The naming of boats

The club named its new IV and finally settled on a name for its old IV today (Saturday, July 16). In an unusual show of democracy the names went up for the vote. The new IV was named, fittingly after the beloved cafe the club (and many other rowing clubs on the Cam) frequents after Saturday outings - Tishka. The Chesterton Road cafe is named after an area in Morocco which the owner’s family is from and refers to a pass between mountains. Cafe owner Eddie Touchent poured prosecco over the boat during the ceremony (he was meant to - it wasn’t some weird protest or anything) and said his father would be very proud. He joked that he was grateful to all the rowers for their business though without them he’d actually get to have a rest on Saturdays. Simon Emmings - club captain, said in a press release (he had his spin-doctor cook up the words for him): “Tishka is an essential pit-stop for many Cambridge rowers after an outing. Owner Eddie and his staff are always cheerful and helpful – often having your regular order ready for you as you approach the counter. As a club founded by the PYE company more than 75 years ago we’re really conscious that we have close links to the community and Tishka is a fantastic community meeting place. We are really pleased to be able to thank Eddie in this way.”


The old IV was almost named Rocky IV after the classic film and its classic rocking motion. It was that or its folk-name The IV of Death, but in the end another film reference tipped it and it was named Nostromo after the spaceship in the original Alien movie (apparently there’s a posh book by some bloke called Joseph Conrad too but that had no part in the naming). As this had been club member Chris Wood’s idea he poured the booze on the boat. The naming of the men’s VIII was delayed due to a mix-up in lettering, or something. 

Time Race: Ladies Night

M1 and 3, and W1 and 3, turned out for the CRA Time Race on the eccentric new wildlife friendly course form the Plough to Peter's Posts. The results are available in a confusing format - I do like to see some of the old traditions upheld. M1 came second only to Tabs 1, beating Tabs 2 by six seconds which is nice. W1 won Mas A/B/C pots; and W3 won Nov pots. M3 came second in the Nov category, beaten only by the really-rather-good-for-novice Nines crew that started off 3rd.

 Who are all these people anyway?

Who are all these people anyway?

Somewhat later, down the Waterman:

I'm sure you all want to see the GoPro of M1:

Emma the Howard dug out some old timed race results from the CRA; its here for reference.

Marlow regatta

After the glory that was Peterborough, the next step was The Big Time: Marlow regatta on Eton Dorney. Sadly, this was more Peterborough-Sunday than Peterborough-Saturday.

We needed to be there to race for - I forget; but it was early; say 8:30 - and so elected to stay overnight "somewhere nearby", which turned out be be a very nice Airbnb place. Watching Die Hard was the ideal pre-regatta preparation. After a good night's sleep we got up - still early - and got to Dorney with not-really-quite-enough time to be fully settled before it was time to boat for the time trials. For Marlow was being run on the Newe Systeme, in which the various entries in each class are sorted via time trials into A, B and so on finals. Note that Met, or so I'm told, takes this even further, and puts all IM3, 2 and 1 VIIIs together; that would have suited us as we were faster than some IM2s.

Anyway the format of the time trial wasn't quite clear to us - it was over 1900 m, we knew that - but it turned out to be that we were started, errm, near the start and then timed from crossing a mark at 100 m, to the line. With crews started at about 30 second intervals it meant we had someone behind us, ish; who gained on us a little, but not too much. We had a decent row which I felt fairly happy with; but alas when it came to the times we were last and hence in the B final.

Come the final itself: a fair but not perfect start, and we were soon about 1/3 to 1/2 length down on Marlow; with Lea lost out in front. But we kept at it, and managed a push back in the middle of the race and took a few seats off them; but they didn't crack and in the end we lost by 1.8 secs: 6:24.8. Hey ho. That may well be a club record for 2 k, though; anyone know any better?

Peterborough Spring regatta

We took two men's VIIIs, a four and a scull; and a women's VIII, to Peterborough Spring regatta on the 4th and 5th of June. The men's VIII (stroked by your humble correspondent) won IM3 on Saturday to our glory; and the rest was reasonably good too. This post will be thin on details on anything ut the IM3 VIII, and mostly pictures.

There was a mild headwind on both days. In the heat, the IM3 VIII beat Fitz (who were head of Div 2, and ended up going down two in Mays) and a slow crew from Nines. That left me rather nervous / dreading the final, because it wasn't clear how good the other crews would be. In the end we got a good start and a good race and with a strong effort over the first half were able to beat Fitz again, a rather better Nines crew, and UCL "comfortably", i.e. by more than half a length (1.7 seconds say the results). That's my second BR point. Had we but known, we could easily have had a third: we won IM3 in 3:17, IM2 was won in 3:24.

