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.