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Senior and Dev squads escape to France!

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For some it’s the highlight of the season, for others it’s a bit more of the same thing in a new location. But for everyone it is a real opportunity to make a stride on the competition ahead of the regatta season. 2016 was a bold move for the Town’s senior squads – firstly, the recent venues of Banyoles, Brive and Varese were cast aside in favour of Soustons in the far south-west of France, and secondly, for the first time in many years they organised a joint men’s and women’s camp… And in case comfort zones weren’t sufficiently infringed, we invited a load of students along too, from Imperial College School of Medicine.

Despite some teething problems on arrival – no, we did request the twin rooms; yes, we would like some racks; no, tractor tyres are not ideal for racking our eights; yes, that applies to the rugby pitch fence, too; ok, we’ll make do – it was a hugely successful first visit. The conditions on the lake, which is frankly what we had travelled all the way for and paid all the money for, were superb. Each morning, almost without exception, was mill-pond like and even the midday breeze didn’t scupper many plans and by late afternoon tranquility would return – that is before the pre-dinner pieces started… The Tideway it was not, and that was just what the Doctor had ordered. The women’s squad got to play with their new Filippi coxed four, which was collected en route on a French motorway services…

Camp also provided the opportunity for a some from the men’s and women’s development squads to come and join training with the senior squads – and although a bit of a baptism of fire (first 2k test on day 1 for the men), it was an excellent opportunity to begin integrating the groups and thinking longer term.

The proximity to the lake was a huge benefit of the location, compared to last year’s hikes from Lago di Varese, which gave ample time to sleep between sessions – or for the uber-keen (or should that be tres-keen?) to have a cheeky play in a single. Poor wi-fi meant the worries of home stayed at home and left minds to concentrate on the rowing, but just to make sure we didn’t all take it too seriously, the women’s squad had resurrected Fun Committee to provide an evening challenge after dinner each night. If anyone expected the men’s squad to be too mature not get involved, they would have been proved very much mistaken as the words “Easter Egg Hunt” broke into the evening air and a pack of fine athletes from both sexes began searching for all manner of chocolate goodies…

In summary, lots of rowing, lots of fun, lots of sun. Bring on Summer!