Author Archives: Secret Sculler

WHO CARES says the Secret Sculler

Secret sculler: So what’s this thing about “caring for boats”, Richard – sounds like you’re getting the Social Services involved.

Richard: Well you know what they say, Secret Sculler, a boat is for life, not just for Christmas.

Secret sculler: I thought you’d put a stop to the ‘boat wrecking’

Richard: Things have improved and members should give themselves a pat on the back.  There is still damage happening though, just not on the scale it has previously.  There have been a couple of unfortunate instances recently where a couple of boats have been damaged and it hasn’t been reported and nobody has owned up…disappointing.

Secret sculler: Have you considered having the perpetrators keel-hauled through the shallows, not only would it teach them a lesson, but it would protect the hull at the same time.

Richard: Thanks for the creative thinking, but I just want damage to be reported – accidents do happen – but we need to know about it. I hope someone will come forward and tell me what happened.

Secret sculler: Of course, that’s the least you can expect. There again isn’t a bit of damage inevitable with lots of clubs and boats on a very busy river. And there is money available for new boats. What happened to the 3000 quid we got for that warship “Liquid assets”?

Richard: We spent it on damaged boats!

Secret sculler: So Captain, our assets, were literally, liquidised .. zap .. kapowww!

Richard: I think you’ve been reading too many comics. Look, I like to think of damage to boats in terms of seats lost.  If there is an eight and a quad, damaged and away for repair, that’s 24 seats missing over the course of a weekend.  That’s potentially 24 people who can’t get out on the water at the weekend.  We’re already pressed for equipment and can’t afford to be down on seats.

Repairs aren’t free either, paying for a boat to be repaired takes money away from new equipment funds.  There has been a lot of very good fundraising recently and it seems a shame to use it only for fixing the equipment we already have.

Secret sculler: Alright Richard, you’ve made your point, but what can you do about it?

Richard: Here’s what we’re going to do, I’d like to appoint squad/section leaders.  One of the reasons for this is to have more people responsible and accountable for boat and equipment care.  I’d like them to ensure people are following these simple guidelines.

  •  Book the boat on the portal.
  •  Sign the boat out when you use it.
  •  Check the inside and outside of boats for damage before and after an outing
  •  Adjust feet and stretchers before going on the water.  This one is really just to make sure there isn’t an M25 style traffic jam up the steps at peak times.
  • Make sure wellies aren’t taken in the boat.  These really dirty the runners etc.
  • Wash the boat before putting it away.  Don’t use a horrible old gritty sponge off the floor for this.

These are simple guidelines which should be easy to implement.  They should be easy for the whole club to follow too…hopefully!

I’d also like to ensure that damage is reported.  Reporting it is simple enough, just email Bill Grant the boat warden and copy me into it.  Bill won’t bite your head off (unless he’s having a bad day!) but it needs to be reported as soon as is happens so it can be sorted.  Of course if the damage is caused by misuse or negligence…well…you might have a bad day when you report it to Bill.

1A final measure is that I’d like to put up a blackboard which can be updated with current dangers on the water.  Things like shallows, trees, blocked arches, shopping trolleys, can be highlighted here so that people are aware of what dangers are lurking out there.

Secret sculler: And will that solve it?

Richard: Not on it’s own. Every member needs to take responsibility it’ s also about judgement by coaches and members, if the water is too high or looks wild then don’t go out.  If it’s blowing a gale and you’re not comfortable in the wind don’t go out.  If in doubt ask somebody.

Secret Sculler: And now I hear there’s been another incident with damage to “Lasting impact”, you know what I say ..

Richard: Alright, Secret Sculler, I’ll get there before you with the cheap jokes, yes someone did indeed make a ‘lasting impact’ with a rigger bite, and it was unreported. Maybe, our next boat will be called, “Perfect responsibility”. Seriously, we’re determined to get on top of this, with a major campaign to improve the way we all look after our boats, so that we can spend the hard-earned profits from commercial activity and fundraising on new boats and equipment rather than on repairing our fleet. Watch this space.





The Secret Sculler says ..”Get the Exec. you deserve”


Sculling down the Wear these misty Autumn mornings it suddenly struck me (no, not a Browns boat, and not a flower pot off Baths Bridge – although I had one of those a few years ago) ..

