Regress Those Points

There is a bit of an anomaly with the British Rowing status points system, which will typically affect a few of the experienced Vets.

It all went to cock in April 2009, when they changed the points so that a Novice win counted as one.  This put everybody up one point.  Problem is that the system did not automatically regress those of us with 4 or more points, and who haven't won a senior qualifying event in years - typically most of the experienced Masters.

So if you do nothing, when you get your British Rowing Card and you haven't won anything for years, it will say 5 points instead of 4.

So if you fall into this category, make your life a little bit easier and fill out the regression form on this page:

and send it to:

Also, this is a good reminder for those seniors with overload on points to regress if at all possible.

Blog becomes Website!

Well, I've now got the go ahead to turn the blog into the rowing club website.

I've reused a lot of the stuff from the previous websites and will be adding some of the reports from last year in the near future.

Also, I hope to be able to redirect the old address to this one soon.

Hopefully, if you are reading this, you will have figured out that the Blog bit is no longer centre stage, and is best accessed through the links in the News Blog section on the sidebar to the right.

Enjoy and let me know if you can think of improvements.

Henley Veterans - a preamble

Huggy entered the dusty offices of Bodgit, Bendit and Butler. Noticing the receptionist wasn't there, he walked smartly up to the door labelled 'Henry Abraham, Solicitor - Property'. It was slightly ajar, and before he could knock, he overheard feminine giggling, and couldn't resist the temptation to listen in:

"ooh, Mr Abraham sir, isn't it a big one".

"Oh yes, Miss Withers, it's very big"", growled Henry

"It's so big, and plump and glistening and..."

Huggy started to step away from the door, thinking this was an inopportune moment.

"...golden, Mr Abraham".

"Just call me 'champ', Miss Withers".

Sudden realisation came to Huggy that Henry was using his Nat Champs (Masters) Gold medal to full advantage.

"And you look great in this picture with your partner... whatisname... Steve?..." said Miss Withers

"Sir Steve to you, Miss Withers..."

At which point Huggy had had enough, knocked, waited a second for the unseemly jostling of clothing to subside, and entered.

"Hello Champion!" cried out H, as he finished buttoning up his shirt over a glint of gold.

"Go get 'em, Champ", fired back Huggy, rapidly shooting his fingers at H in response.

"...and I want those deeds typed up by lunchtime, Miss Withers", to the retreating back of the not surprisingly dizzy looking blonde as she tottered out of the room.

With his equamity quickly returned, Henry plumped himself into a very comfortable armchair, nonchanantly brushed off a platinum hair from his Saville Row pin-striped trousers, clicked something very reminiscent of a taxi meter and said, "Well Hugs, old chap - what an unexpected surprise, what can I do for you?"

"What's that you clicked, Henry?". Huggy responded as he sat in a slightly less comfortable chair, alarm bells ringing.

"Time is money, old boy"

Before Huggy could retort, Bill Butler entered the room without knocking, greeted Huggy with surprise, remonstrated with Henry over something very technical and legal, and before leaving, as if in afterthought came to the real point of his visit:

"Where do think I be rowing this Sunday, Henry".

"Oh definitely in the Stroke seat of the first Veteran Eight, Mr Butler, sir, your name is engraved on that seat sir". cringed Henry, with unusual obsequiousness.

Thus reassured of his place in the eight, Bill left the office, and Huggy finally could get to the point of his visit.

He took out of his briefcase a very large document, and plonked it on Henry's coffee table.

"And what's that, pray"

"That, is a Competitor Analysis for the Vet D Double Sculls at Henley Veterans."

Impressed, Henry picked up the tome and leafed through it. Within were multiple statistics: possible competing crews, past performances from the previous 10 years, expected winning times, taking to account upstream river flow on either station, weather variables, crew biographies of the main players; and a startling SWOT analysis, where their Strengths were listed as 'joie de vivre', 'a devil may care attitude to training' and 'the Roger Mobbs - an Empacher in disguise'. These compared to Weaknesses too many to mention here, one Opportunity 'everlasting glory' and for Threats: the who's who of all the potential winners including: Poplar and Blackwall, Peterborough RC, Nottingham BC, Tideway Scullers, Ardingly, Thames Tradesmen and the Bradford Boyz; plus numerous other internationally renowned outfits such as Breda from get the picture.

