The independent voice of rowing in Britain

Olympic watch: dirty deeds in the docks

Posted by rowingvoice on June 17, 2012

I am privy to some wonderful imaginative developments in the London docks, as a result of the history-making events that are going on all around us. I hear that there is an Olympic marina coming to Albert Dock and that a cruise ship will be moored outside the London Regatta Centre for easy access to Stratford East. IOC members and Olympic sponsors who understandably wish to avoid the Park Lane hotels will be offered these prestigious moorings, and naturally we at the Voice have reserved a berth for our superyacht Hammer Smith just opposite the City Airport’s runway.

The Hammer Smith will offer continuous hospitality to IOC members, heads of state and politicians on their way to the daytime TV hit  ‘Levenson’ — indeed, we are open to any poseurs, lobbyists and Cabinet Ministers keen to cosy up to members of the fourth estate (phones must be checked at the door, of course). Dr. Q will be your host.

This glorious development has come as a bit of a blow to those rowing teams booked into the London Regatta Centre for pre- Olympic training. In the interests of LOCOG’s intention to make these games the highest, strongest and fastest etc, they are being unceremoniously kicked off the water. Compensation? How do you spell that?

The occupation of the Docks by the super rich is another notch in LOCOG’s campaign to ensure that London 2012 will be nothing out of the ordinary. First came the ditching of the River & Rowing Museum’s pavilion at Eton-Dorney to celebrate the roots of rowing and canoeing. Then came the ditching of the plan to bring a foreign warship, the Athenian trireme Olympias, up the Thames to deliver the flame to the stadium. Now the docks, the nearest piece of rowing water to Olympic park, are to be disrupted. What next?

Well, I’ll tell you what next. There is a post-Olympic scheme to moor a ship at the London Regatta Centre on a 20-year lease and operate it as a time-share; that’s what’s next. With a marina attached. I’m afraid to tell you that Voice has been utterly seduced by this, and our name is the first on the time-share list. Imagine! Cocktails on your balcony logging take-offs and landings of City airport jets! Take a moonlight stroll to catch a glimpse of the Thames Barrier! See dawn rise over the Tate & Lyle factory! Collect the numbers of the Docklands Light Railway trains as they duck and dive to the airport!

I hear that Fred Smallbone and the people who raised millions to convert the Royal Albert Dock and revive rowing in East London are not totally in agreement with this latest incarnation of a Boris enterprise zone. As they say in taekwondo, WTF is going on? Here is a facility that offers recreational opportunities to the community where it is set as well as a superb facility for London’s rowing clubs, being shafted by developers and sadoes. Rowing needs to marshal its big guns to see such schemes off. Where are the hard hitters of British Rowing, UK Sport, Sport England, the Watermen and the livery companies? This is an hour of need.

You should have realised by now that the world is going barmy. If doubt remains, then this jolly tale from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant may cheer you up. The watermen’s cutter Royal Dolphin, which is owned by the Honourable Fishmongers’ Company and based at the London Regatta Centre, took part in the jubilee pageant. Some of its crew are survivors of brain injury for whom, rowing is helping on the road to recovery. Some are on disability allowance.

Until recently it has been the practice for the Royal Dolphin to be locked out onto the Thames through Galleons Point Lock at the end of the Albert Dock, under the Sir Steve Redgrave Bridge. But the Royal Docks Management Authority (RODMA) has decided in its wisdom that for security reasons all boats must exit the Royal Docks via the King George V dock. The King George, by the way, used to be an ocean liner terminal and is large enough to take the Titanic. Full dimensions of the Royal Dolphin were required, and the presentation of an invoice for £200 for locking her out.

That’s two hundred pounds for giving brain-damaged rowers the ability to join the Queen’s Jubilee Pageant. Is it just me, or is RODMA arse over tit? Who is the brain-damaged party here? If RODMA continues to speak through its backside, it’s them that should undergo brain damage therapy.

In the event, by the way, Ted Manning and Bobby Prentice hoisted the Royal Dolphin onto a trailer and transported her to the Thames by road. It’s a barking world.

 Hammer Smith


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