Issue 86 9th September, 2010

Dear Members of the Royal Family,

Hope you have all benefited from a therapeutic break and are ready to face a new round of athletic endeavours. We have plenty for you this time, so let’s get on with it.

Welcome back J-B

Jean-Benoit returned from his world travels with two very creditable results to embellish his rowing resumé. In both the World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic and the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, in which he competed in the double and the single respectively, he progressed through the preliminary rounds and missed out by just one place on a passage into the semifinals. His official results were 17th in the double and 14th in the single.

As a mark of his achievement, take a look at the boats which trailed in behind him over the two competitions: Argentina; Austria; Bulgaria; Croatia; Czech Republic; Estonia; Japan; Korea; Latvia; Lithuania; Poland; Portugal; Singapore; Sudan; Switzerland; Tunisia; USA. That’s a lot of territory to conquer.

Happy New Year

September 1st, of course, marks the start of the New Year at the Royal, you’re all back from your holidays (apart from one intrepid voyager who’s still in Madagascar), we’re reaching the twilight zone for evening rowing and … the annual subscription is due. Reminding you what fantastic value you get for your money, the figure is unchanged from recent years, at just €175 for full rowing membership. If you want to combine with other sports, ask for a tariff.

While the club officials are not heavy-handed about payment ‘on the nail’, you are expected to be in order by mid-month, and most definitely if you want to race in Hazewinkel or the LFA, you should be paid-up by then.

Where the money goes

If you go down to the Club today, you’re sure of a big surprise … Not one, not two, not three (oh, get on with it) OK, five shiny new boats will be arriving in the biggest fleet upgrade in the Royal’s history. The new acquisitions consist of three singles, a pair/double and a coxless four/quad. Most of these boats are aimed at rowers towards the lighter end of the scale, where we currently have lots of talent but a lack of suitable equipment. So that counts me out, then.

Next question – where can we put them? Well, it’s almost Winter and there is some high quality firewood on our racks …

Seriously, come along this evening if you can make it. Helping hands could be needed to get them out of their wrappers. In any case, if it’s fair, enjoy one of the last chances of an evening row, if it’s dull you can make an early start on Winter land-training. Or just come along to toast the new arrivals with a drink at the bar. It might be a year or two before the next five new boats arrive.

The drawing-in of the nights

While the clocks don’t change until the end of October, we won’t be rowing in the evenings for much longer – a lot depends of course on how soon you can get onto the water and how bright the day has been. But remember that, throughout the dark evenings, the lights of our gym continue to shine brightly.

Yes, folks, Winter Training isn’t just something done by other people. Come along to the Club, particularly on a Tuesday or a Thursday evening, and you will find company among the ergos and the weights machines, and possibly in the bar afterwards. You may even find you enjoy it – after a fashion. And of course you can stake out a place in the Royal Winter Ergo League (see below).

And for those using public transport …

There’s been a small but significant improvement in the accessibility of the Royal. You probably won’t have realised, but there’s a bus that comes almost to our door – the no 57. You won’t have noticed it because it only runs, Mon-Fri, during the morning and evening peaks. However a small change to the timetable means that the last buses of the day now run later, and there are departures from Gare du Nord at 18:00 and 18:30, transiting Van Praet (where you can connect from trams 3 and 23) nine minutes after that and arriving at stop ‘Marly’, just by the Royal, at 18:15 and 18:45 respectively.

For bus enthusiasts out there (in any given population there’s always at least one) this is a chance to ride on Brussels’ rarest and most elusive bus route – another incentive to come along to winter training.

And for those not using public transport …

Don’t forget it’s No Car Day in Brussels on Sunday September 19th. Which means that, if you live outside the city you will have to leave your car by the Pont de Buda and walk 800m – don’t worry, there will be several other cars there (most with bicycle racks as out-of-towners come to enjoy the freedom of the city) and all will be within the view of the policeman on the barrier.

If you live inside the city you can find out just how your less-privileged fellow rowers get there, and what’s more do it for free. Not only that, you can catch a glimpse of the fabled ‘hidden village’ of Neder-Over-Heembeek, which can only be seen from the windows of a 47 bus.

Thanks to Damien for opening the Club on No Car Day. T’was not always thus.

Home from home – Hazewinkel ‘10

In case you’ve just arrived from another planet (or Madagascar) the last big rowing event on our calendar is the two-day regatta which the Royal organises on the national course at Hazewinkel on the last weekend of September, which incorporates the eights and fours events of the Belgian Championships. This is an occasion which is not only enormous fun (… when the sun shines … as it has for the last two years …) but is also a showpiece for the Royal and its organisational abilities – two good reasons for everyone to participate who possibly can.

A large contingent, not only rowers but from all sections of the Club, will be going along to give a helping hand, but also to enjoy time out in what is one of the country’s most attractive spots. Many of us will be staying in the on-site chalets – for a ridiculously low price – finding time in between tasks to explore the local bike routes (and the local pubs), training or just paddling on the course in the early morning or at the end of the afternoon, and enjoying a communal dinner on Friday evening and a barbecue on Saturday – as well as, of course, participating in, or supporting, the RSNB crews which will be rowing.