Henry's upper lip curled during his quick perusal of the contents. Chucking the report back on the table, "Let's cut to the chase - give me the Management Summary, and no BS", he snarled, pointing his finger at Huggy in his best Alan Sugar impression. The response was immediate:

"We need to row as hard and as well as we did at Nottingham, only 10 seconds faster just to be in the same ballpark as these other guys. In short: we are toast".

As the news sunk in, Henry's upper lip curled even further.

"Now those are the kind of odds I like, Hugs - sign us up".

Also at Henley Vets, a Vet B 8+ comprising the older seniors from our Henley crew, Ollie and Gerraint, and 2 others to be advised.

The Vet E 4+ will also play.

More anon.

The Draw is now Up!

Henley Vets - Draw 

Marlow Regatta

FROM THIS....................................

All nine of my finely-tuned athletes following my rigorous training programme!

I keep telling them that rest is important but hadn't expected to find them all fast asleep just before our final on Saturday!

We were looking forward to another tough weekend of racing at Dorney against good quality opposition but after Thursday night's training, Pluto wasn't convinced his knee would cope with, potentially, 3 heats of 2k racing and wisely stepped down to save himself for Sunday. Time to find another sub at short notice but I called in a favour this time. Now you may have thought that one Charlie would have been enough for any crew but, after quite a kerfuffle with all-in-ones, another Charlie (all 68kg of him) jumped in and off they went for the heat, lined up against Star Club, Jesus College, St George's College, Thames and HSBC. It was a little breezy and surprisingly chilly but having recently learnt to actually tap down, the crew coped well! A little slower off the blocks than a couple of crews, their consistency started to pay off as they crept up the field. 3rd, 2nd, in the lead, winning by over 4 seconds from Star - and straight through to the final.

Unfortunately the 4x went off barely 30 minutes after us so we didn't get to see much as we were busy getting the boat in.

The winners of the other 2 heats, together with rep winners, met up in the afternoon; Eton, York City, Star, Latymer Upper, Royal Shrewsbury School and 'only Maidstone'. Once again, a little slower off the start than LU and Eton but a good second 500m saw us drawing level with Eton. The battle for places was really between the two schools and us. In the third 500m, we consolidated our lead over Eton and settled into a strong rhythm, hoping to push along. Then, at about 500m to go, Eton had a massive push and started creeping back. We had to respond. Legs like jelly, heart thumping (and that was only me on the bike!), the crew kept pushing for the finish line. Eton pushed again, we pushed harder! Over the line in front of Eton, coming 2nd to a very impressive Latymer Upper School. For the geeks amongst you, Latymer came 5th in Championship 8+s and that was Eton's 2nd crew who won the Child Beale Cup (1st 8+s), at Nat Schools recently, so we were in extremely good company!

Being a scratch crew, having just stepped up to IM2 and being only 1 point over IM3, this was a very creditable performance. But we were bringing back the big guns for tomorrow!

Sunday dawned rather warmer and slightly less windy. We turned up early to support the 4x but unfortunately the competition in IM1 was just too tough on the day. Like us, they were a little slow off the start but the fastest second half in the race meant a good finish, MIRC 3rd.

We then cheered on Sam before beginning to start our serious training regime of lying on the grass! We knew we could beat HSBC. However, we thought Abingdon would feel they had something to prove after Reading, and Bristol Ariel were a bit of an unknown quantity. But, for once I was feeling really confident and hoped the crew felt the same. Race plan was simple - a 2k strategy but just cutting out the middle 1k! Basically, a start and a finish! This time they went storming off at the start and then stormed home to the finish, with Abingdon over 4 seconds behind!

Matt raced immediately afterwards in his new boat and came 2nd in IM1 1x, whilst the 8+ cheered him on from the water. Stu had an exciting race to finish the day and made a spirited come back in the second half to finish 2nd in E1x.

TO THIS............................... WINNERS IM2 8+
p.s. And then the 8+ heard it had qualified for Henley! What a great weekend!

