From Bex Marshall
The Dutch national rowing championships takes place at Muiden Pampas, a large village 20 mins by train from Amsterdam. As well as gigs, you row against whalers and sloops. Bristol took a ladies crew and arranged with Praa Sands club (from Cornwall) to lend our boat to them for the Mens’ races in return for them towing it out to Holland. They had a spare seat so our Andy joined their crew. We flew from Bristol to Amsterdam then caught the train out to Weesp, then taxi for 4km to Muiden. Everyone stays on huge barges moored along the race course and dinner on Friday night was served to the international crews in the Royal Yacht club which was very fancy but still cheap!
Racing started Saturday morning and consists of staggered starts, with the whalers going first and the gigs off last. You start with 3 other boats and head out towards an island, which you loop round and then come back in along the canal. The races are about 40 minutes. After a bit of settling in after an immense start, we got our timing sorted and finished strongly. Then the men raced (and Sarah coxed), after that was our 2nd race and the boat went really well. Nicki coxed the men for their 2nd race. Then it was party time in the massive marquee with bands, euro-pop and very happy and friendly Dutch people.
Sunday mornings’ race was delayed by an hour due to the fog, where we floated around the marina, nursing our heads to the ‘oompa’ band. It turns out that rowing is really good for a hangover! We finished our race and came 7th overall being the highest placed international women’s crew. After the trophies were handed out, it was out in the village for a lovely meal and more beers in the pubs. We are really grateful to Nathan & Clare for towing the boat and to Dave from Mevagissey for coxing us.
It was ace, requires a bit of determination to make it happen, but I can’t recommend it highly enough and you should all put it on your rowing bucket list.