Not the Georgians and the Russians, though indications are they they too have pulled back from utter stupidity. No, this is far more important: rowing, and in particular the bumps. Background: those paying close attention on day 4 will have noticed the problem with Robs 1. It seems that the 10 minute delay on the start was a bit more than I’d realised: it consisted of the umpires telling Robs they had an illegal crew and couldn’t row, and Robs refusing to listen (they even had the man they’d bumped out standing on the bank, so they didn’t even have the excuse of no sub available). And the arguments became heated.
You can read some background (letters to the Cambridge Evening News) here.
So it all escalated to an EGM of the CRA tonight, with the AGENDA: To discuss the behaviour of Rob Roy Boat Club during Bumps week 2008 and to consider the proposal that they be suspended from the CRA for a minimum of one year and one day from 8.40pm on Friday 25th July with any additional sanctions, penalties and fines that the Bumps Committee, after further reflection, may decide to impose. Pedants and fans of adminitrivia will immeadiately notice that this proposal doesn’t have a named proposer; and indeed during the meeting itself it became remarkably unclear who was proposing it. John Jenner managed to say something like “people assume that this motion is proposed by the bumps committee; it isn’t; it is from one or two members of the bumps committee”.
To give you the substance (see, I’m no storyteller), we ended up voting that:
1 Robs I to be dropped four places, to 6.
2 Robs to be fined Â£800
3 Robs not to be suspended.
1, 3 were overwhelming. 2 was nearly replaced by Â£300, and would have been, if Robs members hadn’t been dumb enough to vote against it.
Whats astonishing is that this is (IMHO) the correct result, or close enough as makes no difference. Suspending the whole club from the bumps would have been utterly unfair, as speaker after speaker at the meeting said (even those from tabs :-). Even JJ admitted that suspending Robs from the CRA as a whole (though not form the bumps) was beyond the meetings powers. Another argument (not made, but important anyway) is that suspending Robs for a year would have caused utter chaos in working out where they should come back in). Fining them is not very important; hopefully their Mens I will have to pay it between themselves (thereby annoying them) but at a second best the whole club will pay (thereby pissing off the whle club with their Mens I). Dropping them down 4 places means that they have no hope of head next year, and since this entire incident was caused by Robs being over-eager for the headship, thats a good idea.
I used to be our trade union secretary, so have some familiarity with the correct procedure for handling motions and amendments. Sadly the chair of the meeting had no such familiarity. What saved him was that he had the respect of most of those present, and a degree of personal dignity, and that the correct course of action was reasonnably obvious. Nonetheless he came close to stuffing it up, and was only saved by Baldy (sorry, I don’t know your name, but you did a great job, and I’ll be happy to buy you several pints if we ever meeet up) essentially taking over at the vital point.
Example: the motion was to fine Robs Â£800. Robs objected, and counter-proposed, as an amendment, Â£300. The correct procedure (if I haven’t fogotten all I knew) is to vote on whether the amendment should replace the motion, and if so then vote on either it, or the original motion. This rapidly gets complicated, especially if people don’t know the procedure. Certainly it wasn’t well explained, and wasn’t helped by the chair saying “so we’re voting on Â£300… per boat”. Argh! Quite how he managed to say that I don’t know; fortunately the floor helped him out (Â£800, BTW, is Â£100 * 8 boats entered. Â£300 = Â£100 * 3 boats with blatant illegalities. though as folks from the floor pointed out, there were more illegalities than that…).
Getting to the correct result was interesting. Fortunately the bumps committee (and whether this was cunning or stupidity I don’t know) offered to replace their original motion with (I paraphrase) “1) Robs have been naughty; move them down 4 places and fine them Â£800; 2) Suspend them for a year”. As speaker after speaker pointed out (including your humble correspondent) the suspension was wrong (apart from anything else, it punishes the whole club for M1’s stupidity). By adding in option 1, we were pointed towards the obvious: throw the lawyers out of the window, and vote on 1) down 4; 2) fine; 3) suspension in order. And so (throwing the agenda to the winds) we did so.
Having got that out of the way, there are a few other issues, including the one that started it all: what did Robs do wrong? Taking one step back from that, what they did wrong, and what the meeting focussed on, was disobeying the umpires instructions. That kept things fairly simple. Robs view was that their rower (CC) was technically legal. One of their chaps (Simon?) put forward the rather implausible view that altough they got a clear email telling them that their crew was illegal on thursday night, because that email picked on the wrong reason (CC being illegal, which is arguable, rather than they making an un-announced substitution for non-emergency reasons, which clearly was, even they admit that) their was some reasonable doubt about whether they were illegal or not, and therefore (without making any formal attempt whatsoever to clarify the situation), they were entitled to row down to the start on friday with the same crew, and try to settle it by arguing with the umpires on the start line. This is utter twaddle (their arguing for 10 mins wasted valuable time. Quite possibly, had they not done that, there would have been time to re-row M1 when the unfortunate 9’s-city bump halted everyone below them).
JJ said that, in hindsight, they should have physically prevented Robs from rowing on the friday.
All of this, in case you hadn’t realised by now, is because there are very good rowers out there with tenuous connections to Cambridge, and the temptation (especially in the upper divisions, where people take this (too) seriously) is to import ringers. Thats bad sportsmanship, so there has been pressure in recent years to tighten the rules and make this a local race for Cambridge people (note, BTW, that university oarsfolk are explicitly excluded: they have their own bumps).
Bowing to the inevitable, I’ve created a new category of “rowing”, since there will be more rowing-related stuff in here. Did I mention I took the club scull out today? It was windy.
And while I’m here… for another view of boating life in Cambridge, there is http://nbkestrel.blogspot.com/.