Rowing Blues’ hard graft in Spain

Ricardo Herreros-Symons 12 February 2014

The CUBC training camp in Banyoles is a crucial part of the Boat Race calendar for technical and physiological advancement and crew selection. In order to squeeze the fortnight in before term started the squad flew  out on the morning of New Year’s Day with most athletes having to truncate celebrations the night before, while a select few who were not blessed with such foresight endured a less comfortable flight which had more than its fair share of turbulence. Once flights, coach transfers, trailer unloading and rigging had been seen to the group retired in preparation for the gruelling training load that lay ahead. The key to a successful training camp is squeezing in as much volume and intensity without pushing the oarsmen beyond their limits to the point of injury and mental breakdown.

With few injuries and only minor breakdowns the balance seemed about right – although 'training goggles' (much like beer goggles) became gradually more apparent and was pinpointed as the driving force behind the production of an upcoming CUBC partnered stretching calendar. The food at the hostel could be considered satisfactory although the continual appearance of sausages and SPAM squares on the menu did dishearten some of the more gastronomically extrovert rowers. As the week wore on and the need for extra meals increased it is fair to say that Banyoles kebab shop saw a substantial spike in sales. While the sunshine was intermittent, the rain stayed away and pictures coming in from diluvial training camps in the UK certainly helped lighten the mood.General opinion amongst coaches and rowers alike was that this had been one of the most successful camps of recent years, although no session quite topped the perfect paddle of '09.

Furthermore, fewer boats were crashed this year and only one iPhone stolen. Once retrieved using "find my iPhone", Jason Lupatkin decided to exact his retribution on the culprits by miss-kicking their football and then ignominiously falling, clothed, into the lake. One moment of controversy occurred when coxswains almost came to blows over who should be leading the dynamic warm up as the BBC looked on, although, despite a strong performance, the right to do so was finally wrested back by Rosemary Ostfield from Arav Gupta after she came from behind to win the 4th (and notably lengthened) edition of the Banyoles pontoon to pontoon to pontoon annual swim race. The consensus amongst the squad was that Arav's decision to switch to backstroke for the final leg was a fatal misjudgement.

Overall Banyoles provided an excellent platform from which to push on and develop the rowing rhythm and pattern. Back in Cambridge the squad is together, the boats are shifting and the dice have been cast, Oxford can do as they like but the onus is very much on them to respond.