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June 2014

Captain’s Column - By John  Milborne

The club has much to celebrate since our last newsletter although, not for the first time, the weather played a large part in our racing activities. In the early part of the year the heavy rain and flooding severely restricted our training opportunities and we lost several weeks to the flooding. 
For the first time in the clubs history we had crews training to compete on the Tideway in the major Head races of the season. The ladies were training to compete in the Women’s Head of the River Race (WEHORR) and the Men in the Vets Head of the River race. In the weeks preceding the events there was unprecedented flooding throughout the country and particularly in the upper reaches of the Thames. The course on the Thames was “Red Flagged” for several weeks and a number of events on the Tideway were postponed or cancelled and it wasn’t until the week of the race that the girls got confirmation that they could race. In the event all the Novice and Junior crews were prevented from racing on safety grounds. The day itself was sunny and calm, but the flow on the Thames was still very significant.  Our crew achieved their goal of racing the Championship course against several GB Olympians, putting in a very accomplished display and thoroughly enjoying the experience in the process. 
It was the turn of the men a couple of weeks later as they competed in the Vets Head of the River. The Head of the River race held on the day before the Vets Head was cancelled part way through as a number of crews had sunk. The day of the Vets Head was sunny calm and the conditions could not have been better. The OTRC boys were able to test themselves against the best in the country and were competitive in their age group, without troubling the top guys.
April bought better weather and we were able to get on the river and train again.  Our competition for the month was at Abingdon, which was a new event to the club and turned out to be a great success. This was held on the same day as the Boat Race so the challenge was to compete at Abingdon and be back in time for the TV coverage. For one crew the early start was too much and they scratched rather than lose some beauty sleep, but the rest of the club enjoyed a great day out. Josh B & Ben won the J14 double event and the Women’s Vet C four won their event, the Men’s Eight were equal on time, despite a time penalty, but lost out as the younger crew - and we just made it back for the TV! A couple of the crews had also entered Bedford Small Boat Head the following week, but unfortunately this event was cancelled.
May has become the club’s Championship month, with the Ball Cup for the juniors and British Masters for the adults. The Ball Cup is a Championship event held on the Olympic course at Dorney, for small clubs and Schools, and is a fantastic opportunity for our junior members to experience competitive multilane racing. Several of the older juniors had put in a significant amount of extra training so it was particularly frustrating to have the event cancelled due to high winds. 
The adults raced the following weekend at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham in beautifully sunny conditions, with only a light breeze.  We came away with a Gold medal in the Women’s Intermediate Eights event, in one of the most exciting and closely contested finals of the day, and Philip won a Silver in a competitive Intermediate singles - well done to all concerned!!
May also brought the first of a new level of rowing in the region, aimed at those just starting out their competitive careers. The first “Splash and Dash” event was held at Broxbourne rowing club and OTRC sent a Team consisting of a women’s four and a men’s quad. The Men’s crew won all their races and the Women’s crew raced in a mixed event winning their last race in an exciting finish with OTRC coming from behind. Our L2Racers thoroughly enjoyed their first taste of racing and are looking forward to joining the club at St Ives Invitation Regatta for another “Splash and Dash”. 
The next phase in the OTRC year involves shuffling the crews and rearranging the training times as we take the next wave of juniors who start their L2Row courses during the spring and summer. Later in the summer we say farewell to those leaving to go to university, but as in the past, we expect many to come back and join us during their vacations.

 Best Blazer Award

This Edition’s Best Blazer is awarded to Simon Murray - or Captain Tsunami as he now known.  While driving the SAFETY LAUNCH (!), Simon managed to create a wash so big that it flooded seats 1 and 2 in the women’s Eight and soaked Auntie Angela and Mrs Izod to the armpits! A well-deserved blazer, if I do say it myself!

Dates for the Diary

The following are the proposed events for the next few months and are for the whole club.
Saturday 21st June: St Ives Invitation Regatta (500m free start) -  includes  “splash & dash”
Sunday 13th July:   Bedford Sprint (600m stake boat start) -  includes “splash & dash”
Saturday 9th August: Peterborough (4 lane 1K stake boat start)
Saturday 13th September:   Milton Keynes Invitation (600m stake boat start) - includes “splash & dash”

Have a go day 

By Rhona Murray
Well, what an amazing day we had.  We had loads of helpers, we were really busy the whole time and the sun was shining. Getting free publicity for the club in the Women's Tour ‘Programme of Special Events’ was a great opportunity to get more widely known in the town and it certainly worked. We had 27 people down to have taster session on the water and 22 tried rowing on the ergos in St Peters; 48 in all, as we had one lady who made it to both!
Thanks to all the coaches and helpers who turned out to help out us and the maintenance team. We made £48 on tea and cakes, so a big ‘thank you’ also to helpers who manned the stall and everyone who donated cakes etc. Well done everyone.

Maintenance Day Part Two: The Return

By Phil Chandler
 Co-ordinating the second Maintenance Day with the “Have a Go” day was a deliberate and selfish attempt on my part to maximise the number of people available for maintenance tasks.
I was convinced that no one would turn up to “Have a go”, so all the volunteers would be falling over themselves to help us. How wrong could I be and how little faith did I have in the great & good of OTRC? Not only did we get a massive uptake for rowing from complete newbies, but we also attracted loads of club members wanting to help with maintenance!
So we hacked, slashed, cut, strimmed and pruned the vegetation, mowed the grass, cleared the ditch, concreted in the scaffolding, levelled the port-a-cabin, started constructing a path to Cambridge House and had a big bonfire.  We also continued with the blade painting to prepare for the Ball Cup & Masters competitions.
 A fantastic effort on a fantastic day – and the sun shone!  All in all: a great success.
 Thank you to everyone who came along to lend a hand – and particularly to the very keen member who turned up on a Saturday morning to continue the excellent job he did on the day - marvellous!
 Finally, the need for maintenance is constant, so if you have some spare time and want a job to do, please let us know – we’ll sort something out!

Did you know….?

By Hugh McCormack
Thank you everyone who turned up during Easter weekend to help with boat and site maintenance…and for those of you who stayed at home and ate chocolate ..have no fear there will be plenty more opportunities to lend a hand. We got started with blade painting, but as this requires at least 3 coats to each oar this is an ongoing process. In my new role as boat maintenance co-ordinator, I’ve been getting quotes for some new sculling blades and have discovered that a pair of sculling blades cost about £450 …yes, that much… it’s not a ‘typo’! So we need to look after them and try to avoid damaging them. 
Editor’s Note: Phil and Hugh are both responsible for Maintenance at OTRC.  Phil looks after the site and Hugh the equipment.  They are doing a great job.  Please support them!


As a result of our successful maintenance days and requests for mowing volunteers, the Club is delighted  to report that Rob Mallett, the father of Jack, one of our Sunday rowers, has volunteered his Milton Keynes based national landscaping company to cut the grass regularly - for free!
 His crew from Cleartrack (EvL) Limited, Milton Keynes are supplying kit, tools and fuel and will be cutting the grass below the gate every three weeks or so and occasionally that in front of Cambridge House too.  Their first visit has already taken place and our Club looks like a completely different place!  Take a look. 
This is a fantastic and generous offer and everyone at OTRC is very grateful.
(Phil’s message, however, is “Don’t get too comfortable.  Ditches and drains still need clearing!!!”)

Learn to Row

At this time of the year, when the weather is at its best, we start to introduce the next cohort of junior stars to rowing. This requires a change in the timetabling of crews on a Saturday and, as the club has increased in size, this puts a bigger load on the overworked coaches. The first stage of L2Row is labour-intensive as we need members to help rig boats, hold ropes and give encouragement and some helpful tips. 
The first course is already fully booked, with most places taken in the second course too, so if any of the adult rowers would like to help with this rewarding aspect of club activity, can you please contact John on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ?  Thank you.

Eights racing

By Jo Milborne
Last year we purchased Anne Louise from Bedford Rowing Club, so that OTRC now has a second-hand Eight which, unlike the old wooden coffin, would pass scrutiny for racing. This has meant for the first time, we have been able to compete in events such as the head or the river races (HORR) on the Thames, and put eights crews into the British Masters Championships. 
The boat has been shared by the men's (Vet E) 8+ crew and  the women's (VetC) for racing, and will soon be used by the juniors as they learn to race with sweep oars.   
Getting eight rowers and a cox together for regular outings is not easy. It means juggling jobs, family commitments, holidays and managing unexpected illnesses. It means using subs, rearranging outings with the vagaries of the weather being another added excitement, particularly with the high winds and flooding we've had this year.
Racing in an 8+ is not like racing in a small boat. It really does have to be more than the sum of its parts. Everyone has to do the same thing at the same time, even if we all have different levels of strength and fitness. There has to be a sense of discipline within the boat, both on an individual and a whole crew level. This includes listening and not talking, as well as all the technical and fitness stuff. Working on our own idiosyncrasies as well as working out what makes the boat go faster. 
From a personal point of view the WVetC 8+ has been a great success. We had a fantastic day rowing in the Women's Head ( WEHORR), which is something all lady rowers should have the opportunity to try. It was the ultimate crew bonding experience for me, and I would like to say thank you to all my crew mates.
It has been my role to coordinate the women's availability, and would like to say a how efficient the ladies eight have been about keeping me posted. This leads on to a huge thank you to those who subbed so often. The junior girls (Lucy, Lauren, Lel and Charlotte) were incredibly selfless in giving up their time so the old ladies could still get out and train. Thank you girls! We also had help from Anita and Katie, and the odd man (Simon and Richard being the oddest).  Rhona gave up her own rowing on several occasions to cox us, and John (Mr. Patience and Tolerance himself) coached us and made us believe we could look like a racing crew. Thank you, Captain. 
The icing on the cake has to be our recent win at the British Masters Championship, where we took the gold medal. I don't think you will see a happier bunch of women, than those in the photo. Well done ladies!

Caption Competition 

March’s caption competition was not well supported at all, due, we suspect, to its ‘cuteness’ (first time Tim Bell’s been called ‘cute’ for a good few years), so this edition’s photo is much scarier and should encourage lots of ideas (not to mention nightmares?!).  Not too lewd please.  This is a family newsletter!  Apologies to anyone traumatised by the image.  You don’t have to look too closely.  And please don’t even think about it, gents!
Photo to be added Friday 6th June
Captions to Jo please at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  

Letters to the Editor

Dear Aunty Angela, 
As you will know, I've just won another medal at one of the events I raced at. (Gold, since you asked..) Obviously I'm very pleased with myself, and assumed that everyone around me would be sharing my joy.
 However, I've noticed that when I add this medal to all the others I have, I do seem to be making a bit of a clanking sound as I stroll around the town, glinting in the sunlight. This seems to be annoying to some folk, as I've noticed they have started crossing the road, as if to get away from me. 
When I talk them through my race (especially the last 950 meters), some of them seem to glaze over, or start to yawn. It’s not what I had anticipated.
I've also noticed that the medals have a tendency to get a bit tangled up in my nighty when I turn over in bed, and that the ribbons taking quite a long time to dry when I come out of the shower with them on. I also worried about them getting tangled in my oar at the finish of my stroke when I go rowing.
I know that you are also a medal winner, and wondered if you are having the same problems?
Tina Bitannoying.
Dear Tina,
While winning is always a glorious experience (and I do share your joy), remember – it wasn’t the Olympics.   Forget the dreams of being Northamptonshire’s Catherine Grainger.  You’re too old (OOPS, sorry), too short! 
Can I ask – were you wearing anything else apart from the medals while walk around Oundle, glinting in the sunshine?   A lack of other suitable clothing may account for the avoidance tactics of the townsfolk. 
Whilst I did wear my medal to the celebration at our local Hostelry (and where were YOU?), I have now removed the medal from my neck for various reasons:
The glare from gold medals, when worn outdoors, can blind small children, scare wild animals/old ladies and cause traffic collisions.  All of which, in today’s litigious society, could lead to a huge bill for damages.
Worse still, the glare can also accentuate the wrinkles and sagginess of faces of Vet D women (this has been scientifically proven – article in The Lancet, Dec ‘13).  You don’t really want to look like a Vet E or even F do you?
 Wearing the medal(s) in the boat could cause a severe Blazer moment if they get snagged in your ‘quick hands away’ and the weight of the medals around your neck may start the Coach off on his ‘stick your chests out’ rant again.  Please save us from that!
All in all, it’s probably best to get Hubby to build you a little display rack from which you can hang your medals and then share them with guests at dinner parties.  Maybe they can form part of a table decoration, to ensure the opportunity arises to discuss them.  Don’t forget – they make good Christmas decorations, too!
Relax your grip on the medal, Tina, and start preparing for your next challenge. Memories are short at OTRC, apart from ‘Blazer moments’, and people will soon be wondering what the sad old woman is blabbering on about.  Save your dignity (if that’s possible while wearing lycra).
Auntie Angela xx
PS I am unavailable for dinner parties until March 2020.


The Judge, aka Peter Dunn has, very recently, taken part in a Charity Bicycle Race for which many of you sponsored him.  Here is his ‘report’. Great result, Peter!
Dear All,
This is to say a very big Thank You to everyone for the generous  sponsorship of the 203 mile cycle ride from Aberystwyth to Milton Keynes, which 25 of us completed on Sunday. 
We were blessed by the weather, with about 10 minutes drizzle in the Welsh mountains and otherwise dry overcast conditions, save for blazing sunshine on the final day. Everyone finished and we had only one puncture between us, and only four fallers (just bruises thankfully!)
We set out to raise sufficient funds for Willen Hospice to provide a Hospice at Home Nurse for a period of at least six months.  The Hospice at Home team offers practical support and nursing skills to patients at home (and their close family). Our very specific objective as a group was to raise at least £17,000 (the cost of this service for six months). As a result of everyone’s generosity, we have substantially exceeded this, with the current total, visible on  standing at £23,700 plus Gift Aid.
Thanks for your support!


Take a look at our website: 
Find out about your committee members.  
Check up on event details.
Pay your match fees. 
Order kit.  
Read all the gossip. 
And so on ….
The usual address applies: a posh new address of – if that’s easier to remember.
Both addresses end up at the same location.