Walton Small Boats Head - 2011

The Juniors very much stepped up to the mark at the Walton Head where in a very competitive field with some of the Private Schools competing on the day.

Excellent performances by Andrew Collins in the J16 single coming 3rd in a very competitive field and then Kate Harris and Ross Porter getting 5th out of 21 high calibre crews, after which they then came 4th out of 10 in their first outing as a pair, showing bags of promise for the future.

Overall, all Junior boats starting to look very competitive in a high class regatta.

 Our coach Helen blowing a bit !!!

 Tamsin in single J15 

 Ross and Jake in pair

 Annie Terry at her second Head


Kingston Head - 2011

An all round superb performance by the Juniors at a high quality Kingston Regatta.

A great win at J16 for Ross Porter and Jake Harris winning by 25 seconds and with Andrew Collins and Jack Grace taking second place beating 7 other doubles from Tiffin,Ardingly and Kingston.

After a quick turnaround Jake Harris went onto win the J16 Single with Andrew Collins only 2 secs behind.

A monumental effort considering the distances involved.

Sally McConchie and Bella Fish competing a year above and probably in the toughest event of the day rowed particularly well putting in a very solid performance

Anneka Terry competed in her first Head race over 4,800 as a J14 and rowed the best she has all season

All in all a very pleasing Regatta for Maidstone juniors

Will Porter     

Docklands Head - 2011

MIRC went mob handed to the Docklands Head this year, particularly with a large contingent of scullers and doubles from the Juniors.

The weather was reminiscent of last year; a gin clear day, but much warmer, but also with an unfortunate 25 knot headwind bearing straight down the shortened course.

It was bloody out there, and after the first Division and numerous capsizes, the event was sensibly restricted to 4s and 8s, which impacted the Junior events heavily.

That said, even with a much reduced field, MIRC dominated the whole event, taking the first 3 fastest times, and with some notable performances further down the field.

Results are HERE

First were the dominant 4- of Morgan Hellen, Tim Grant, Chris Mollison and Matt Nicholls; fresh from their victory at the Fours Head, they destroyed this field, beating the second place MIRC Vet D 8+ by 35 seconds.

The Vet D 8+ coxed by Dani had a strong race.  They elected to use the women's blades and benefited from the shorter length in the difficult conditions.

And in another powerful performance, the Novice 4x came third only just being beaten by the Veterans by 6 seconds.  We understand that Tom is throughly bereft and unconsolable from being beaten by the "old farts".  Still, based on this showing they will not be novice scullers for very long.
 Our rejuvenated ladies 8+ came 16th overall and 2nd to a strong Curlew ladies crew at IM3.  Their now trademark precision made the conditions look benign.

OK - that's before the start in the calm of the Victoria Dock, but even in the race it was pretty good!

The Vet C4+ came 17th, and seemed pretty happy for their second outing of the day.
Only 4 Junior boats got out in the end.  The stand out performance was in the J162x who came 31st  beating Thames Rowing Club by 36 seconds.

 A MIRC Junior sculler braves the docks!

Comic moment of the day was the unusual boat entry of Dani James into the Vet D8+.  It went something like this: Dani: "Cox getting in... aaaaarrrrrrghhhhhh," as she missed the boat altogether and ended up in the drink.  She was swamped for the rest of the day by other trainee coxes eager to learn how she performed this feat!
Dani - moments before her bath!

Photos, as ever, stolen from various FB albums particularly from Dani, Andrea and Anne

Well done MIRC - a good days racing!

Fours Head of the River - 2011

Although MIRC only entered one crew into this year's event, the IM1 4- of Morgan Hellen, Tim Grant, Chris Mollison and Matt Nicholls WON their event convincingly with a time of 19mins 48secs and beating 35 other crews in their category.

A fantastic achievement and (I think) our first ever Fours head event winners.  Well doine lads.  Henley beckons!

