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NBC Scullers Take Top Honors in Amsterdam

Amsterdam/March 14 & 15: Dan Gorriaran, Eric Watne, John Cotter, and Mike Smith put their years of rowing and fitness training throughout the winter to good use when they entered the Heineken Roeivierkamp (Regatta) in Amsterdam. The pushed through an incredible set of races to finish on top as members of the Cambridge Boat Club’s entry. Below is Eric Watne’s account.

The regatta officially ‘opens’ rowing season for the year in the Netherlands. Since it is timed for early March, it straddles the transition from winter sports to summer sports. The regatta features races that reflect distances used in speed skating - a sport the Netherlands dominates: 250m, 750m, 2500m and 5000m. The regatta is primarily for 8’s however there is a women’s 4X event. Boats are grouped by age and range from high school through university and masters for both men and women. The races are held over a two day period on the winding Amstel River which runs through the center of Amsterdam.

The regatta incorporates a unique scoring system: the winner of the regatta is the boat that maintains the lowest 500m split over all the events. What is quickly learned is that the 250m event is the most critical, because if for example you finish second in that event by 1 second, you need to beat the winning boat by 20 seconds in the 5K just to maintain an overall tie. In other words, you need to match the 500m split they rowed in the 250K sprint for the entire 5K race. >asters race 2500m on Saturday and then immediately get into a queue to ‘match’ race another boat for the 250m race – which looks and feels like a drag race on water. All racing is for time.

The 5000m race is held the next day, and is seeded with all masters 8’s interspersed together in one flight with slowest boat from Saturday starting first and fastest last. Eric is certain that they got that idea from our Head of the Seekonk that we row on many Saturdays in the fall. Unlike our Seekonk event, the Amstel is a very narrow river with boats moored along the edges, so with the faster boats push ing up and through the slower boats, it leads to some seriously tight racing.

Cambridge Boat Club (CBC) has been bringing at least one boat to this regatta for 19 years. This year they brought 3 boats; a D, E and F eight. (50, 55 & 60) The Cambridge “D” boat was bookended by Mike Smith at stroke and Dan Gorriaran in bow. There were at least 5 HOCR winners in this boat. They won the 250M and were second in the 2500m setting them up in first overall going into the 5K Sunday. They then completely smoked the 5k course beating a Netherlands D crew that has never lost this regatta by over a minute taking overall event honors.

In the men’s “E” event, Eric Watne stroked a CBC boat with John Cotter in the 3 seat. There were only 2 CBC oars in the boat (2 NBC oars, two from Minneapolis, a Canadian and a Norwegian). Kit Wise’s stepson Christopher Boit from CBC was the coxswain. The E boat also won the 250m as well as their 2500m race Saturday. On Sunday in the 5K race they beat the next fastest E boat by 13 seconds, but fell to 2nd due to a 15 second penalty for “leaving the course.” Regardless, the E boat also won their overall event.

In the “F” event Charlie Hamlin stroked a CBC boat of Team Attager alums that historically have won a number of HOCR titles. They finished 3rd in all 3 of their races and third overall. It might be just coincidental, but there were no NBC studs in the F boat.

Sunday night after racing, all three boats retired to a quaint restaurant on one of Amsterdam’s canals for a great dinner, lots of toasts, boasts and roasts and promises to return next year. The dinner is an annual event generously hosted by CBC stalwart Chuck Pieper. All in all it’s a great and well run regatta – it was nice to get out of New England and finally row on the water.

>Here are some links for more information about this regatta and more results: www.roeivierkamp.nl, www.facebook.com/roeivierkamp