Monday, 20 May 2013

Alkmaar 2013

A weekend of sunshine, beer, old friends and windmills… what could be better!?!? Members of Minerva Bath ventured across to their twinned rowing club of ARZV in Alkmaar, to compete and hopefully bring the Challenge Shield to Bath. There was an excellent turn out for this weekend away (19th - 22nd April 2013); this year Minerva Bath sent out three eights, one women’s and two men’s. 

The Resurrection of the GODS
Race preparations started early for some on Friday, making sure they got the extra early flight to Schiphol, Amsterdam, to wet their whistle with plenty of beer and to start the collection of toilet tokens - with Mr Andy Hoyes being in charge of them. If memory serves correctly, a total of 30 tokens, just from one session of drinking!  The majority of people reconvened at a lovely little cafĂ© in Amsterdam, near the station, overlooking one of the many waterways in the city, prior to heading on to Alkmaar as a group to collect our bicycles and meet members of ARZV. For a few, this was their first time out in Alkmaar. After a pleasant cycle to the rowing club from the station, riding along on of many cycle ways through the city and passing four windmills in glorious Dutch sun, we were greeted at the club by a complementary beer followed by the traditional Chinese takeout! The beers were certainly flowing on the first day, with Minerva’s tab starting to add up… at the end of the evening everyone cycled off in their different directions to their gracious host’s houses.
On Saturday morning, the three crews went out on the water to prepare for Sunday’s race.  The water was beautifully still, the sun was shining and only a gentle breeze through the air… if only the same could be said for rowing in England! The afternoon was kicked off with a coach trip to the traditional and rather touristic seaside town of Volemdam. Some decided to carry on their race preparation and head straight to a pub, while others decided to walk about the town, sampling local food, avoiding the touristy photo shops whereby you could dress in ‘traditional’ Dutch dress and have your photo taken, head to the cheese museum and, of course, sample a few beverages! All in all, it was a nice relaxing trip to the seaside, before heading back to Alkmaar. The evening’s activities were kicked off with a visit to the Beer museum, and a wealth of rather odd sounding beers, then onto the Mexican buffet restaurant - tequila anyone?

Women's Masters 8
Now for the most important day, Sunday, judgement day. The day when Minerva’s pride is at stake. The chance to win the Challenge Shield at ARZV’s 30th AA Race. It is fair to say all three of Minerva’s eights raced their own race… a comfortable, albeit tiring, row from the women in the first division; a to be expected performance from the revived god’s crew (20th Anniversary); and an interesting row from the other men’s eight, which included emergency stops and at one point blades colliding… but enough about the racing… there was an amazing atmosphere at the club on race day, lovely meatball sandwiches, apple strudel and beers! Evening came, and as the other racing clubs packed up to head back home, ARZV began to set up the barbeque and get the drinks flowing, ready for one last evening prior to Minerva returning to the UK. There’s nothing better than having a barbeque in perfect sunny weather, overlooking the water, after a race. That evening was also the award ceremony for the Challenge Shield - won this time by ARZV - and the presenting of the wooden spoon to Minerva’s very own king of faux pas’ Mike Ashman… let’s just say he won the wooden spoon before even leaving Bristol Airport to fly out to Alkmaar, and his list of mishaps just kept increasing!

As always our massive thanks go out to ARZV for hosting us once again, and to all those who organised the events and in particular all the hosts that accommodated us over the weekend. It was a weekend thoroughly enjoyed by all that went, and we look forward to welcoming the Dutch to Bath in the Autumn.

James Camp

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