This January from the 3rd-10th, PCBC took 34 of its number and 4 alumni coaches to Seville, Spain for an intense week of training to kick start our lent bumps campaign. This was the first trip of its kind that the club has done (well certainly in the memory of anyone currently rowing) and I think it’s fair to say that the training camp was hugely successful. We also launched it at the very reasonable and incredibly attractive price of £150 per person, which one rower pointed out was cheaper than spending the week in college! This was made possible by generous subsidies from alumni, and from our sponsors, King & Spalding.
Perhaps before launching into the camp itself, it’s worth talking about the inception of the idea. Last year we struggled with numbers, and we diagnosed the problem to be that insufficient numbers of students who learn how to row at Pembroke continue on after their first year of rowing. A few of the members of the previous committee met to discuss how this issue might be addressed. We decided that more needed to be done to persuade rowers to continue rowing through the colder months of the year. We settled on the idea that a sunny interlude was the way forward! So with accommodation booked and sunglasses, sunscreen and copious quantities of Lycra packed we set off to Sunny Sevilla!
We arrived on the evening of the 3rd, late and with all the hallmarks of 40 people who have been crammed into a Ryanair flight: hungry, tired, and not so fresh. Luckily we were greeted with meals, showers and beds, so everyone crashed out ready to face the first day of training.
Firstly we took the opportunity to explore the complex. All our meals were fully catered by the canteen, the complex had two gyms with free weights, a multipurpose sports hall, and an erg room. However the main selling point was the 5km stretch of straight, wide, flat river, including a marked out 2km course.
We had hired 4 boats to use while we were out there from the Centre, so we spent the first half of the morning adjusting just about everything you could think of on the shells. However, by the time we were ready to go, the only bad weather of the week had moved in and the conditions were too bad to get on the water. So we spent the rest of the day using the extensive facilities, including some technical erg work, circuit training and a core strength session.
Having not managed to get on the water on the first day, everyone was raring to get out there. We started out mixing the crews: putting less experienced and stronger rowers together. This gave everyone the chance to get back into the swing of things after the Christmas break, and for the coaches to get the chance to look at everyone. On camp the women’s coaching was headed up by Matt Stallard and Eddy Flower, and the men’s coaching by Adam Lister and Alan Marron. Everyone got over 25km of rowing in across 2 outings on the first day, before we retired for a film night after dinner.
The second and final day in mixed crews gave the coaches the opportunity to correct discrepancies in technique, and judge rowers on their technique so they could be sorted into provisional first and second crews for the remainder of the camp. In the evening a load of students went to watch the Epiphany march down the street of Seville. An amazing occasion where a huge parade of floats roll through the streets with revellers throwing sweets from tops.
We had two sessions to get used to the new crews. Lots of paddling and some experimental higher rate bursts made up the body of the outings. The 7th was a particularly warm day, with sun throughout and a peak of 25˚C. The coxes were mixed between the crews, giving everyone a chance to experience different coxing styles, and the coxes an opportunity to work with both men’s and women’s boats.
As well as the outings, the crews were given the afternoon off to explore Seville. Activities ranged from stocking up on more food at Lidl to visiting the bullfighting arena. One group even held a mini- regatta with some small wooden paddling boats they hired on the river
The river was slightly windy, giving us a good chance to practise getting a heavy boat moving into a headwind. Really gets you ready for when you round the corner into a boat stopping wind on the reach! Everyone went out in the evening to a bar in Seville to wind down after a hard day’s work.
Final day of rowing. All crews did timed pieces on the 2km course at free rate, to implement all the gains from the week into some rowing. The coaches were impressed by the huge strides that both individuals and crews managed to make during the week.
The camp was a fantastic opportunity for all the members of the club, giving everyone a chance to improve their rowing, get to know each other better, and get a bit of tan before returning to Cambridge!