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Sons on Tour 2003

The inugural Sons training camp took place in Agde near Montpellier last week. Since the concept of a training camp was a somewhat alien one to a club better known for its late season regatta partying than its enthusiasm for early season training the choice of venue and training programme and mix of personnel was crucial. Not for Sons the rigours of pre-breakfast outings, lights out curfews or a single sex camp, but rather a trip portrayed as a holiday down in the south of France - close to both the Mediterranean and a major wine growing region.

The holiday illusion remained intact until all 34 rowers were safely both ensconced at the camp and tucking into the free wine thoughtfully provided with lunch - expecting only some light boat unloading that afternoon before the next free wine could be sampled with dinner. After several carafes (in some cases each) had been consumed, they were greeted with the news that there would be rowing for all that afternoon - up the full 6500 metre stretch of river.

The week settled into a regime of three training sessions a day, but with 'essential' time off for trips to the beach and for wine-tasting tours on the team coach. There were also time-keeping lessons, with one female oarsperson noted for her lateness twice being locked in the accommodation as the coach was about to leave, and steering lessons on a winding river. The worst collision witnessed was somewhat fortunately between a married couple - which meant the discussion of blame attribution could safely be left to the marital bed.

Video sessions provided some salutary lessons to all - but none more than to one coach who noted 'that boat's got potential, it's just the crew that's holding it back'. He's still failed to explain what he meant. Meanwhile another coach was keen to encourage a broader element to our outdoor education with some bird watching lessons. On his noting at dinner that he had seen a kingfisher that day, a certain Cambridge educated rower responded that she had seen something that looked like a penguin. It was just about possible that it had escaped from the local zoo - but it was unlikely to have been perching on a branch…the coach found the solution later in the week when he saw a shag on the very same tree.

Scope for shags of the more conventional Sons variety was limited by the dormitory nature of the accommodation and the near non-existent soundproofing. Necessity however is the mother of invention - but what goes on tour stays on tour. There is no hiding, however, from the amount of partying, with photographic evidence all to the fore. The veteran women's room became the 'residents' bar' - with the coaches keen to ensure a congenial atmosphere for the older members of the group after training. One rower however seems to be taking this to extremes here by filling up her water bottle with something which certainly isn't water

Another room was designated the party room - for cross training as partying will henceforth be called at Sons and at which the men are subject to weight training sessions. click on image to view

Cross training was also evident down on the river where the men were spotted doing some very strange things in the trees, while the men's and women's captains nearly missed the bus back after disappearing into the woods one afternoon for yet another version.

Next year's trip is already being planned with suggestions of a venue getting increasingly imaginative - and with Spain, Bulgaria and Slovenia all candidates. Meanwhile Sons are back to reality and a cold, wet and windy Tideway - just like the river Herault…..

Copyright © London Corinthian Sailing Club, 8 May 2003