Results can be found HERE:

See here for a nice little video nicked off somebodies facebook:

Exit the Empacher

There was no longer a shine to the Empacher as there was before.  Cobwebs, dust, weeds - all signs of non use, dereliction and waste.  Huggy thought of the great things that could have been, wiped away a tear and speed-dialled Henry.  He should have expected a foreign dialling tone.

"Privyet, Roman Abrahamovich", answered Henry with a phoney East European accent.

"What's with the accent, and who is Roman Abrahamovich?" asked an already frustrated Huggy.

"Just my alter ego, old chap," said Henry reverting to the Queens English.

"Why are you calling yourself 'Abrahamovich'?"

"Just doing a bit of business in the New World, get a lot more respect if I sound like Russian mafia.  Anyway, I'm a bit busy you know, places to go, people to see and all that."

"Well, it's about the Empacher..." said Huggy, trying to find the right words to let his partner down gently.

"Sell it.  Gotta go.  Do svidaniya, comrade!"


With nothing doing in the Empacher for the regatta season, Huggy concentrated his efforts in the Eight in which we raced 4 times.  First up was Twickenham; handsomely beating the local crew, but then going down by a length to a very good Thames RC crew.

At the National Masters Championships, we really gave it our all, getting through to the final beating Runcorn and Bedford Star, but then coming 5th in the final to basically the who's who of Masters Vet D rowing.

Then painfully, Veterans Henley, where after beating Nottingham (a definite scalp) we were rowed through by Marlow right at the end of the semis and lost by 4 ft.

There was a small saving grace at Sudbury when half the crew merged with some younger blood from the inbetweeny seniors and won the Open Masters Eights sprint over 3 heats.

We came to the end of the season with mixed feelings.  Some great racing, some heavy partying (St Neots being the standout), but insufficient reward for our endeavours.

In September, Huggy took stock with the Vet Ds, who unanimously voted to carry on into the next season.  As ever, there are some changes: Thor 'opted' to return to the Development Squad, and has been replaced by Richard Ridgway (on loan from the senior), who will only get to race with us in 2012, when the boat becomes 8 years older.

Coaching duties have transfered to Dave Marsden, who is providing sound an considered advice (when he remembers to turn up).

Coxing duties have moved to Dani James as a reward for her excellent performances this year (including that win at the Nat Champs).  She is a natural steer, flirtatiously bossy (which we all like), keeps asking us to "take a piece" when lifting the boat, which induces boyish grins, and above all, unlike Tim, turns up at the right time, every time.  What a god send!

We've experimented in September and October.  Gerraint is now the stroke man, we need options and cannot always rely on Mr Chairman.  We are slowly trying to reconstruct Greg's stroke and Huggy toyed with 7 and 5, but seemed to somehow found himself back in the bow seat (so he could 'keep an eye on everyone' - yeah right).

We're concentrating on rowing as one; same hand heights, same finish position, same loading of power at the various points of the stroke.  Unsurprisingly, its really, really difficult to get veterans to row the same way, really difficult; and it has been a frustrating couple of months of 3 steps forward and 2 steps back.  But it's definitely getting better.  We'll see at the Docklands Head on Nov 13th.


As the Empacher was driven off by its lucky new owner, Huggy managed to catch sight of Henry inspecting a sign at the rapidly growing new Maidstone Football Club Ground.  He was accompanied by Countessa Vanya Olimpia Konstantin-Assen of Vidin (for those readers with short memories see HERE), and two nasty looking pieces of work, looking suspiously like bodyguards, .

As Huggy approached his erstwhile partner hand stetched out, the immaculately dressed Countessa Vanya immediately interjected with a: "KILL HIM", whereupon the gorillas whisked out some lethal looking handguns, flicked the safetys and Huggy realised he was as good as dead.

"Niet," ordered Henry.

Huggy's rectum relaxed significantly while he was efficiently and brutally frisked.  He was too astonished to say anything other than a weak: "I say, steady on."

"Hugs, old chap, sorry about that.  Dmitry and Gregor can be a bit confrontational, but they are necessary: the Russkis can play rough sometimes."