The powers-that-be will need to know who’s going for planning purposes as well as organising accommodation etc, so look out for sign-up lists in the boathouse or contact Marc.

Oh no, it’s the Winter Ergo League again

Undeterred by the miserable turnout over the last two years, I’m persevering with the Winter Ergo League again this year. To remind you, all you have to do is to row a 2000m test on the Concept 2 (at the Club, in the gym, at home or wherever) any time – or as often as you like – between the start of October and the end of March. Your scores will be scientifically adjusted for sex, age and weight to make sure that only Andy anyone can emerge victorious.

Regular progress reports will be posted in the Newsletter – assuming there is progress to report – and a full ranking will be posted end-December and at the final reckoning in March.

To remind you, Jean-Benoit took Andy’s title away from him last year but this year he moves up to the Senior ranks where his benchmark score will be tougher, while Andy is going all-out to recapture his crown. But are there any surprise candidates waiting in the wings? The excitement over the coming six months will be almost unbearable.

Run Baby Run

Rowers, of course, are naturally talented in most athletic disciplines, except those of us who row because it’s the only sport we can do. So we’re naturally excited about the opportunity to take part in one of Brussels’ biggest sporting events, the Acerta Brussels Ekiden, on October 16th (never heard of it, I hear you say…).

Well since you’ve never heard of it, it’s a marathon run by a six-person team in relay, and last year 600 teams took part. Basically, it’s run on a 5km circuit which starts and ends at the Roi Baudouin Stadium and the format is that the first, third and fifth team members all run one circuit, the second and fourth do a double lap and the last one runs a circuit with an extra 2.2km loop to bring it up to the full marathon distance. There’s nothing to stop individual team members running more than one stage.

Rebecca is raising a team and would be happy to receive further expressions of interest. Although she already has several volunteers – mostly ladies – there’s no reason why the Royal couldn’t enter two teams. So please contact her, it might be helpful if you let her know if you’re up for the 10km circuit.

Note that there is a (not insignificant) participation fee, with the receipts going to a good cause (asthma research, this year) and the entry deadline is October 2nd. For non-runners, it’s nevertheless an impressive spectacle to watch the start, the first relay hand-over and/or the finish, at the stadium, which will be fully and freely open on the day.


Aficionados of the haiku may have detected a different hand at work in our introductory three-liner. Today’s effort is supplied by Rebecca. If anyone else should like to have a go (même en français, bien sûr), you are most welcome.

The same goes for any contribution to the newsletter; regular readers will know that its usual author suffers from a lack of imagination sometimes …


Issue 85 27th July, 2010

Dear Members of the Royal Family,

Well into the holiday season now, which means that the temperature has dropped, the grey clouds have rolled in, and you never know from one session to the next who is going to be missing, or who will be back after their break with a sun-tan and a gloomy back-to-work expression.

Some of us haven’t had our hols yet. Will it be short haul or long haul for you this year? Here’s someone who is doing both …

Rowing all over the world

It just gets better for Jean-Benoit. He will be flying the flag for Belgium in two forthcoming global events next month. He and partner Levi from KRC Ghent will be contesting the double sculls at the World Junior Rowing Championships on 5th-8th August at Racice in the Czech Republic, and then just a week later he’ll be in Singapore for the first-ever Youth Olympic Games, where he’ll be Belgium’s representative in the single scull.

We wish our lad all the best. These representative honours are a reward for the hard work and dedication which have brought him seven regatta wins so far this year, including of course the National Champion title in junior singles. Go J-B !

Where were you?

Once again we had glorious weather for the Chicken Party, the food was as good as ever and the tombola prizes even tackier than usual – so where was everybody? While it is enjoyed and supported by the other sections of the Royal, this is an event primarily by and for the rowers, not least because the receipts go into the rowing budget.

So it was a disappointment to see so many empty places and (not to see) so many missing faces. We pride ourselves on being a social sport – our friends from SNUB like our company well enough to have turned out in embarrassingly large numbers.

We can do much better – as I hope the turnout for Hazewinkel in September will demonstrate. Not to mention this weekend …

Volunteers needed

Belgium’s big international rowing event this year is the Coupe de la Jeunesse which takes place this weekend at Hazewinkel. The Coupe is a regatta for national teams from 12 European countries (but curiously not the strongest of them all – Germany), pitched at a level just below that of the Worlds.

Anyway, the Royal is hosting a Saturday-evening dinner for the race officials at our clubhouse. Since the participants will represent the crème de la crème of European rowing blazerati (except the Germans) we obviously want to put on a good show.

So – any help will be most welcome, on Friday from early evening onwards, throughout the day and in the evening on Saturday, and in the clearing-up phase on Sunday morning – Sunday rowers, can you come along a little early?. If you can help prepare salads or appetisers, please volunteer your services to Solange. Otherwise it would be helpful to communicate your availability to Marc to help in the planning.

