results!

The organisers had already told me they reckoned there was at least 20 seconds difference between the divisions but asked me if it was possible for the Nov4x to have won. I said I hadn't seen the another Nov4x but I told them the crew was going really well at the moment and that they had said they'd had a stonking race (Tom deserving a special mention for some really excellent steering.) Going back to the trailer, I told a couple of the squad that the rumour was that the 4x had won and glibly said that if they meant that the crew had won fastest boat overall (and not just Nov4x), I would buy everyone in the squad a Chinese meal! However, as this meant they would have had to beat IM1, IM2 and IM3 8+s, I felt my money was safe.

When the results were finally posted, we could not believe how well the squad had done, and were delighted with some excellent racing from our vets crews as well! Some extremely good finishing positions and some very creditable wins against other crews. And all six of our 4s in the top 25! We think of Curlew and Poplar & Blackwall as the local rivals, so it was particularly pleasing to perform so exceptionally well against them. There was some surprise that a Nov 4x could beat an 8+ but Curlew's ex-Men's Captain, David, very graciously came up to John afterwards and said he thought that, when he saw them, the 4x was moving definitely faster than Curlew's IM1 8+. Very sporting.

Everyone in the squad had an excellent day, and it was really good to be able to turn out in force with the vets and show just what 'only Maidstone' can do! Does anyone know a good Chinese restaurant?!

Finishing Positions
Nov 4x Hugh (S), Charlie, John and Tom - Fastest Overall
IM2 4+ John (S), Charlie, Hugh, Ben and Jo (cox) - Fastest IM2 4+
MasA 4+ Mark (S), Richard R, Lewis, Rick Wood and Lois (cox) - Fastest Masters Boat
IM3 4x Alex, Richard R, Fergus and Rick Wood
IM2 4+ Rob, Mark, Will, Tom and Lois (cox)
Nov 4+ Rob, Fergus, Oli, Alex and Jo (cox)
Out of 127 crews

Full results available at

Kelsie wins Silver at the World Championships

At 2:55am Kelsie raced in the final of the LTA 4+. Racing in her third ever international regatta and first world championships she was both excited and nervous at the whole experience.

Going into the final the main rivals were Canada and Germany who came 1st and 2nd in the other heat. GB made a strong start but all crews were neck and neck going into the last 500m. Germany dropped off with GB and Canada battling for Gold. By less that a canvas Canada took the Gold.

Kelsie is really chuffed to have won the Silver as the crew has only been together since September although disappointed in not winning Gold with the race being so close. She cheered up after words of congratulations from Sir Steve and Jurgen!

Docklands Head - 2010 Draw

THe draw for the Head can be found HERE.

Remember, boat loading is from 10am on Sat morning.

Kelsie is into the A Final at the World Championships in New Zealand

After a 5:15am text from Kelsie and phone call I am now sleepy but really happy with her news. The LTA 4+ came 1st in their heat in a time of 3:23 a comfortable 5 seconds ahead and in Kelsie's words "well we didn't do the wind up so we have lots left". The other heat contained a tight battle between Canada and Germany only beating Kelsie's heat by 3 seconds.

It should make for an interesting final on Thursday. The weather is not ideal although the wind dropped for today's racing. The final may be moved due to an expected hurricane on Thursday! So will keep you updated on her progress.

The BBC is not showing any footage of the Adaptive races so please send in complaints and perhaps next time we might get to watch Kelsie.

To read about the whole GB performance so far click here

Playing with the big boys!

12 intrepid rowers from the men's senior squad set off yesterday morning to play with the big boys at Upper Thames 4s and SBH. Knowing we'd be up against the likes of Star & Arrow and Oxford Brookes, and many other high-performing clubs and universities, would have terrified the life out of most of them at the beginning of the year but they are now a much more relaxed and confident group.

It was one of those days you just knew was going to be miserable. The rain wasn't heavy but it was unrelenting and somehow got into every nook and cranny. Our poor supporters huddled under umbrellas and stood stoically on the bank. There wasn't any shelter and only a walk into Henley or up to Upper Thames RC secured a hot cup of coffee. Thank you so much for cheering us on!

Between divisions, Mark and Jo disappeared and we only realised where they were when we noticed Mark's car had completely steamed up. As Jo had, by this time, purchased a rather risque calendar of semi-naked Leander rowers (not in aid of Save the Hippo!), Lois quickly joined them, ostensibly to warm up! Actually, she was just contemplating where her training programme is going wrong as her rowers don't look quite like the pink palace's!

Back to the racing! The boats were very efficiently rigged, crews registered and blades put out in double quick time. Lois had to change her pep talk but, once again, this day trip was intended merely as another a training session, gaining experience of racing against some really good quality crews, on a fantastic stretch of river. We weren't expecting to win but wanted to row well and just have a enjoyable day.

