Having trained for months, abstained from alcohol for weeks, made all possible preparations, and endured 10 hours spent crammed in a minibus with the delightful odours of male rowers and tupperware filled with dodgy pasta, the news of HoRR 2013’s cancellation was met with disbelief and disappointment by the squad as we rigged our boats on Putney Embankment in the Friday morning’s freezing rain.
The GUBC men had a decision to make, as some clubs began packing up their trailers to return home, and others simply turned around on the motorway. After a short meeting we agreed unanimously to stay through till Sunday and make the most of our time in London. Even if we couldn’t race we could certainly get some rowing done, regardless of what the weather was going to throw at us in the coldest March in 50 years. With a long row on the Friday afternoon, and a
gruelling double session on the Saturday morning (still in the freezing wind and snow) the weekend certainly came to earn the “Arctic Hard B*st*rd Training Camp” nickname coined by some squad members.
Notably, even while rowing in such esteemed company as the Cambridge Blue Boat, and the Czech Rowing Association 8+, to name just a couple, no other crew on the tideway notched up as much mileage as GUBC, and arguably nobody else matched the squad’s resilience and commitment to the purpose of the weekend. In such difficult circumstances, this commitment and enthusiasm was very striking and admirable, especially from the novices who displayed very un-novice-like professionalism and togetherness. Most memorably, five seat of the second 8+ Robert Simmons, in his burning desire to row through the Arctic weather, cast embarrassment into the biting wind and resigned himself to borrowing coach Iain Rice’s cherished pair of golden, sequin-embroidered leggings.
Having made the most of the rowing opportunities afforded to us on the Tideway, even without a race the squad had certainly earned the chance to make the most of the opportunities offered by the legendary HoRR Saturday night. As the pre-race drinking ban came to an end, every member enjoyed a tipple, and by the small hours, a good time had been had by all.
So, despite the lack of racing, by the time of our return on Sunday it was generally agreed that the weekend’s trip had been worthwhile. Indeed it served to prepare, and motivate the squad even further for the coming regatta season, where results will vindicate the hard training done thus far. For making the trip possible, thanks must go to Thames Rowing Club for providing accommodation, to all the drivers of the minibuses, to coaches Rice and Hayhurst for ensuring we got plenty rowing done despite the apocalyptic weather, and especially to coach Hayhurst who once more added to his thousands of miles of trailer towing experience. We couldn’t forget the heroine of the return journey, Mrs Sharon Fostyk, mother of senior four-seat Niall, who provided us with a glorious spread of delicious carbohydrate and meat protein when we stopped in scenic Bolton on the trip home. Commendation must also go to the squad in general, for showing great determination in the face of unfortunate circumstances, and in the words of coach Rice, for showing everyone else there what Glasgow are all about.