Author Archives: Sophie

Mad Polo Sunday

On Sunday 15th February Sophie Louth organised a Mad Sunday of Polo with a training session in the morning for the more experienced players and a introductory session in the afternoon – that turned into a giant game of polo.

Thomas Leissing was on hand in the morning to offer coaching, from his high point on the bank (due to a shoulder injury) he was able to give individual feedback on shooting, passing and keeping style.

Players show their enthusiasm for a new sport

Players show their enthusiasm for a new sport

In the afternoon two teams of five took to the pitch to show off their prowess. Lady of the match was Lizzy Mansfield who, although new to kayaking, took up the sport with great enthusiasm choosing to tackle Cormac Browne even though he was in a considerably larger boat. Lizzy is one to watch, and I think her future in the sport will be bright as she becomes an asset to the Oxford team.


Lizzy takes a goal line throw


So, what happens on a white water weekend? By Eleanor Broome

Firstly, there is faff, which is basically where a bunch of kayakers attempt to get themselves organised as efficiently as possible, but never quite manage it. Faff is not something I had come across before I joined the club, but it’s this wonderful part of club life that you quickly get used to and secretly come to love. I’m fairly certain somewhere it is written, “OUCKC – faffing since 1952”. A rather fitting slogan.

For example, one of the first things we had to do was get our boats out of the shed. If we could do this with no faff, then we would just get the boats out of the shed. However, when an OUCKC paddler attempts to get their boat out, they nearly take out an overhanging light and a fellow paddler in the process, trip over an inconveniently placed buoyancy aid and stumble outside only to lose grip off their boat so that it tumbles unceremoniously on to the ground. Yes, I admit that was me faffing about with my boat. Actually, most of the other paddlers were a lot more graceful about it all, and we soon had our pile of kit assembled while we waited for the others and their cars to arrive.

The car that I would be riding in was heard before it was seen. It was squeaking as it trundled down the lane, and genuinely creaked to a halt. Quite possibly one of the best cars I have ever seen. Hannah and I were subsequently buried alive under various bags in the back, and we were off in a cacophony of squeaking and creaking to the well know establishment of haute cuisine, Aldi. The mission: to get enough food to feed fourteen hungry paddlers over a weekend under budget. Did we succeed? Yes. I’ll be honest, it looked a bit dicey there for a second, but we bravely pulled through and even went back to rescue some flapjacks that had been left behind.

The rest of the journey was a lot less eventful, although there was a cheeky tea (and Belgian chocolate caramel shortbread slice) stop on the way. There was also a brief moment where it looked like we were about to crash in to some horses, but we managed to dodge them and the sheep rather expertly. We were also entertained with stories of the great Maple Syrup heist that occurred a few years ago and we were informed of the potential dangers of catfish (no, I don’t know how we got on to these topics). We eventually arrived at our bunkhouse in the middle of the Dartmoor moors, and of course Chris had once again used the force to get there first.


The following morning, after an expertly cooked breakfast from our resident chef Cormac, we headed to the Dart Loop. What followed was, shall we say, scrapey. The water levels were rather low, and there were a ridiculous amount of rocks. Nevertheless, we got to practice skills such as ferry gliding and eddying in and out and how best to right oneself when you’ve hit a jolly big rock. Some of us beginner-y folk were even sent down some of the rapids first so that we could practice picking the line. For the most part this worked very well, until one of the fairly new people unexpectedly found the river disappearing over a drop, which in higher levels of water is known as ‘washing machine’. Incidentally, she picked a very good line and handled it very well! Well, there may have been some screaming, but that only added to the excitement. And I will admit that some of that screaming came from me.


There were a few swims due to all of the inconveniently placed rocks, but everyone paddled really well and us beginners felt like we were making progress. There was even one beginner who had never been on white water before and had only done a few Sunday sessions, who paddled brilliantly and did not take one single swim!


