Saturday, 23 February 2008


Today we got to go and all watch Daddy row in Torpids, which is the big boat race in Hilary term, and the first race we've seen so far. (The Regatta in Michaelmas term had to be cancelled because the river was too high.) Be sure to note in the above picture that their boat is named King Henry VIII - I feel like that's pretty funny actually. Are there many college boat races out there with boats named King Henry VIII? Possibly, but my experience in college boat races is limited, and so I find it funny. Today was the fourth and final day of the race, and his crew has been racing every day, but we hadn't yet braved the epic walk and freezing winds to go and watch. This was a bumps race, which means they all line up on the river according to the order in which they qualified. They're all stationed a certain distance apart and then when the canon goes they try to catch and bump the boat ahead of them. If you bump someone then you're done with the race, but if you get bumped then you have to keep rowing and trying to bump someone else. Then the next day you are lined up according to the new order from the previous day and do the same thing again. Ben's boat did really terrible the first day - the guy who was rowing stroke (the guy in the back of the boat) had his seat come off right at the beginning of the race and they got all out of whack and got bumped fairly quickly. Apparently the cox is supposed to concede to the other boat, which he did, but they either didn't notice or didn't care and continued to bump and then ran over someone's oar or something and the boat went completely sideways and they couldn't get it straightened out . . . all in all it was total chaos! However the absolute icing on the cake was the most hilarious part of the day - apparently a bunch of the guys on Ben's boat had ordered "kit" which is the uniform they wear for the race. Ben hadn't ordered any, and there was only one other guy who hadn't. The box of kit didn't arrive until about half an hour before the race, so the captain of the team came sprinting over right before the race distributing the kit to everyone. It was some sort of spandex sleeveless garment that went to the knees - basically a unitard. So everyone was in the unitard except for Ben and this other guy. Then they had the bomb of a race. And so they all came morosely back to the boathouse and found the captain waiting sheepishly for them there. He broke them the news that he had, in the heat of the moment, accidentally given them the wrong kit. And as it turned out, it was the girls' kit that he had given them! I believe that Ben had a good deal of merriment at their expense. As he walked back after the race with one of the guys he told him that he may have been on a losing team, he may have gotten bumped, but at least he hadn't raced in spandex. And more than that, at least he hadn't raced in girls' spandex. However, he may just have to eat his words on that . . . we'll wait and see what he wears in "Eights Week" next term. Apparently in today's race the gym shorts that he was wearing kept getting tangled in the seat and messing up the sliding mechanism and jamming everything up. So whatever his feelings about spandex, there's no denying that there's a certain benefit to having a snugly fitting garment in certain contexts. (In the above picture, by the way, they're wearing men's gear. Ben stands out as the guy who doesn't match.)


Angie said...

Maybe next race he should show up with a box of "skirtys" for his teammates to wear over their girls' spandex suits after the race.

meredith said...

Wow, that's hilarious! ChCh is supposed to be a pretty hot boat club, so girls' spandex AND a wicked bump AND the stroke losing his seat -- that's a lot of oopsies in one race!

I also rowed in Torpids and whatever they say, lycra just doesn't look good on anyone, despite being the most practical thing to wear while rowing. Argh!!

J. and C. Matthews said...

Something new please? Would love a new "peak" into your English doings!! Easter celebration plans? Thanks for the posts.

Bekah Merkle said...

OK - so this is embarrassing! Not only have I not posted anything new, I have also managed to not look at my own blog for long enough that I didn't see these comments until weeks after they were posted!

I'll try and get something else up here shortly . . . ! (Too late for Easter celebration plans though!)