Trials and tribulations of a commentator

Throughout Henley Women's Regatta Maggie Phillips followed the trials and tribulations of Ken Roberts from Walton RC, head of the Commentary team. Here’s how the week unfolded -


Q “When did you start setting all this up?”

A “Equipment was ordered back in February and all was delivered on time except potentially the 2 tier mobile caravan, the hub of all communications. Monday of regatta week I received a call indicating a Friday delivery, when I had ordered it for Thursday! Well what did arrive was a far superior caravan, and it was obvious that the order had to be sub-contracted out due to their admin error! For the first time we’ve tried out mobile broadband for internet access. This was successful and the WEB site POC even installed our own wireless LAN!

Q “It’s Friday morning – are we ready for the off?”

A “Yes – all systems checked last night and again this morning, the engineers are handing out all the radios so I can now brief my commentary team who come from all over the country. They have two radios with a toggle switch between, one for commentary control and the other with three channels for public address, contact with the finish for results and safety in case of an incident. Unlike HRR we commentate directly from the launches and with up to three races on the course at any one time they need to interact with each other and control. Confused? So are they at times!”

Q “First day over – how did it go?”

A “Very well with just the usual glitches – ie commentators flicking the toggle the wrong way hence giving two people in control a magnificent description of a race rather than the thousands of competitors and spectators on the bank! Friday is the day to get all the technical bugs resolved so that tomorrow with seven launches running there will be no problems.”

Q “Saturday’s well underway – all OK?”

A “No problems? – how wrong could I be. Major traffic issues meant that three commentators were late for the first shift and it would have helped if they had turned the radios ON! Interference issues tested the patience of some until the faulty radio set was identified and replaced. I then went out myself and soon committed the ultimate ‘commentator’s sin’ – yes – talking on the wrong channel! My team were subsequently merciless with their ‘mickey-taking’!”

Q “Sunday evening and the prize-giving is over – how’s it all gone?”

A “I enjoyed today as everything worked – and I was able to sit back and record any ‘Coleman Balls’ that were used to remind commentators of what they actually said – here are some which are printable”:-

‘As we go up the middle of the island’
‘Settling down well in the car park’
‘They can smell the finish’
’32 sets of puddles’ (it was an eights race!)
‘This is the best race I’ve ever umpired’ (from the confused commentator!)

Q “Final thoughts?”

A “A successful event – even the underlying problems were not noticed by the committee or the public AND hosts Copas kept the Barn Bar open later so that people involved with the presentations could have a drink before clearing up and heading home.!Google!Facebook!StumbleUpon!Ma.gnolia!