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Issue 1263 : Clubs & Societies

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Published on Friday, 9 May 2003

Boats Trains

There is always one. This time it was Little George Adams who rushed back home to get his passport because his mother had forgotten to pack it. Meanwhile the rest of us waited in the minibus at Putney, knowing that any chance of us getting the 3.30 ferry was all but gone.

The 800-mile drive from London to the south of France would be boring in TVR’s mighty 4-litre Tuscan S, but in a crammed minibus towing a 4-ton trailer at a maximum speed of 60mph (downhill with a following wind!) was about as tedious as it gets. I think everyone of us wished we had forked out the extra 50 quid and flown instead.

The aim of the boat club’s Easter training camp was to get lots of training done without the usual distractions of being in London. Obviously you don’t need to go to France to do that but might as well combine all that hard work with a chance to have a little holiday and top up the tan! Our relief at arriving in the sunny picturesque town of Agde having completed a day and a half of travelling through France was short lived as Coach Dennis informed that over the next 9 days we would do 24 training sessions, during which we would row 250km. So the routine started, 2 sessions before lunch and one in the evening, with the occasional “easy” day when we only trained twice. The only good news was that for two of those sessions we were playing football and basketball instead of rowing; this turned out to be not a good idea after all as the characteristic rowers’ lack of co-ordination left us rather prone to injuries.

The training centre at Agde was on an 8km stretch of river, lined on both banks by thick trees. This would be ideal for rowing because the river is sheltered from the wind, were it not for the series of hairpin bends which some members of the squad found too great a challenge. Hugh Mackenzie made scouring the undergrowth for any sign of life a regular occurrence, emerging from various “bushes” with the odd botanical specimen. The meandering river meant getting the best line whilst racing against each other was critical if your crew was to win. Dangerous and aggressive steering seemed to be the order of the day, and by the end of the camp most crew had learned to stay well clear of Ali as she weaved from bank to bank, taking no prisoners as she “defended the racing line”.

Accommodation was at a holiday centre, 10-minutes drive from the river. The food, a key factor to a good training camp, was excellent… except for the vegetarians who lived off the varied diet of boiled, scrambled, poached and fried eggs. Also staying at the centre was the rowing team from Abingdon School who humiliated us at table tennis. (probably because our team was weakened by the absence of Hugh who had sustained an arm injury during a particularly heated table tennis match earlier that day!)

To give the coxes a bit of practice at getting the racing line round corners we went go-karting. King of the track was Foxy, only hindered by the traffic jams behind Ali and Little George Adams as they struggled to reach the accelerator.

With both the men and women’s squads on camp together some members of the group were hoping for a bit of romance. As inhibitions were reduced after a few drinks it became apparent that both Robin (the bionic man) and Pieter had an admirer, a fellow C&G teammate. Circulating rumours about Foxy’s alleged cox fetish still remain unconfirmed.

The focus of the whole week however was the local regatta on the last day. Given the standard of the event anything short of total dominance of the event would probably have been an embarrassment. Any face lost through a poor performance at table tennis during the week was soon forgotten as the men won the eight, coxed and coxless fours and pair while the women won both the single and double. The excitement of the hoards of French supports on the riverbank rose as word spread of the presence of IC coach and Sydney Olympic Champion, Simon Dennis. Coach D was soon busy signing autographs and at the end of the day proudly announced that he had doubled the number of autographs he had signed since Sydney to a phenomenal 8!

George Whittaker

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