"You've changed, Henry," Huggy suggested bitterly, "and not for the better I must say."

"Can't be helped old boy, can't get in the way of progress... like this for example," crowed Henry flourishing has hands over the building site.

Confused, Huggy looked at the beginnings of the new ground and then at the sign at the entrance:




Huggy couldn't restrain a giggle, "Maidstone FC - Premiership, you are having a laugh."

"That's where you are wrong me old mucker.  It's like the rowing club: from little acorns, great oaks grow.  It takes dedication, skill, training, coaching, sound management, an investment in time, a youth academy, and," said Henry triumphantly, "like my namesake at Chelsea can vouchsafe, lots and lots of wonga!"

To which, Henry fished out a huge wad of what looked like Roubles, handed it to Huggy and said there you go mate, buy yourself a new boat."  

MIRC Annual Dinner and Dance

Hi everyone

Now less than a month to go until this years Annual Dinner and Dance (Black Tie
event). Saturday 19th November, 6.30 for a 7.00 sit down.

Please email, phone or text if you and guests are interested in coming along,
everyone is welcome.

3 course dinner with entertainment for £35 a ticket. We also have some
fantastic raffle prizes this year including a signed copy of Sir Steve
Redgrave's book. All donations to the raffle welcome :-)

Many thanks to those that have already emailed. Cheques should be made payable
to MIRC or bank transfer to Maidstone Invicta, sort code 403106 account number
71230964 or alternatively give me the cash when you see me at the club.

Address of the venue is Ramada Maidstone, Ashford Road, Hollingbourne, ME17 1RE.

We have a special event rate for anyone interested in staying over £85 per room
with B&B please book direct on 0844 8149045 or book online.

Look forward to hearing from you.

07783 954371

Maidstone Small Boats Head - Sunday Oct 2nd - CANCELLED


Dear All,
The autumn Maidstone Invicta Small Boats Head is on Sunday 2nd October 2011.
Contact Henry Abraham and make availability known.
Many thanks,
Tony Marshall

Sudbury International Regatta - 2011

MIRC went mob-handed to Sudbury this year with some 31 crews competing to bring in a fantastic return of 14 victories!


While not strictly a junior event, the Porter brothers, Ross and David, romped home to win their Novice pot in the Novice 2x, beating Sudbury by 2 lengths and Lea in the final easily.  It is always great to see rowers win their novice event, and this was a great way to do it.  A proud day for mum and dad looking on from the bank.

The Porter brothers winning their novice sculling pot.

Tamsin McConchie also dominated her event in the Junior 14 1x, beating Lea and Sudbury comfortably.

Her sister Sally  then went on with Ross Porter to win the mixed J16 2x in a straight final with MIRC. 
With so many entries, we were bound to be racing each other occasionally.

 Big grins from Ross and Sally

Sarah Judd and Abbi Delderfield beat the Junior's old adversaries, Kings Canterbury, in a straight final in the Womens J17 2x.

 Sarah gives Abbi a hug!


The seniors won the battle of the squads with 6 wins in total.

Ben Finch, and Mark Tompkins combined with ladies from Poplar (Laura Birrell and Sarah Kendall) won a straight final in the mixed IM3 4x+.

The new combination of Steve Slade and Lewin Hynes followed up their Novice and IM3 2x success with another win here, beating their Peterborough opposition easily, who had fallen foul of the infamous Sudbury bank.  The lads just missed out on the IM2 2x race against the powerful Medway double by 1 foot.  Fantastic work.

Steve and Lewin getting cozy with the Mayor.

Some terrific racing was to be had in the mixed Elite 8+, with MIRC roping in some old stalwarts such as Alex Torbica, Jennie Hampshire and Katie Martin.  The crew was also beefed up by a couple of our successful Henley Wyfolds 4-: Chris Mollison and Matt Nicholls.  Helen Taylor, Craig Welch and Laura McGrillen made up the rest of the 8 (does anyone have the coxes name?). They went on to win the event beating Sudbury, Lea and Cambridge in the process.