The squad has been decimated over the weeks by various cold (man flu!) bugs and various upset tummies, meaning that most of the crews were scratch or had had only one or two outings together. We do like a challenge! We put a quad and two coxed fours into each division, half of which had to row out of category to enable us to enter everyone who wanted to race. Everyone seemed happy after their rows and they are becoming confident in analysing their row, giving their feedback and offering constructive criticism.

The youngsters deserve a particular mention as they all performed really well and are showing great potential. They have settled into the squad, becoming valued members of crews and are brilliant at giving us tips for Angry Birds! Oli, who has only been rowing for about 7 weeks can legitimately say he has raced at Henley and Rob even shed blood for his crew!

Rick celebrated an incident-free row, much to the relief of his crew and steered a fantastic course to win the category. We know there were only two in the category but you can only race who turns up and a win is a win! This is particularly notable though as this was a scratch IM2 4x and the crew is IM3 - just! Congratulations to Alex, Richard, Fergus and Rick!

Tom decided that his crew would enjoy seeing as much of the scenery as possible and worked out that the best way to get a really panoramic view was from the middle of the river. It wasn't until a marshal kindly invited him back onto the course (and out of the navigation channel!) that Tom reluctantly moved Hugh, Charlie and John out of the stream! However, his crew enjoy terrific views for most of the course and this tactic must have worked - they finished 12th in Division 1, only being beaten by some very handy crews from Brookes, Upper Thames and Henley! Swapping Tom for Ben in the 4+, and adding Jo in as cox, saw another creditable performance with them finishing 18th in Division 2.

All in all, a very good day and a very positive start to the season. Watch this space! Full results are available on the Upper Thames website.

Andy Holmes RIP and Weil's Disease

Many of you will now be aware that the former rowing Olympian, Andy Holmes, recently died of Weil's disease, contracted, it is thought, at the Boston Marathon.

Our thoughts are of him and his family.

Please take some time to review British Rowing's advice on Weil's disease HERE

Taming the Beast - Prelude to the Pairs Head

For two months now, Huggy and Henry have tried to tame the beast that is the Empacher.  They have different approaches.  Huggy thinks they have been found out.  The Roger Mobbs was a docile boat that hid their flaws, and it's age has loosened it up a bit that gives the oarsman quite a bit of slack.  "No Excuses" conversely takes no prisoners, it's totally rigid, allowing you to get more return on your stroke, but at a price - it's hard work!  It's also harder to balance, bladework has to be precise, timing - perfect.  Huggy is forever complaining it is down on strokeside due to Henry's lazy hands.

And it refuses to turn - Empachers are built to go straight.  The two H's have not had the time to replace the fin with a smaller one, so getting round the sewage works bend now requires a high rating 20 stroke firm pressure push on one side, and even then it doesn't hug the corner.  Worse, despite all this extra effort, the boat slows down!  The boat is fitted with one of these propellors on the hull which measures boat speed.  In a straight line they get around 7.5 metres per second, round bends it drops to 6.5.

Henry just thinks he needs a bigger, stronger partner, who is a better steersman...

The glory of the Masters Championships seems a long, long time ago.

And then there is the recent dominance of the Vet Fs (Robin Chapman and Tony Marshall).  You see it goes like this: in the days before both crews upgraded their boats, the Vet D's would come in even when giving the Vet F's a 40 second headstart over the SBH course - that is pretty much equivalent to the age handicap.  Then Tony fixed his iron lung, pacemaker, or whatever it is, they bought themselves a Stampfli and BANG, the difference suddenly became 25 seconds.  Enter the Empacher and the difference became 20 seconds as the 2 H's struggled to cope with it.

2 months later, neutral third parties confirmed that the boat does indeed drop to strokeside.  Very reluctantly, Henry worked a deal: he would try to keep his hands together coming forward, but only if Huggy threw away the "rabid nonsense" that is British Rowing Technique and they re-adopt the good old 'long and strong' philosophy of rowing as in their Curlew days.

Things have started to improve.  It doesn't look pretty, but the Empacher is slowly being tamed and the gap with the Vet F's has started to improve, 25 seconds, 30 seconds... and so to the Autumn SBH race.  The windy conditions certainly favoured the heavier crew, and Huggy steered his first decent course in weeks.  Both crews won their respective events: the Vet F2x ran in with a creditable 11.16 min, and the Vet Ds... 10.32 - that's... 44 seconds faster.  Oh yes my son, the boys are back in town.

Or are they?

One final tweak.  Henry has at long last got a bigger, stronger steersman... himself.  Unfortunately it means that the smaller, weaker partner is stroking it.  Heh, heh.  Early days, but some positive signs: Henry's levers are turning the boat better from the bow seat, and Huggy is finally getting maximum power on, as the strokeside dip is less prevalent.

So to the Pairs Head this coming Saturday.  479 boats.  4 k.  Will Huggy maintain a decent rating?  Will Henry steer a decent course?  We shall see.  They and our other crews will be pitting themselves against some of the best in the country.