Coming shortly: the rest of the year

As most of you know, Belgium closes down in the Summer, and rowing is no exception. However the late year mini-season will shortly be firing up again, starting with the 1000m de Liège on 29th August. Then there’s the Wijnegem (Antwerp) Regatta on September 5th and the Ghent Autumn Regatta on the 11th-12th, after which we move to Hazewinkel for the Royal’s hosting of the Belgian Championships for eights and fours (and lots of non-championship events too).

Finally there’s the Francophone League Regatta on October 3rd which, if I understand it rightly, is being jointly organised by ourselves and Union. So there’s no excuse for us not to have a full turn-out in all events, score a hatful of points and push ourselves up the league table. It’s not too early to start thinking about crews – there are whispers already of a first-ever ladies’ eight for Hazewinkel, now that will be a joy to behold

Beyond that, there are some opportunities to race in Holland, including the Suikerrace on November 21st, but just thinking of that brings on an attack of the shivers. I’ll post more information closer to the date.

BYOB (Bring Your Own Buffet), August 29th

The Royal rowers will be entertaining each other and the rest of the Club on Sunday, August 29th. Following the regular Sunday morning outing (which is brought forward to 9:00 from its usual 10:00 time slot) there will be a buffet lunch, provided by … you.

Bring along a sample of your national delicacies, or somebody else’s national delicacies. Or something left-over (but not too left-over) from your holidays. Or failing that, get some party-food from the supermarket.

So – see you all there. Racing in Liège will be the only acceptable excuse for non-attendance

Hardly anything at all to do with rowing

One of the extras which go with being on the ‘rowing@royal’ redistribution list is that I get in my inbox the regular lists from the Flemish Community on Belgian sportspeople suspended for doping. (did you know ‘doper’ is Dutch for a Baptist? No, I thought not. Meanwhile, back to the story…)

There are 117 names on the latest list, from 23 sports and quasi-sports. There was one naughty lady rower, of a high standard, who appeared in the list last year, but in general our sport is a clean one. In case you’re wondering what sports not to let your kids get involved in, here’s a breakdown of the activities with the highest number of drug cheats

1. Cycling 30
2. Bodybuilding 21
3= Kickboxing 10
Powerlifting 10
5. Strongest Man 8
6= Fitness 6
Boxing 6

Other martial arts added 7 more. Among the odd indoor football players, softballers and a horse-rider (but not the horse …?), a high-profile name on the list is one of Europe’s top jet-skiers. I wonder if he’s one of the Vilvoorde posse?

Mind how you go, check the small print on your medicine, and if you cycle to the Club don’t be tempted to shorten your journey by chemical means. You don’t want to end up on the dopinglijn list of shame.

Issue 84 18th June, 2010

Dear Members of the Royal Family,

More wins for J-B …

Jean-Benoit continues to be unbeatable in domestic competition, and picked up two more wins at the Ascension Day regatta at Maubray, where he was victorious in Junior singles, and in Junior doubles with his regular partner, Levi Van De Velde of Club Ghent. The double also earned a podium place at the KRSG international regatta in Ghent, close behind two crews from the French national squad.

… and another one for the old men

Following their storming result at the UNB regatta, Claus, Andy, Luc and Indrek maintained their unbeaten record on Saturday, winning Master’s Quads at the Markregatta in Breda. Clearly the arrival of Andy in the crew has done more than just increase the average age, or maybe it’s something about racing in the Netherlands that brings out the best in him.

You can see our guys, all dauntless and grim, here and here and here.

Well done to all. That brings the Royal’s wins this year into double figures. Gasp.

Far flung randonneurs

Meanwhile the club’s leisure rowers have breen plying their oars far and wide. This year’s contingent at the Vogalonga in Venice enjoyed far more pleasant conditions than last year’s sinker. I didn’t get a weather report from those who took part in the four-day Mascaret trip on the Dordogne, but I’m sure it was lovely. Then, just last week, the Royal was participating in a Brussels crew for the 24km Marseille-Cassis row on the Mediterranean. There are probably worse ways to get blisters and sore bums, I suppose.

Off the water and onto the streets

The finely-honed athletes of the Royal were pounding the pavements of Brussels on 30th April, in the annual 20km race, and all those of whom I’ve had reports did well, finishing well within the top third of the 30,000 participants.

Pride of place goes to an astonishing run by Peter P, who finished in 68th place, up amongst the internationals and the elite runners, in 1:10. According to Peter, he was pleased with the way his training was going, and hoping for a 1:20!

Our barman Damien also had a good run, to finish in the 1:31s. Not far behind were René (1:42) and Rebecca (1:44). Congratulations to all, and to any other Royalistes who took part.

