RRC VP, Justin Thomas reports on last weekend’s training camp.
I hadn’t attended a ‘country ‘ camp for a couple of years but while I was looking forward to it some mixed memories came flooding back, not least my first camp at Bairnsdale which seems an eternity ago now. The huddling into a cramped cabin out of the fickle Gippsland weather, the long and exhausting final row and most unpleasantly being on a floor level bunk when the guy above threw up after a big Saturday night. However when I arrived at the spacious cabin with a balcony overlooking the lake I realised that things were going to be different.
I arrived at the trailer early the next morning I was met by a solitary but significant figure; it was Jane Robinson our new coach mentor. I had heard about her but never met her and as I chatted with her as others arrived I knew this was someone who could bring invaluable help to us. The first session though had its problems, the presence of single scullers on the course prevented RRC from going up and down the course in the respective lanes. While one aim of spring camp is to bring us together as a club the temporary and high speed union of the senior women’s eight and the coxless quad into a twelve was not what was intended. When the session ended and the video analysis begun we were relieved to see Gerry walk in, albeit with an ice pack.
Many commented on how useful the video analysis was, even if the analysis didn’t directly concern them. Some of the less experienced rowers found it a valuable lesson in seeing that even the most experienced rowers at the club had technical faults and everyone was trying to improve themselves as rowers. The next session focussed on the technical output from the video session but the wind across the lake remained strong. Partly because of this the final session on Saturday was on the beautiful Goulburn River and it was my turn amongst the coaches to accompany Jane in her boat. As we weaved our way through the RRC flotilla I picked up valuable insights as our boats powered upstream. But as our boats turned I heard shouting in the distance and a desperate paddle was being waved in the air from a stationary power boat upstream. Our reluctance to leave the rowers was (just) overcome by a sense of civic duty and we gave four members of the local intelligentsia a tow. When a jet-ski appeared with the petrol they needed they sped off and Jane vocalised a little frustration that their lack of planning had impacted our coaching but I remembered something from my upbringing, Matthew c7 v1 to be exact “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” and sure enough as we neared the women’s novice eight our engine spluttered and died. A Yelled conversation over 500 metres with their cox Jim Cooper informed him of our plight and he was eventually able to despatch some passing Bogans to our rescue. In the meantime I found myself being paddled along the heavily wooded Goulburn by a former Olympian sat on the bow of her power boat, with me carefully listening for the sound of engines…or banjos.
The evening saw an excellent club barby at the cabins in front of the lake with Peter Schouten a veteran of many such events at the forefront (thanks also to chef Charlie and Barry). It was the rowers turn to refuel and looking at the fridge in one of the men’s cabin a fair bit of refuelling was planned! I got to speak to my rowers individually (it wasn’t a confessional as some suggested!) but my evening ended on a low point when Vicki Brennan told me her cabin was having a party and I wasn’t invited. I trudged home and cried myself to sleep.
The next morning saw another long row up the Goulburn this time Derek was my tinny companion and it was great to get his perspective on the rowing we saw. The camp finished with handicapped races on the course, all in the sunshine that we had been lucky enough to enjoy for the whole camp. As we packed away Jane commented on how impressed she was with our club, how people like Barry, Dennis, Jim Nicole and others would row, cox, drive tinnies or do whatever was required to make the camp work. She was particularly impressed by the mid-stream cox swap in a bow coxed racing four! I have a feeling that her expertise and our fantastic volunteer spirit could make a powerful combination this season.