The get out was at a country park and involved a slightly too long portage up a hill. But we managed it and arrived at the car par to begin our tasteful car park changing act which we all have down to a fine art. Once we were all dressed, another paddler from a different club came to tell us that there were showers and a changing room for us to use round the corner. Great.


After a bit more faff, we got all the boats and kit on or in the car, and headed back to our bunkhouse. We then had a nice chilled evening chatting and drinking (I personally hit the tea), and there was also a game involving listing as many things as you can within a topic. Some of the more PG rounds that I’m allowed to type in this article included naming as many different kinds of biscuits as you can, and as many Harry Potter characters as you can. Our head cook then whipped up a delicious beef stew, and an equally tasty veggie version too. As it was Matt’s 21st, we even had some chocolate cake which involved the interesting task of cutting a square cake in to fourteen pieces. He sensibly cut it in to fifteen pieces, and then he was given the challenge of eating the last piece as quickly as possible. I believe he managed to annihilate the piece of cake in under ten seconds?

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The following morning, all the self-inflating mattresses were deflated, everyone collected the thermals that were hung up anywhere and everywhere, and we all set about cleaning the bunkhouse, ridding it of that wonderfully indefinable smell of river. After a very efficient clean up job with minimal faff, we headed to the river. We split in to two this time, with the more experienced paddlers giving the Upper Dart a bash, while the others took the beginner-y people down the Dart Loop, with the added bonus of the Lower Dart for the more energetic. We had another scrape-y, but nonetheless enjoyable bob down the Dart, and we all reconvened at the country park carpark ready to head back to Oxford.

All in all, it was a great weekend and very beginner friendly. If anyone else is thinking about having a go at some white water, then they definitely should join us on the next one!


Quiz Night

On Thursday 29th January OUCKC launched their fundraising bid for the new shed with a quiz night. Organised by Helen Tatlow and Hannah Theaker, quizmaster extraordinaire was Jonathan Foxwell. Over £100 was raised during an enjoyable experience at St Anne’s MCR.


Questions ranged from the bizarre: What item was recently sold on ebay, described as having been covered in all bodily fluids imaginable? To pictures where a number of challenging dingbats formed one round.

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Christmas Dinner


On Thursday 27th November 2014 we had our annual Christmas Dinner, this year it was held at the University Club. We had fun. Prizes were awarded.




Ladies Div 2 Polo Tournament Sat 22nd November

Great shot

Great shot Helen!

We rocked up at Stratford with a team of four, so confident were we of winning due to illness. We started with a match against Amazons where we were able to press the zone repeatedly and had lots of shots on goal. Our first goal came for a break, Anja Mizdrak started ahead dribbling with a pair of defenders putting pressure on her. Abi Edmonds came through from behind, calm (but fast) as anything, received the pass from Anja past the defenders and made a beautiful left handed shot on goal into the bottom corner.


Abi going in for a tackle

Abi going in for a tackle

Sadly two goals from Amazons left us 2:1 down but we were still fighting. At the second centre restart Helen Tatlow passed to Sophie Louth as the team put pressure on the unusually tight zone, Sophie was able to shoot over the zone (who were distracted by the aggressive attack of the rest of the team) and passed the keeper, now we were drawing. Sadly at the last minute Amazons managed to make a break from our press and score the winning goal.

Great attacking play from Abi and Anja

Great attacking play from Abi and Anja


Next we played University of London’s A team, one of the most successful university ladies teams in the country. This game was rather less successful due to their aggressive attacking style leaving us with a 8 nil defeat.


Helen looking for a pass

Helen looking for a pass

Meridian was our next opponent, the largest club in the country and therefore a large pool of players to choose from. Another tight match with goals from Anja and Helen but sadly not enough again loosing 3:2.



Sophie picks up the ball

Lastly we played UoL B team where we thought we had a better chance but although Sophie scored one last goal and all had a number of shots on goal, their new keeper trained at Warwick Uni was too good and we lost 3:1.

