Fitness Magazine

Rules of the River – Who Should Have Priority?

By Girlontheriver @girlontheriver
Rules of the river – who should have priority?

Would you allow these people on the river?

The waters of the River Ouse are looking a bit troubled at the moment. A row has broken out between Bedford Rowing Club and the Great Ouse Boating Association over who should have priority over the river: you can read about it here. The rowers are objecting to a proposal to introduce punting to the river as a form of recreation; they are concerned that if punters drift over to the wrong side of the river when an eight is steaming down at full pelt, it could all end in tears. The rowers were there first, they add, having staked their claim 150 years ago.

Of course, they’re right that a collision between an eight and a punt is going to hurt (and cause a fair bit of expensive damage). They’re also right that punters are as likely to stay on the right side of the river as they are to step out of their punt and walk on water (if the canoeists on the Wye are anything to go by). For all this, though, I find my sympathy running out at the prospect of a ban on punters.

Down our neck of the woods there are a lot of us competing for water space. In the summer months, barely a day goes by without armadas of canoes drifting in a leisurely, zigzag path down the river, often right in our line of fire. There are fishermen wanting a clear space to fish, who don’t appreciate us churning up their patch of water or tangling our blades in their lines. There are swans with armies of cygnets with little inclination to watch where they’re going. And then there are the Little People, but I’ll say no more about them for fear of waking them from their winter hibernation.

If everyone stood on their rights it could all get a bit heated, but somehow we manage to muddle along. Of course there’s the odd cross word, and I have heard tales of a Chinese tourist being hurled from his canoe when an eight full of teenage boys failed to stop in time. Our summer regatta sometimes has to wait while groups of canoeists go past (and they in turn have to wait for a few races to set off). But all in all, we get by. Nobody owns the river, nor should they.

One other thing, though, before this gets too preachy and pious. Did anyone else notice that Bedford RC claimed that their eights were reaching speeds of 18mph? Olympic eights only make about 14 mph. Never mind the punters – it’s Bedford’s opponents I’d be more worried about.


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