It’s that time of year again .. the AGM .. time to appoint a new Executive Committee. And with lots of time on the slide, I’ve come up with a brilliant 4 step plan to get the Exec that you deserve:-

Step 1: Don’t bother going to the AGM

Step 2: Or if you do, don’t give it any thought, turn up, and vote for your friends

Step 3: Help pressgang some unlikely victim into a vacant position

Step 4: Moan all year about the exec’s inability to deal with some important issues

O.K. it’s a big club, very successful in many ways, but tribal, if you know what I mean. Why not get the exec you want rather than the one you deserve? Here’s an alternative 4 step plan;

Step 1: Take an active interest in who is standing for the key positions

Step 2: Ask potential candidates what they stand for, and what they intend to do, if they get elected.

Step 3: Attend the AGM and vote for the best candidates

Step 4: Hold them to account for the rest of the year, for doing what they said they would – and support them in achieving it.

Secret Sculler’s Sermon – end of.

P.S, AGM is on 27th September

The Secret Sculler on Boat Allocation

The Secret Sculler quizzes the Captain, Richard Castling on BOAT ALLOCATION

The Secret Sculler: So Richard … What’s the problem with the existing system of BOAT ALLOCATION?

Richard: The problem with the current system is that it isn’t clear to people which groups or crews can use each boat.  This has meant that people have been using boats that they shouldn’t have.  This of course could have been due to the fact that people either didn’t see or didn’t understand the previous list.  However I also think that there have been some instances of people just taking what they want without seeking permission.

Secret Sculler: What exactly is the new allocation system?

Richard: The new system allocates the boats more clearly to different sections of the club in addition to giving them a “prime racing” or “club racing” classification.  This should mean that it is more obvious who can and can’t use the boats.  Permission will still have to be sought from the captain and vice captains before some of the top boats can be used.

Secret Sculler: And how will the new system work?

Richard: The new system, makes it clear to people which boats they can, and cannot use.  If for example a boat is labelled as being allocated to the men’s first IV and a crew who isn’t the first IV are seen using it, the members could challenge that use, or certainly highlight it to me or the vice captains.  One suggestion for the allocation list was that specific crews were named as users of the boats.  We decided that this wouldn’t work due to the nature of the club with members joining and leaving, rowers are promoted to the top crew etc.  It would be impossible to keep track of these crew changes and update the allocation list.

Secret Sculler: What happens if someone is using a boat that they shouldn’t?

Richard: As I mentioned before if someone is seen using a boat they shouldn’t, then you should either challenge that use … if you feel comfortable with that, or highlight it to me or the vice captains. I realise that it isn’t always obvious that a crew are using a boat that they are not allocated. So if you are unsure about it, ask them if they’ve been told they can use that boat, or ask me and the VCs for clarification.  If, after people have been asked not to use a boat, and continue to use it, then we might have to look at disciplinary procedures, perhaps being invited in front of the exec committee to explain their actions or even a suspension from the club.  We use extremely valuable pieces of equipment every day, many costing tens of thousands of pounds and we must protect these assets.

Secret Sculler: I’ve heard lots of members say that they pay their membership fees and need access to better boats and equipment? What do you say to that?

Richard: It’s quite simple; the best and quickest athletes get the best equipment.  That’s the way that it needs to be.  We have a limited number of boats and we need to make sure that the fastest athletes are in the fastest boats.  If you want to use the top equipment, then dedicate your time to training and get faster.

By the way, the club has spent over £86,000 on boats and equipment over the past few years.  This figure does not include the approximate £9,000 that is spent on repairs each year!  Some sections of the club have put a large amount of effort into fundraising to help raise some of the money.  It would be great if even more people could get involved so that we can keep upgrading (and repairing!) the fleet.

Secret Sculler: And where do I find the new allocation list?

Richard: The allocation list will be posted on the regatta notice board in the locker room and will be posted on the portal.  I’ll also email a copy to every member.  Hopefully everybody will see it.

Secret Sculler: Thanks Richard .. Oh and can you tell me which boats I’ve been allocated?

Richard: Who are you?

Secret Sculler: I’m the secret .. OK, forget it.