Broken Oars Podcast
Broken Oars, Episode 7

Broken Oars, Episode 7

October 2, 2020

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, Broken Oars Podcast returns with Episode 7 – a Fosbury Flop of an effort to match the impossibly high bar set by our recent guests Sir Terence of Chipchase and Sir Peter of Brewer.

 

(You haven’t listened to Episodes Five and Six yet? Shame on you! Download them now! You know it makes sense. After all, those 3 x 6k’s will go far easier with some quality listening material in your headphones).

 

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After the wonderful ramble through the highways and byways of rowing undertaken by Terence and the ‘guys, here’s how a grown adult talks: in complete, well-thought through paragraphs’ common-sense, inclusive vision of rowing as a sport for all offered by the inimitable Pete, we’ve reverted to type: your genial hosts, Lewin (posh, well-educated, southern) and Aaron (northern, dragged up, barely literate) saying stuff about the wonderful sport about rowing that might be considered libellous if anyone actually listened to us.

 

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It starts well. For the first time in the podcast’s history, Lewin rather than Aaron suffers the now-traditional biweekly injury and in a controversial move the Broken Oars Podcast begins the campaign to rehabilitate Lance Armstrong back into polite society.

 

Our position on doping and doping remains unchanged. We covered this in our bonus Jurgengate, the Trolls and the Two Billy Goats Gruff episode – a broadcast that UKADA, WADA and other acronyms have declared required listening for anyone involved in sport’s ongoing battle against doping and dopers. (Essentially, dopers and doping coaches are cheats; they invariably do it again; Jurgen might be the exception - but it's a narrative that deserves nuanced engagement).

 

On the subject of Lance, though, we just feel that in a world gone mad (der), his complete and utter unrepentance and blunt acknowledgement that he would do it all again if given the chance offers a refreshing change to the cant, hypocrisy and fudging offered by most cheats and bullshit artists when they get caught.

 

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Controversy nimbly provoked, we declare our keywords for the now-traditional Thames Tradesmen’s Broken Oars Podcast Drinking Game. Anyone with the words Frodo, Anduin, and Slaine the Avenger is in for a heavy night. Lock up the cat. Cancel all calls.

 

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And then, housekeeping done, we get stuck into the main topic of discussion: who would make it into our fantasy rowing eight.

 

Now, if you know us, and you’ve listened to us before you know that we take this sort of thing incredibly seriously. Broken Oars Podcast’s Episode Four discussed Britain’s Coxless Fours triumphs through the ages in such forensic detail that British Rowing actually asked for a copy of the tape; and our comments on the relative merits of genuine giants of the sport split opinion to the point where oarsmen who won their Olympic gold medals in the same boat no longer speak to each other.

 

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But being us, our calm, measured approach to a question deserving both rapidly descends into a welter of claims, counter-claims, questionable humour, a discussion of the cars in the Henley Royal Regatta carpark; why dyslexics rarely hang out together (we both are: we never see each other); rowing as a quest narrative; and what really, when you get right down to it, constitutes a fantasy rowing eight.

 

In the process, Aaron make claims for the necessity of opposable thumbs in a five-man; Lewin makes a case for why Anna Watkins should be in the boat with such passion that he calls her Anna Williams; we both ask whether singing ability is an accurate measure of rhythm and timing when it comes to rowing (hint: no); and ask the serious and pertinent central question: if James Cracknell makes the boat, will his seat have to be able to accommodate the camera crew and production company that will film the inevitable accompanying miniseries?

 

And does his hair deserve its own seat?

 

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All of this?

 

And it’s out in time for the weekend?

 

Get some!

 

Front six rowing on, bow pair, out – of the boat, the crew and our lives. Swim home.

Broken Oars, Episode 6

Broken Oars, Episode 6

September 18, 2020

Broken Oars Podcast returns! 

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Breaking a long-standing tradition (that we invented a few weeks ago) and in a radical break from our usual programming style, we haven't followed up Episode Five's stellar interview with Terence Chipchase (What? You haven't listened to it yet? Shame on you! Go and download it now) with an episode of us talking about rowing. 

 

Instead, we've brought you another interview - and yet again, it's an absolute howitzer of one. Episode 6 features the incredible, the inimitable and the unforgettable Pete Brewer, former Head Coach of Putney School for Girls (and still coaching there), rower, deep thinker and all 'round positive force for good in a world gone mad, bad and dangerous to know.

