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.

St Neots Draw

Can be found HERE.

Some interesting ties including a possible all Maidstone Vet C / Vet E 8+ FINAL!!!

St. Neots & Sudbury Regattas - heads up

All £1062 of entries for St. Neots are now on BROE, so once again prompt payment of race fees would be appreciated; the latest race debts list has just been uploaded to the noticeboard. The no fee, no race policy will be enforced.

Sudbury Regatta is just around the corner on 7th August, please get all entries to Hugh by Thursday 29th July at the latest to allow time to sort the entries and (hopefully) avoid disappointment with oversubscribed events.


I've added a slideshow to the front page to make it more interesting. If you want to add any pics of your own. Feel free to send to me.

Henley Veterans Regatta - 9/10 July 2010

The Vet E4+

In their final outing before the big day, I coxed the Vet Es, keen to see where they were, and (in all honesty) a little worried that they may have bitten off more than they could chew going to Henley.  It wasn't bad, definitely some grunt in the boat, but a noticeable rush at the finish, resulting in some hangng around at the catch and the loss of a foot or two of available stroke.

Tom felt it was more unbalanced than normal, but the others were satisfied, and ready to rock and roll.

Unfortunately, the steps from Novices to senior Vets to Nat Veteran Champions to Henley in 2 years were just too giant, and they came across a very useful Durham crew in the first round, who rowed neater, harder and longer.

The Vet B 8+

Everyone was amazed that this 8 got to Henley.  The personel changed almost on a daily basis, and they could only train after Henley proper (ie over the course of 1 week).  Yet, amazingly, and this does happen, when asking crew members how it was going, I invariably got an astonished shake of the head and a "not half bad".  Intriguing.

The potential farce continued as half the crew were heavily delayed due to bad traffic on the M25 and James claims he only got there with minutes to spare. 

I didn't see the race, but they beat Marlow in a decent time of 3.16, which must have been a bitter sweet moment as it meant having to come back the next day to face the, frankly, feared Monmouth 8+ in the final.  Again I wasn't there, but this fantastic footage shows our boys put up a great fight against a very, very well drilled opposition.  No dishonour there, chaps, well done.  Feel free to submit a more accurate write up.

The Vet D 2x

Huggy and Henry's preparations for Henley Veterans consisted of pitting themselves against Mr Chairman and Tony Marshall in the Springfield sculls (c2k).  The Vet Fs proceeded to humble our not-so dynamic duo in all phases of the race,  more so when they commissioned their newly refurbished Sampfli double. 

Cue Henry's endless mantra about Huggy getting them an Empacher.  Yawn.

These 2ks were salatory lessions, made worse by the fact that the 2 H's could not beat their elders and betters over a straight 10 stroke start.  Henry parted with some cash (words never before put together in the same sentence), and in hushed whispers, Tony revealed the secret of their Start.  Start training continued under the watchful gaze of the Mobbs's, and slowly, very slowly, our heroes worked out the semblance of a half decent, if splashy, attack.

Time simply ran out for them to work on the remaining 110 strokes of the race, and they figured that once they were up, the rest would surely work itself out. 

So it was that the training paid off and boys left Abingdon at the start, and proceeded to bang down the course rating 35.  Which is actually a bit high for a couple of old farts.  Shocked into action, Abingdon powered after them, and took up station 3/4 of a length behind, giving absolutely no respite.  So much so that our heroes made a schoolboy error - they didn't dare stride for fear of losing their slim lead.

And so, at 900m, they simply ran out of steam and the oppo stunned themselves by cruising through to win at the end.

The boys were gutted, but despite their tactical error, it was a good row and the heat was the fastest time of the event.

Seeing Huggy lovingly pat Roger Mobbs' ancient, badly scarred bottom, and with a tear in his eye, reverently murmur: "you did your best old boy, you did your best", Henry's mind worked overtime on what to do about the key weakness of the partnership...

Results can be found here

Henley Royal Regatta

Not sure if someone will do a write up, but here are Morgan and Tim in a composite quad with Maidenhead in the Fawleys.  I understand they got through a heat.
Starts at the 4.37 min point in the video.

The Senior 8 Thames Cup bid can be checked out here.  Unfortunately beaten by a very useful Galway 8+ in the first round who got to the semis.