All of this has given impetus to an attempt on the Brussels Ekiden on October 16th. This is a relay race over the marathon distance, with a team of six runners alternating 5km and 10km laps of a course around the parks of Laeken, starting and ending in the Roi Baudouin stadium. We already have several names on the list, and it’s not inconceivable that we could have a men’s and a women’s team.

“Some Chicken, Some Ribs”

Our annual summer barbecue is just around the corner, on Sunday June 28th. Starting at midday, the format is as usual: aperitif, chick’n’ribs, salad bar and dessert, all for €17 (small people €10). There will be a tombola and a presentation to our rower of the year (I wonder who that might be?).

All are welcome, if you are new to the Club it’s a great way to see the Royal doing what it does best – having a good time. Don’t hesitate to invite your friends and relations. Please reserve your places at or directly with Damien at the weekend.

If you want to provide a salad, please also advise the above address or mention to Albert or Marc what you intend to bring (or ask what’s needed). If you would like to contribute a tombola prize, that would be most welcome too. And bear in mind that there will be no rowing on Sunday morning, although help will be very much appreciated in laying out the tables.

Dear Members of the Royal Family,

*** We are the champion ***

After a gap of six years, the Royal once again has a Belgian National Champion in its ranks, in the person of Jean-Benoit, who carried off the Junior Men’s Singles title at Hazewinkel on Sunday.

Although J-B was victorious in his heat on Saturday, his was only the third-fastest time, so there was all to play for in the final. Past the half-way point in the 2km race, though, the result was never in doubt as our man continued to draw away from his nearest rival, Levi Van De Velde of Club Ghent, to win by a decisive ten-second margin.

As well as being the two best junior single scullers in the country, the pair are also doubles partners, having scored a first and second place at the Ghent international regatta two weeks previously.

Next up for J-B is the second of the big Ghent regattas in two weeks’ time – where he will be contesting singles, doubles and also rowing in a composite eight representing the Francophone League – and beyond that the major junior international regatta in Cologne. After that he mentioned something about Rio de Janeiro in 2016, although there might be one or two things in between.

Congratulations to J-B, and also to his coaches Olivier from UNB (with J-B, above) and Alain from SNUB, whose vision of a North Brussels high-performance squad, nurturing the best talent in the three clubs, has produced one more Champion.

A visit to the Dark Side

On Sunday, the Royal will be conducting the second edition of its Strokes Across The City outing to Anderlecht and back, allowing rowers to experience some aspects of Brussels they don’t normally get to see (high walls, mostly) and providing entertainment for a few curious onlookers at the two locks.

At this very late stage there may still be seats available for the 24km round trip, and as last year there will be a posse of cyclists following the rowers. If you want to row, and/or partake in the lunch which will be provided during the stop at CRB, you must waste no time in contacting Marc (tomorrow midday is the absolute limit).

The flotilla will leave the Royal at 10:00 and return around 16:00, participation is €15 (which includes the lunch, bien sûr.

Beware of the …

Saturday afternoon rowers had a close encounter with something nasty last weekend. A package of tightly wrapped bin bags floating just beyond the Pont de Buda turned out to be … just what you hope a floating package of tightly wrapped bin bags won’t turn out to be. A passing motor-cruiser alerted police, who arrived by land, sea and air – the low-level helicopter display was particularly impressive.

The unfortunate inside the bags was identified as male, 18-30. More than that I suppose we don’t really want to know. RIP

Be on top of the world – for a day

Oh no, he’s talking about ergos again.

The Concept 2 world ranking year starts on May 1st, so if you enjoy the experience of being Top Dog, why not do an ergo before or after your Saturday row, rush home to register on the CII rankings site, and log your time, which can be over any of the ranking distances (500m, 1000m, 2k, 5k, 10k, 30min, 60min, half or full marathon). You can then, unless someone’s beaten you to it, briefly be the world’s Number One in your category.

Here’s a tip: you will be asked to fill in your profile – sex, age, weight etc. In the ‘State’ field, put ‘RSNB’.

I see seven Royal personages in the 28 Belgians who recorded a 2k time in the 2009-10 rankings, with Jean-Benoit (who else?) at the top of the list.

Issue 82 7th April 2010

Dear Members of the Royal Family,

Sorry, I’ve been a bit slow at keeping you updated; that winter was quite some dampener of enthusiasm. Anyway, the sun is out, the temperature is the right side of 15, and the nights are now light enough to row. And the regatta season has started …

Three-and-a-bit wins for the Royal at UNB !!

The UNB regatta on our home reach has provided us with a few wins in recent years, but never so many as on Sunday, when the Royal scored three straight victories and a quarter-share of a fourth.

The day started brilliantly with a well-executed performance by the Masters quad of Claus, Andy, Luc and Indrek who turned the screw on a pretty useful UNB crew to stretch out to a four-second victory. History does not record how wide was Andy’s grin afterwards, but I can imagine.

After that it was all down to Jean-Benoit, who kicked off with a win in Junior quads, in a UNB/UNL/RSNB composite. He followed that with a victory in Senior singles, by two seconds in a field of seven, then paddled back to the start for his third win of the afternoon, coming home ahead of nine other singles in the J18 category.