There's a Riggercam video of Nov VIII on Saturday because I coxed them: Notice the buoys appearing by the boat after about 4-5 strokes; that's because there was an explained swerve off towards strokeside at the start. And one of IM3 VIII:; from the side,

Note: the official results gave the IM3 VIII 2:56.3 in the final. That would be glorious, but it isn't true, as the videos show. I contacted Peterborough to point this out, but I got no reply. The true time is 3:16. Even corrected, it was the fastest time of the day.

Results, Saturday:

* IM3: win in the final (crew: William, Dan, Matt, Conor, Simon L, Brian, Keith)

* Nov: 3rd in heat by 1.5 seconds to UCL and Leeds (crew: William; Simon E, Steve P, Steve O, Lewsi G, Ondrej, Mike PJ, Stuart, Lewis C)

* IM3 IV+: beat Sudbury in heat, 4th in final (Steven Andrews, Conor Burgess, Simon Lloyd, Dan McGreal; James Tidy)

* Nov 1x (Keith Lee): 3rd in heat



If only we'd won enough points to be forced up to IM2 it would have been great, because again our times would have been good enough to win IM2. The IM3 VIII (now with Chris swapped in for Matt, I think) won our heat (York, a City crew, a Nines crew) but were clearly the slow heat; in the other, Warwick and Wolfson were faster. And when the final came round, something didn't click and we ended up 4th. The women's IM3 VIII lost in their straight-final. The IV came second in their heat, and then second to City of Oxford in their final.

Head of the Cam 2016 - results and wash-up

Thanks to all competitors, marshalls, volunteers, umpires, Queens for hosting us, and of course my mother. The results are now available. The winners: fastest Men CULRC; fastest Women Cantabs senior crew.

Category winners

You can find these at the results.


* Elite-IM2 1x: Loughborough, Schofield

* J15 1x: Nines, Champion

* J16 1x: City, Oliver

* J17 1x: Leys, Middleton

* J18 1x: Nines, Bennet

* MasC-E 1x: Robs, Oeffner

* Nov 1x: Nines, Butler

* Mas D-F 2-: Loughborough, Hill

* Elite-IM2 2x: Nines, Ryan

* IM2 4-: City, Wolverine

* IM3 4+: City Marten and Nines Gemmel, equal

* Mas D-F 4+: Broxbourrne, Phil

* Alumni 8+: Downing Segreants, Mike

* Fastest Men8+: CULRC, Weasely

* IM3 8+: City, Stoat

* Mas D 8+: Robs / Lysander

* Mas E 8+: Broxbourne, Adrian

* Nov 8+: Nines, van Gent

* Mays 1 8+: LMBC M1

* Mays 2 8+: LMBC M2

* Mays 3 8+: Clare M2

* Mays other 8+: Hughes Hall M2


* Mx 2x: Cantabs / FaT


* J17 1x: Leys, Hope

* Nov 1x: Cantabs, Senior

* IM2 2-: FaT, daSilva

* J17-18 2x: Leys, Black / Derbyshire

* Nov 2x: Robs, RL

* Alumni 8+: Christ's Crustaceans

* IM2 8+: Cantabs, Senior

* IM3 8+: City, Tayra

* J17-18 8+: Cantabs / HillsJ18

* Mays 1: Jesus W1

* Mays 3-Other: St Edmunds and Lucy Cavendish, equal

Pots we owe

Due to a pleasing late surge in entries, we had more categories that we expected, and so we ran out of physical pots on the day. Sorry about that. We haven't forgotten you though. We believe that the following didn't pick up their pots on the day, and we'll get back to you when the fill-up order comes in, in a week or so.

* Loughborough Scofield x1

Robs Oeffner Mas C x1

* Robs WJ14 2x

* Nines Butler Nov x1

* Broxbourne Phil Mas E 4+

Now done:

* Broxbourne Adrian Mas E 8+

* Christs W Alumni 8+

* City Wolverine Im2 4-

* City Marten Im3 4+

* City Stoat Im3 8+

* City Boaty McBoatface W J14 x1


It all went very well, I thought. Everyone seemed happy anyway. We weren't quite as on time starting divisions as we usually are; this was largely due to crews being late to the start. Please try to get own promptly, especially if you're amongst the small boats at the back. The rebuild at Combined made boating somewhat tricky for visiting crews, but they managed. The weather veered back and forth during the day, but could have been a lot worse. "Race control" at Queens was far away from the action; the actual blow-by-blow race control was at the finish, and next year we'll probably reflect that in the naming to avoid confusion; "race control" at the finish, "race HQ" at Queens. Clearly we stuffed up our pots ordering, we'll try to learn from that. 