Also going are Robin and Tony as Vet Fs, James and Mark T as a Vet B 2x, and Hugh and Charlie in an IM2 2-.

Let's pray for calm winds.

Maidstone Autumn Small Boats Head - 2010 - Veterans Report

Maidstone Vets put out 16 boats on Sunday, showing the strength in depth we now have in the squad, particularly as most were restricted to one race due to organising and marshalling commitments.

Before I get howls of protest, admittedly 3 of the crews were part of the senior squad rowing at Masters B category, so I won't steal the seniors' thunder. They are old, they just don't know it yet :). That said, much credit must go to the Masters B crew of James Knight, Mark Tompkins, Richard Ridgway and Steve Slade, who came 2nd overall and won the Masters B/C 4+ category with an impressive 9.50 mins in diificult conditions: a fierce headwind and plenty of current.

Liz Machem's fledgling top squad Masters C4+ crew of Olly Barton, Graeme Hodgkinson, Sean Bennett and Steve Bickers best time was 10.44 mins. Gerraint has put his back out, and once winter trainng settles in, there will be plenty more to come.

Top Squad

Hot on their heels were the BBQ Masters E4+ crew of Pete Kingsley, Chris Long (late replacement for Mark "loved-up" Dreissner), Alan Leeson and Tom Fuller with a highly impressive 10.47, which would have surely have won them a medal... but for the lack of opponents! I have lost count of the number of times they have since reminded me time and age differences with the top squad.  Point is well made, gentlemen.

The 2 old duffers crews (Masters C 4+s) came in close with the crew of Rob Kenway, Ali Machin, Rob Macmanaway and Micky Griffith edging it over rivals, Bert Deters, Greg Snape, Bill Butler and Alan Rickwood 11.16 to 11.26.

The 2 Novice Masters crews had an equally close match, with the Heavies (Bob Barwick, Pat Tenters, Darren Prentice and Trevor Mason) beating the Lights (Dave Purchase, Marc Jarvis, Spencer Norman - all 69 years of him, and Jez Massey) 11.41 to 11.49.  Very creditable for your first race, gents.  Unfortunately, they were racing a very hot Medway boys Novice crew who blew them and most of the rest of the field away coming in 9th overall.

 Light Vet Novices chasing the Heavies (they look like the real deal don't they!)

Vet Novice Heavies - not so heavy Darren, subbing in for not very well Thor

Vet Novice Lights

A big thanks go to Tim and Tui for shouldering the burden of coxing in all 3 divisions in horrid conditions.

The experienced Vets continued their successful season.  Richard Huggins and Henry Abraham had a strong row, winning their event and coming in 14th overall with a time of 10.32 in the Masters D2x.  Likewise, Robin Chapman and Tony Marshall won their Masters F2x event in a time of 11.15.

Vet F2x on their way to their category win being overtaken in the background by Maidstone N2x (Birrell and Saunders on their way to their category win).

Simon DeMaria, in the Masters D1x with a very creditable 11.56 against a very strong sculler from Bewl and in conditions which were not single sculler friendly.  I think they told him he had won, but looking at the results, he lost by 1 second.

Roger & Sue Mobbs racing Mixed Masters F2x did an equally impresive 11.49, but their opposition denied them a gong by crying off sick.   Said opposition vehemently rejected the presumption that it would have been a Mobbs victory.  Your reporter retreated from the bitter recriminations before handbags started to fly.

 Sue and Roger Mobbs battling in the wind

Cate Devereaux and Dave Purchase completed their first Masters Novice Mixed 2x race in 12.46, thus just achieving my target of them coming within 1 minute of the Mobbs'.  Well done you two.

A big well done to all the other winning Maidstone crews - 12 in all.  Also to the organisers and supporters for another successful home event.

Maidstone Small Boats Head - 3 Oct 2010 - Results

If you click 'full screen' then right click the document and zoom in, you will see it better.


Maidstone Autumn Small Boats Head - Draw


Maidstone Invicta Small Boats Head 2010

Instructions and Circulation Pattern:


Kelsie officially selected for the World Championships

Kelsie has officially been selected to represent Great Britain at the World Championships in November.

For the full article please click on the link below

Also to see Kelsie's profile on GB Rowing use the link below

Wishing her all the best from Maidstone Invicta!

Boston Marathon 2010

Charlie had been boasting that he was going to do the Boston Marathon, not just do it, but do it in a single, a mad idea if ever there was one… But increasingly on longer ergs I was thinking about it too: what boat to enter, and who would I have in my ideal crew.

I mentioned it to mountain marathon man Will, Aly the pocket rocket and we were almost there with a relatively lightweight but powerful crew. Tom deemed 50.2km just a bit too far, but John saved the day on returning from his travels and was game. And so we had a crew; 3 of the Henley eight, and Aly who (rowing for Nottingham Uni) had just pipped us to it at the Met. Regatta earlier in the summer.

