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Boat Club Winter Training Camp

Thursday 09 February 2017

Impressing both our new and established rowers, our winter tour to Lake Iseo in Lovere, Italy proved to everyone the improvements to be gained when we combined hard work, dedication and the perfect location. Where in previous years, a winter camp had proved too difficult in chilly Scotland, the equally low temperatures were a small price to pay for the kinds of conditions that allowed for the consistent training that we need but often eludes us. Senior Women’s Captain Charis Evans reviews the camp below:

Boat Tour 3

The women’s squads had a fantastic week of training at Cannottieri Sebino over the final week of the Christmas holidays. With the squad having spent over a month apart enduring a gruelling training schedule all over the world, reuniting at Milan airport attested to the strong bond of all teams this year.  Full of energy and ecstatic to see each other once again, the two-hour coach journey to Lovere was not a quiet affair.  We arrived late in the evening to what we thought was a desolate town, with freezing temperatures that many of us had blissfully escaped over Christmas. The realisation and excitement were immediate - this was not a holiday. We were here to train.

We stayed in the local Ostello, a mere two-minute walk from Cannottieri Sebino, our host club. The first morning, we were somewhat shocked by the sight that greeted us:  a 40km flat lake, no winds, blue skies and towering snowy mountains surrounding us in all directions. Enthusiastic for what seemed a perfect rowing location, we spent the first morning rigging our boats off our trusty trailer, driven all the way from St Andrews, and that afternoon we started our training for the week.

Boat Tour 1

Three water sessions a day in a combination of eights (mixed and women’s eights), fours and pairs. Before every water session we would meet in the gym for stretching and our range of mobility circuits. Our first session of the day was an early morning 16-20km paddle beginning at 7am. As soon as the session was over, we whacked the boat onto trestles, had a quick debrief and raced to the hostel where we were provided with a lovely breakfast every morning of meats, cheeses and most importantly, cake.

Around 11am, we would return to the boathouse for our second session of the day, a short technical session before lunch. This would either be a drills session, such as working on blade placement or the rock over, in smaller boats or in Sebino’s water tank at the back of their boathouse. The tank proved invaluable and really allowed us to grasp precise technical points. Multiple coaching launches meant that we could also get some great video footage for technical analysis, which we generally reviewed in groups during this session too.

The local restaurant, La Campagnola, took us in for lunch and dinner every day. Every meal we were presented with an abundance of classic Italian foods - it’s safe to say we definitely didn’t go hungry, although by the end of the week most of us were craving a few more vegetables!

Boat Tour 2

Our final session of each day consisted of shorter, high intensity timed pieces. Due to the width of the lake, we were able to have multiple boats racing each other, sparking our competitive sides. We tested out different combinations and also made use of the great conditions for seat racing towards the end of the week. Our evenings were quieter affairs, as everyone was knackered from the days training. Occasionally we’d venture out to find some Italian gelato but it was early nights for most considering all of our early starts.

Winter tour this year was one of the highlights of my time at University of St Andrews Boat Club and I hope that our established partnership with Cannottieri Sebino continues to flourish. On behalf of UStABC I’d like to thank Cannottieri Sebino, Ostello del Porto and La Campagnola Ristorante for hosting us and we look forward to returning next year.” 

Charis Evans, Women’s Captain 2016-2017

The importance of a winter training camp should not be underestimated, particularly for the University of St Andrews Boat Club, where our facilities have been and, despite a move to Loch Ore, continue to be a challenge for us. However, this gives our athletes a sense of resilience not necessarily experienced by other clubs, and as much as we gained from our time in Sebino, it was the combination of attitudes and facilities that yielded the best results. Our dreams of a boathouse came true for a week, with the addition of a gym and indoor tank thrown in to really give us a taste of the good life. 

Boat Tour 4

Lovere was the perfect place to further develop and refine the work we’ve done during the first semester before our racing season starts gearing up. We were able to perform long steady-state rows and short burst pieces to increase our conditioning to be able to race at our peak fitness of the year. With such easy access to flat and beautiful water we’ve been able to get much more water time and use it to our advantage to try seating arrangements and work out what we’ll be racing at our bigger BUCS events coming around the corner.

Lovere provided one of the most successful camps the club has had in many years, and it is down now to our athletes to make the most of it across our upcoming races. There’s not much left to say except for Grazie mille!  on behalf of the entire club to our new Italian friends!

Photography by Alex Shaw Photography and Charlie Fling

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