 The Elite Mixed 8 beating Lea in the semis.

Chris Mollison and Craig Welch won the Elite 2x, beating a strong crew from Gravesend.  The novelty here was that Chris had all the points, Craig (a newcomer to MIRC) was a novice - a spectacular way to win your novice pot.
Triple event winners, Chris Mollison and Craig Welch

A third novice victory was gained when newcomers to the club, Charlotte Faulkner and Craig Welch again won the Mixed Novice 2x.

Chris then got his third victory of the day in the mixed IM2 4+ with Matt, Laura McGrillen and Helen Taylor.

Some of the winning seniors with their amassed pots.  See if you can spot a few old MIRC ringers!


The Veterans had their fair share of the spoils too with 4 wins.  Tony Marshall followed up his double at St. Neots with another couple: starting with a win with Richard Huggins in the Vet E 2x in the third of the all Maidstone straight finals.

Roger and Sue Mobbs beat their old adversaries: the Lea, and then Sudbury easily to win in the Mixed Vet F2x.

Tony and Richard then combined with Robin Chapman and Alan Leeson in a Vet F4x+ (coxed by Roger Mobbs) to beat their friends from Bewl Bridge in a hard fought final.

 Vet Fx+ on the way to their win.  How did that 35 year old get into the 2 seat?

And finally, the Open Vet A 8+ won an extremely tight competition redressing their loss against Broxbourne last year in the quarters, and then beating a St Ives/Huntingdon composite by a canvas in the semis, and eventually Medway by 1/2 length in the Final.  The crew, consisting of Steve and Lewin (enjoying their 2nd win of the event), Richard Ridgway, Mark Tompkins, Graeme Hodgkinson, Steve Bickers, Sean Bennett and Richard Huggins, was coxed expertly by Sue Mobbs.  Huggy was the third triple winner of the regatta, but no one stayed around to listen to his 10 page acceptance speech at the prize giving.  He is saving it for the annual dinner though!

The Vet A 8+ holding off Medway in the Final.

Various Veterans showing off their pewter.

A wonderful day out for MIRC.  For most of us, the final regatta of the season.  Ahead lie holidays and the Head season!

Watch this space as additional photos will be added when they are sent to me.

St. Neots 2011

MIRC picked up 6 wins at St. Neots this year: a much more respectable tally than last year's "Maidstone Turkey Shoot."  Even for those crews that lost, there were plenty of examples of extremely close and competitive races.

Saturday belonged to the double of Steve Slade and Lewin Hynes, who won both the IM3 and Novice categories totally convincingly, and retired gracefully from Sunday's racing.

The girls Junior 15 double of Lauren Gilchrist and Lucy Maunsell also won their hard fought competition.  The remaining juniors: Ross Porter, Jack Grace, Andrew Collins at J15 and Anneka Terry at J13, all put up very strong performances.  Pictures of the Juniors will be put up as soon as Will send them to me.

The Veterans had a tough day of it, with the Fours and Eights managing to beat most of their opposition except when finally facing a totally dominant Peterborough squad.  We got sick of the sight of blue and yellow by the end of the weekend.

Sunday was the turn of the Veteran small boats.  Ollie and Gerraint finally popped their novice sculling cherries, and washed away the humiliation they suffered at the hands of Huggins and Abraham last year ;)

Our old stalwarts of Tony Marshall and Robin Chapman won the F2x Sprints for the second year running.

Tony then doubled up his pot count with a win in the F1x event.

The Vet Fours and Eights continued to manfully win their heats only to be taken out by Peterborough  the eventual winners; sometimes by painfully close distances: the Vet D4+ stroked by Simon de Maria lost by just 4 ft.  the Vet D8+ by 1/3 length.


In an all Maidstone heat, the Es defeated their younger, D scratch opponents, chosen as a 'just Beast it' crew... with a little help from their 3 second head start.

A great, fun, if tiring weekend.  No doubt the outrageous behaviour of the Veterans on Saturday night will be well catalogued on facebook, and possibly a Blog entry...

Henley Masters Regatta - 2011

Raining? - Check.
Cold? - Check.
Blowing a gale? - Check.

That will be standard conditions for the Masters regatta season so far then.  The worst aspect was a steady 20 knot headwind, which was slowing down crews by 20 to 30 seconds, and making for choppy conditions.

We took 2 crews to the Henley.  Messers Chapman and Marshall in the F2x and the Vet D 8+ - the only changes from Nottingham being Rob Kenway replacing Harry (who was umpiring and, despite ugly threats, was refusing to accept bribes) and Lois coxing.

The double were first off against Cincinnati.  These guys were terrifyingly good, combined with the rough water not suiting our lightweight(ish) double, they were 4 lengths up by the 500m mark.  They went on to win the event easily.

The Eight had a bye into the quarters, where they met Nottingham BC, who had beaten Stourport.  Notts have a strong reputation, and had come 3rd at the Masters Champs last year, but had not been seen on the calendar this year.  They must have been rusty, as we beat them by 1.75 lengths in a headwind which made it difficult for both crews to obtain full length.  Despite the slow time (like everybody elses) - 3.47 minutes, we are calling that one a scalp!

On Sunday (with more benign if not perfect conditions), the Eight were more confident in our clash with Marlow in the semis, who we have beaten before (just).  We put absolutely everything into it at the start, taking a 1/3 length by the 500m mark.  But with all credit to them, they slowly clawed their way back, and we had nothing left to hold them off, eventually losing by 4 miserable feet in a time of 3.27 :(. 

We were gutted, but will come out of it stronger, I am sure.  Marlow, then went on to lose easily to Crabtree (Cambridge Alumni) in the Final, who are in a league of their own in this event.

Watch this great video of the epic tussle:

Henley Royal Regatta - 2011

With the senior IM2 Eight only just failing to qualify for the Thames Challenge Cup by a measly 5 seconds (hard luck lads), the hopes of MIRC lay on our top coxless four in the Wyfolds, who had pre-qualified with distinction (winning at the Metropolitan).

IM2 8 just failing to make the cut, but looking very neat (from 7.20 in the video).

The crew of Mat Nicholls, Stuart Hampshire, Chris Mollison and Tim Grant did exceptionally well, making it to the quarter finals of the Wyfolds with relative ease by beating Abingdon and Banks RC (Aus) both by 3 lengths.  Unfortunately that is when the met the ultimate winners - London RC (A), losing in the fastest heat of the event.

 Our boys very comfortably beating the Aussies in the second round (5.03 into the clip).

We are all especially proud of the guys, who once again, have done Maidstone proud!

Masters National Championships - Nottingham - 12 June 2011

I thought we would be prepared for the Nat Champs this year, but we were not. Some of my best laid plans had come off the rails running up to the Regatta season: the novices redistributed themselves into mutually acceptable sub squads (ha - spot the management consultant); and the Vet E squad never really materialised. Only the vet Ds and small boat versions kept the faith except for notable except of one Henry Abraham (who will naturally get a whole blog devoted to him).

It took an extraordinary amount of blood, sweat, tears, lies, deception, sleight of hand and every trick I had in the book to reform the squads into what I had hoped and planned for 12 months ago.

So we brought to the eternally raining, cold and squally Champs, 8 crews:

Open D 8+
IM3 E 8+
Novice 8+
IM3 C 8+
IM3 E 4+
Novice 4+
Open F2x
Open F1x

In summary: we fought valiantly at Open, did rather well at IM3 and dragged defeat from the wide open and willing jaws of victory at Novice.

Open Events

The Vet D 8+ prep had been excellent all winter, and now ajudged as being grown up to play with adult toys (just), they got to use the club's shiny best boat - the Ray Long. Now we know why the seniors had been holding out on us: the Filippi is a lovely boat - it makes us look good. The seniors' reluctance was clear as the stretchers had been welded into their favourite positions, but we have a few engineers in our ranks and there is nothing that a blowtorch can't undo...