He’s going places, that lad.

Not only that but

The winner of the first Belgian rowing event of 2010 was … the Royal!

OK, it’s a while ago now, but the opening race in the calendar, our own Head of the River back on February 14th, was won by a quad of Peter P, Charles C, Carole C and Bernard. To be fair, the level of interest in our Head amongst the Belgian rowing community was pitiful. Thanks to our friends at the SNUB, and a German/English combination from Switzerland rowing in American colours, it wasn’t entirely an RSNB affair but eventually only five boats took part. Nevertheless, a win is a win, and if the opposition choose not to turn up, that’s their problem.

The turnout for the Handicap in the afternoon was better, of course, despite a large contingent from Liège unable to join us because of the treacherous driving conditions. Forty-five boats took part, including four from the UK.

The event was won by a UNB/UNL junior triplette with two girls on board, including Marine Lewuillon from the ‘09 Belgian World Championship quad. Second over the line was Jean-Benoit in Carol’s ‘Bluefish’.

Next royal boat home was Andy in 10th, then the double of Indrek and Claus in 20th. In 12th place was our former member Vincent, now in the UK and rowing as Vesta. One of our visiting UK fours, from Maidstone, made it into the top 20, the other two, from Weybridge, finished in the thirties. Their trip was judged a great success and we hope to be seeing them again.

And special mention must go of course to Sergio, who kept his promise to row in a clown disguise. He made the most of it by setting off second and coming in last, to huge cheers, especially from the crews who had been waiting more than ten minutes beyond the finish.

And guess who won the Ergo League?

The Royal Winter Ergo League has run it’s course with, as last year, lots of early enthusiasm which failed to translate into solid support. Jean-Benoit romped away at the top, setting a terrific time to win Juniors at OBIC and then improving on it in one of his squad tests. Andy was second and I managed third, thanks to an easier target this year because of my extreme age. Carol, at fifth, was the only lady on the list for the second year in a row (shame on you, girls).

Here’s the final outcome:
category time target score
1 JEAN-BENOIT M1 6:25.3 6:43.8 95.4
2 ANDY M5 7:10.3 7:14.6 99.0
3 DAVID M6 7:29.1 7:32.4 99.3
4 KEVIN M2L 6:50.8 6:45.1 101.4
5 CAROL W5 8:45.1 8:34.7 102.0
6 LUC M3 7:12.7 6:57.0 103.8
7 PETER P M4L 7:32.0 7:06.7 105.9
8 ANDREW M1L 7:34.9 6:58.5 108.7
9 CLAUS M3L 7:50.9 7:00.9 111.9
10 ALEXANDRE M1 7:34.0 6:43.8 112.4
11 JEREMIE M3L 7:56.5 7:00.9 113.2
12 FRANCOIS M5 8:35.0 7:14.6 118.5

Anyway, congratulations to all who ‘did’. Hopefully next year we’ll be joined by some of those who ‘didn’t’.

Distinguished visitors to our shores

Second only to the Van Damme Memorial athletics meet, surely the biggest gathering of World and Olympic medallists in Belgium this year will take place this coming Sunday and Monday, at Hazewinkel, as GB Rowing conducts its final selection races. Last year quite a few Royalists turned out to watch the finals and pick up a few useful tips – like ‘grow another 10cm’.

If you would like to see the stars in action, here’s the timetable:
Sunday: 09:30 – 10:30 time trials; 15:00 – 17:20 semi-finals
Monday: 09:00 – 11:30 finals.
Crew lists are posted up in the admin building and you may be able to obtain a printed programme.

I plan to drive up there on Monday morning, if anybody would like a lift. I have carrier-space for a bike although the logistics would take some organising.

What’s next?

Also this weekend is the first of the two big international regattas in Ghent – the lesser of the two, it has to be said, but attracting huge numbers of British crews, mostly juniors. J-B will be going in J18 1x on both days, and Alex will be in J16 1x on Saturday, all with massive entries. Apart from our guys (obviously), a treat for the connoisseur would be the appearance in Women’s singles on Sunday of Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus, twice Olympic and five times World Champion.

Two weeks later, at Hazewinkel, the Belgian small-boats championships will see J-B going for the national Junior singles title, seeking to restore the Royal to the glory days of 2003-04. His big race is just before 14:00 on the Sunday – well worth a trip out to cheer. Perhaps we shall lay on a charabanc (now that’s got our Frenc readers confused).

For those looking for less elevated forms of competition, now’s the time to make plans for the three Handicaps in May – in Liège on the 16th (5km) and the 22nd (8.25km) and in Ghent on the 30th (6km). All can be raced in shells or C-class boats, although the buoy turns in Liège would make eights rowing an interesting proposition.

And for the randonneurs, it’s just over three weeks to our ‘Strokes Across the City’ paddle-and-pedal to Anderlecht and back, on Sunday May 2nd. Better weather than last year is guaranteed (there’s no way it could be worse).

