Thursday, 29 March 2012


This blog is getting out of hand now with the amount of people who read it, which means that every post I write now feels like I am addressing about a trillion people all in a big stadium or something.

I feel it is only a matter of time before things go to my head and I start referring to you guys as "Railtonites" or something, wearing a cloak and fashioning a throne made of mugs. (Talking of mugs, I've updated the Mugs page - there are some new ones!)

Firstly I'd like to thank all of you who wished me and my crew good luck/congratulations this past week -  it really meant a lot. You guys are amazing.

As for the boat race itself, you've probably all got by now that the Newton's Women's Boat Race was won by us, Cambridge, and it was great. It was also one of the most bloody stressful races ever, thanks to some slight... crustatean...action in the bows.

Anyway, I did this:

(Click for bigger-er, or here)
There are some quite frankly ridiculous photographs as a result of this race. Have a gander at this (with many thanks to Jon Glass):




 Oh bow girl works her magic, somehow and we get going again c.15sec later.

From the side (you can just see me starting to look to my right with a look of horror on my face). Downing at bow is already on it.

Nothing like giving the spectators a good show though. Jeez. Here's a video from the island of the finish line (cheers Rowing Voice), which I can't work out how to embed because I'm an idiot. SO STRESSFUL, but the yellow boat finished first so it's all fine. On the finish line it was a very odd mix of relief and shock at how close we came to losing it when it had all been going so well.

But yes, boat race win = DONE. Took 4 years, got 1/4 length back off Oxford. Only 5 more lengths to go!

Going back in time a bit, we've had WeHORR, which I neglected to talk about nearer the time. With joy and fear in our hearts, CUW headed off to Putney to talk on the Tideway.

It turned out to be another eventful race (there is a theme emerging isn't there...?). It was all going so well up to Hammersmith. We overtook a struggling Agecroft coming under the bridge (they shouted at us to move over - harsh) and eventually slotted in in front of them. Thames and a crew from Zurich were motoring up behind us on our right. (I initially thought the Swiss crew were Headington and was like "NOooooooooooooooooooo cannot be overtaken by school girls noooooooooooooooooooooo".)

Then, as is the way with CUW races, we caught a huge crab. Thankfully it was in the stroke seat so we could all see what the fuck was happening and thus react quicker. While we were floundering, Agecroft were on a collision course with us - it was possible they had not seen us as we were probably in the cox's blindspot. I swore A LOT (well, as much as possible 5K into WeHORR) and prayed that Kate, our cox, wasn't going to die. With metres of clean water left we scrambled a restart and just got out of the way of Agecroft's bows. Unpleasant. All the while Zurich and Thames were absolutely flying. We crossed the finish line and I went "FUCKING HELL RAGE" as I usually do in such situations, convinced a pennant was now long gone. (Fortunately it wasn't - IM2 in the bag).

Thames went head, really well deserved. This is a video taken on a GoPro camera on the coxes head... it is fucking nails. Really balls to the line racing there and it was great to see them take the headship - the chance only comes once every 4 years for a club to take it! Fucking great coxing too.

You can just see our crew in the top left at the end. I was going "Fuck you Thames FUCK YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU" at the time, but water under the bridge y'know?

Also, Vesta, next year we're coming for you. You heard it here first :-)

Last, but by no means least a word about the future of the Women's boat race. Thanks to the men's Xchanging contract coming to an end and new sponsors taking up the gauntlet, the women's boat club will now have equal funding to the men and in 2015 the women will move and race on the tideway too.

I immediately did some mental maths:


This news is now two months old (see here, here), so I am really behind and should have talked about this earlier.

The story has provided the Great British Public with a way of venting some truely outstanding misogyny. I shall share with you some of the best, mostly from the Telegraph website:

"Oh, I didn't know they had kitchens on the Tideway" (I found this pretty funny tbh)
 "Another tradition devalued on a whim." (Yay! Like empire building! And not letting women or poor people vote!)
"Oh goodie!
Yet another once hallowed British institution destroyed......."
 "How long before they decide the Boat Race doesn't have enough appeal, and the outfits they wear become more important than the race? " (Just... confusing...)
My personal favourite:
 "This is just another example of a female sporting event being parasitic....Women are always attaching themselves to men who are more successful than they are. Women are parasites."

Shit, I didn't know that being born without a penis made me a parasite! Thanks for letting me know! I'll get on sorting that out!

So, I've been in the Uni rowing system for a while now. The sparcity of funding for CUWBC never bother me too much. We have eights to race in and blades. We have a trailer. We have a boathouse in Ely. We have shown we can be competitive nationally with what we have. You see what you've got to work with and you just get on with it.

