Thursday, 24 March 2011

132. Rowing

24th March 2011. If rowing 'floats your boat', then don't forget to switch on your TV on Saturday in time for the annual Oxford - Cambridge University boat race on the Thames. It starts at 5pm (British Summer Time); 6pm (French time) but check the times for wherever you are. This first clip will give you a flavour of what it's all about..
Last year's race was a real nerve-jangler:


This next clip will give you an idea of the intensive training that this year's rowers will have endured prior to the big race on Saturday:

Hard to believe now but I once raced in an VIII over the same 4¼ mile (6.8km) course (but run in the opposite direction) on the river Thames during the London Head of the River Race in the 60s.. (and you're right, that's a worryingly long time ago!) This picture (with around 30 VIIIs in view) only hints at what 400+ VIIIs look like out on the river - you need a sharp cox at moments like this:
Just some of the VIIIs on the water at the London Head of the River Race
When I did the event, I think we started 147th and finished somewhere around 120th out of 200-odd VIIIs. Looking at the link above, it appears that 405 VIIIs are entered for this year's race.  Here's a view of the London 'Head' as seen by a French club and yes, the river can get quite choppy..

Who will I be supporting this year? The same as I've always done ever since I can remember - Oxford. Why? No idea!

While we're on sporting matters, Formula 1 chief Bernie Ecclestone says there is growing support for using sprinkler systems to wet F1 tracks in order to make races more entertaining.

I think he's completely off his head and retirement to a bus shelter on the sea front in Eastbourne surely beckons for him. Sat there with his Thermos flask of tea he could shout at passing traffic to his heart's content.

Finally, a very pleasant outing this evening in a double sculler with Y, one of the nenettes at the club! She's been rowing since last July and has made astonishing progress. She stroked the boat this evening with metronomic regularity leaving me to look after the steering..! We had one or two close shaves with the greenery but all in all, a very enjoyable outing. Did 12km. (Running total: 522km)
The inspirational figure of Perle Bouge (coverage starts at 0:32) was out on the river too in her single sculling boat this evening. She's a handicapped sculler and she won a Silver Medal in the Mixed Double Sculls at the recent World Championships in New Zealand. I heard for the first time this evening that she's only been rowing for a year!

25th March 2011. Tomorrow sees the big - no, let's make that the h-u-g-e local derby between Biarritz and Bayonne. It's taking place on "the other side" (ie, in Spain) at the 30,000 seater Anoeta stadium in San Sebastian. (More here in French and English) San Sebastian will be lively tomorrow evening!

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