NBC’ers Boost CBC Boats To Top Honors in Holland March 13, 2016

Amsterdam/March 12-13: This year marked the 45th anniversary of the Heineken Roiverkamp hosted by Nereus Boat Club of Amsterdam. The regatta mimics speed skating distances given the timing of the regatta is the transition from the skating season to the rowing season. All competing masters’ boats take part in a 250M drag race style sprint, a 2500M head style race, and a 5K head race, all held on the Amstel River that bisects downtown Amsterdam. 2016 is momentous since it represents the 20th year that Cambridge Boat Club has participated. While CBC sent only one 8+ the first year they attended (and for many years after) the popularity has grown to the extent this year there were 4 CBC 8’s and 3 women’s 4X’s competing. On the men’s side there were a D, E and two F eights. (50, 55 and 60 boat average respectively)

The D eight was bookended by two NBC studs: Dan Gorriaran in bow and Mike Smith at stroke. Sitting between them were four Olympians and everyone in the boat has at least one Charles gold medal. Needless to say they lived up to their CV winning the event including all three races – the 5K in the fastest time of the day by all masters boats in all age classes.One of the F boats was also bookended by NBC sweeps; Kit Wise at 2, John Cotter at 3 and Eric Watne at Stroke. (The other F 8 was largely the Team Attager boat that has scored many HOCR wins with Charlie Hamlin, Fred Schoch and Chuck Pieper aboard.)

Saturday March 12th was the 2500M race followed immediately by queuing up for the 250M sprint past the Nereus Boat Club with live announcing in Dutch. The D boat won both their 2500M race as well as the 250M sprint. The F boat won their 2500M race, and was 3rd in the 250M sprint by one tenth of a second.

In recognition of CBC’s 20 years participating, Heineken invited CBC to a dinner at their historic brewery in downtown Amsterdam. We were squired there in the Heineken launch which picked us up at Nereus Boat Club and dropped us off at the front door of the brewery. Not too much Heineken product was consumed however as we had the 5K race early Sunday morning. It was a great time and CBC recognized the hosts with gifts of swag from past Charles regattas.

Conditions were sunny but cold at the start the next morning. The dynamics of this race (and for that matter the entire regatta) is unique in rowing. Boats are queued by finishing times from Saturday with slowest boat first and fastest last with all classes intermixed (a la HOTS). There are hundreds of eights jammed together in a rather narrow river/canal waiting to be called to the start with coxswains cursing and cajoling in Dutch, German, Italian, French, etc. In the backdrop are Dutch windmills, boathouses and townhomes with hundreds of spectators on bikes and motor scooters.

Loosely grouped in starting order one by one the 8s peel off as each club’s name is called to the start and power up as it passes the starter’s station.The D eight won their 5K and the F eight with NBC sweeps was 2nd which resulted in an overall 1st in their division for the D eight and 2nd for the F eight. The other CBC eight (no NBC sweeps aboard) finished 6th overall.

Sunday night was the annual dinner/drink-up/toasting/roasting hosted by Chuck Pieper at a wonderful quaint restaurant on one of the canals which closes to the public for the occasion.

There may be a time when there’s sufficient interest at NBC to field an 8 to enter the Roiverkamp, however in the meantime we’re happy to be honorary CBC members in order to participate in this great regatta in this great city.

Many thanks to Eric Watne who provided this firsthand account.

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