Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Alkmaar 2011 Challenge Shield

Crews from Minerva have been visiting and competing in Alkmaar, Holland for over 20 years.

Why Alkmaar?
Basic explanation - Alkmaar is twinned with Bath

Historical explanation - Towards the end of WW2 in 1944/5 Northern Holland was by-passed by the main thrust of war – isolated but still under German occupation the population was close to starving. The people of Bath hearing of their plight raised funds for air drops of food and clothing, the rest as they say is history.

Where is Alkmaar, and how do I get there?
Holland – about 40 minutes North of Amsterdam. There are flights from Bristol (KLM + Easy Jet) to Amsterdam. Once in Holland the trains to Alkmaar are frequent and cheap.

Isn’t it really only for the older club members?
A really important one this. NO.
What keeps the exchange vibrant and worthwhile is ensuring that we get a real cross section from both clubs to join in, whether as hosts or guests. Alkmaar has a large women’s squad and are particularly keen to challenge the Minerva ladies.

I can’t afford it
Ok, so we are in a recession and the £ is pretty weak but there are return flights from under £100 (you will have to fly early in the morning to get these prices) and all you need is pocket money for beer and food.
If you look on it as mini holiday it’s a bargain.

I don’t speak Dutch
Their English is infinitely better than your Dutch.

I am a bit freaked by the thought of staying in a stranger’s house
Exactly what the set up will be varies from host to host but in this world of predictability and packaged experience it’s apparently good to live a little.

I am training and planning for rowing world domination in 2011, a weekend on the lash in May might upset my preparations.
Apart from the argument that a change of scenery is likely to do all you chiselled Adonis’s good, the Dutch have no shortage of water to row on (something to do with most of the country being below sea level). If you are so minded you can spend all Saturday rowing on the network of canals and double up(=13Km) on race day to compete against crews from across Europe

I am not training and planning for rowing world domination in 2011, and a weekend of rowing in May might upset my preparations for quietly going to seed
You’re in luck! you don’t have to row if you don’t want to.

Can I take part in the rowing even if my usual crew can’t all make it over?
Absolutely. It’s great if you want to race as a crew but it’s very rare that those who want to row don’t get an opportunity.

Still not convinced, want to phone a friend? Talk to Mark Smith or Mike Ashman or anyone who has been on a previous trip and check out the Minerva web site for reports from previous years.

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