And finally

Lots of prospective new members have been in contact – now the weather is better it will be nice to meet some new faces, so please let’s see you at the Club and on the water. We’ve come through the winter in good shape – time to start enjoying ourselves!

Winter race draws near
My licence! All in order?
Forgot to sign it

Issue 81 9th February 2010

Dear Members of the Royal Family,

I know it’s a bit late, but A Happy New Year to all the current and future Royal rowers. Hopefully the worst of the sub-zero temperatures are behind us and – Hey! – it’s less than seven weeks until the clocks change.

More things to look forward to

Here’s the Belgian competition calendar for the first four months of the year. It looks remarkably like … last year … or the year before …

Feb 14 Fours Head and Winter Handicap (5km) Brussels RSNB
Feb 27 Rowers’ Run & Bike Brussels RSNB
Feb 27 Eights Head (5.2km) Bruges KRB
Feb 28 Head and Handicap (5.2km) Bruges KRB
Mar 07 Handicap (5km) Wépion RCNSM
Mar 14 Head (6km) Seneffe 3Y
Mar 28 Time trials (4km - 1km - 250m) Wijnegem RARC
Apr 04 Regatta (1000m) Brussels UNB
Apr 10/11 International regatta Ghent GRS
Apr 24/25 Regatta incl. Belgian Championships (small boats) Hazewinkel TRT

I ♥ rowing

Cupid’s arrows aren’t the only guided missiles which will be zooming around on Sunday 14th. St Valentine has to share the limelight with our annual Winter Regatta, one of the main Royal rowing get-togethers of the year.

In the morning at 10:00 there’s a Head of River for racing fours, now in its fifth edition. Our mens’ quad won the first one and have come second on a couple of occasions; this year the Royal flagship will be Rebecca, Heather and Katie, joined by Barbara from SNUB and coxed by Vince. They’ve even been seen in training, with a coach – now there’s serious.

The afternoon race is the 86th Grand Winter Handicap, not only one of the oldest but one of the quaintest sporting events in Brussels. Up to 70 ‘heavy’ boats (no racing shells allowed) starting in order of their speed, slowest first. If everyone pulls equally hard and the handicappers have done a good job, they should all cross the finish line together, which is quite a thought. If it’s a nice day, the race format gives some great photo-opportunities, like this:

Lots of Royal crews will be taking part; the mighty Jean-Benoit will undoubtedly be the first one home and could seriously challenge for top honours. We’ll be playing host to a group of English rowers who will also be joining in the Saturday afternoon outing, and hopefully we’ll have visitors from France, the Netherlands and Germany. Plus Esther and David from Norwalk – or is it Geneva? – will be flying the US flag.

As with all the big club occasions, success is very dependent on how well we manage the many tasks that need to be carried out. All volunteers are most welcome – whether you are needed or not, you’ll enjoy the occasion.

Mud, glorious mud

The Run & Bike on 27th February is the 6th (already!) edition of our successful event which forms part of the Belgian R&B Championship series and attracts some of the country’s top triathletes. It takes place over a 15km course in the woods behind the Club and the rules are simple – a team consists of two humans and a bike and they must all stay within 10 metres of each other, otherwise they can organise themselves however they like.

Strictly for maniacs, or so you would think. Having watched them last year, most of them seemed to be enjoying it. Teams can register using the form available on our website, lonely hearts can contact me with ‘have bike seek partner’ or ‘seek partner with bike’ and I’ll put you in touch with each other.

Our organiser, René, has a small number of specific jobs he needs to fill on the day (marshals, etc). If you would like to help, please contact him.

Still time to join the Ergo League.

Just like last year, the initial enthusiasm for the Royal Winter Ergo League fizzled out after Christmas. The event runs until the end of March so there is plenty of time left to get into the game, or improve your score if you’re already in it. To remind you, all you have to do is pull a 2k ergo and let me know your time and I’ll work out your score adjusted for age, sex and weight.

Here are the rankings as they currently stand:


Er … ladies … ?

A night at the movies

You can’t have failed to notice the huge poster in the boathouse proclaiming the forthcoming release of La Régate, the long-awaited feature film about … rowing. A couple of years ago, when it was in the making, a few Royal rowers answered the call for volunteers to act as extras in some of the scenes at Hazewinkel.

Well, it’s finally arriving, by way of some prizewinning appearances at various festivals. The avant-première is on Tuesday 23rd February, at UGC De Brouckere, and the Belgian rowing community is invited to join the VIP guest list – at the special discount price of €6. I’ll be terribly disappointed if there’s no red carpet.

To take advantage of this offer, you will have to request tickets from Marc, before the 16th, giving the name(s) and number required. You can read about the film here, and if you wish join it’s Facebook page. There will probably be a sizeable Royal contingent going along so be prepared for a drink or two together afterwards.