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Some elements remain. It wouldn't be a Broken Oars podcast without some light badinage and back-and-forth quippery between your hosts. The usual, familiar references to the North are in place to make you feel right at home. Showing our usual appreciation for doing our research, we even manage completely forget which episode we're up to (Hey! It's hard. We're running out of fingers) and then identify your key words for the now-traditional Thames Tradesmen’s Broken Oars Drinking Game.

 

(This evening, they include: Pete, Putney, Inclusion, Fun, Squirrels and Panthers alongside the usual suspects).

 

Essentially on this occasion, however, we just shut up and let Pete talk. The reasons for this will become clear when you listen to it. 'Why?' we hear you say.  

 

Well, as the kids on the street would put it, drop the needle on this anywhere and it's all good. This is an episode of Broken Oars podcast you should simply listen to as our guest drops knowledge bombs and truth throughout (apparently these are the terms the kids also use to describe insights and ideas nowadays) left, right and centre. Putting it bluntly, this is something that every rower, coach, parent and child involved in a sporting programme of any description should listen to.

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Covering Pete’s introduction to rowing and positioning rowing as a place to foster inclusion and belonging, Pete moves seamlessly into what a rowing club is actually for (hint: it isn’t not what you think) and illustrates why one-size does not fit all in sport.

 

Going on to explore the reality that fun in sport is as viable and important an outcome (if not more so) than high-performance ambitions, we also learn the difference between panthers and squirrels; why memories matter as much as medals; and what rowing could change to accommodate itself to the people who want to do it rather persisting with a model that forces individuals to accommodate themselves to the sport - and why this is important for the sport's future.

 

We at Broken Oars are no strangers to inflationary rhetoric and repetitive hyperbole - we do after all live in the UK, which has suffered a ever-escalating explosion of both recently. However, it's reassuring to know that despite our interesting journey in recent months, there are still people in this country who are calm, well-qualified, community-minded and pragmatic; and who don't have to reduce complex issues down to a three-word slogan in order to get their points across.

 

Not only will you hear the rare sound of us listening (for once), but we'll learn why that the slightly nerdy kid on the chess team or the weedy kid waiting for his growth spurt could be just what you're looking for (and looking for just what rowing at its best provides). 

 

In short, this is the perfect episode to listen to as the UK and rowing moves into whatever it will be post-Covid and into the uncertain times ahead.  

 

And it's out in time for the weekend.- GET SOME!

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Bow Four, holding. Stern Four, backing. GO! Not you, five, you know it muddles you up. 

Broken Oars, Episode 5

Broken Oars, Episode 5

September 4, 2020

Broken Oars Podcast returns with its third episode in three weeks!

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After the glory that was Episode Four and the fireworks that was our 'Jurgengate, Trolls and the Two Billy Goats Gruff Episode', we have returned to our roots with an engaging, informative and insightful interview with Terence Chipchase - member of City of Sheffield RC, Leander Club, and Ardingly RC, he is a rower, coach, umpire, member of the Stewards Enclosure, long time volunteer and all round good egg.

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After some light badinage from your genial hosts, in which the Southern one clarifies some of the effects of Turinabol pertinent to the Jurgengate episode (What? You haven't listened to it yet? Go and download it - it's a cracker) and the Northern one clarifies that those playing Thames Tradesman's infamous (and now traditional) Broken Oars Drinking Game should watch out for the words: Peterborough, pitch, pin, set and Fisa - we let Terence take over.

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Starting with his introduction to rowing, and discussing why good sculling is like flying (although your hosts can't really lay claim to knowing much about either), we chat about fingerrolls, the mild obsession that characterises early rowing careers when the bug bites hard, the importance of strong role models in the sport, and why women tend to respond to coaching better in the early days (hint: women don't think they know it all already and aren't obsessed with showing off their muscles).

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We talk about the transition to other aspects of the sport, and find out that sometimes even international coaches don't actually know if their boats are set up correctly or not, and why every rower and every coach should learn about about and take responsibility for their seat, their set-up and their boat.

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We learn about some of the intricacies involved in keeping Henley Royal Regatta - rowing's showpiece event and one of the iconic landmarks of the global sporting calendar - going every year, including: how the timing system works; what the people in the launches actually do; what you should do if a herd of rampaging buffalo makes it past Remenham and invades the enclosures; why even the best A-line short hem just won't make it past the skirt police; why you should wear your blazer hard and with pride; and the wonders that are the army that keeps the Henley machine running smooth - and that's before we get to the Oxbridge porters.

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We learn why umpires should never shout; and the things that all good rowers, coaches and clubs should take ownership of to keep this sport that we know and love safe, enjoyable and inclusive for everyone.

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It's an entertaining ramble through some of the less-explored highways, byways and curios of a landscape known by us all - this wonderful world of rowing that we all love. 

 

Perfect for the weekend?

 

We couldn't possibly say.

 

(But yes, it is).

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Bow Four? Come back in. The Meatwagon need your help. Stern pair? Drop out, and shut up.

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GET SOME!

Bonus Episode - Jurgengate,Trolls, and the Two Billy Goats Gruff

Bonus Episode - Jurgengate,Trolls, and the Two Billy Goats Gruff

August 28, 2020

As promised, Broken Oars Podcast returns on its week off to address the accusations levelled at Jurgen Grobler and British Rowing following the release of Episode Four.

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If you haven't heard it yet (Why not? We're on Apple now - there's no excuse. Go and listen), Episode Four discussed Britain's Coxless Four Olympic Finals successes and performances. It dropped (as we believe the kids say to signify digital releases) on the same day that Jurgen Grobler stepped down as Head Coach of British Rowing after 29 years.

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Barely had Episode Four hit the worldwide web before a very vocal group of trolls lumbered out from beneath their bridges and onto our Twitter feed, drawn by the trip-trapping sound of their trigger words: 'Jurgen Grobler', 'British Rowing' and 'Gold Medals.'

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Although we tried to address the points raised by these individuals on Twitter, we realised that we'd stirred up something that needed addressing.

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So here we are, addressing it. Never let it be said that the Broken Oars Podcast runs from a tough session. We have, after all, survived Runcorn in the rain and Green Lake in the first round at Henley Royal. 

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Just.

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In this episode, then, we resolve where Lionel Messi is going after Barcelona, we settle the 'Rule Britannia' Farageo, and we thank Thames Tradesmen for inventing the Broken Oars Podcast Drinking Game.

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(WARNING: ANYONE WITH THE WORDS 'JURGEN', 'GDR', 'DOPING', AND 'TROLLS' ON THEIR CARD FOR THIS EPISODE IS IN FOR A HEAVY NIGHT).

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Then, we address the comments, one-by-one and point-by-point.

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We examine the subtext that a global, overarching conspiracy was launched from Henley-in-Thames to turn British Rowing into the dominant force in World Rowing (spoiler alert: it might not have been).

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We discuss at Jurgen's appointment, his past in the GDR, and his subsequent stewardship of British Rowing, addressing how the narrative of his past has been presented and asking if it could have been more nuanced (hint - yes). We compare what is known now to what was known then, and assess the difficulties in clearly defining and apportioning blame and responsibility given the circumstances. 

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We look at the evaluatory principles of 'beyond reasonable doubt' and 'on the balance of probability' that underpin all of our safeguarding institutions in the UK; and discuss the relevance of the rehabilitative principle in Jurgen's case before moving on to examine the UK's approach to doping testing, comparing British Rowing to its counterparts in the wider field of Team GB. In doing so, we talk about 'positive', 'negative' and 'negative but' testing in this context. 

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Going on to look at the known impact of doping regimes on athlete performance, athlete welfare and the medal table, we look at British Rowing's performances since Jurgen Grobler's arrival, particularly in terms of the development of the men's and women's squads and our Olympic returns. We ask if there could be any other reason for Britain's steadily but not dramatically improving success on the rowing lake beyond doping (spoiler alert: it might have something to do with the creation of a World Class Start Programme and the arrival of funding and centralisation rather than little blue pills). 

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We talk athlete physiology and the impact of doping on that, and note that British Rowing would be an entirely clean sport were it not for the antics of a couple of idiots from the Headington Road Young Offenders Institute Rowing Club.

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We discuss the importance of rowing culture vs. other sporting cultures and its significance in keeping doping in the sport at bay (we believe in doing the work, not shortcuts) and express a hope that it long continues (while acknowledging that we must not be complacent: it only takes two idiots to ruin the reputation of an entire sport).

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Stern Four ... Drop Out. You're making Bow Four look bad.

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GET SOME!

Broken Oars, Episode 4

Broken Oars, Episode 4

August 21, 2020

After the magnificence that was Di Binley and Episode Three, Broken Oars is back with a humdinging corker of an Episode Four (they said modestly).

 

Released on the day that Jurgen Grobler, the greatest high performance coach in sporting history, stepped down from his role as Head Coach of British Rowing either through luck, insider knowledge of what was coming or happenstance we find ourselves celebrating some of the greatest hits of his legacy. 

 

Let's be honest, it was luck.

 

In Episode Four, then, one of us breaks the other foot, the other laughs about it, we do our housekeeping (or as we're now calling it, airing our dirty laundry in public), and we stop John Inverdale and other salaried BBC presenters from stealing the catchphrases and insights Broken Oars has generated so far by pointing out that they're ours and they're copyrighted.

 

We float the idea of launching an official Broken Oars 'No James Cracknells Left Behind' t-shirt; and ask Hypatia from York to step in to settle the debate as to whether it was the ancient Greeks or Romans who originated the bath house culture, thus giving rise to the word 'bathetic' (could have something to do with drama, but we're rowers, so we aren't sure).

 

Then, and only then, do we get to the main course: a full and frank discussion of which GB Heavyweight Men's Coxless Four Olympic win was the best. We argue about judging criteria (purely and simple, which was the best row from a rowing perspective), we say things icons of the sport that means they'll probably never come on Broken Oars, but we also say things about other icons of the sport that means they might.

 

We discuss the glory and the dream that was Redgrave's Last Stand; we give props to a mighty Canadian boat at Athens; one of us (for the first time ever) says nice things about an Australian crew in the context of Beijing and then promptly ruins his reputation by going on to say equally nice things about the Australian crew at London 2012. We rhapsodise about the dominance of Louloudis et al at Rio and then we choose a winner before asking you to disagree with us on the Twitter feed.

 

Or agree with us, but you're all rowers, so that will never happen.

 

We go on to talk about the dangers of triumphalism and hubris when so many of Team GB's programmes are now beset with questions surrounding athlete welfare and wellbeing when coaching and programmes only have medals as their bottom line.

 

It's almost like we knew Jurgen was going.

 

And then we bugger off.

 

No James Cracknells were harmed in the making of this episode.

 

Full crew ... come forward to row.

Broken Oars, Episode 3

Broken Oars, Episode 3

August 7, 2020

A coming-of-age for Broken Oars Podcast as one of us works out how to edit audio; another of us breaks a foot; and we welcome our first guest to the pod: Di Binley, formerly of Rock the Boat and still of general rowing awesomeness joins us to talk about her background in rowing; Rock the Boat's founding and development; the evolution of the sport during her time in it; the importance of community; volunteers; being nice and having fun to this wonderful sport that we all know and love. We give a big shout-out to Rebecca Caroe and open our arms to the worldwide rowing community.

 

Ladies and Gentleman, full crew, from backstops ...

Broken Oars, Episode 2

Broken Oars, Episode 2

July 24, 2020

Welcome to the second Broken Oars Podcast, for Rowers everywhere that believe that rowing was better a dozen years ago regardless of the current year.

 

In our sophomore effort, we make the necessary factual corrections from the first effort, ensure that no dictatorships were harmed in the making of the podcast, apologise for our 'indie' sound quality, discuss a certain lack of personality in the current GB rowing set up, provide the background to the hosts' rowing careers, and the welcoming nature of rowing clubs to outsiders (hint - could do better), and finally, whither 2K? - should the gold standard distance actually be the gold standard?

 

Full crew, come forward to row ...

Broken Oars, Episode 1

Broken Oars, Episode 1

July 24, 2020

Welcome to the inaugural Broken Oars Podcast, for Rowers everywhere that believe that rowing was better a dozen years ago regardless of the current year.

 

In our first episode we introduce the hosts, discuss their technical and renal inadequacies, the fact that Redgrave was not that great because he never won Runcorn Head in the rain, how auctioning off squad rowers to provincial clubs for a racing season, would make everyone love the sport more, and why no tears should be shed for the passing of lightweightism.

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