Adrenalin pushed us up to the dizzy heights of a 37 striding pace in the Heat which saw us just beat Bedford Star and Runcorn, but we were some 2 lengths behind a rather scary Quintin crew. We were exhausted. Gosh, the big boys play rough.

The potents were ominous as the much fancied Thames RC crew (who beat us by a length at Twickenham) came LAST in their Heat, and sure enough we trailed 5th in the Final (again just beating Runcorn) but only a length or so behind Broxbourne, Peterborough and a scary Warwick composite with 3 other clubs and a further 2 lengths behind Quintin.

And as it so often happens in Masters rowing, we came off the water with broad smiles as we knew we had done ourselves and the club much credit.

Robin and Tony in the vet F2x and Tony in the Vet F1x just came across very, very strong opposition whom they could not break. Masters Open at the Nat Champs is not for the faint of heart.

IM3 Events

The Vet I3 E 8+ was a scratch crew. There was much debate (some of it heated) as to whether it should race. The core of the Vet Es (the E 4+) had only recently reformed as a crew, and were going to the Champs to defend their title. It was argued that we could beef it up with some brawn from the Vet Ds and Novices, and that engine room would help redress the balance.

The plan almost worked, but they were beaten by a canvas by a Bedford Star crew, who had obviously been well drilled. Such is the difference between scratch and trained.

The Vet IM3 E 4+ then went on to defend their crown, but they are not ready yet (as John Clayton has told me many times in a few days), and lost by a couple of lengths.

The Vet IM3 C 4+, Graeme, Steve, Gerraint and Olly, who had won at our Small Boats Head and Twickenham were favourites in my mind, but not in theirs.
This is their second year together as a crew, and it shows. They are winning at Open events, so why not IM3 was my argument, and so it was that they handsomely beat Derby and Milton Keynes by two lengths in their 3 horse final to become National Champions!!

Hoorah and Huzzah!!

Their cox, Daniella, has won 3 trophies on the bounce in her first year, and is a Nat Champ to boot! Check out the big grin.

Novice Events

Having given the novices some major counselling and therapy sessions, I finally got them to reform into an Eight. All was not quite rosy, with Patrick deciding he would rather eat unwashed salads and ice formed from sewers in India rather than risk it in the Eight; and Marc and Trevor deciding that they would rather watch paint dry that day. So I drafted in a couple of ringers: Simon "no pots" de Maria, who somehow hasn't lost his cherry yet, and Dave "yet another one who claims to have rowed at Oxford" Emmanuel.

After a couple of "interesting" pre-race outings, the crew eagerly sought the coaches thoughts on where to improve. Somehow they swallowed the line: "look there's no hope chaps - you are just going to have to Beast it."

And Beast it they did - well seven and a half of them, as Spencer came off and mangled his seat at the Start. Somehow they kept ahead of their opposition (Walton) all the way to the finish, just being pipped in the last couple of strokes of the race. It was gutting to watch and they were totally gutted.



Finally, the lightweight Novice Four (Darren, Dave Prentice, Spencer and Jez and coxed by Andrea), had a chance to lose their cherry in their 2 horse race. By the halfway mark they were well up on Monmouth, and the coach was already typing a lengthy and overdramatic write up, when Dave P crabbed as only a Novice can, stopped the boat completely and a grateful Monmouth swanned by to win.

Ugh. Well chaps, as one of their number said... "s**t happens."

Big thanks to all 22 rowers, 3 coxes (including Tim who provided the whole squad with much amusement on the way up) and Thor for the pics. In a funny way, I think we all enjoyed it, despite the really, really awful weather.

ps - James won in a composite Medway/Monmouthian Vet Open B 4x. Well done youngster, try rowing for us once in a while.

