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Camp Hard : Spring Camp 2013 : Day 5

22 Apr

Today was the last day of camp!

A slight change of plans to the day, as the coaches wanted to get one trailer of boats back to the club as early as possible, so after breakfast, and once packed we all headed to the club. Here we were split into groups for two outings.

Those not on the water first thing would be derigging boats for the trailer.
I went out in the first outing with the first 8, as bow – my usual seat in that crew!

Everyone was feeling pretty exhausted, and many had aches and pains, so the outing was only about an hour long. We started off with practicing of racing starts, which seemed to go quite smoothly, and we were able to pick up speed pretty quickly. Our cox, Caroline, then tried a routine of moving through the different stroke lengths, but square bladed. Starting with the full stroke, down to three quarters, half, a quarter, arms and bodies and then just arms – then building it back up the other way.
The balance was pretty good, given we were doing it as all 8, whereas the normal routine is done just with stern four or bow four at a time.

Once Caroline was happy with how we were doing, she then took it down to rowing in sixes so that we could power stroke back up to the club.
It was a good outing, and so a good end to a very long weekend of rowing!!

After that we got involved with the derigging, as one trailer was sent off with a few from the squad to unload and rig back at the club.

Given that the work was split in half as half the squad was busy, we finally finished tying on the last boats at 3pm, and so were able to get on the coach back to London an hour earlier than planned.

It only took 3 hours once back at the club to rig the boats back up and get them back to their rightful homes!

A few from the squad went out for dinner at the local Thai restaurant – those clever enough to have booked the Tuesday off work! – however along with those that hadn’t, I headed off home to unpack and have an early night!

Here’s to next year’s Spring Camp!

(Fingers crossed, as an intermediate, rather than a novice!)


Camp Hard : Spring Camp 2013 : Day 4

21 Apr

With little warning, today’s session was off with a boom!

The coaches decided that we would be doing seat racing, as this is something we need to get used to. (see Terminology for seat racing).

Without realising, the seat racing took up a good two hours worth of on-the-water time. We swapped out all but two members of our boat, with the sixth race being the last, in which stern pair were both swapped over.

The sun was hidden by cloud for most of this, and as it was flat out racing we were all soaked by the end of it!!

The coaches let us dry off and change, before giving us a post race chat. They explained the reason for seat racing
squad races, and the fact that race crews can change as late as the night before a race – with as many as 50% of the seats changing! The faces at that point suddenly dropped as realisation kicked in. Although it is meant to be a friendly and social club, Thames do focus on the competition – therefore for racing crews is also competitive.

After all the drama of the seat racing, and once everyone had warmed up again we got on to the mixed boat racing.


Squad Racing



Names were written on strips of paper and put into ‘hats’ – aka small containers found lying around the club!

Races were drawn across the different boat sizes, depending on who had trained in what prior to Sunday. Therefore crews were mixed – boys and girls from any of the crews. It was also a first opportunity for some to race in the single sculls.

I was picked for one eights race, and watched the rest. Then just as we thought the racing was over, one of the girls shot up into the crewroom to call the girls back down. It turned out that the coaches and coxes on camp had decided to form a crew and wanted to race!

Noone knows if the coaches had been preparing for this in secret, or if it was a last minute idea, but my crew and I were exhausted after all the mornings racing and weren’t particularly prepares for another race, let alone against ex-rowers!
Turned out that it was to be the second women’s eight, the second men’s eight and a coach/cox eight.

We all lined up, staring out the opposition, and got our game faces on!
Our squad were marshalling and gave the orders. ‘Ready? Attention Thames … Go!’

About twenty strokes in, I felt a bang on my blade and turned to see the coaches’ boat had veered right into us! As I was about to take a stroke, the other crew were mid-stroke which forced my blade forward and I almost hit my shins.
Lots of shouting from the crews followed – the expected drama from a bunch of coaches and coxes!

Anyway, we restarted the race, although due to the water and the inability amongst the three boats to line up efficiently enough, the race was restarted with the boys boat ahead and waiting for our girls boat and the coaches boat to row by and join the race. As a result, it wasn’t a particularly long race – probably 1200m! The boys boat finished far ahead of us – but they may have had a slight head start as to when they joined the race! Our girls’ boat came second, beating the coaches by about three seats! There were loud cheers from the squad, for beating the coaches – the coaches of course blamed it on a crab or two that they’d caught, but they should know better – ‘tap down’!

Races carried on after that till about 6, with lots more small boat racing, therefore those of us not racing went up in to the club house to dry off and warm up.

After we finished off at the club, we headed to the local pub for a squad dinner. The coaches had arranged for us to eat at The Swan in Pangbourne – just a couple of houses away from the club. We had a three course meal here – Jon arrived a little later and came round the tables to tell everyone we were allowed a drink this time, so the girls and I on our table shared a bottle of red with our meal – we didn’t need any more than that, as our tolerance levels are pretty low given the amount of training we’ve done in the past few weeks, regardless of the amount of carbs consumed in the past 24 hours!

It was a really lovely evening, and a nice end to another long day! Once we’d got the train back to the hostel, it was gone 10pm, so pretty much straight up to our rooms and off to bed ready for the last day!

(With the compulsory dorm-room chat before bed, of course!)

Camp Hard : Spring Camp 2013 : Day 3

20 Apr


So they well and truly ruined us today!