Training was sporadic, with John struggling to make it from London in the evenings, and various stag dos, European University Rowing Champs and work conspiring to thwart our best intentions of getting the quad out. We shuffled seats a few times so I, the lard arse of our 78kg average crew, wasn’t at bow, and I somehow ended up at stroke. This was a bit of a learning curve not just for me, but also for Aly, more used to the bows of an eight where he doesn’t have to steer… Pluto was coaching us to finish his Level 2 qualification, and it was coming together; our incursions into the bank, other rowers, and kayaks were becoming less frequent, the pieces were getting longer, and the rhythm was feeling nice and whippy, and sustainable.

The vets four, a crew of Tom, Alan, Pete and Bert were putting the mileage in for their return visit to Boston as well.

"Mine's bigger than yours!"
The VetE 4+ measuring up before the start.

And then all of a sudden it was time, the carb loading was done, and the weekend of the race was upon us. Charlie managed what must have been a mighty impressive stack from his bike on Saturday morning and ruled himself out of the race.

Lincolnshire threw its worst at us as we tried to sleep in tents on the Saturday night before the race, but it was a blessing in disguise as the rain cleared shortly before we started. At breakfast Pluto added to his fine “injured-athlete’s figure” and showed us all up by eating more than us, and despite our derision we were really glad he was there to support us, with Lois and Charlie; thank you.

The vets went off shortly after midday, and 40 minutes later so did we, starting 2nd of 7 IM3 coxless quads, with just Bristol City RC ahead of us. The river is narrow for the first couple of km, so we took it off light to get properly warmed up, we were sitting at rate 22, just within the 22-26 we had been aiming for, but the rhythm wasn’t quite there, it wasn’t light and whippy. Taking it up felt good for a minute or two before slipping back down again; but as we started passing other boats, including Bristol City our only direct opposition ahead of us, we relaxed and it was gradually coming together. The 13km to Bardney lock flew past, and a rapid extraction, run across the bank, and quick drink saw us close the gap to the boats ahead significantly, a nice easy minute or so caught up! We were resting in pairs, and at 18km we had our first breather, just enough for a bit of food and drink, and to realise that I was going to suffer with blisters but dressing them would take far too long, and I should just man up… Aly and John had done an impressive job of keeping us level pegging with a junior quad we’d just passed, and now it was my and Wills turn. We cracked on, and had a couple of really good kilometres before we hit traffic. Boats being overtaken should get out of the way; a few didn’t, or chose to squeeze us towards the bank, or the weed, which didn’t help keep the boat relaxed.



"Are we nearly there yet?"  
"Nearly. Only another 15 miles to go."

Through the half way mark things seemed to pick up, time didn’t seem to fathom, and much of the race is now just a blur of concentrating on the rhythm and keeping it relaxed. Will and John in the middle of the boat did a superb job of delivering the pushes as they were called, and apart from numerous stops to clear weed from the fin, which had me precariously balanced on my rigger and the stern canvas we had a cracking second half of the race. After getting it back together after the earlier glut of traffic 23½ had been our rate, it was going well and we consolidated, the Runcorn Senior 4x- came past at an astonishing rate. Bristol City must have pushed hard at the beginning of the second half and had caught us up, and passed us during our second set of rests; a few kilometres later Bristol stopped and we passed them, Aly called a “shimmy”, which we seemed to respond to better than being asked for another push! 35-40km was hard work, not helped by a few missing or unseen distance markers, and more weed, we passed the Vets who seemed to be flagging a little, and an old boy in a single, wearing Chino’s and a sweatshirt and rowing at barely quarter slide but at a decent rate. It was refreshing, if he can do this, so can I!

At 40km without any calls for it the boat livened up, we had loads of run, the rate was sat effortlessly at 25 and we were on fire, I was tired and my legs hurt but we were nearly there, I felt so invigorated! A third and final food and drink stop at 43km and we pushed on, another 2 weed stops around 47km and we were level with the Sudbury IM3 8+. I hope for their sake that their cox hadn’t been that vocal the entire way, she was calling them up “More length”. “Hold the finishes.” But we were still there with them, with little more than a slight squeeze and holding the rate. She called 1km to go and spurred them home, 50m later as the 49km marker came into our peripheral vision John in a guttural war cry rhetorically asked if we were going to take it home, there were 3 equally bellowed responses and we took it up, 28, 29, then 31spm and we settled there. Where had this come from!! The eight was left behind, it felt good, and then I could hear the commentator, encouraging us in, gradually getting louder until I heard “2 strokes Maidstone”. And then we were finished, where had the last 3½ hours gone? I was delighted we’d rowed well, but gutted that it had finished.