The quality of mercy may not be strained but …

… Brussels’ very own River Senne is a bit cleaner than it used to be, thanks to the huge water purification plant by the Buda Bridge. You may not be aware, but the Canal embankment as you approach the Ring viaduct is actually a narrow strip separating the Canal from the Senne.

The ‘red sheds’ opposite the Brussels/Vilvorde frontier are actually built over the river. It’s one of only two locations within the city limits where the river is actually visible.

On Tuesday 16th February, the organisation ‘Coordination Senne’ is including a trip around the water-treatment works as part of their monthly programme of guided visits to bits of the river. These visits are combined with a ‘café’ event afterwards, and the Royal has offered to host this next Tuesday. A few of us will be taking part in the visit, which costs the princely sum of €3. If anyone else would like to join, I’m sure there are still places free – inscription via the Coordination Senne website – click on ‘Mardis & Cafés de la Senne’.

And a trip to the Head

If anyone would like to spectate at one of the great rowing occasions, Rebecca and Dorota are planning a trip to London to (amongst other things) watch the Head of the River Race which as you will recall last year was won by a Belgian (and seven other blokes) beating the best that British and Europe could throw at them. The race is over the Boat Race course (in reverse) but with 420 eights taking part, is a lot more interesting – and accessible.

*If you fancy a long or short weekend in London with a rowing flavour – and probably a beery flavour too – contact Rebecca.


Winter Sunday wind
Canal is grey, waves high
Eight bravely embarks

Issue 80 22nd December 2009

Dear Members of the Royal Family,

The last Proclamation of 2009 looks back on quite a year for the Royal, so let’s briefly remember the highlights:

Palmares 2009

April 5th, UNB Regatta
WJ14 1x Cyriane
WJ14 2x Emilie (with UNB) *
WJ14 4x Cyriane/Emilie (with UNB) *
August 30th, 1000m de Liège
MBeg 1x Jean-Benoit
September 26th-27th, RSNB Regatta, Hazewinkel
MBeg 1x Jean-Benoit
MBeg 2x Jean-Benoit/Andrew
WM 4x Carol/Brigitte/Catherine/Esther (as RSNB/USA/Italy) *
October 3rd, Vechtrace, Netherlands
MME 1x Andy
November 21st, OBIC Belgian Indoor Championships
MJ18 Jean-Benoit
WMD Carol *
MME Andy *
MMF David *
* unfortunately, no opponents presented themselves for these races (which we would have won anyway!)

Get your paperwork in order

Here’s a guessing game: how many people will put their name down for the Head or the Handicap on Feb 14th, and either end up in a mad panic to get their licences sorted in time, or not get a licence at all and be unable to race? It happens every year.

Getting your licence involves one simple and straightforward task, one big hassle and one small one. The simple task (or at least it should be simple) is to fill out and sign the form which is available at the Club. The big hassle is making an appointment with your doctor to be checked over and the small one is getting yourself an ID photo – or two, if it’s your first time. First-timers also need a photocopy of their passport ot ID card. Remember – you will need a licence whether you plan to race or not in 2010.

Just a small plea to whoever distributes the forms – can we make sure we know where they are kept, or who has them?

Royal Winter Ergo League – half term report

Here’s the ranking list, half-way through the ergo season. J-B’s magnificent row at OBIC has put him in a dominating position at the head of the table, but who knows what major performances there are still to come … plenty of people out there who haven’t shown us what they can do.

1 JEAN-BENOIT M1 6:28.1 6:43.8 96.1
2 ANDY M5 7:10.3 7:14.6 99.0
3 DAVID M6 7:29.1 7:32.4 99.3
4 KEVIN M2L 6:50.8 6:45.1 101.4
5 CAROL W5 8:45.1 8:34.7 102.0
6 LUC M3 7:12.7 6:57.0 103.8
7 PETER P M4L 7:32.0 7:06.7 105.9
8 ANDREW M1L 7:34.9 6:58.5 108.7
9 CLAUS M3L 7:50.9 7:00.9 111.9
10 JEREMIE M3L 7:56.5 7:00.9 113.2
11 FRANCOIS M5 8:35.0 7:14.8 118.5

What was that about the 14th February?

The first rowing event on the Belgian calendar is always the Royal’s own regatta, which this year is on St Valentine’s Sunday. It consists of the Brussels Fours Head in the morning and the Grand Winter Handicap in the afternoon. The Head is for racing crews, and would-be racing crews, in shell boats. The Handicap has often been described as ‘folklorique’, which is a pretty good description; it’s for wide-body boats of all descriptions, and anyone who thinks they can cope with a solid 5km row is welcome to put their name down. There are sign-up lists in the boathouse.

If you’re not racing (or even if you are) there are lots of support tasks which have to be taken care of on the day, so all members are encouraged to come along and help out – which means of course that it’s a big social occasion too. The racing attracts crews from France, Germany, the Netherlands, and this year once again we are hoping to welcome a group of Romanian rowers. Plus for the first time in many years there should be a number of English crews taking part. So – we need lots of happy faces and willing hands to show our guests what ‘folklorique’ really means.