The team from left: Sophie Louth, Anja Mizdrak, Helen Tatlow, Abi Edmonds

The team from left: Sophie Louth, Anja Mizdrak, Helen Tatlow, Abi Edmonds

Division 4 Polo Tournament Sat 15th November

On Saturday Oxford’s Men’s Canoe Polo A Team played the first tournament of the National Division 4 league at Cheltenham. This is part of the national frame work organised by British Canoeing attended by almost all clubs in the country (most of whom aren’t university teams), with Oxford being the only university team in division 4 south west. Due to a smaller than usual number of teams in the league it is to be played out over 3 Saturdays rather than 4 resulting in 5 matches a tournament rather than the usual 3 or 4, so with Oxford having brought no subs it was going to be a grueling evening.

Chris Booth

Chris Booth

After a slightly manic warm up, where all six teams tried to use a 33m pool at once, Oxford was in the first match against Dragon B from South West Wales, a team which included 2 players from the GB under 21 women’s squad. A 2 nil loss was all that could be managed but given the 8 nil thrashings Dragon inflicted on a number of the other teams this was a good start.

Thomas Leissing in for the tackle

Thomas Leissing in for the tackle

One game off and back on again this time against the Celtic Warriors strong contenders to lead the tournament overall, however they struggled. At half time the score was 1 nil to them before a goal from Matthew Coulson brought the equaliser. Play for the next five minutes was pretty even with both sides having a number of attempts on goal. However a last minute ruckus in our zone went against us and they were given a free shot right under our goal leading to a final score of 2:1.

Aggressive sprint from Thomas

Aggressive sprint from Thomas

Two games off this time where some food was consumed and Chris Booth and Sophie Louth manned the table before taking on Avon E from Bristol who had some new body protectors in bright orange and green (they are reversible so you don’t need bibs). The first half started well for Oxford with some good attacks on their zone and a number of shots on goal, some of which went high but the majority of which were saved. However Avon also had a number of attacks on our goal and although they had some issues with the rule which prevents attackers from touching the keeper one of their three goals stood, so one nil down but fighting.

Sophie Louth setting up for the goal restart

Sophie Louth setting up for the goal restart

Sadly at half time Avon established Oxford’s greatest weakness, the team has lost the goalkeeper from last year and haven’t yet trained a new one, so Jack Laverick stepped in but without any training and due to Oxford’s lack of a permanent goal to practice with Laverick had his work cut out. Oxford progressed well at the start of the second half setting up an attack and getting Booth in position for a beautiful shot off the keeper’s paddles and into the top of the goal. This seemed to spur Avon on and they mercilessly abused our lack of keeping strength taking a higher number and riskier shots than they had done previously (or would be wise against a strong keeper) and left us with a final score of 5:1.

Jack Laverick dribbling

Jack Laverick dribbling

Two more games off and then a game against Bridgend C; one of the only teams to bring subs (or children or supporters). This was a very wet game for Oxford and Bridgend due to binning; the legal practice of capsizing a player who has the ball. Thomas Leissing started the games with a strong sprint winning the ball (as he did in most of the other games) and with Booth who had supported was able to press into the Bridgend zone rapidly and put their defense under strong pressure, with Louth coming in to take a shot which was saved but the resulting corner was converted into a goal by Booth. Booth and Louth worked together as chasers routinely taking the ball of the Bridgend players, resulting in Leissing and Coulson repeatedly sprinting from defense to attack as their superior masses are best utilised in the zones, it is just a shame they are at opposite ends of the pitch.

Matt Coulson trying to bin himself

Matt Coulson trying to bin himself

In the second half Booth attempted to grab a loose ball to his side by diving on it but although the self binning tactic didn’t quite work Laverick picked up the ball and passed it back to Booth who had promptly righted himself to score for the second goal of the match.