Reading Regatta

Photo (L to R): Ben, Tom, Pluto, Hugh, John, Joanne, Mark, Charlie and Lewis

I just can't top the Masters' report! Congratulations from one old fart to a load of others!

The slightly less mature 'eight men in a boat' set off for Reading Regatta on Saturday morning expecting a trouncing at the hands of Bristol Uni. Everything seemed to be going fairly smoothly and, if nothing else, we looked smartly turned out. It was Tom's birthday so the advantage of getting knocked out early was the prospect of several sponge cakes and getting away in time for the footie. That's where the plan went wrong. We beat Bristol by 3 lengths with the fastest IM3 8+ heat time!

The semi-final was to be against another university crew but, fortunately, there would still be time to watch the footie when we lost. I sent the crew off to warm up by running up to the start to watch MIRC's Elite 4x, and running back alongside the race. Whilst waiting for the start, they decided to do their own thing, inventing sychronised lunges (Ministry of Silly Walks comes to mind) and other crowd pleasers! Unfortunately, in spite of our cheering the 4x lost to a rather nippy Wallingford crew who may have been sculling under a flag of convenience (allegedly ;-S)

Then our plan went wrong - again! We beat Bournemouth Uni 'easily' - and went to re-think our World Cup strategy. Poor Pluto's knee had suffered during the previous two races but he was determined to carry on, much to the dismay of the supporters of the beautiful game, especially as our final had been very inconsiderately scheduled for 6.30pm!

The thought of missing the kick-off must have spurred them on, as they raced like men possessed against Vesta, beating them by 4 lengths. Thank heavens it was all over! We could now eat cake! And drink champagne! And collect their medals! And watch footie! Although we missed the start, and most of the England match I don't think anyone really minded. A great day, especially for the four novices in the boat!

On Sunday, we stepped up to IM2, although Pluto had to step down. His knee was just too bad but he still turned up to support! Having made numerous calls to various people, we didn't have a sub but I managed to find one of my sons' friends sitting on the river bank who was happy to give it a go. He brightly said he didn't really sweep but, as he sculled, how hard could it be? As it happens, I have since found out that not only had he been to Junior Worlds, he also has a Henley medal! He was worth his one sweep point (which he won in a S8+ at Reading last year)!

So it was a scratch crew making it's way up to the start to face a bunch of schooboys. But never underestimate schoolboys, especially over 1100m where they tend to shoot off like rats up a drainpipe. Not fast enough though! A rather scrappy race but still a 1 length lead as the buzzer went.

Off the water for just over half an hour before it was time for 'hands on' again. This time against Abingdon. Rowing Club, not School though. They had turned up with their very shiny Hudson, in very bright and very new lycra, obviously expecting to wipe the floor with us. However, our crew really came together and had a superb row, beating their opposition by 1 length, again. Abingdon's coach was not a happy man!

Another half hour before 'hands on' again, no time to properly re-hydrate, rest or eat. I don't know about the crew but I was absolutely knackered!

Unfortunately, this was just one race too far and we lost by one length to a fresher Kingston Grammar School. However, as Kingston GS posted a time of 3.18 (the same as the winning Upper Thames' S8+), we're not doing too badly.
I would like to congratulate everyone in the crews for their enthusiasm, commitment and good humour throughout. Thanks also to the small but delightful band of supporters who carried blades, kit and shoes - and cheered very loudly!

After we'd had a burger and eaten yet more cake (carb loading!), I popped over to Henley, dropped in the entry form to Regatta HQ and drove home basking in reflected glory! What a great weekend for us and, more importantly, for the club. Bring on Marlow and HRR!
Quote of the weekend (from a coach cycling alongside the race): "You're only being beaten by Maidstone."

p.s. We didn't miss a great match :-)

More Monmouth Videos

Tom 1x

James 4x

Graeme 4+

Senior Quad

Bert 4+

Ridgeway 1x

Henry & Richard 2x

Ollie & Gerraint 2x

Gongs at Nottingham for the Vets!

Last weekend, I sculled in front of the Vet E 4 (Pete, Mark, Tom and Alan Leeson) to East Farleigh and back to see how they were coming along. Chris Long was coxing them and insisted they rated 15 to 18 all the way. As they went by, there was balance and the ratio was pretty good. 

