DC's sports

Pictures of some of the things I've done when not working
At school I was not at all academic, but it was a very sporty school but luckily I soon found I liked rugby. I also liked the  competitive cross country runs we had every week, winter and summer. School rugby team, from the archives. The school tried to emulate Gordonstoun with huge emphasis on sport and discipline. That sort of Spartan upbringing sounds old fashioned now.  . There was a lot of kudos to being in the first rugby team. Being quite tall, I had an advantage in the line outs. Another school archive picture of senior boys rugby match (my school in white). Clip of first year rugby at my school. February, 1967
The only known picture of me at school (with a lot of hair -mostly gone by the time I was 40) One of very few pics of me in action, 1950, age 13. We had boxing every week from age 11. It was a shock at first, but I was reasonably good at it and looked forward to every lesson. This was in the 3rd round of a match betwen  two 11 year-olds in Liverpool (Neil Sinclair in red trunks). It's absolutely typical of boxing at the age I first  got into the sport. A short clip of Neil Sinclair in action (age 11). Neil had been boxing since he was 9 and had great technique. I was lucky to start young too.  The whole fight is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRCCtyJRdLY As we got older and stronger the boxing  got harder. Some kids hated it, but I was addicted by then. When people asked why I liked a sport where the aim was to hurt your opponent, and to show you could take pain bravely ,  the answer was "because it tests you better than any other sport". Another archive picture, The ring set up for the annual school KO contest. This was a first round juniors fight (hence the small audience)
This is the only picture of the senior school finals in the archives.  When we reached the senior level  we'd developed some serious muscles so the fights got much more competitive.  I think I  preferred boxing to rugby  because it was one-to-one. When the bell went, you had nobody but yourself to rely on.  If you won, it was your own courage and endurance that did it. As an undergraduate in Leeds I had to do a lot of catching up on intellectual stuff, so I had no time for sports apart from a bit of country walking. This is Malham Cove. During my PhD in Edinburgh. I went back to boxing as relief from the lab. The Leith Spartans club gave me the chance to do some  Golden Gloves style contests (this is 1962) My ambition was to reach the Olympics (this is 60s), but I was never good enough. First serious sailing. 1966 Beachy Head, from rented Caravel (with Humphrey Rang). Soon after arriving at UCL I bought Mehitabel, a 21 foot sloop (and so could barely afford to eat). Here she is moored in Middelberg, Netherlands, after sailing her from Thames estuary to Vlissingen, 1967.
Tired seagull takes a rest in middle of the North Sea. Sailing the passage between Jethou and Grande Fauconniere (Channel Islands, south of Guernsey). Mehitabel 1, 1967. Mehitabel I. Repair after hitting underwater wall in Versemeer, off Zeebruge, Netherlands. Mehitabel 1 moored for the night in Piefleet Creek, Isle of Wight 1967 First car 1969, Mercedes 190SL. Before going to USA (1970 - 1972), I had to learn to drive. Camping in the New Forest Spring 1970.
At Yale, I learned to fly, mostly in this Yale Aviation Piper Cherokee. 1970 - 72 Jenny, my girlfriend in USA, was the first woman I'd met who competed in combat sports.   For my birthday present we went to the 1971 Golden Gloves. The quarter-final between Peter Wood and Larry Gigliello  was amazing (right). 1972, Home from USA on QE2, with my Mustang  convertible  in the hold. QE2 arriving in Cherbourg harbour. Next stop Southampton. Needles lighthouse. Taken from Cessna 150, with one hand, while flying solo from Eastleigh airport. 1973 Linda 1973 (girlfriend after I got back from USA). She was 6'1", a mathematician, high jumper and a very competitive ju jitsu fighter.  We seemed well suited but her taste in music ended it and in 1974 I met Margaret.
My last serious competitive fight was in January 1974, in Southampton. At 37, I was past my peak, but I'd  enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. When people ask why I loved such a crazy sport, all I can say is that it was that I liked it  because  it's crazy: a sort of primaeval urge to face danger.and win. Mount Rainier, from Boeing Field, Seattle, 1975 I flew this Cessna 150 from Boeing Field, Seattle, to Friday Harbour Island, then on to Vancouver International Airport. The only time I had to use a transponder. 1975 Waves breaking over Alderney Harbour wall, taken from Mehitabel 2.  We got in just in time, heavily reefed. Forecast said Force 11. September 1976. Launch of Mehitabel 2. Lowestoft 1973 (with HPR) Mehitabel 2 somewhere in the English Channel.
