Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Some thoughts about Nat Champs

As most of you rowing folk will already know, British Rowing have recently decided to drastically change the date for the National Rowing Champs (now British Rowing Champs). Martin Gough's blog explains it here.

My first thought was "October?!?!?!" As in the month after September?

Who wants to do a full on 2K regatta in October? The racing season finishes with Nat Champs/Home International in July OH HANG ON.

I then realised that all hope of me going to Nat Champs with my Uni crew was pretty much scuppered what with people graduating and getting jobs and being home all summer. You can just about organise it to keep training till mid July but bastarding October? Any race in October will be with the next year's squad and therefore exceptionally likely to be ropey and in no way prepared for a weekend of 2K funtimes on Dorney.

One of the leading reasons for the drastic date move into the rowing down season was so that GB squad members could take part in the regatta. Although a lovely idea on paper, conjuring images of Kath Grainger cheerfully sculling in a quad full of Marlow club people, I honestly feel this is fundamentally flawed in the following ways:

1) Most of the GB squad is concentrated in one club, i.e. Leander which essentially means that if the above goes ahead (and the team is forced (?) to go to race at Nat Champs), Leander will almostly certainly win every single medal going with huge margins. If squad members were more spread out among the rowing clubs then this idea could just about work, but as it stands your average club rower who trains around their day job has zero chance of winning a badgering thing.

Now this isn't a bitch along the lines of "ooooooo all the squad will take all the medals boo hoo" - I mean they are faster than the rest of us. (Dur). It's more the fact that if you represent GBR at a World Champs/Olympics you are de facto more awesome at rowing than the rest of us and a Nat Champs gold is sort of trivial and pointless. There is also a amateur/professional divide thing to consider too. I know that officially the members of the squad are amateurs and aren't paid as such to row, but they are professional in the sense that they are funded and only have to concentrate on being awesome at rowing. It couldn't be more different for Mr/Ms average club rower who trundles on down to their local club. In my opinion it's equivalent to having a tennis league with Andy Murray et al. in along with people who play a couple of times a week with their friends. Just incomparable and a pointless exercise.

2) I fail to see what is the advantage for anyone here - by definition the squad are made up of the best rowers in the country. They train badgering hard three times a day and are funded. They are probably also slight genetic freaks (in a nice way). Turning up to Nat Champs and racing a bunch of people who squeeze sessions in around degrees and jobs and children and just row because they think it is awesome and fun is just pointless. By definition the squad will beat the rest of us by c. a minute over the course and it's crap racing for all involved.

3) October isn't just the beginning of the rowing season for club rowers but for squad rowers too - they will all have just come back after a post-Olympics holiday after presumably winning all the golds :-)
Why the hell would they then want to do a two day 2K regatta racing people they are going to utterly destroy anyway in shitty Autumnal wind and rain? Heck, the squad don't do the first October long distance trial as it is (which is more well suited to the beginning of the season anyway). I just fail to see why they would disrupt their training/pre-season recovery for this madness.

Now I can appreciate that Nat Champs as it stands (stood) needs a rethink and I'm sort of glad someone had the bollocks to make some changes. However, this seems very poorly thought out and with a complete lack of consultation with the people that usually go to Nat Champs, i.e. your club rower for whom it's the last big race of the season and a thing to work towards.

Maybe I'm just feeling a bit bitchy because I will have no crew to go with this year (and it's in OCTOBER). I don't know. This is just my very opinionated first thoughts on the matter. I'd like to know what you all think in the comments below - can anyone see and advantage at all to this new system?

More typical post to follow over the next couple of days (on 2K ergos wooooo :D). Night!

Monday, 7 November 2011

4s head + memes

So yes, the weekend = 4HORR. Woo!

So all of CUW trekked down to London to have a play on the Tideway. This meant staying at our President's house, who's mother is a meat trader. I thought this was amazing and was expecting to find entire pigs in the fridge. I did get a little carried away when a beautiful ham came out and had to be restrained.