The last game was against Bristol Pittbulls a significantly more experienced team than Oxford who used superior strength, speed and tactics to win 3 nil.

Chris nimbly dodging the opposition

Chris nimbly dodging the opposition

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Hilary Varsity Postponed

Cambridge have postponed Varsity (1st March) due to unpredictably high levels that are currently making the Cam unsafe. More information will follow when Cambridge give it to us.

Apologies to all who had planned to attend, however there are exciting White Water and Polo trips on offer in replacement, see emails and the forum for information.

Div 4 – who would have thought water would cause canoeists such problems

So 3rd week saw the canoe polo A team challenge teams from across the south west for the third time this season at the mighty sport. Sadly it wasn’t our day.

The afternoon began with a drive wade to the shed that was worrying and even more so when the sailors from next door had said the water had risen a foot in the last hour, would we ever escape from the shed let alone make it to the tournament? Luckily we did.

Boats loaded we headed for Cheltenham, via the 5 pence toll booth, I got lost in Cheltenham again, reassuring theme. Tried to reverse in sixth gear and then nearly took our Chris’ car with my bonnet that was longer than I thought, but we had made it, we unloaded, changed and started to warm up thinking we had half an hour until our first match. Sadly not, a couple of teams hadn’t shown and they messed around the playing order resulting in us playing first which wasn’t ideal. Our first match was against Bristol pitbulls and our heads weren’t in the game, and although Joachim scored a great goal, bouncing off the keeper’s paddles and into the top corner we still lost 6-1.

One match off to get our heads screwed on and ready for our next match against the mighty foe, Cardiff Bs, easily the strongest team at the tournament. Although we played stoically with some great saves from a number of our players, and two strong goals from Eike, Cardiff came in for the killing putting 8 shots away in our net.

A bit more rest and some much needed food prepared us for our last official match of the day. Avon E’s the target, they looked our best hope of securing a win that day. We suffered heavily from some terrible reffing, but Eike was able to put away a good shot in the first half and we defended well only letting two in. During the second half a player from Avon made the mistake of spectacularly underestimating the ferocity of the ref and got sent off with a yellow for two minutes for asking for clarification about a foul. Sadly we weren’t able to take full advantage of this as the Avon players stalled for time. However Joachim scored two more goals but Avon were able to match them bringing the final score to 4-3 to Avon.

Eike retaliated to the poor reffing by pulling up the previous ref on a number of points during the next game, although he perhaps could have pulled out a red card when the player threw a water bottle at Joachim’s head when asked to remove it from his BA.

We played a few scratch games which was good for our technique but we ended up staying longer than we intending, resulting in us not getting back to Oxford until 10pm. Probably not helped by Jack’s navigation taking us a truly scenic route that got us high enough that the wind was so ridiculous that when Tom and I got out to check the straps we could hardly open the doors for the force of the wind pushing them shut. As we approached Oxford we started to drive down Binsey lane and the water was worryingly deep. By the time we got to the gate for the track it was pretty clear we didn’t want to go down it by car or foot, the water was not just sat on it a foot deep as it had been in the morning it was actually flowing across it.

So we returned to drier land, but Tom wanted his bike that was stranded at the gate by the flood water, so Chris drove slowly through the floods while Eike held the bike steady out of the window, it was quite a ridiculous site to see ( video to follow).

The boats and kit needed to go somewhere as the cars needed to go back to the hire company etc without it. So Matt agreed to brave the wrath of his scout and Tom his housemates to take the boats, while I took the BA and smaller stuff knowing full well that my scout would kick up a fuss, but given I think that is her hobby I wasn’t too concerned.

With all that sorted I returned the hire car just after midnight, having spent 15 mins at the petrol station trying to work out how to open the fuel cap before giving up and poking it at which point it opened ( typical).
If you would like to get involved with Polo email me ( the polo captain), my email address should be on the committee page, and you will be welcomed onto the squad.