Sue & Roger Mobbs Rowing Tour of Japan

Sue & Roger are currently on a month long FISA rowing tour of Japan.

Check out the first Video here:

Twickenham Regatta - 2011

6 crews from the Veteran and the Women squads and a token Senior when to Twickenham for their first regatta of the year.

Despite the course being slightly longer than what we are used to (1.25k), the decided advantage of the Middlesex bend which only one of our crews benefitted from, and the plethora of big name London clubs to compete against; we got stuck in with elan.

The ladies had 3 races: an IM3 4x, a Vet 4x and a Novice 4+, and 6 rowers...  Lots of complicated doubling up and exhausted oarswomen.  Nary a heat was won, but I am told that the Novice 4+ was a close affair, and we now have a starting point for the squad which has come out of the doldrums.

The Vet D Eight, comprehensively beat Twickenham in the heat.  At the finish, they wished us luck in a very wry fashion for our final against Thames RC (as in: "you don't stand a chance").  The core of this crew came 6th out of 204 at the Head of the River (we came 61st).  So we were actually reasonably satisfied with our 1.25 length loss. holding them off for much of the race until we entered the unfamiliar territory of >1k, and their superior fitness/training/whatever kicked in.

The Vet C 4+ had a bye to the final, and met Itchen (yeah, I've never heard of them either), who had beaten Lea in the heat.  Itchen were Vet B, so our lads had a 6 second head start which was totally squandered as the stroke man crabbed on the the first draw.  It took many strokes to get back into rythmn, and the comment "this is a bl**dy disaster," was heard from somewhere near the bows.

Still, they are strong (if elderly) Vet C crew, the engine room of the Vet D 8 and have rowed together for 2 years.  It showed and they cruised to a 2 length victory. 


Well done to Graeme Hodgkinson, Gerraint Evans, Steve Bickers, Olly Barton, and cox, Daniella James (in her first ever Regatta).  Unfortunately, in all the hurly burly, no-one thought to take any pictures!

Finally, Lewin (our solitary Senior) took part in a 3 heat Novice 1x event, and found out how difficult it is.  He got through to final beating his opponents from Oxford Academicals and Auriol Kensington easily, before submitting easily to a sculler from... Tideway Scullers.  Well done, at least that oppo won't bother you no more!

Next Stop.  The Veteran Nat Champs in Nottingham.

Of Eastern Europe and Eights

Henry's trip to the former Eastern Bloc last year left him with a taste for more.

With his usual charm and an appropriate bribe, he convinced his party friends Emanuelle and Guillotine Withers to accompany him on his next "surprise" trip.  When Emanuelle asked him if the location was hot, and he truthfully replied "23 degrees," she gleefully announced she would just pack skimpy little numbers, and bring lots of lotion.

Henry's intended destination was Cracow.  Cracow in February is 23 degrees... in Fahrenheit... that's -5... in Centigrade.


Huggy, Robin and Tony were watching the seniors training from the club landing stage with a critical eye.  Robin saw someone unusual in the bow of an eight which went crisply by, someone who hadn't been rowing for some time, someone who shouldn't have been there: Pluto Nicholls.

"I thought you said that Pluto was sleeping with the fishes?" he asked the all knowing Tony.

"Well the sardines in the Polo message could have one of two meanings," back pedalled Tony, "I suppose it could have been a couple of his mates returning his car with his shopping."


Contessa Vanya Olimpia Konstantin-Assen of Vidin was in a pickle.  Her father, the Prince of Vidin, had betrothed her to Prince Boris of Preslav, who was 78, 5' 2", bald, toothless and withered in every way.  Prince Boris, knowing his days were numbered, was keen to get to his conjugal rights and test the goods well ahead of the wedding, so one night he sneaked into the Contessa's bedroom.

Unluckily for Prince Boris, the Contessa was both strong willed and had a useful apprenticeship within the Bulgarian Secret Service, which meant she habitually kept a silenced Makarov PB under her pillow.  So predictably as the panting geriatric Prince scrambled onto her bed early one morning after the engagement party, a neat and bloody hole appeared in his forehead.