It’s been a long day, and were all in bed early again feeling like we need the sleep. In fact tomorrow we have a lay in – breakfast is at 8.15 – thank the lucky stars!

After yesterday’s drama – being caught down the pub by our coach (i wasn’t even boozing like the rest!) – he’d told us we wouldn’t be rowing today, but when he finally turned up to the club, he seemed fairly cheerful and in a good mood. He told us that what happened would be forgotten about, but that he would make us pay for it today – and that he certainly did!!

Racing Starts

We had a long steady rate 18 row up to the weir and back, with a short break before getting back out there to practice roll ups, and racing starts. Mid session a footplate came off, and so we came back to the club to fix it and in doing so our cox took us to the pontoon slightly too quickly and took part of the bottom of the boat off!

Anyway! We got back in the boat and back out to row for another forty minutes or so before being told we would be racing! Not only was this sprung on us, but the fact it would be against the women’s four, we became ratty defeatist pretty quickly!

Anyway, with gritted teeth we sat ready,

‘Thames Four, Thames Eight … Ready … Attention … GO!!!’.

We hit off to a great start.

A bit like sitting at the lights next to another car though, over the first few strokes the lighter boat with the fewer bodies shot off a little quicker than our eight, but once we got through our racing-start drill of 8 3/4 slide draw-ups, and started to lengthen out we soon caught up, came level, and finally overtook them.
As we got to the finish point, I looked over to see the other boat slumped and looking pretty exhausted, pulling in just behind us. We were all pretty surprised we managed to keep up the pace, and keep them off us right to the finish.

As we turned around to come back down we noticed all the other boats sat waiting to race, lining the banks of the river. It seemed funny, seeing as in the races we’ve had before all of the other boats marshalling have been from other clubs.
Like chavs, it seems the other crews cruised up and down the stretch of river picking races against other boats!

Unfortunately we didn’t get to see any of the boys’ crews racing, and not long after turning we pulled up against the pair in the scull. It turned out they had been left out of the coaching that morning, and that they hadn’t been involved in any of the racing too, so we set up to race them.

Ted explained to them how to manage a racing start, and lined us up. We set off with four or five good strokes, and before we knew it, we were hit by the pair. Having kept my eyes in the boat, I didn’t see them, and so had no idea they were getting close, so it wasn’t until my blade struck the boat that I realised, and by then I was unable to get it out of the way, and unfortunately was forced up and over their boats, and subsequently over their heads. For a second it looked like the pair were going to roll in off their boat, but they kept hold of their blades as we managed to pull away from them and they kept themselves afloat.

Once the pair had calmed down, we had a couple more racing starts with them, before moving onto racing the boys eight – of which we lost to.

After all the excitement we had a gentle paddle back up to the club, followed by lunch out in the sun, before heading to the train station for Henley.

Henley Rowing Club


Once in Henley, we headed straight for the club, where we dropped off our kit and made a swift change before the boys were sent off on their outing. Us girls – led by Ted! – went off for ice creams, and then walked the course of Henley. We saw the boys go by and cheered them from the banks, had a few photos taken and then headed back to the club for our outings.

Jon had arranged for us to borrow Henley’s boats, and so the first eight took the sweep and my crew took one of the two octuplets that had been lent to us for the afternoon.
Tim was our cox, and we left the club and headed out towards the town centre – by all of the riverside pubs that at the time were swamped with sunseekers! – for the start of the race course.

The row up was a bit wobbly – not all in the boat had sculled before, and so for the first kilometer or so the blades were kept running on top of the water, but as we got out passed the town centre Tim pushed us to keep the blades off of the water.
As we got to the beginning of the course we came across Ted on his bike, who cycled beside the river to coach us.

It was a really nice outing, but given the effort and energy spent earlier in the day, you could feel the slump in the boat, as it chuffed along! Tim kept pushing for us to get our legs down, and send the boat away … there wasn’t much send!! There was nothing left in the tank, and by this point most of us were exhausted and really aching. I especially felt it in my back, and with sculling having a straight upright back usually comes quite naturally for me, however I was really struggling to keep upright!

Tim gave us multiple options as we got close to the end of the course, however our stroke decided it was too much for her back and so we headed back to the club.

As our outing had been shorter than planned, we then had the option of either getting an earlier train or staying in Henley for another hour. And so to the pub we went!

Diet cokes, home for dinner, and bed!

So a few us headed to the pub – Angel on the Bridge, for a cheeky diet coke, and to soak in the sunshine before heading back to the hostel. We had a good giggle, and Ted told us more about  his experiences at Henley when he raced.

Once again, an early night in Room 5 – we’re all exhausted and the evening has flown by.

Bed at 10.30pm!

Camp Hard : Spring Camp 2013 : Day 1

18 Apr

So were all in bed, getting some zzz’s ready for what looks set to be a long day tomorrow!

Today started off with the rigging of boats, followed by a short outing, lunch, another outing and then over to the hostel to unpack, before returning to the club for a third outing at 6, dinner at the hostel at 9, and now in bed for half 10!

5 Day Camp Plan


Train Hard : Sculling Camp – Day 2

31 Dec

Single sculling, a quad



(to be updated!)

Train Hard : Sculling Camp – Day 1

30 Dec

A full day of rowing – 8.30 till 5.30

Set up the octuplet, single sculls and a quad

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