Sunday 31 May 2015

Two Rivers

My friends Mike and Victoria are rowing up the Seine in the last leg of a celebrity row fromLondon to Paris. It is a non-stop slog, swapping crews in the support boat every two hours. It is a great effort for a fabulous charity (the Donna Louise Children's Hospice) but I can't understand how anyone could row through France without stopping at all the restaurants, bistros, auberges, cafes and bars serving the world's greatest cuisine on the way.
I am rowing down the Thames this week in the newly restored Hampshire punt Snarleyow Too. 
We started at the Trout in Lechlade and after a punishing afternoon row we have reached the Swan at Radcot where they serve a nice cup of TEA.

Sunday 24 May 2015

May I allow myself a brief period of rejoicing?

I rowed in the Hamble River Raid yesterday and it was brilliant. The sun shone, everyone was friendly and welcoming and Bembridge won the Solent galley class, beating arch-rival and local boat Avery A:
And we were fastest rowing boat in the whole event, including the slidey-seaty types and arch-rivals Shiplake Outloars:
But best of all Claudia, Annika and Annika's mum Katy (cox) won the Odds'n'Sods class, beating all the adults:
Pictures by Ron Williams - thanks Ron.

Friday 15 May 2015

Rowing Round Things (5)

This week I helped shepherd a crew of ladies round the Isle of Wight with Langstone Adventure Rowing.
We boarded the rib at dawn and towed the plastic gig Deborah out of Chichester Harbour towards the meeting point.
Off St Helens, the crew boarded Deborah from the support boat, having been picked up at Portsmouth.
They rowed past Osborne House, home of Queen Victoria (but she wasn't in).
They 'threaded the Needles' at exactly high tide, so they got a boost from the current both ways round the island.
They rowed past Tennyson Down, where the great poet walked in his flowing cape and big hat. He wasn't in either.
And they rowed down Undercliff towards the bottom end of the island, St Catherine's Point, against a stiff southerly wind that slowed them to a standstill for a good hour.
After rounding the point with its lighthouses, they picked up speed with the wind now behind them and the water slack and lumpy off Shanklin.
Culver Cliffs loomed large but never seemed to get closer however hard they rowed. They were a lot further away than they looked.
Sadly, time caught up with them and they had to give up a few miles short of a full circumnavigation, defeated by the headwind down the island's west coast. There were tears. And champagne.
We towed the gig back to Chichester Harbour as this happened:

Monday 4 May 2015

Rowing Round Things (4)

At the end of the month a team of about 20 rowers lead by Joey (seen here in coxing) will be rowing round Ireland in a nice 15ft 'Joansa' skiff designed by John Welsford.
The boat was built by Ger Crowley in Bray, just south of Dublin, and adapted by him for offshore conditions with features such as a foredeck, widened gunwales and a GoreTex spray cover over the stern, which presumably limits Joey's options a bit.
Ger has been working with two local youth clubs to build four skiffs to promote youth rowing, a very excellent aim.
The squad will be rowing her right round the emerald isle in legs of about 20 miles, which will probably become increasingly challenging down the west coast, exposed to the full Atlantic swell.
All the details here:

Sunday 3 May 2015

Rowing round things (3)

Today this lot start an epic 100-day row round Great Britain in an ancient Australian surfboat, wearing nought but their Speedos.
Though I suspect if the weather doesn't perk up considerably they will be putting their fleeces back on immediately they are out of camera shot. They will be rowing between 20 and 30 miles a day, staying overnight at suitable landing places shown in the map here: Apparently they still need places to sleep at some of the destinations so if you can help, do drop them a line. The site has all the details of this great expedition.
The hull was refurbished by local craftsmen and adapted for sculling by Neaves Rowing Services, who designed and fitted outriggers and sliding seats. 
This is the crew from Bournemouth Surf Club: