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December 2015

In this Edition

In this Edition …
Diary Dates  |  100 Club  |  Captains’ Report  |  Safety first  |  Letter to the editor  |  Xmas ideas  |  Book review  |  And more …

OTRC Quiz 2015

The now world-famous OTRC Quiz took place on 28th  November this year.  Organisers were slightly nervous about the new venue and new catering arrangements.  Would people find their way to the correct location?  Would the food be good (could Jo’s chilli be beaten)?  What would the hall be like?  Would the questions be any easier?
Everyone arrived at Oundle Primary School at the correct time, the facilities were great, Jo’s chilli wasn’t beaten but it was equalled, and NO, the questions weren’t any easier!
We were able to cater for more people and it was pleasing to see that 1/3 of the participants weren’t rowers, making it a good community event.  Rhona set fiendishly difficult questions again, the beer flowed, the organisation ran smoothly and a great time was had by all.  If you didn’t make it, you missed a treat.  Try hard to be there next time.
A grand total of £1,250 was raised for club funds.  Many thanks must go to all the sponsors, supporters and participants, who made it all possible.


And finally the winners – the Banana Boat team.  Congratulations to them all.

Captains’ Report

Since the publication of the last newsletter we have taken part in three "whole club" events; Milton Keynes Invitation Regatta, Bedford Autumn Head and Star Club Head.  Details of all these were published in match reports.  Briefly though, we entered 28 crews for Milton Keynes with 7 winners, notably the women's novice 4 and men's 8 both with their first victories; Laura Dew in her single and Olivia Hutchinson's crew winning the battle of the WJ14 quads.  The Bedford head was very competitive with a number of top school crews taking part.  We posted a several creditable performances but sadly no wins.  Star Club head was a revelation this year.  The weather was unusually benign and a change of boating location made the logistics much easier than in the past. Philip (back on form) led the way with a convincing win in his single scull, and out of a total of 4 wins, special mention must go to the women's masters quad with a fine performance.
Alongside this, all racing crews have been training hard throughout the autumn, both on the water and now in the gym.  It is brilliant to see so many of the junior section joining our weekly ergo sessions, demonstrating the strength of club spirit and camaraderie.  We have a two month period before the next event (Northampton) which gives us a chance to adjust crew line-ups, bring new members into the squads and ramp up the training for 2016.  Elsewhere in this newsletter are the dates for events in the first quarter of next year.  Do make a note and let your coaches know as soon as you can whether you will be available to compete.  Before that though, don't forget the annual "Mulled Wine Cup" traditionally held at the club on Boxing Day.  Crews and format are determined on the day and depend on who turns up.  It's the perfect antidote to too much festive fare!  We look forward to seeing you there.  As it's on a Saturday this year, there will be no scheduled outings.

Diary Dates

The coaching team are already planning events for next year.  As mentioned in the last newsletter, all rowing events are becoming more and more popular so we do try and get the club entry in as early as possible, up to a month in advance in most cases.  Please make a note in your diaries and let your coaches know if you are available and want to compete.  We are planning to enter the following:-
  • January 23rd Northampton Head - all members
  • February 6th Peterborough - women's 8 only (pm
  • February 14th Bedford 4's & 8's - all members but eights, fours and quads only
  • March 5th Women's 8's Head of the River
  • March 13th Cambridge Junior Sculling Head - junior event only
  • March 19th PROVISIONAL club sculling head to head (OTRC) - all members
  • April 10th Abingdon - all members
  • April 24th PROVISIONAL Club Spring Event - all members
Events for May-July will be notified in due course.  Junior section: look out for the Ball Cup, provisional date 8th May.  This is held on the Olympic rowing course at Eton Dorney and is a great family day out with fantastic racing.


Many thanks go to the vast majority of rowers who have paid their membership for 2015-16. Could we please remind everyone that membership of the club requires both club membership and British Rowing Membership (for the purposes of insurance)?   The committee is obliged to do two things:
  1. Insist that all its members have valid BR membership (renewed annually).   If you do not have it, you are not insured to row and BR is becoming much more forceful in its application of the rules.  BR membership can be renewed on line and is valid instantly.  Coaches can and will be checking your status on line.  If you do not have membership when they check, you will be omitted from crew lists.  This applies to all rowers – senior and junior, Saturday or Sunday or any other day.
  2. We are also waiting for a few members to pay their OTRC subscription for 2015-16.  We try to make it easy by offering early payment discounts and payment by instalment.  If you have not paid your membership by 31 December, it will be assumed that you no longer wish to continue your club membership and you will be removed from crew lists on a Saturday and outing lists for other sessions.  If you are having problems paying your OTRC subscription, please talk to any member of the committee, in confidence.

Safety First!    By Dick Meads

A new version of the OTRC Safety Plan has been published and all members should read it, understand it, and most importantly, follow the advice that it contains.
The Safety Plan, which aligns OTRC with the British Rowing RowSafe guidelines, summarises what is expected from each member of the club, whether they row, coach, help out, or are on the committee. It provides guidance on all aspects of what we do to ensure that it is done as safely as possible. Of course, there are inherent risks involved in rowing, both on and off the water, and the plan sets out how we can minimise the risks to you, your fellow club members, visitors and other river users. So it’s very important that everyone involved in the club has read and understands the plan.
You can find a copy of the plan on the OTRC website, on the new safety page. Go to and choose Safety from the Home menu.
Also, please keep an eye on the new Notice Board at the boathouse for the most recent safety alerts, plus other important club notices.
If you have any questions or comments about your safety while taking part in club activities, please talk to your coach or to the Club Safety Advisor, Dick Meads, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

What is the 100 Club?  By Rhona Murray

  • No, you don't have to be aged 100 to join, or row 100k. 
  • The OTRC 100 club is essentially a monthly Raffle to raise money for the club. 
  • Each month you buy a fixed number/s in a draw and so a chance to win one of 3 cash prizes. Joiners have to be 16 or over to enter.  
  • There are 8 months left of this period, so joining now would cost £40 if join before 15th December, and then you would be in each draw up to end July 2016.  If you want to join in the New Year then the figure will be £5 x number of months left till July 2016, e.g. £35 if join in January '16 before 15th, etc.. It is also possible to have more than one entry into the draw.
So, there are cash prizes to be won and 50% of money raised goes towards new club equipment.
To find out more and/or join up, please contact Rhona for the application form and details, or download from the club website, member's section at

Christmas Gifts Ideas

A rower is not a real rower without a rigger jigger.  Essential kit, which makes a good stocking filler.  Santa’s agent in Northamptonshire, Anita Dunn, has a supply of rigger jiggers waiting for Christmas.  Or they can be purchased from various websites.  Around £7. These chemical hand warms are brilliant for cold days, rowing or at events.
They contain two 'tea bag' shaped pouches which are activated when exposed the air. They are safe too. ( well as long as you do not put them directly next to your skin for long periods) They fit into gloves, pogies, pockets and stay warm up to 6-8 hours keeping you 'toasty'. They cost about £1.25 ish
Interested in more serious, more expensive clothing?  Talk to Jo Milborne or Vicky Birchall to find out about Christmas availability on kit.


Hypothermia is a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Normal body temperature is around 98.6 F (37 C). Hypothermia occurs as your body temperature passes below 95 F (35 C) – not a big change!  Major complications can result from this drop in temperature, including death. 
Hypothermia is a real threat to all rowers, not because of the dangers of capsizing which happens rarely, but because British weather is cold and wet.  If it rains while we are on our way to the island, on the way to the start of a race or waiting to disembark at the end of a race, there is a real danger of suffering from hypothermia.
It is essential that we all take precautions to minimise the chances of it happening.  We have had worrying cases recently of Juniors being unprepared for Autumn/Winter on the river.  Simple precautions will help:
  1. Wear plenty of layers.  You can take them off, if you get hot.  You can’t put them on, if you haven’t got them.
  2. Bring a spare set of clothes to EVERY session.  You may never capsize but you can’t control rain and snow.
  3. If you or any crewmate experience any of the symptoms below, inform someone on the safety launch as soon as possible (ordered from mild to severe).
Unexpected tiredness Unexpected low energy 
Unusually cold or pale skin fast breathing (hyperventilation) 
being unable to think or pay attention confusion
loss of judgement and reasoning (someone with hypothermia may decide to remove clothing despite being very cold) difficulty moving around  and/or loss of co-ordination
drowsiness or slurred speech slow, shallow breathing (hypoventilation) 
unconsciousness no breathing 
a weak, irregular pulse, or no pulse dilated pupils 
We know that all Junior rowers at OTRC are mature enough to take responsibility for themselves.  However, sometimes they suffer from brain-freeze, so parents, please check, encourage and even refuse to let them come, if their wellbeing depends on it. 
Hypothermia is real.  Read Becca Craike-Pickering’s account.  It happened to her! 
When I first joined Oundle Town Rowing Club, I was ever keen to try things new, so relished the thought and opportunity of becoming a single sculler.  I know it's not for everyone, but for me, it really helped me concentrate on my technique and fitness and I rather enjoyed the peacefulness of sculling.
There are always things that we can to continue to improve upon and become that better rower that I aspire to be, so when John asked if I would like to compete in competitions I was first in the queue, blades at the ready.
I had been entered as a Novice to scull at The Masters in Nottingham. No pressure. But the day transpired to be somewhat different to what I expected.
The rain persistently held all day and the wind was buffeting across the lake, making it terribly choppy.  Nervous?  Me?  No way!  I managed to row up to the start and disrobe, which isn't as easy as it sounds in a scull and attach myself to the stake boat, and we were away.  I only managed to row about twenty strokes when I was pushed into another lane and I capsized.  
Whilst it was the month of June, I assure you that this was no warm lake, it was freezing!  I managed to hang onto the boat until the safety launch came and rescued me. I could not stop shaking, my teeth were chattering and I was wrapped in a silver blanket.
I admit I had capsized several times before, but the coldness I felt this time was utterly different. I couldn't really focus on anyone or anything or understand what people were saying around me. I had to be taken to the Paramedics, who were absolutely brilliant, and observed me for what felt like an eternity. Club members, Jo and Mollie, caringly layered me in warm clothes, fed me hot drinks and drove me home with car heaters on the highest possible setting. But nothing could warm me up!
I had to take myself to the Doctors the following day as I was feeling so unwell and still so dreadfully cold on the inside.  I was diagnosed with Hypothermia. My doctor informed me it would take a long while for my body temperature to re- regulate itself!
I still am a very keen rower, but sadly, have not taken up my scullers blades since then. Do everything you can to stop it happening to you.  It’s horrible!

'Gold Medal Flapjack, Silver Medal Life' by Alison Mowbray  - Book Review by Jo Milborne:  

Whilst visiting the 'Rock the Boat' stand to check out the tee shirts for the 2015 British Masters Rowing Championships, this book was recommended to Vicky Birchall and myself as 'a really inspiring read'. Given that we had just unexpectedly won a silver medal in our double, despite little boat time together this year, and that Vicky makes gold medal flapjacks, the least I could do was buy it and give it to her for her birthday. I let her have it early; on the condition she read it quickly and lent it back to me, which she generously did.
For those of you who've struggled through my previous reviews of rowing books where I've read about what makes a boat go faster ("Boys in the boat" ) and the discrepancy between the history and support for men's and women's rowing over the years ("The Red Rose Crew"), this book sits well between the two, despite being  much more contemporary as this happened in our rowing lifetimes. OTRC was up and running while she was competing. We might have seen her at Bedford...
Alison Mowbray was one of the silver medal winning women's quad in the 2004 Athens Olympics. This book is not only the story of her growing up as someone who was rubbish as sport with a dream of winning an Olympic medal, and the challenges it took to get there, but it is also a great insight into the state of women's rowing prior to these Olympics, where ordinary women did extraordinary things to race at national level when there was no funding and none of the support the male rowers had. It's also about how rowing and rowers are different to other athletes.  (cont.)
It's a very personal account of one woman's demons and the way women interact with each other. Men would do well to read this...
Mowbray talks about the discrepancy between wanting to be friends but also wanting to be better than your crew mates if you are seat racing. (It’s ok.  We don't have to do this at Oundle!) and the effort required to balance work and rowing and family (which we all do at Oundle!) but mostly it's about trying to find out how to row better so the boat goes faster without it all being about 'more grunt'. And what to do when you don't win and think it's all pointless. Priceless! 
Alison Mowbray is also a scientist (PhD Biochemist) and an inspirational speaker as well as a rower, and this book is full of her philosophy as well as some really helpful technical rowing information. There are tips on nutrition, a recipe for flapjacks (in case you don't row with Vicky) and the joy of finding out that even Olympians sometimes have an epiphany after years of the coach saying something over and over until you realise what they mean! The rowing tips and training diaries are eye opening and the technical stuff helpful to anyone who sculls.
It's an easy read as she uses language we all understand, but a strangely difficult one at the same time, given the personal honesty and painful journey. 
Again, if you are looking for a book to go on your Christmas list, I really think this should be it!