Yes. The memes begin here.

It's always a bit weird coming from either the Cam (small, narrow and windy and full of boats) or the Ouse (long, straight and completely devoid of other crews) to a fucking huge river full of boats and feeling about a mile wide. And with stream (what is this "stream" you speak of?) and tides and that (the sea? in a river?) and FUCKING MASSIVE BUOYS AND BRIDGES AND RAW SEWAGE.

Also, doors apparently, just floating down the river.

We also saw a tupperware full of what looked like mouldy chilli con carne floating past us as we marshalled. What an alien place the Tideway is.

One of the key lessons learnt this weekend is not to be an IM2 W4+ because then you'll have a number of the order of 400 (or 452) and will be sitting round for a badgering long time at the start. A small mercy was that it wasn't raining because a good 2 hours sat in a downpour before the start would be very much not fun.

I should also at this point mention a rather surreal conversation between our boat and a marshall:

Yes, I owed a mug to one of the marshalls. Very odd. He was also the only non-shouty marshall, going instead for a mix of politeness and sarcasm which made a difference from "452 MOVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEE IIIIITTTTTTTTTTT".

So we start the race with a general aim of OVERTAKING EVERY FUCKING BOAT ON THE RIVER. I mean, then we would win right?

However, the race itself proved to be a complete fucking disaster. Here is the sequence of events:

We hear a lot of "Nottingham! Move over!" type chat coming over the cox box coming out of Barnes Bridge. Uh oh.

Then the call to row light. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

We row light but still move up on yet another crew.

We are then completely stuck between 3 crews and have to easy. To say there was rage at this point is a bit of an understatement.

We were supposed to be overtaking the slower crews, not crashing into them! GOD FUCKING DAMMIT.

Since this was near Barnes we were therefore also near photographers.

Photo credit: Matt Byrne. Awesome photo! (Apart from the subject, obv.)
And then the natural follow up:

"RAGE". Izzi winning the best gesticulation award. If this photo came with sound, you would hear ONLY SWEARING.
We then (eventually) got on with the rest of our race. Ended up third in our category, 15s off the winners FUCKING HELL RAGE. Very, very annoying, given that when we were moving it felt pretty fucking sweet.



In other news, I got a very nice email from a track cyclist who was reading the back issues of my blog (the post about cereal specifically) and wanted to share his winter training diet.

Yes that is whey protein + budget cereal. I respect that, especially given how fucking disgusting that must have been (barf). He also explained this weird hidden message that used to be on Kelloggs bran flakes:

(Chris Hoy has a niece called Anna, fairly unsurprisingly). Mystery solved! Pleasing!

I also discovered deadmau5 this week thanks to my my housemate John. This has lead to some SERIOUS Trance consumption this week...

For those of you not initated, THIS is deadmau5 (pronounced "deadmouse"). You need to put some headphones in and turn up the volume VERY LOUD. This is important.

Or, even better, this:

OMFG WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWW. I went to a very strange place listening to this stuff while doing maths.

After a while of this really very loud Trance my brain started going to weird places and I started imagining that I was in a very long room with very large speakers at the end and with very long blackboards that I was doing maths on. 

It turned out to be a very strange, very productive day of maths which left me mentally wrecked for a good couple of days afterwards.... Odd. Very odd. Christ knows what would happen if I ever took hallucinogenic drugs if this is what happens when I listen to loud repetitive music FFS.

John and I were also listening to it very loud on the sound system thingy at home and being general deadmau5 fanboys:

Then our housemate Harriet walked in, very not impressed:

(She did also say when she saw I had imbedded some videos in this blog post "Oh god, that's not the death music is it?" and gave me a disapproving look. I think this proves she has no taste :D)

At this point, I just put headphones in and turned up the volume. Wooooooooooooooo!


P.S. Gordon in love: