National Cup 2008 - Something to shout about

Something to shout about

Cold, wet, windy... well it ain't Kansas, Toto, so I guess we must be in Nottingham again.

Perhaps you've already read Kingstons epic commentary of the week-end - bl**dy show offs - we struggle to fill a boat and they bring their own outside broadcast crew. Talking of having more paddlers than is good for you did you see the front pages of the original (remember that far back?) race program? "Amathus DBC... 6 Open crews"!!! Yes, 6! - I ask you. How do you manage that many paddlers? It's like the school trip from hell. Their time trial ladder must be miles long! Apparently they have virtually the whole of The North to source their miscreants whereas down here in the smoke we have at least 8 clubs in and around Greater London alone.

Anyway, enough of the whinging, we had just about enough names to fill a single crew sheet for the first time this year. Unfortunately some were there for one day and others were only there for the other day. A few of us die-hards did manage to stick it out for both days, of course, and strangely, M Mouse and D Duck didn't show up. But it was just as well as it turns out they're not BDA members and there was evidence of more than one person getting caught out by the vigorous (and, obviously necessary) membership checking this week-end.

And they're off...

Due to an unusual method of having two races before the reps then no semi-final we got caught in a dogfight which ended in us going to a rep. Yes, you did read that right, Batchworth did a rep. I can't honestly remember doing one of those before. Needless to say it wasn't an experience we would wish to repeat - I mean, come on, one doesn't want to have to be paddling all day now does one.

The wind was becoming mighty unfriendly by now and we narrowly avoided a broadside to a pontoon at one point. It seems Kingston weren't so lucky and had all sorts of problems resulting in the starter shouting "Stop, Stop, Stop" an awful lot of times at them. I daresay he won't be getting a Christmas card from them this year.

Third. Bum. Where did those Taniwhas come from?

At this point the weather turned from bad to totally non-boat-friendly and we sat smugly in the dry as the mixed crews got tossed about on the Pierrepont ocean. After an impromptu crew managers meeting the decision was no 1,000m event today thank you very much and they said something about 'mixed racing' and 'postponed' - but I'd zoned out by then, sorry.
Sadly this all meant that we were in the pub by 6pm - hmmm, nuff said.

A new day dawns...

It's a shame that humour is so often created by the misfortune of others. In this case "others" refers specifically to Charmain Rob and "misfortune" refers specifically to the sponge like substance he spent the night inside which had been mis-labelled "tent" - and was probably found in Lidl anyway. You shouldn't mock the afflicted but it's difficult to stop giggling. Ok, my tent pole broke amidst the howling gale but, along with both Mr Heath and Mr Robinson, I still managed to create a domain of comfort and warmth and, more importantly, dryness. You can see now why the pub was a necessary sanctuary for as long as was possible. No namby pamby cosy hotels for the likes of us.

The rain didn't stop during the mixed events - shame.

The rest of Batchworth arose from various pits somewhat later than our soggy friend and we congregated for a leisurely brunch before starting the 500 open event. Oddly enough MC hadn't shown up yet - and just after we noticed he was missing various filtered reports along the lines of "car blown up", "thick smoke all over the A46" and "AA man condems car" started to come through. Shortly after that a somewhat smoke damaged life form claiming to be Nick turned up too. Ooops. Time to re-arrange the crew again - calling messrs Mouse and Duck you might have to join the BDA after all.

With the newly arrived Sunday crew the warm-up format changed for the first time in a very long while and it wasn't long before we were 'climbing ladders', jumping on spotty dogs called Jack and stretching many previously un-stretched parts. Life was good... and the sun came out (shining on the righteous and all that). So on to our first of the day...

Confused? You would have been if you'd have been anywhere near the start of the first round of 500s. Please see Kingstons live report for more details but suffice to say that Batchworth got a bit of a surprise to find themselves racing Amathus in the first round of the 500. Ho hum - first two go through anyway and the next round saw us beat Kingston at long, long last, thus avoiding a rep and normality was restored.

Second. Now we're making progress.
Our best 500 result this season. Not first, granted, and not a patch on the recent glory years, but the Pink and Blues were 11 one-hundredths behind (apparently) which partially made up for the yellow and blacks being far too far ahead.

Sunshine, still water, pleasant evening... how can this be the same place as yesterday?
But yes, it's true and with three lane number changes in as many minutes we're sitting at the 1,000m start. All of us looking at each others number boards and wondering what on earth the lane order is - we can't all fit into lanes three and four can we?
We're flying - fast starts from all and sundry then it's good bye to everyone else and it's us and Amathus strolling down the course. I say "strolling" - it was more "long and painful" but I don't want to appear to be a wuss.

Second. Darn, they did it again.

And finally

Thanks to Sir Haslam, the Menzies and all the rest of the organisers - a testing couple of days that turned out well in the end. Apologies to HRH Trotman - I could probably have been a bit more polite as I rushed passed with no more than a "hello mate, y'alright" - I think I must have been in headless chicken mode at the time. And three cheers for the other crews - hip hip hooray etc.

Third, second, second and second in the overall Open Cup - not an achievement to be sneezed at I reckon. There might be plenty of sneezing due to standing outside in appalling weather but that's another matter.
Ok, we didn't win this time but we proved we're not down and out and we made sure that Amathus didn't get it too easy. I know we don't like to admit this too much (and don't tell anyone I said this) but I guess they deserved their win. They've paddled well all year so hats off and congratulations to Amathus - open cup and league champions. But look out - I reckon there'll be more than one or two crews desperately trying to wrestle the trophy from the clutches of the moustachioed one next year :-)
Well done to all those crews who battled through the mixed events as well - can't say I'm sad we couldn't do that.

Until the next time, then - or until the Henley Winter series if you fancy...



No reports all year then one huge waffle. What can I say. I need a break - just like my Kingston reporting counterpart.