The 2nd very Occasional XPBC Newsletter PDF Print E-mail
Written by Martin Green   
Thursday, 29 March 2007 21:43

Dear X-Press BC member,


It's been over a year since the last newsletter; we hope you find the information below of interest.


1.  Winter League success

The club, with City, again successfully organised the Winter League head race over 3 Sundays, with 9 divisions.  The club coffers should be boosted by a sum approaching £2.5K bringing a smile to the face of the Club Treasurer, John Martin. The money will go towards upgrading the ‘Blue X-Press’ to the production model supplied by Cambridge Racing Shells and in due course to replacing SUBs.   The club would like to most heartily thank all those who helped with the marshalling, timing and, of course, participation in the rowing. 


Congratulations are due to Sue Brown who was triumphant in all the 3 events in which she participated (fastest womens’ VIII, 4x and 1x).  We, who have rowed in the Winter league for decades without a pot, salute you!


Each division of each Winter league was full to bursting, with 56 entered boats per division.  At the March CRA meeting City and X-Press were asked to have a look at the feasibility of organising a 4th division and to report back on that to the May CRA meeting.  Discussions will take place with City as to whether this is feasible; one very important consideration is how many divisions X-Press could reasonably marshal, as the club currently finds it very difficult to provide course-marshals for the current 3 divisions, particularly for the second and third Winter Leagues.   The crew captains will shortly be asking for views on this.


2. Club Ambitions & Recruitment

So just what are the club ambitions?  Overall National standards? – I don’t think so.   Beer boys like the Rads? – well that would please Chris and increase the turnover at the Blue, but no, not that either.   A sustainable, mostly veteran boat club, with good kit, that competes very effectively in the town bumps, Cam events and occasional off Cam events? – sounds more like it.   The club size is limited by the amount of kit it has, and that is determined by rack space on the river.  The ‘Army’ spent a year trying to get an VIIIs rack on the Cam but have given up, showing just how hard it is to get racks for any more kit.  Further opportunity for additional boats stored on the Cam will probably have to wait for Cambridge Sports Lake to open in several years time (see below), when some clubs might move out to new facilities.   However, X-Press BC is next in line for the next VIIIs rack to become available at CRA.


So with current kit the club can probably run to about 6 or 7 mens’ crews and 3 womens’ crews, say around 100 rowing members.  At the moment we should reach these numbers in the Town bumps, but the club could certainly do with a mix of 20 or so new members to get this number of crews on a permanent footing.  If you know of anybody who can row already and wants to get stuck in again, please invite them to come along for some trial outings.


3.   TWO 2007  X-Press Head Races and Aniene visit. 

Our rowing friends from Aniene BC, Roma will be visiting over the summer.  As a consequence there will to two X-Press boat club rowing events in June:  The traditional, much loved, renown for fast times and fast drinking afterwards, single division XPress Head is scheduled for Monday 18th June at 7.00pm, and the X-Press Silver Jubilee Head Race on the morning of Saturday 23rd June.  This latter event will be in two divisions, the first for veterans and the second for all comers (age, club, boats, anything really that includes an entry fee and is propelled manually) followed by a lunchtime barbecue.


On the Saturday evening there will be an X-Press Social event at Churchill College for all club members and their other halves to come along and have a great evening together.   We plan to invite the Aniene and Oxford crews who will have taken part in the Head Race earlier in the day to this social gathering and give all X-Press members the opportunity to meet them and practice their Italian (!). 


4.  Safety

High-viz vests in 3 sizes now available.  Perforated fluorescent vests are now available in the locker.  Designed for cox, bow and scullers to wear in poor visibility conditions, or any time really when sartorial elegance is de rigueur.  Some scullers have started to wear them as a matter of course and they really do make a difference being spotted out on the river.  Given that the predominant X-Press colour is black, it seems a jolly good idea that one is worn by bow on early morning outings or in mist.  The availability of the vests is not to facilitate after dark rowing and they offer no protection at all from the elements.


Recently there have been a couple of narrow squeaks for VIIIs while spinning.  We all know that the river Cam is basically not much more than a modest stream made navigable by locks and weirs.  However occasionally after heavy rain the stream can be in flood and in such circumstances boats should take great care while spinning; certainly well clear of Baites Bite lock and no-where where there is a risk of collision.


5.  Memories of Free Press rowing


The Twelve Stroke Bumps


In 1990 Free Press II caused a bit of a stir on the river!  A couple of lads Chris Lloyd had coached when they were students at Oundle, who now rowed on the Thames, asked him if he could find them a boat and a cox as they had some ‘quick off the mark’ Kiwis they quite fancied in the Bumps.  They all worked in London and caught the train up each evening, turning the bus shelter at the Pike & Eel into the Free Press Boat House (with a spray paint job to prove it!) and stepped into the boat used in the 2nd Division by Free Press III.  Although they had not previously heard of bumping races, the Kiwis immediately took to the idea of doing the maximum amount of work for the shortest period of time and bumped Robs III in 14 strokes.  As they were one ahead of the sandwich boat they then set off down the river to stop wasting good drinking time and get to the Free Press.  Suddenly, they saw a boat rowing ahead of them and decided two bumps on one night could only be a good thing.  Cantabs II knew there had been a bump behind them, and one ahead and were having a steady row over when they realised in the Long Reach that they were being chased.  Although Free Press II caught them before the finish, the Bump wasn’t allowed, but that did not stop huge celebrations in the Press that night.  The second night, Press II bumped Lady Somerset in 10 strokes and the third night got Cantabs III in 12 strokes.  They were determined to get their blades with an average of 12 strokes per bump, but, when they were finally legitimately chasing Cantabs II they had to row 32 strokes!  What many onlookers found more impressive than their feats on the river was their capacity to drink vast quantities of lager before heading off for the last train to London – Chris had to get in emergency supplies to see the pub through the week!


6. Cambridge Sport Lakes.  

This scheme has been recently approved by the council- there may be something built in time to assist training for the 2012 Olympics.


7. Web site problems

There are currently a few problems with the operation of the web site, following a recent ‘upgrade’ to the next version of ‘Mambo’, the software package that runs the site on the host server.    Some things have stopped working and it will be a little while before they get sorted out.  The password reminder system seems to have stopped working.  If you forget your password, please ask a web site administrator to reset your password (Sheila Bhatt, Leonie McNeill, Martin Green)


8. Lost and Found

In the locker there is a white X-Press cap and a large white T-shirt, both left a while back at CRA.  If you are missing the same, please reclaim.


Very much lost is the X-Press BC trailer that was stolen about 2 weeks ago from outside Cambridge Racing Shells.  The trailer was being used with club permission to move boats.  An insurance claim is in progress. 


9. Forthcoming events on the Cam and dates for your diary:

Sun 1st April – Vest Vets

Sun 22nd April – St Rads Mile

Sat 5th May Head of the Cam

Sun 13th May Cambridge Sprint regatta

Sun 20th May Champs head

Sun 27th May Cambridge Spring regatta

Wed/Sat 13/16 June University May Bumps

18th June (Monday) X-Press Head – 7.00pm

23rd June (Saturday) X-Press Silver Jubilee Head Race, lunch barbecue and evening social event and college meal at Churchill

10th July – CRA time race

24-27 July CRA bumps - remember – organise summer holidays for afterwards!!