Touring


 

Santa Cruz Rowing Club
European Rowing Tour 2015

Report by Joe Hoffmann

It was a dream come true to bring my friends from the Santa Cruz Rowing Club to row the beautiful rivers in Europe. And so in July 2015 a group of eight rowers left for a visit to the famous Henley Royal Regatta and for a row on the Thames in England and the Weser in Germany.

We arrived for our stay in England at the River Inn hotel in Maidenhead in two groups. One group visited London first and the second group traveled directly from SFO to Maidenhead via Heathrow.

 

Henley

The first full day in England was used to recover from the flight by taking an easy train ride to Henley where we visited the River & Rowing Museum with its galleries dedicated to rowing and rivers, followed by a walk along the river to the city center.

The following day we visited one of the most celebrated rowing events in the world, the finals of the Henley Royal Regatta (HRR). We dressed up for this event in accordance with long established tradition (and dress code) and enjoyed a wonderful day at the regatta. Our hosts Caroline and John Turnbull from the Wayfarers Rowing Club are stewards of the HRR and graciously helped us to purchase tickets for the Stewards Enclosure, the grandstand near the finish. One of the highlights was a race between Yale and Washington State University with Yale as the winner. The day ended with a traditional afternoon tea at the regatta restaurant.

 

Thames

After witnessing the regatta, we were eager to get into our boats and enjoy a row on the majestic Thames. We rented two quads from our host club the Wayfarers Rowing Club in Waybridge and launched the boats at the Thames Valley Park Rowing Club in Reading for a three days, 43 miles row down the middle section of the Thames to Waybridge near London. Each of three rowers from the Wayfarers Rowing Club (Annette, Allan, and Roy) joined us on a daily basis and Michael O’Dwyer from St. Michael’s Rowing Club in Limerick, Ireland rowed with us as well.

Along the river we learned the art of locking by navigating 16 locks. The Star Spangled Banner was raised at the first lock near Reading for US rowers and we thanked our host John for this grandiose gesture. For overnight landings we stored our boats at Bisham Abbey, a 13th century manor now a sports center and at the historic Eaton Excelsior Rowing Club. We enjoyed luncheons at charming pubs along the river. Other highlights were a row along Windsor Castle estate and a visit to the boat yard of renowned builder of wooden racing shells, Carl Douglas. We also visited Dorney Lake, the rowing lake for the 2012 Summer Olympics owned by Eaton College.

Our row on the Thames ended with the return of the quads to the Wayfarers Rowing Club and a heartfelt “Thank you and goodbye” to our hosts Caroline and John.

 

Weser

A beautiful sunrise over the Thames sends us off to the second part of our tour, the Weser in Germany. A short flight from Heathrow brought us to Frankfurt where we strolled through the city center on to the “Roemer Platz” with its medieval buildings and the city hall. The visit to Frankfurt ended with a luncheon at a typical German beerhall where we were introduced to the local food and beer. A three hours bus ride north brought us to our base location, the Weserhotel Schwager in Holzminden. We were surprised about the modern accommodations of this newly renovated hotel located near the river.

The six day tour on the Weser started at the Hannoversch Münden Rowing Club where we rented a quad and a double, each with coxswain, and ended 83 miles down the river in Hameln. My friend Ole from Denmark joined us on the second day with his Kayak. He had paddled the Willamette with us in 2011. While descending the Weser we passed forest-covert hills with meadows and forests, cozy timber frame towns, numerous castles and abbeys and an occasional nuclear power plant. We enjoyed lunches in idyllic restaurants and beer gardens along the river. We also visited the historic Fürstenberg China Factory and the UNESCO Heritage site of the Imperial Abbey of Corvey. Our tour ended with a farewell dinner at Bevern Castle which at one time belonged to the Baron of Munchhausen.

All good things have to come to an end and so on the last morning of our tour two vans brought us back to Frankfurt Airport where we said goodbye to each other and everyone flew home or visited friends and families in Germany. We agreed to row in Europe again in the not so far future.

 

For information about upcoming SCRC rowing tours, please contact Joe Hoffmann at joe_hoffmann08@att.net.

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