The results were finally published an hour and a half later after the last boat in the category had finished, we’d won our category and were 4th fastest overall in 3hrs 39m 18s, just 3m 51s behind the IM3 4x- record, not bad for 4 rowers who haven’t sculled much!

The vets, competing in IM3 due to a lack of Vet.E opposition, came second in category in 4hrs 38m 5s. A very good result.

And finally, some words of wisdom for anyone doing it in future:

• Don’t overdo the sustenance – I only ate 1 banana and 2 cereal bars, and drank 1.5l during the race but carried the same again (it wasn’t particularly hot mind)
• Start in race kit – I didn’t have time to take my tech top off without feeling like I would have been holding the crew up(again, it wasn’t that hot, had I been uncomfortably hot I could have done)

Cambridge Autumn

Maidstone Invicta win 7events at Cambridge Autumn Regatta on Sunday 12th September.

Maidstone Invicta has a successful day’s racing at Cambridge Autumn Regatta picking up 7 wins across a range of age groups.

The race at 650m long provides only a short sprint for the crews to beat the opposition. The WJ14 2x girls double of Tamsyn McConchie and Anneka Terry have only been rowing a few months and picked up a fantastic win.

Their efforts were matched by Ross Porter and Jacob Harris in boys J15 double. Jacob Harris went on to win again in both the Mixed J15 2x with Lauren Gilchrist and Mixed J15 4x+ with Ross Porter, Jacob Harris, Lauren Gilchrist and Lucy Maunsell coxed by Anneka Terry.

In the older age categories the Mixed J18 2x was won by Abi Delderfield and Fergus Maunsell. With Abi Delderfield also winning in the Mixed Novice Coxed Fours with Lauren Gilchrist, Matt Delderfield, David Porter coxed by Anneka Terry.

The women’s novice double saw Charlotte and Rachel Rickwood lose their Novice status (Congratulations) winning with a comfortable margin.

The regatta provided an excellent end to the summer season.

Training Hut Time & Useage

At the recent rowing committee meeting it was decided to trial a revised evening schedule for usage of the training hut by the various squads. Please give any feedback to your squad represenative.
  • Open to all
  • Open to all up until 6pm.
  • Chris Long’s circuits 6-7pm
  • Seniors have exclusive use after 7pm
  • Juniors have exclusive use from 4 – 7:30pm.
  • Open to all after 7:30pm
  • Open to all up until 6pm.
  • Chris Long’s circuits 6-7pm
  • Vets have exclusive use after 7pm
  • Open to all
Kate has also asked if the juniors could have it from 10-10:30 on Saturday for their briefing and warm up.

Boat Naming Ceremony - Sat 2nd October

I should like to let you all know that the committee agreed to having the boat naming ceremony on Saturday 2nd October. The mayor has been invited for 11.30. Please be prepared to hang about after rowing for the occasion. We hope to fire up the Barbie. More info to follow I hope, but please put the date in your diary.

Roger Mobbs

Veteran Training for the Head Season - an Early Report

We're tackling training early and in unusually robust fashion this year.

The squad isn't going to Cambridge (except Tony and Robin on a final pot-hunt), and the various sub-squads are getting down to business with varying levels of determination.

The new Vets Novice Squad (10 men plus our honorary woman - Cate) have a new diet of ergos and trial runs of the Small Boats Head.  They are going through a very real sense of shock as they move from the cotton wool of the Development Squad ("we paddled all the way to the railway bridge and back again, and are really pooped - can we stop now"), to getting into a racing frame of mind, and the fact that you have to do 2,500 metres WITHOUT stopping five times.  For the moment, they are avoiding the ergos (except for Thor - 18.33 for a 5k... not bad, not bad) but are happily doing the pieces.  For most, the SBH will be their first race, and we wish them well.

The Competition Squad (Old Duffers) are starting to do long pieces too.  Lock to locks.  Mostly to provide the BBQ crew moral support in their training for the Boston Marathon.  I can't emphasise enough just how hard rowing 31 miles is on your backside, but the BBQs are tackling this with a nonchalance bordering on the niaive:

Huggy: "Suggest you take a seat grip".
Pete: "I will, but will save it for the end of the race, and when I sit on it, it will feel like sitting on a feather cushion".

Trust me, Peter, no it won't.  Your arse will provide you with a new definition of pain by 20 miles whatever you sit on.

Liz Machem's new Vets Top Squad are already under the whip.  She's given them a training schedule which makes me wince for them.  The summer holidays have taken their toll, but already Sean is looking like a new man.  They've not given in yet, and actually seem happy.  Keep it up chaps.

The Experienced Vets continue with the Springfield sculls on Monday and Friday mornings.  Except, somehow it has evolved into lock to locks, racing the 4.5 miles from East Farleigh to the Malta.  The rivalry is intense.  The action, fast and furious.  Quarter is rarely given.  Some of the steering makes Schumacher seem like a pussycat.  Words are exchanged.  But always, tea and cakes await.