Getting the results together in between the last timesheet coming back, and the prizegiving at 4, is always a bit of a flutter. Inevitably there were a couple of bijou mistakes which were fortunately corrected for me by those affected, where I managed to pick the wrong winner for a category. My apologies to those whose hopes were briefly raised only to be dashed.

Mostly the draw was OK, but there were a couple of clashes in the fourth divisions. There's a problem with fast fours and slow VIII's; the VIII's pretty well need to be in a block, especially if the division is full; so if you're a fast four behind a slow VIII then leave a gap. We'll also try and organise the marshals at First Post, the Gut, Grassy and Ditton to be active in reminding crews to cede the racing line.

Prehistory: an archive of old Head of the Cam results is here.

Spring head to Head 2016

After the wild excitement of the Head of the Cam it's back to the mundane racing life with the City Spring Head to Head. We had entered our mens's IM3 VIII, rather weaker than the crew for the winter Head to Head; the women's IM3 VIII; and Keith our lone sculler.

Here are the results, which were published commendably quickly.

Of the Men

 L to R: Dave Richards, Dan McGreal, Lewis Clark, Brian, Your Humble Correspondent, Lewis Gray,  Ondrej Cervinka . Chris Wood took the photo as a way of refusing to be in it; our cox Simon Emmings had run off with the women.

L to R: Dave Richards, Dan McGreal, Lewis Clark, Brian, Your Humble Correspondent, Lewis Gray, Ondrej Cervinka. Chris Wood took the photo as a way of refusing to be in it; our cox Simon Emmings had run off with the women.

We got 15:00.7, which was pretty tolerable for a mixed IM3 / Novice crew with only one rather ropey outing under its belt. Faster than Winter H2H 2012 anyway :-). We were the fastest Town crew by raw time - admittedly against fairly thin competition - and won IM3 pots. Where am I going to put them all? On the (gloriously sunny) start line we looked at the crew ahead - Nines IM3 - and behind - Downing M2 - and thought we ought to tailgate Nines - who would surely be faster - so as to let Downing leave us a large gap. This plan totally failed. We turned out to be faster than Nines, by (as it turned out) 20 seconds over the first leg, so got to row in their puddles the whole way and nearly overtook them on the finish line. All good bumps practice. Meanwhile Downing, who started a rather close 7 lengths behind, caught up all but 3 of those on the reach which started to look worrying for clashes around Ditton and Grassy, but fortunately that was most of what they had, and they finished a length or so off us, 13 seconds faster (actually I find that puzzling; surely they were more than 13 seconds faster than us?). The way back was less exciting: we left Nines a larger gap, and Downing, whilst not over-generous with theirs, finished about 3 lengths off us.

Witty moment: no-one had told Ondrej it was 2 * 2km; he thought the first leg was all there was, and paced himself accordingly.

Other years: winter 2016: 14:28.6. 2015: 16:41 as the Mx VIII. Winter 2014: 16:26.

Keith did 0:20:28.3; which puts him 2/3 in CRA Nov 1x, beaten by the Mighty Morley.

Of the women

The ladies came 3/3 in 17:39; but "I think the results don't really show the full story.  It was an epic first leg. St Edmunds gained quickly on The Reach but then we held them off racing side by side for the remaining 1200m round the bends, keeping our cool despite clashes of blades,  they eventually overtook but we were within a canvas again by the

Training camp Sabaudia

For years we've been jealous of all the other folk who head off to training camps; and finally a combination of an auspicious year and someone (Dan; thanks) actually prepared to organise the thing made it work. We had a critical mass of people - 15, of which 10 male and 5 female - enough to give us an VIII, coxes, a launch driver, spare in case of injury, and some to scull.

Dan began to organise in December, for the trip at Easter in late March, which was the most obvious time enough people could spare the 4-5 days. We considered Seville (river in the city, Spain) and Sabaudia (lagoon next to the sea, Italy). From the outside, it is hard to judge between them; I think the choice in the end came down largely to ease of dealing with the site. Mooted cost was of the order of £500. Most but not all chose to travel roughly the same way, but some went earlier to have a day in Rome, and some came by train. There is more at a series of blog posts I wrote, but here I'll skip the details other than to note that we hired a large minibus to take us the 100-odd km from Rome to Sabaudia, as the easiest means of transport.

