Saturday 25 October 2014

Ben Ainslie on Southampton Water

To Southampton betimes, to a public house recommended by a person I met in the queue for saveloys at the Great River Race who informed me that the best home brewed ale in the city is to be found at the Platform Tavern in the ancient walls of that place, hard by the Dancing Man brewery.
We launched our boat, the Solent galley Langstone Lady, at Warsash and rowed to Town Quay, conveniently about 100 yards from the pub.
As we returned down Southampton Water, we spotted Sir Ben Ainslie hammering up the channel in his foiling America's Cup challenger.
I took this snap with my mobile phone, a Nokia Lumia 930. The resolution really is incredible - the view as we saw it from the boat was more like this:

Friday 17 October 2014

Getting in early

Mike Gilbert, fixed seat rower, owner of gigs, Claydon champ and Salter skiff fan, is in Boston from whence he sent this picture of himself rowing the Charles River.
He is not planning to go out tomorrow when the river will look more like this:
This is last year's Head of the Charles, the biggest two-day regatta in the world with more than ten thousand rowers and nearly half a million spectators. It looks very civilised actually. I would have expected complete carnage especially as it is organised by no fewer than thirty committees.
Mike's partner Victoria will, however, be competing. Good luck!

Friday 10 October 2014

Time and Tide

This week has seen the highest tides of the year. Max (the Bursledon Blogger) was at Fowey down in the West Country and spotted this.
Back home, Langstone Cutters may have to check the bearings on the boat trailer soon:
Mike Gilbert took this photo from his garden, which means, I hope, that the very expensive tide-repelling wall he has just had built worked as promised. If not, he must have been wearing waders.

Thursday 9 October 2014

Winter is icumen in, lhude sing goddamm

Had a great row on Tuesday morning, down to Marker Point and up to Emsworth where we had coffee at The Deck. Breezy, and a threatening shower passed by to the south, but still warm and sunny.
Got home and this happened.

Sunday 5 October 2014

Last day of summer (again)?

Another truly glorious T-shirt day, even though there was a hint of ice on the windscreen as I set off for an 0800 start. We have all been going out rowing relentlessly, assuming every fabulous day to be the last. Well, today probably was - the forecast is for a week of rain. Oh well, it was great while it lasted.
An enormous plume of smoke was rising from Portsmouth so we went through the bridge into Langstone Harbour for a closer look.
Then we rowed round the smallest island in the Langstone Archipelago, Round Nap, and went home. I found out later it was a metal recycling plant that had gone up.

Friday 3 October 2014

Young Rowers in the GRR

Junior crews put up some amazing performances at the Great River Race. Here is Exocet, a Bursledon Gig rowed by an under-16 crew from Hamble Sea Scouts, storming through Richmond Bridge to finish 27th in a time of 2hr 51min. They won the under-16 trophy, AND the under-18 trophy and came second in the Scouts category overall. What a great result.
Langstone's own under-18 girls rowed Holly, a Salter skiff, in a time of 3hr 20min, and came fifth in their class - a very good place considering only one of them was over 16 and that by only a week. If they had been in the under-16s they would have come third.

Thursday 2 October 2014

Fast Women

The stars of the Langstone squad this year were the veteran ladies in the Salter skiff 15 Seconds (so named because it came THAT CLOSE to winning the entire race one year).
Look at Christine Ball in bow and Aileen McGovern in stroke leaning back - practically horizontal. Shelley Cook is coxing when the picture was taken but can also do that thing. The passenger was Molly, who was encouraging and helpful throughout.
They finished 16th overall in a time of 2hr 58min, winning the veteran ladies trophy, the ladies (of any age) cup and the fastest Thames skiff trophy, a lovely model of a lovely wooden skiff that is much lovelier than a Salter, it has to be said.
The small skiffs have a history of winning - they start at the front so they don't have to fight their way through the pack like the big boats do. On the other hand, they are more or less alone on the river for most of the race so they have to keep the pace up without the stimulus of competition. If a bigger boat comes up before the last few hundred yards, they are toast.
So well done girls!
Thanks to Paula Bray for the pic.

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Bronze Age Boating

First off the start line at the GRR was the half-size replica of the Bronze Age Dover boat, which was launched to much fanfare in 2012 but promptly sank. 
It was a rushed job to meet the launch date, so the builders had filled in the massive gaps between the planks with bath sealant or some damn stuff. Happily, the boat now floats after being taken apart and reassembled properly using entirely Bronze Age gap-filling gloop made mainly of beeswax.
The tale was told in a recently-broadcast Time Team Special that featured a two-second clip of Bembridge's bow, all that aired of a three-hour session in which we rowed Sir Tony Robinson round the harbour explaining why a boat has to have a bow if it is to slip through the water efficiently.
The replica has a bow but the design is rather speculative as the original had lost its entire front end. They don't even know how long it was. 
The crew struggled manfully but progress was painfully slow. Was it an inefficient bow design or the fact that it was being paddled by a bunch of sedentary archeologists that dragged it back to finish 327th in a time of four and a half hours? 
The first shall be last, as the good book hath it.