The 2 H's have yet to tame the beast that is the Empacher.  It's got a fin the size of an Eight's, and turns like the Titanic... very slowly.  Henry has renewed his search for a better steersman, while Huggy, more pragmatically, is searching for a smaller fin.

Finally the Recreationals continue to mess about in boats.  Very prettily too.  And as Jan and Tui paddle along, a small voice behind them keeps nagging them: "Small Boats Head - 3rd October, Small Boats Head - 3rd October".

MIRC Club kit ordering window now open.

02 September - 12th September‏

Club kit can now be ordered individually from:

up until the cut off date 12 September.

On each bit of kit that you add to your basket in the product options, in the drop down box, choose " hold my order until cut off date" this way we will benefit on bulk discount.

Godfrey will then collate the order after the cut off date, work out what needs to be made up, what each person owes with discounts on bulk orders and then start work on the kit. The payments will be taken from each person that has ordered in the week that the kit is due out (approximately 2 weeks after close of window).

Just to let you know, prices are due to go up next month so it might be an idea to get things you might need in the future. Find attached A leaflet explaining how it all works, any problems either contact me or Godfrey direct.

Please forward to anyone who this might be of interest to.

Many thanks


Junior GB success

Kelsie Gibson, Morgan Hellen and Tim Grant have all been selected to represent Great Britain. Kelsie Gibson was selected in the LTA Coxed Four on Saturday for the World Rowing Championships in New Zealand.

Kelsie at only 17 was selected on Saturday to represent Great Britain in the adaptive LTA Coxed Four. Kelsie’s selection makes her the club’s most successful athlete at an international level. She has represented Great Britain twice earlier this year in the Varese International Regatta and Rowing World Cup in Bled winning 3 Gold Medals in May.

The crew hopes to build on the success in May and continue to win Gold in New Zealand in November. The results over the few months confirm that London 2012 is a real prospect.

Morgan Hellen represented Great Britain at the World Junior Championships in Racice, Czech Republic in the Junior Mens Eight earlier this month. The crew battled hard and came 5th overall. In the last 500m they overhauled the Czech Republic and took 5th place in 5:47.18. The USA took the Gold with Germany and Italy in Silver and Bronze respectively.

Tim Grant raced at the European Championships, Le Coupe de la Jeunesse, in the Junior Mens Eight in Hazewinkel, Belgium. The crew won Gold on the Saturday and Silver on the Sunday. A fantastic result for the crew and ensured that Great Britain won the Boy’s team trophy and came 2nd overall. Tim will trial once again next season to represent Great Britain as a junior with hopefully even greater success to come.

Maidstone's Dream

Stumbled across this site plugging Maidstone's top athletes. 

You'll see a whole bunch of our current and recent top juniors highlighted.  A tribute in itself to the athletes, Ray Long, Kate Beaumont and the rest of the Junior Coaching staff in recent history...

Maidstone's Dream

Sudbury Regatta Results and Photos

Stacks of wins were had at Sudbury. The results can be found here

While our correspondents work on the various reports for the Juniors, Seniors and Veterans. Here are some pics to be getting on with:

St. Neots Videos

Alan Rickwood has kindly supplied these.  Some good, some bad, some ugly - but all instructive!

Sudbury Draw

is now up.

See here

Mens Veteran Squad

The Mens Veteran Squad has become a victim of its own success, inasmuch as we now have loads of Vets available to race, but with quite different levels of capability and commitment.  Time has now come to add a bit of structure to the Squad.  Here's what we propose for the racing Vets:

Novice Squad (first competition will be the Maidstone SBH Oct 3rd) - Coordinated along with the Development Squad (Sat and Sun 8.30 and Thurs 6pm) by Richard H
Richard Baldwin (Thor)
Ali Machin
Dave Usher

Competition Squad (Old Duffers) - Coordinated by Henry.  Training Sundays 10.30 and Thurs 6pm.

Rob Mac
Alan Leeson
Alan Rickwood

Below are Old Duffers who are considering commiting to the Top Squad.  Guys please let Liz and I know what you want to do.

Steve Bickers
Graeme Hodgkinson
Mark Dreissner

Top Squad - Coordinated by Liz Machem.  Training times to be confirmed, but would suggest 3-4 times a week

Below are the vets in the senior squad who may wish to support this squad and form a serious Vet 8+ crew targeting Vet 8s, Henley Vets and Masters Champs, choosing to train as an 8 in the weeks prior to these events.

Richard R
Mark Tompkins

As you can see, we are still formulating this squad.  The key is commitment.  If you are not mentioned above, please let us know if you want to play.

Experienced Training Doubles - DIY
Richard H and Henry
Tony and Robin
Mr and Mrs Mobbs
Dave and Harry

That's not all the Vets, of course.  We are just focusing on the racing Men's squad.  The Recreationals and the Development Squad will continue as before.  We are a bit low in numbers with the women who want to race, and so are rolled into the overall Womens Squad run by Anne.