  Front L to R: Brian, Will, Simon E, Me; Rear L to R: Lewis, James, Anne, Simon L, Pamela, Lorraine, Dan, Amanda, Amy, Chris, Keith.

Front L to R: Brian, Will, Simon E, Me; Rear L to R: Lewis, James, Anne, Simon L, Pamela, Lorraine, Dan, Amanda, Amy, Chris, Keith.

Here we all are on the last day, happy and smiling in the sunshine. It was just as well we had a couple of spares, because Chris came down with a flu / cough on the first day, and Brian damaged his leg on a nearby mountain near the end, of which more anon. But you want a rough flavour of what the place was like. Try this:

We're coming towards the end of the rowable portion of the lake (about 3.5, or if you stretch it 4 k of lake is rowable; try a GPS trace if you want to see where it fits). Behind, making a magnificent backdrop, is Monte Circeo. To the right is a long high sand dune behind which is the sea; to the left out of picture is the town. Whether the lake would have gotten a bit wavy if the wind had got up I don't know, because the wind didn't.

 Looking back from the pontoon to the coaching launches and the outside boat storage; the low building in the background is the rowing club.

Looking back from the pontoon to the coaching launches and the outside boat storage; the low building in the background is the rowing club.

Here's a general view of the grounds nearer to the clubhouse.

Rough diary

Tuesday (for those coming a day early): Rome. Wednesday (official start day): travel Rome airport to Sabaudia, check in to hotel, evening outing. Thursday: morning and afternoon outing. Friday: ditto. Saturday: morning outing and (for those who wanted it) afternoon off for excursions. Sunday: morning outing, return to airport, fly home.

That was about right; enough rowing to be fun and to get some work and some coaching in, not too much to get stale.

The general plan of days was breakfast; morning outing; lunch; afternoon outing; evening meal. All meals were part of the deal. There was plenty to eat, these people are used to rowers, and the food was decent. The hotel "la Palme" was fine; here are pics of the building and my room; judge for yourself. It is a 10-to-15 minute walk from the rowing to the hotel, depending on how much you saunter, though the back streets and past the lemon trees. Sabaudia itself is pretty quiet in March; I suspect it comes to life rather more in the summer. Sabaudia is known for its fascist architecture; while I wouldn't want to look at it for too long, the church is interesting in concept.

Outings were a core of an VIII, filled out by those who wanted to scull, double or quad according to taste. We'd hired the VIII for the whole time, and hiring other stuff seemed possible. Don't be mislead by the vast racks of boat though: most of those belonged to visiting clubs like the Ukrainians.

Good bits

The location is good, as a place to row it is excellent, the sea is just over the dunes, the weather was good, there are excursions to be done if you'd like a break from rowing, the hotel was fine and the town also fine. You get a coaching launch to drive, and I found that video from the coaching launch was superb as a training resource.

If you want convincing that its a good place to row, then: the Ukrainian national team was in residence, OUWBC had been, the Italian national team had been around, and the Krauts had been here a month or so before us. However, all these people brought their own boats.

It was pretty quiet on the lake, with few other crews, other than the hard-as-nails Ukrainians steaming up and down. If there had been other crews, the wash from their launches might have been annoying.

Bad bits

Not much was bad. The only bit that grated was, unfortunately, important: the VIII had no speaker wiring. How on earth they thought that made any sense in this day and age I really don't know. It was a decent stiff Empacher shell, but not much looked after. So the cox got a loudhailer. The shoes look a bit ropey too but are actually OK; the fastenings really are hex nut not wingnuts, but you brought a rigger jigger didn't you?


Run (or cycle) along the beach and then follow the path up Monte Circeo. Super! See my GPS track for route details. Warnings: if you run along the beach its a fair way; and the track up the mountain is steep (it was on the way down the day after me that Brian put a hole in his leg). If you look at the pic, you'll see there's a somewhat lower sub-peak; there's also a path to that; somewhat less strenuous. Or, hire bicycles and visit the pretty San Felice Circeo and continue round to the sea. Or there's lots of proper cycling along lovely raods, but you might want to bring your own bike for that.

What about next time?

Would I go back, or go to Seville or somesuch? I don't know. It was a good place, marred only by the VIII needing some TLC around the edges. But it would be interesting to try a "city" experience, too. I'd be happy with either. Were you thinking of trailering your own boats, Sabaudia would be a long trek; you might prefer, say, Aiguebelette.