After 3 years hard work, the lads had cracked it, they were rowers and I told them so. Of course, Chris wouldn't agree, you can hear him now (cue gnarled cockney accent): "Nah... you're only a rowah if you can win the Britannia Cup at 'enley at the very least.  In my day...."

Meanwhile, Huggy and Henry took stock after they had had their backsides handed to them by the Bradford boys at Monmouth. The long standing friends of 27 years set about a review in a calm, professional manner. Henry immediately started looking for likely replacements. He gave Reverend Dave a trial, who ditched him immediately so he worked his way down the Vets list to Brian Eddy. Good value for an 80 year old. But Brian is recovering from that dance with Lizzie Bennett at the Xmas do (we are happy to report he is now off oxygen).

Thus rebutted, Henry tried a different tack: "Listen, old chap", he said one day, as they strapped on even more masking tape over the 'Roger Mobbs', "I think the only way we can improve, is if you buy us an Empacher instead of that Boxster you've got an eye on".

Huggy bought himself some time and pretended to think about it. He had been approaching the problem more analytically. After checking out Forbes' "Crap Regatta Guide for Failed Veteran Pothunters", he found one contender in the bondooks of Nottinghamshire, where sliding seats are considered modern technology, where Empachers are totally unheard of, and with a nice wide, sheltered straight 300m course.

"Hmm", he thought, "a little bit far, but it will be a nice day out for the boys, and we're sure to come back with lots of pots". A few telephone calls later, and a few more crossed wires later, sure as you know it, the whole male Vets racing squad were off to...

The British National Masters Championships

Holme Pierrepoint is a daunting, 6 lane international rowing venue. You struggle to see the end of the 2k straight. Fortunately, because we are old farts, the powers that be shortened the course to 1k. How nice. 

It's a big event with 539 crews rowing there that day, and most of them were younger than us.  And it's arguably top of the British Veteran race calendar (some may argue Henley Vets is more presdigious).

At least the wind was kind, and we all sighed with relief as we saw the water was a millpond (the faintest ripple usually ruins your average Maidstone Vets day).

The recently promoted ex-Novice Vets also went "for the experience". Yet once again, the initial results weren't really that shabby. Bert's four came last out of five, but not terribly last, particularly when you take into account that Bert's blade popped out of the gate for 5 strokes.

Rob's four say they had a "horrible" row according to Steve Bickers, but managed 2nd out of 3 in their straight final, and as there was only 3, missed out on a medal.

After Henry totally stripped down the 'Mobbs', found nothing was wrong, and got Huggy to put it back for him, the two, slightly less good friends, lazing in the dull sunshine, had given up actually arguing their cases, and
were resorting to:

"Empacher". "Boxster". "Empacher". "Boxster". "Empacher". "Boxster".

It had been like this all morning, when the call came for them to hurry to the start. They were late, and got an offical warning. What it did allow them to do, was show off by screaming up to the stakeboat, doing a handbrake turn with perfect alignment for the start, and with an opposition whose arms had gone stiff with waiting at frontstops for the past 10 minutes, they cruised to win their heat of four comfortably. 

They then returned the boat, slumped back into the reclined position and resumed their schoolground "Empacher/Boxster" discussion, while various mustachioed straw-hatted umpires looked at them darkly and muttered about "the ugly face of professionalism" under their breaths.

The renowned Vet F 2x of Mr Chairman and Tony Marshall had a 'mare. At 500m they were handily placed in the middle of their pack of 6, and then Tony just "ran out of oxygen" This sort of happens to us old farts occasionally. I automatically asked if he had checked his pacemaker (no joke) and he said it was set for "Turbo", so that was all right. I tell you, if they took out all the bits of metal and plastic in the Vets' bodies, you would just be left with pools of jelly wobbling on the ground.

After lunch, Huggy and Henry got to the start of the final on time. 6 boats - lane 4. The start they had been practicing worked, and they found themselves up by a length after 100 metres.

Hold on.

Shock realisation. We are leading in the Nat Champs Final! Where is that finishing line when you need it. Oh no, it's 900 metres further on. A very handy crew from Dart Totnes are pushing us. 