Sudbury Entries

We have a record 38 entries for Sudbury from a combination of the Juniors, Seniors and Vets. Crews and race debts have been uploaded to the noticeboard; please ensure all race debts are paid before Saturday.

Enter the Empacher

Huggy was at the computer just putting in the final touches to his Boxster order.  The final decision was whether to have 'Speed Yellow' or 'Basalt Black Metallic'.  Would he be regarded as a Hairdresser in Speed Yellow?  Very tricky.  When the phone interrupted his thoughts, and Henry blurted down the line:

"Hugs, I've found one for you... it's going cheap... absolute bargain... almost mint... no time to lose... let's go."

"Go where, what for"?

"What have we been talking about these past few month's", came the exasperated reply, "Here's a clue, it's German, it's sleek, it's fast and it's yellow".

'Speed Yellow' it is, thought Huggy, now very excited. 

"Meet you at the club, and... small catch... they want cash... cheers".

"Where am I going to get that sort of money in cash...?", Huggy blurted out, but it was too late - the line went dead, and the number remained unobtainable on redial.


A tall man, and a very short one, got out of their imported black Oldsmobile Sedan, and, with shifty glances all about them went round back.  They had a faintly ridiculous air about them with their black suits, white shirts, black ties and black sunglasses; a Quentin Tarentino parody.  They opened the boot, took out a pair of hand guns, and extravagantly checked they were loaded.  Rolling the chambers, peering down the barrel's, that sort of thing.

Tall one: We should have shotguns for this kind of deal, my little one.

Short one: How many will there be?

Tall one: Three or four.

Short one: We should have brought f****** shotguns.


Emil was 80, 2 metres tall, thick set bald on top, but very hairy elsewhere.  He wore a Rab C Nesbitt vest, combat trousers and army boots.  His sons, Wolfgang and Karl-Heinz, were just younger versions of their father, if a bit fatter.  Alarmly for this day and age, they all wore packed shoulder holsters, and an assortment of weapons about their bodies which could keep Al Queda in business for the next 6 months.

"Jetz, mein liebschen.  Gut.  Ja.  Ausgezeichnet", Emil fussed over his boys, as they prepared their next delivery.  Used to all sorts of difficult dealings with Eastern Europeans, he had no concerns with this next shipment to the 'verdammt tommies', and so he happily hummed a tuneless lyric as they got into their Army Surplus Hummer...

..." uber alles in der Welt"...


Huggy gunned his wheezing Mondeo into the club, and somehow thought nothing of Henry tying a roof rack on top of the car as he dreamt of the pleasure of illegally powersliding his nearly new, yellow Boxster round the lanes of Kent.  Henry eventually got in beside him, and as Huggy started the ignition, he heard the rear doors open and shut.  Surprised, he looked round and saw two comically suited gentlemen sitting uncomfortably in the back.

"What are you two doing here"?

"Don't worry old chap", interrupted Henry, "the seller of our new little beauty can be eccentric, I just thought we could do with a bit of back up".

"'Our'?, gasped Huggy, totally befuddled, "What do you mean by 'our'"?

"That's what a partnership is all about, me old mucker", smarmed Henry, "What's yours is mine, and what's mine is mine.  Come on, we're late, the drop is at Clacket Lane Service Station".


The tall one dragged Wolfgang's bloodied unconscious hulk, with surprising strength and dexterity into the huge, empty warehouse.  The tall one tutted.  Blood was every where, over his suit and his shirt.  Well, it couldn't be helped.  He filled a bucket with water, and poured it over the prone, fat skinhead, who woke at first with a shock, and then grimaced with the pain in his stomach.

The tall one, ignored him, took a flick knife from his cowboy boots, switched on a CD player and started dancing towards a very scared Wolfgang to the strains of Johnny Cash...


Shell shocked, Huggy got out of the Mondeo and inspected the damage.  As he stuck a finger into a bullet hole, he just shook his head and wondered how and why?  Death and mayhem.  All that for a bloody boat.

"What a lark", cried out a jubilant Henry.  "From now on, Hugs old boy, we've got no excuses".

"Smile" said the short one.

St Neots Regatta 24/25 July 2010

St. Neots course from the Bridge.  Note Vets putting on beer goggles in pub at right.

The club (vets and seniors) went mob-handed to St. Neots, a pretty market town in the middle of nowhere in Cambridgeshire. The weather was kind, and there was none of the rowdiness on the campsite that you sometimes get at regattas.

Our ever increasing army of camp followers set up their brightly coloured tents, festooned with lights and flags, in the well manicured regatta field, while hordes of children and dogs scampered around making a pleasant nuisance of themselves. All was good in the world as our women settled down with a good book in one hand and sun-cream in the other, emotionally sending their men off to the war... or should I say...

Simon's Vet C crew.

