2012 World Masters Regatta at Duisburg (6 - 9 September 2012). Duisburg is an industrial city in the western part of the Ruhr, so not the picture perfect German town of gingerbread houses and ruined castles. It does, however, pride itself on hosting outstanding sports facilities in a vast park and this was where the regatta was held. Before the regatta, however, we stayed for a few days in the Hafen area of Duesseldorf, with its architectural gems –the ‘wonky’ buildings were not the result of too much local beer, but the creation of the American Frank Gehry. Besides, our rowers were watching their alcoholic intake and, once the boats borrowed from a local German club had arrived, were keen to get on the water for a few training sessions in the relatively safe inlets of the harbour.
Team GB, as we came to be known by our delightful landlady, comprised Arnold and Klaus, Tim Lincoln (Henley RC), Tony Stokes (Broxbourne RC) plus Helen Cooke and me –the rowing WAGS and self-appointed fan club. Our B and B hotel was located in Angermund, a town some eight kilometres or a ten minute train ride away but, in truth, it was an hour from door to door, with all the walking involved, so once we arrived at the sports park we stayed put for the day. Over 3000 rowers from 44 nations, 394 cities and 543 rowing clubs participated which added up to a vast number of boats arriving and congestion with the trailer traffic. Boats were parked according to size which meant that we couldn’t keep all our boats together and had to traipse between them to adjust rigging and check on blades etc. But, in the end, it all seemed to come together.
Instead of the leaden skies which are often a feature of the area, the sun shone and temperatures rose each day. Arnold and Klaus in a G2- were the first to row on the Thursday and Roeivereniging Breda were correctly assessed to be the main competition; however, the Minerva pair was ahead all the way and won with more than a 7 second lead. Success came in both the H4- and H4+ races on the Friday. In the H4- Arnold and Klaus (bow side) and Tim and Tony (stroke side) beat the much feared Occoquan boat by six seconds, once again having led all the way. The afternoon race, the Cox Four, followed a similar pattern with a decisive lead over a US composite team (Avalon RC/Alaska Midnight Rowing Association) and the young cox, a fifteen year old local lad, was thrilled to receive a medal with the golden oldies. On Saturday, Arnold notched up another medal with Tim in the H2x as the double rowed to a clear victory leaving an Occoquan/ Cambridge BC team trailing in their wake by almost 10 seconds. The final race for Klaus and Arnold, an H2- , was on the Saturday afternoon and much was at stake here - especially for Klaus whose German family came to cheer him on. This could have been a case of split loyalties as Klaus’s son-in law is from Geissen and it was a Geissener RC/Wetzlar RC boat that gave them the toughest competition; even so, it was still a ‘clear water‘ win of seven seconds.
Last year, Arnold and Klaus went to the Masters in Poznan and came back empty handed; this year they won every race they entered and returned with a handful of inscribed glass medals (Arnold won five and Klaus four). What made the difference? In Klaus’s words, ‘Training, training, training,’ and ‘Never give up’.