Letters to the editor

Dear Auntie Angela
I have a problem of a delicate and embarrassing nature for which I require your help.  I hope you can provide some advice.  What are the rules of etiquette about flatulence in a rowing boat?  It’s not just the weather that has been a bit windy recently.  However, I don’t want to fall foul of the Blazer of Shame or be treated like a rotten egg, even if I do smell like one.  Please help me.
Wynn D Haas
Dear Wynn
I am affronted that you think that I, Auntie Angela, have any knowledge at all on the subject of flatulence.  What on earth gave you that idea?  However, in the OTRC spirit of support and empathy, I will give what advice I can.
Unfortunately, you haven’t given me much information on your age or rowing preferences.   I think the solution to your problem depends on the type of boat in which you row and the crew with which you share that boat.
A boat full of teenage boys will be of the “Fart! LOL! Fart! Can I do a louder and smellier one?” school and a competition will ensue.  Try not to be embarrassed and join in manfully, only becoming silent when a ladies’ crew approaches.
Older boys (i.e. ‘mature’ men) will be equally unembarrassed but will try and shift the blame: “Sorry, boys but I had a wicked curry last night” or “Be warned; the wife fed me sprouts for lunch”.  Crewmates will shrug and carry on regardless, their nasal passages already destroyed from years of similar behaviour and their hearing already impaired by old age.  If you happen to be a lady, subbing in a men’s crew, heaven help you.  You can choose to stoically ignore it all, berate them loudly but ultimately ineffectively, or wear a gas mask.  (Perhaps that should be part of the boat’s kit, like a cox box?)
A ladies’ crew will politely pretend it’s not happening and that they have neither smelled or heard anything, while silently praying “I hope no-one thinks that was me!”  (Even if it was).   Another trick is to blame it on the noise of arthritic hips or knees.  Just remember to keep a completely innocent face at all times and do not blush.  The benefit of breaking wind in a crew boat is that no-one can see your face unless you are cox/stroke.  Thinking about it, being a cox or stroke in this situation is definitely not to be desired!
And finally, Junior girls don’t fart. They do however, shoot tiny puffs of glitter, that sound like a unicorn’s laughter and smell like rainbows….
And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything,
However, if all this fails to allay your fears, my last piece of advice is: Get into a single scull.  Philip?
Remember:  Happiness comes from within, That’s why it’s good to fart.
With much love,
Auntie Angela x

Want to help OTRC this Christmas?

STOP PRESS:  QUIZ EXTRA            from Rhona
Now recruiting for Quiz Organising Team 2016. I need to recruit a team of people who will take on specific roles eg ticket sales and table plans, sorting the bar before, during and after the quiz, booking the hall, poster design/publicity, liaising with caterers, keeping accounts, float and counting takings, applying for TEN licence, raffle, volunteers on the night, etc. Please contact Rhona by Feb 1st 2016 if you would like to join the new team or for more information.
And finally …
John Wight offers this unique training course for coxes being run in Myanmar (Burma)on Inle Lake. Stop just being a passenger!


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