What did rankle though was how much easier (and cheaper) life would be if I was born a bloke and was above average reasonable at rowing at Cambridge. Take boathouses:

CUWBC: Boatbay, 5 racks, small room out the back to get changed in. If you want the loo, you go into the Kings School BH next door.
CUBC: Boatbay, 20(?) racks, changing room, SHOWERS, a room to chat and eat in. They get given a new VIII every year to race in (good advertising!).
CULRC: Field. Go to Tesco if you need the loo/warmth.

Oh, so you want to go out in a pair? CUW has a pair!

It's a Burgashell and does literally fold in two when you sit in it though :-)

It really does!
Meanwhile, I look sadly at all the CUBC Filippis being crashed into the reeds. You want to get to Ely? You should nearly bankrupt yourself getting the train (at £6.30 a shot) then! Woo!

Now, do not think I'm having a go at CUBC. I'm really not. They do let us use Goldie to erg in when they really don't have too (albeit it with restrictions on when we use the water at Ely) and they would quite frankly be stupid to help fund us. They have their own boat race to win after all. It was just so incredibly, punch a wall frustrating for everything being so unequal. As it stands, I really do not give a shit that I buy all my own kit and get trains to Ely to go rowing. It so happens that I really like rowing and that's what I have to do to go rowing. But the fact that I would have free kit heaped upon me, get driven to training, get new boats every year and free access to your own physio if I was a man? You have to agree, that's bullshit.

It's just so odd. Every other uni boat club outside of Oxbridge is unified - men, women, heavyweight, lightweight - and yet here we are, plugging away at a hugely inefficient system where everything is separate. Sure, stuff changes slowly in Cambridge, but badgering hell!

I knew the change had to happen eventually and I am so very lucky that it's happened within my rowing lifetime at Cambridge. Our new sponsor and it's progressive CEO are basically saints in my book, as are the Boat Race Company Ltd for working really hard to make this happen. I am really looking forward to what happens to CUWBC in these next few years and am honoured to be there for the ride.

Onwards and upwards. The Tideway beckons.


  1. Replies
    1. Or Railtonians? I cannot decide!

    2. Be careful - Railtonians sounds like a group of ex-Railtonites or old Railtonites (ex-boyfriends...???)...

  2. You can also catch a glimpse of your crew at the HORR here: at about the 2:20 mark.

    1. Ah, fear not, I have watched that 6s clip many, many times :-)

  3. Woooooooooooooooooooo!

    I bet your two girl is pleased you won, I can't even imagine to think of the misery levels she'd have been experiencing had you lost.

    What's next then? Any plans for summer racing?

    1. Oh don't, it would've so awful. So awful. I think she's getting enough chat as it is :-/

      As for summer racing, BUCS regatta, some small boat stuff and some bike racing hopefully!

  4. First of all massive congratulations for that victory!

    Haha, from Rowing Voice:
    "Anyone who has seen Anna Railton’s brilliant blog and cartoons can guess which four-letter word went through her mind as, sitting in the four seat, she looked down to see a blade next to her."

    Also, I have to say it even though it's probably been said several times: you have an absolutely BRILLIANT narrative style.
    Because even tough I was literally 1000 miles away from Henley and only saw the results on Twitter that day, I felt my heartbeat increase significantly as I was reading through that action-packed cartoon of yours :D

    1. Thanks! Hehehehe I have brilliant narrative style :-) But yes, blimey, what a race to remember! I can imagine telling it to grandchildren etc. in 50 years time :-)

  5. Congrats on the win and great cartoon!

    Also enjoyed the video even if not Cambridge. Might cross post it as have walked, run, kayaked, canoed, sailed and once even swum in that stretch of the Thames but never rowed.

    Never knew there was a use for that effingly awful Michael Jackson statue.

    1. Michael Jackson statue!?!?!??!?!?

    2. Ah, you missed it - well done! There is a rather horrific statue of Michael Jackson outside the Fulham football ground and if you watch the video you see the Thames RC use it as one of their progress points (like Hammersmith Bridge and Beverley Brook).

      I posted a picture on this post - towards the end.

  6. The 'yellow one' surely needs some 'summer action' and perhaps a Boston Marathon outing. I would delight in reading the write up of Boston training - let alone the race!

    And many congratulations on the win. What's the next rowing target / aim?


  7. Hey Anna, cheers for featuring the video, and bigging up my coxing ;0)
    Keep up the good work!
    Hannah - the Power's girl friend.

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