I won't go through the catalog of lost first heats, over those 2 days. But the ritual of sending in last minute scratch crews against well drilled opposition, and have them trail in a few lengths down, felt reminiscent of sending our boys over the top at the Somme, and being machined gunned before taking a few steps... or in our case, a few strokes.

I'm not blaming anyone. All put in their best indivdual efforts, it's just a matter of organisation - more anon.

Some of the Veterans took to drink. Boats were broken, and their replacements were broken. And one or two of our combatants didn't even make the start.

It was bloody.

There were some glimmers of hope on Day One. The Mixed IM3 8+ with some fresh faces like Charlotte and John, won their semi against Bedford, but lost to
Norwich in the final.

The Vet F 2x of Mr Chairman (Robin) and Tony Marshall, strolled to win their category beating Erith and Doncaster in the process.

Typical winning distance of the Vet F2x over the two days - very impressive

By all accounts, the Seniors had a quiet reflective night going to bed early with teddy bears and hot chocolate. The older, wiser Vets retired to hotels and beds in friend's houses; and the younger, less wise Vets hit the beer.

16 of us visited a Chinese restaurant, where Henry waved his now dented and well bitten Nat Champs gold medal which attracted a motley crowd of mature Hen-nighters for some banter and photos.

Huggy tried out his favourite pick-up line:

Hen-nighter: "where are you lot from then, my lover"

Huggy: "Maidstone"

Hen-nighter: "Never heard of it, what's in Maidstone then?"
Huggy: "It's got a high security prison, and we're all inmates".

It worked like a charm, and he never saw her again.

Rickwood had one drink over his limit (which would be half a pint) and didn't realise he was being picked up, when the lead hen-nighter known as "Breasts" said something obscene about his "cox" (gosh, never heard that one before), and he just plain didn't get the hint.

Plans for a night-cap in a local hostelry were made and broken, and we fortunately never saw them again.

St. Neots Hen-nighters 2 - Maidstone Prison Rowing Club 1.

As the gay flags and bunting in the Maidstone pavilions fluttered gaily on a bright but breezy Sunday and the camp followers cleaned the mess from night created by their men, dogs and children, the SLAUGHTER relentlessly continued.

However, this time James, who turned up with no hair (no... really) took the subsequent abuse on the chin and let his pent up aggression help turn things around somewhat (albeit in the brown of Old Monmouthians). Their quad (stroked by Pluto), were peerless in beating Globe and Doncaster to win the IM2 4x event. James won his heat in the Masterews B/C v Yare, but couldn't recover the 4 second headstart of his opposition in a very hard fought final to be beaten by 1 length.

Old Monmouthians IM2 4+ (aka Maidstone in disguise)

Hugh stepped in to help out an Old Monmothian IM2 double overpointed by a Nat Champs win the previous weekend. The unfamiliar sparing partners got a good start against Boston RC, but struggled to recover after clipping a lane bouy, and a scrappy few final strokes by Hugh lead to a dead-heat. A rather tidier re-row saw them win by a length. Despite another good row in the semi's they were defeated by a well drilled and polished Star Club crew.

Buoyed by the Monmouthian success, we picked up some late wins: the Vet F2x again dominated their event and won another set of pots after beating, Doncaster, Peterborough and Sudbury all very comfortably. They are a class act.

After a shaky start Huggy and Henry beat Milton Keynes by 3/4 length in their heat; while Olly and Gerraint beat Doncaster embarrassingly easily in their heat to set up an all Maidstone final in the Vet C/D 2x, and a guaranteed club pot! Olly and Gerraint had to give way 4 seconds... and got beaten by about 4 seconds in a good, hard race.

Vet C/D 2x Final Both crews looking very neat.
The IM3 double of Hugh and Pluto rowed through Northampton to win their heat, and their semi against Wolfson College. The final saw them beaten out off the stake boat by a couple of "more experienced" Champions of the Thames rowers, a length call after 15 strokes prettied it up and brought it back together; with 150m left they had pulled back to a lead of half a length when Pluto caught a not entirely insignificant crab. The remaining 150m weren't pretty but saw them pull back to only half a length down. Their opposition thanked them kindly, whilst remarking that they for them it was all down hill, the more youthful Gabriel and Nichols would no doubt go on to better things, we'll see!

By now, Charlie Mould, having gone through the trauma of a dead heat, a crash, and losing the re-row, had acquired the 'thousand yard stare' of a shell shocked Tommy. But help was at hand, and he eventually got a pot with Laura, Ali and Rick in the form of the Mixed IM3 4x.

The IM3 Mixed 4x winners. Note Charlie's 'thousand yard stare'.

A just creditable return on Sunday given the stack of entries we put in. So, what to do? Well, the coaches are going to have a think about putting a bit more structure into crew selection and regatta preparation. Watch this space.

Vet D and F 2x winning crews. Note Huggy thinks he might have found a more stable partner.