At the 500, Dart Totnes are still there, the rest are starting to trail, but it's all very close. I'm not thinking 'Boxster', I'm not thinking of a medal of any colour, instead I've entered the zone... (cue cloudy, dreamlike quality to the story), it's all become very easy, and we do our best sculling ever.

750m.  Like coming out of the dream, I've come out of the zone, it's all become very noisy, very visceral and very, very painful. Dart bloody Totnes are still there at one length - why won't they go away like everybody else has?

A new realisation, the bastards are going to push. I can sense it. "LEGS!", I shout. Like Pavlov's dog, Henry stops thinking about Empachers and we go up a gear. 2 strokes later, Dart Totnes do their push, it is a mighty one, and they start hunting us down. It was 2 strokes too late though, and we win by 1/2 length. 3.41 minutes.


We do a quick rendition of Queens' "we are the champions", consider retiring while they are up and all is good in the world.

It gets better. Our Vet E's come of age. It may only have been a 2 horse race, and it wasn't as pretty as it had been rating 18 on the Medway, but it was a 2 length win and another Gold medal for Maidstone!

Hurrah and Huzzah!

At which point the heavens opened up and we rowed the final race in torrential rain. Open Vet D 8's, starring Quintin, Nottingham BC etc. and a couple of scratch Maidstone practically novice 8's having a bizarre private match at the back of the field.

Gotta laugh.

So the question is?...

Empacher or Boxster?

photos, law suits etc to follow...


I'm toying with turning the Blog into the main club website, and am in discussions with t'committe.

If you look at the top under the titles, there are a couple of example tabs (Membership and About the Club), which I have stolen from the old websites.

It is limited functionality (only allowed 10 pages allowed), but the benefit is that they are very easy to maintain by anyone with author rights, and that should mean that the information remains current.

The downside is that this is a compromise, and people may feel that a more professional looking site should be used.

Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

The London Met Regatta, Sunday 6 June 2010

With only a couple of outings in the Filippe and as a crew, confident is not a word we could have used to describe how we felt – we had been drawn against five universities in the first heat, including Oxford Brookes and Nottingham University, the latter of which contained Maidstonian Ali at bow. The format was that the first two in each of the three heats would go through to the final. Third and fourth would have to battle in out in the repechage, with only the winner of that going through.

At the start, the whole crew put the power down together, and the first three strokes felt controlled – Jo called for us to wind, and we did willingly – taking the rating up and up, with the Filippe responding well. The boat surged out the blocks, and I was aware that we were up with the pack after the first ten strokes. It felt good and we settled down to a good rhythm, rating 38. The stride was called a little later than usual and I could feel the extra length kicking in, and the boat holding its speed. Rating stayed at 38, and felt comfortable. All I could hear was Jo urging us on, the clunk of the blades in the gates, and the rushing of water beneath the boat.

After 500m we became aware that we had left a couple of crews behind us – still pacing along at 38, seeing this could only have helped. We left the push later than we would usually, with another stride around 800m in. The rating dropped to 37, with the crew still feeling comfortable rowing long and strong.

1250m down, and I’m not sure what happened in the last minute or so – the water is coming past us at quite a rate, and I know we’re rowing well, and rowing fast. We’re gaining on Nottingham University and the others are in our wake. Lancaster, who were to the outside of us, have dropped out of sight. We’ve settled at 36, but the boat hasn’t lost any speed. We getting cover, and the boat is set – I think we’ll keep it here.

1500m down and it’s neck and neck with Nottingham. They’ve had a storming first three quarters, but our cruising speed is slightly higher and they’re rattled. They put on a push and Jo tells us they’re looking over, no doubt worried. They push too soon though, and when we put on a push at 300m to go, we catch them and it’s level – Jo is screaming at us as we move past them, one man at a time – “This is PERSONAL” shouts Jo as she moves towards being level with Ali, who is at bow.

BEEP. We cross the line. I think we got ahead. Jo knows we got ahead. We all know though that we had just rowed the best race of the season so far. Looking around I can see the other three eights (UCL, Lancaster and Southampton) still some way behind – we were straight through to the final! No repechage! We had won by a third of a length, with a time of 6:10, which made us the fastest qualifiers.