Mehitabel 2, moored in Moody's boatyard Mehitabel 2 in the Solent.  MAC (at helm) and DC Mehitabel 2, moored in Lulworth Cove, Dorset. May 1974. Eating on Mehitabel 2, St Peter Port. Guernsey, 1975. Lezardrieux, North Brittany, for a couple of days, waiting for rudder to be repaired after uncomfortable night hooked on spider crab pot, coming into port in dark. 1980. Margaret rode a llama round the ring of the visiting mini-circus. Moored in Lezardrieux after rudder repaired. Ready to sail back to Dartmouth. It was a beautiful 24 hour sail, a broad reach the whole way. 1980
Dartmouth harbour. Arrived after 24 hour saiil from Lezardrieux. View of Dartmouth harbour, looking towards sea (from Bayard's cove) Mehitabel 2, at mooring on Buckler's Hard on Beaulieu River, 1981 In 1984, son was born. I could no longer afford a boat so I sold my share.  Sailing was rather sedentary and 10 years after giving up boxing and rugby, I wanted to do something more physical again.. I started running competitive half-marathons and full marathons. This was the Elmbridge half marathon, 1 hr 31 min.  Not bad. The Frutigen - Adelboden Berglauf was one of my toughest runs: It was uphill the whole way, on mountain paths in cloud and rain. The vertical climb of 2400 feet was a great challenge. 1981
My best training partner for marathons was sports journalist, Annie Briggs. She was fiercely competitive and super-fit. She'd run marathons under 3 hours.. We never ran less than 20 miles and sometimes more than 30. That made a huge difference to my fitness. Sadly she died age 58, from breast cancer. Bridlington, with Andrew 1987. Running on the beach felt like Chariots of Fire. With Andrew in Bridlington, 1987 London marathon 1988, waving to M and Andrew, at about 22 miles. Finish of London marathon 1988, 3 hours 57 min (about an hour behind Annie), London marathon 1988, after finish.
Back briefly to sailing again, on Ranworth Broad, 1994 (AC, age 10, in dinghy). After 2000, running gave way to walking. In 2001, for 65th birthday, I walked across the Alps from Germany, through Austria to Italy. This is approaching Seescharte, with Memminger Hütte far below. The Zammerloch path was long and quite scary. Memminger Hütte (2242 m) - Seescharte (2600 m, 8530 ft) Patroltal (1600 m) - Zammer Loch - Zams (780 m). At the end of the Zammerloch we had to get down this cliff into the town of Zams (Austria) View from Zams. It isn't obvious how we got down from Zammerloch (the cleft on the left). Mountain walking involved some scary paths, so decided to get some rock climbing training in Chudleigh, Devon.
Near the top of the cliff at Chudleigh, Devon. We'd  climbed from the bottom of this sheer cliff, on via ferrata. Stuff like this was almost as good as boxing for conquering fear The cliff climbing experience was useful on paths like these Just past Passo Cir, Dolomites 2005. Far side of Passo Cir, Dolomites 2005. Approaching Passo Crespina over steep scree slopes, 2005.
After 2000, I did a lot of hikes, mostly in the Chiltern hills.  Here are GPS tracks colllected in 2007 (excluding long western extension to Avebury (end of the Ridgeway). I bought this Smart car roadster in 2006. A sign of the male menopause? POSTCRIPT. My first boat is still going. An email from Dr. Philip Bailey (an inorganic chemist from the University of Edinburgh) said he bought her from a fireman in 2003. This is her moored in Peterhead (north of Aberdeen) Mehitabel 1, refurbished and relaunched in Peterhead. Personally I prefer the original dark blue hull to bath toy white. Boats last a lot longer than cars. I have no idea where she was between 1970 when I sold her, and 2001. The state if my spine in 2009 shows the long term result of fusion of L3 and L3 in 1995. It's a miracle that I can still walk at all. But it was good while it lasted.