As the Contessa calmly unscrewed the silencer: the early rays of dawn glinting off her steely blue eyes, she decided she was in a pickle and had to get out.

Exhibit no 1.


Emanuelle Withers was not happy.  She was freezing in her hot pants in the snow, she was fed up of visiting war memorial sites, and they had lost Guillotine during the visit to the salt mines.

Henry was unperturbed, "oh, she will turn up soon enough," he said, as they got back to their hotel and bee-lined straight for the bar.  A few vodkas later, Emanuelle had warmed up, forgotten her sister, and was actually enjoying Henry's undivided attention, when she noticed a tourist leaflet.

"Oh look, Mr Abraham, they've got 'Speed Dating' in old Cracow Town tonight.  That might be fun, I might find myself a Polish lover," she teased.


Henry's frequent disappearances to the continent were beginning to frustrate Huggy: the rarely used Empacher was growing cobwebs on it's rack.  Slowly, but surely over the winter season, a plan came together.  Taking advantage of his self appointed role as Veteran's coordinator, he hand-picked himself a crew that would take him to Henley.  Entry requirements were strict.  He used himself as the baseline, so only those taller, stronger, fitter and older than he could get in the boat.  When more made the grade than were needed, he fell back on the little known club 'Minorities Rule' to justify his inclusion in the boat.

After some experimentation, a squad of some of the best that Maidstone had to offer averaging one day over 50 finally formed the originally named: 'Vet D Eight'.

This group of grumbly old prima donnas went through coxes and coaches like a hot knife through butter.  Liz Macham started off doing both jobs, but in desperation at their in-boat tantrums and out-boat innuendos, she got herself pregnant and married Richard Ridgeway as a last resort.

Seeing things were not going as planned, Huggy instantly improved crew morale by strong arming Poplar's Captain into giving them a pot at the Dockland's Head.  A visit by the Maidstone Mafia and a horse's head was all that it took.

Grumbling all the way through 3 miles of high seas, the Eight did the Medway Invitational Head and came third overall behind the two MIRC senior Eights... it was an unsightly, but effective row.

Roger and Sue Mobbs then took over coaching and coxing duties and improvements continued to show.  Unable to figure out hand heights on their own, straws began to appear 3" above the gunnels of boats as aide memoirs.  Going back to basics seemed to pay off, they came 3rd out of 8 in their category at Molesey, beating some useful competition; despite Huggy hiding in the bow of the boat, playing the Race card, enjoying the ride and thinking what heights they could reach once they got Henry back in the boat.

The crotchedty, grumbling Eight were giving a special coaching session from Ian and Chris Mollinson.  Father and son were appalled at the overall technique, which resulted in another back to basics session, which the surly eight took with their usual poor grace.

However, this paid dividends with another good result, this time at the Vets Eights Head with a very respectable 12th out of 42 in category.  It cost them another cox, as Sue deciding that she got enough grumbling at home from her old man, resigned forthwith.

Despite these setbacks, Huggy daily plotted their improvements on a spreadsheet, and calculated that with the Henry factor, Henley and glory was just within reach...


Contessa Vanya Olimpia Konstantin-Assen of Vidin, having smuggled herself out of Bulgaria found herself in Poland and desperate.  Funds were running low, her supply of false identifications and passports had been used up, and her friends in the Secret Police had deserted her.  The 5' 8" blonde, valkyrie beauty needed help and quickly.  She needed a cover.  She needed a husband, a tall one, a foreign one.  Thinking outside the box, speed dating was the only answer...


"Hi, my name is Henry and I am English," said Henry to the ravishing blonde bombshell with the high cheekbones, as he moved to her table.

"You vill do," replied the Contessa playfully pointing her antique 9mm at him.

So it was that Henry, accompanied by an unusually tall and blonde Guillotine Withers and a very confused Emanuelle Withers came home after their winter frolic in the cold of Cracow.