The repechage was not so closely fought, with HSBC coming through first to beat three universities to the last spot in the final, making the line up Maidstone, Nottingham Uni, Oxford Brookes B, Lancaster Uni, Liverpool Uni, Glasgow Uni, and HSBC. With five universities this wasn’t going to be easy but with a good row and a heat win under our all in ones, we hoped to be with the pack all the way.

We can be seen here in the final at the 0.55 second point of this clip

Lining up in lane 5, it was a shame not to be given the middle lane, but more important things needed to be considered. The lady read out the names of the finalists, and called “Attention”.

Once again, we took the first three strokes well. The boat accelerated quickly and we were seven abreast going through the first hundred metres. We settled more quickly this time to a comfortable rhythm at 36, but Brookes were pulling away.

500m in and Jo called for the push. We knew we had it in us and we needed to put the extra power down to catch up. We covered the second 500m a second quicker than Brookes, and we were eating in to their lead. The boat was moving quickly, but there were a couple of sloppy strokes, and we all gritted our teeth and made it better.

From the 1000m mark, Brookes matched us but I could see we were ahead of most of the crews. We took up the power, the rating creeping up to around 37, and going through the 1500m mark there was less than a second between us. It was then that Nottingham made their move, pushing through Brookes from their position directly behind Brookes where they couldn’t be seen. Jo called a push shortly after, and the rate was taken up with the power – we were rating 40 and inching ahead of Brookes, but Nottingham were matching us and maintaining their edge. We powered on until it felt like our lungs would explode and our legs would melt, and on hearing the beep, we weren’t sure who had edged it. The whoops of joy from the Nottingham crew sealed our fate – we had lost.

Taking the boat back to the trailer in silence, I learned that we had lost by 8 tenths of a second. That just made it worse for me, but, looking back, only 8 hours earlier we had arrived expecting to be going home at 10am, and here we were, gutted that we’d just lost the final.

The time we were given for that second 2k was 6:05.89 – and it was undoubtedly our best outing to date. We had excelled all expectations, and the race will forever be remembered in my mind as the greatest I have yet to compete in. With the men’s squad improving every week, we hope to build on our narrow miss at Reading Am, and we will be going full steam towards those pots. We’ve had a tantalising taste of victory at a good level, and we are hungry for more. And I’m confident that more will come.

Nottingham Masters



Reminder to Vets that Nottingham Masters which takes place on Sunday 13th June require entries in by 18:00 TODAY - Weds 2nd June.


They have a unique categorisation: Novice, IM3 and then Championship, so double check your points.

Here's your chance to savour the excitement of 6 lane rowing!  Please contact me if you are interested in going.

Kelsie wins Gold at the World Cup and Morgan and Tim win Bronze in one weekend

Kelsie won Gold representing Great Britain in the LTA Coxed Four on Saturday 29th May at the World Cup Regatta in Bled, Solvenia. Whilst Tim and Morgan achieved a bronze medal at the National Schools Regatta in Nottingham.

The mixed adaptive coxed four of Kelsie Gibson, James Roe, Naomi Riches and Ryan Chamberlain coxed by Rhiannon Jones won in a time of 3:31.74 over the 1000 metre course. As a new combination the immediate international success has been an ideal start to this year’s campaign and road to London 2012.
The crew beat Germany and Ukraine who finished in the Silver and Bronze medal positions respectively. They increased their dominance over Ireland who finished 4th this time around.
The four will race again at the Munich World Cup Regatta in 3 weeks time.
Morgan Hellen and Tim Grant achieved Bronze in the Mens Junior Pairs event in Nottingham on Sunday 30th May. Morgan and Tim raced hard to achieve a bronze medal in a tightly fought race. Their success follows good performances in the junior trials with hopefully selection for the Junior Worlds team this summer.
Other semi finalists at National Schools were new combination of Lauren Gilchrist and Lucy Maunsell, Bella Fish and Sally McConchie and Sarah Judd and Abi Delderfield. Well done to all the crews who attended there were some positive and hard rows in not favourable conditions.