The bad news and the good news

The bad news – for the rowers, is that the Club will be closed from Thursday 24th December until Saturday 2nd January inclusive. I think we all agree that Damien deserves a break after the fantastic job he has done all year.

The good news is that we’re continuing the ‘new’ tradition of celebrating the New Year with a get-together at mid-day on the first Sunday (so that’s the 3rd, right?). The plan is to bring along something for the buffet – left-overs from your feasting, something you have thrown together in your spare time, or just a few bags of crisps and nuts. This is something that all the Royal participates in, the rowers of course have the advantage that they will have exercised in the morning so their appetites are nicely sharpened.

And finally

and a

‘It's clear, fresh and funny and playfully informative’
Mira Hozakova

Issue 79 November 26th, 2009

Dear Members of the Royal Family,

During their five-year unbeaten run in the coxless pair, Steve Redgrave and Matt Pinsent had a simple strategy – to be so dominant in their event that potential challengers would bow to their superiority and go and find another boat class to row in. When it comes to erging in the ‘more mature’ categories, the Royal has managed to establish the same dominance, so it seems. The second item below tells you all. But first, the real news from last weekend. Time to put the flags out …

We have a new national champion!

The Royal had a great day at OBIC – the Belgian Ergo Championships – in Antwerp on Saturday. Jean-Benoit produced a storming row to win the Junior division with a world-class time of 6:28.1 for the 2000 metres. Going off in the first of three heats, he led from the outset, held off a strong challenge around the 1500m mark and powered through the final quarter to a decisive win. The leader through the second heat was always 2-3 seconds down on J-B’s split times, but the third heat, which the organisers had packed with all the favourites, was a nail-biting affair, with a challenger from RCAE Liège matching J-B’s splits throughout. It wasn’t until the scores flashed up at the end of the race that a Royal victory was confirmed, by just a single second.

In the same event, Andrew made his erg-racing debut and put up a very creditable performance, although he learned the hard way just what price you pay, in pain and exhaustion, for going off too hard in the early stages.

In the Junior 14 1000m discipline, Nicholas and Alex went head-to-head, with Nicolas narrowly getting the better of the duel. His time of 3:43.5 was good enough for an 8th place in a very strong field of 16 rowers.

… or even four champions!!

Our three other representatives at OBIC were unchallenged in their categories – Carol in Masters D, Andy in E and myself in F. Both Carol and I set new personal best times; Andy, who has won Masters D at OBIC twice already ‘the hard way’, has nothing to prove anyway.

So … if potential challengers choose not to set themselves up against us, that’s their problem, not ours.

A first look at the ergo league

With the OBIC results, we currently have nine times posted, so here’s a first look at the rankings according to how people match up to their target times.

1. Jean-Benoit
2. Andy
3. David
4. Kevin
5. Carol
6. Luc
7. Andrew
8. Claus
9. Jérémie

I’ll hold off for the time being from posting the scores, but the first three are all ahead of their benchmark times. A half-term report, including times and scores, will be posted at the boathouse at the end of December, by which time hopefully we’ll have a few more names on the list – won’t we?

And just to encourage you …

The gym has had a make-over, and is looking now like a serious place of worship. As well as the ergos, there’s a selection of other machines of torture, and free weights. On Tuesdays, Bernard is regularly on hand to give instruction and advice, and there’s usually a Thursday group who stay on for a drink afterwards.

Hint to our administrators: the heating doesn’t seem to have been sorted yet.

In the money, but just outside the medals

The Ligue Francophpne d’Aviron has finalised the results of the Coupe LFA 2009, and it seems we’ve done quite well. Points are available for winning and for ranking performances at all the races taking place in LFA territory, plus the RSNB regatta at Hazewinkel.

Without really being aware we were taking part (well I wasn’t …) we finished fourth out of the 13 francophone clubs. We weren’t so far behind third-placed UN Liege, but some way adrift of our next-door neighbours UNB and the inevitable winners, CR Bruxelles (boo, hiss).

Something else I didn’t know – points mean prizes. Our fourth place gained us an award of €125, which is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. The amount of the prize doubles as you move up through the three podium places so CRB, who aren’t exactly short of cash, walk away with a cool €1000. The message is simple – let’s get out there next year and grab as many points as we can.

And many thanks to the efforts of our youngsters, who provided the bulk of our points in 2009.

World News – Maeyens has an easy ride in Boston

This year’s Head of the Charles, supposedly the biggest regatta in the world, saw another win for the ‘Great 8’, the fantasy crew of all the world’s top scullers which also won the Head of the River race in London in March. Not quite the same all-star crew, as Olympic singles champion Olaf Tufte was on paternity leave, but the top five from this year’s World Championships, including of course Tim Maeyens from KR Brugge, were aboard.

The Charles course is notably bendy, and what little preparation the crew had beforehand included practicing rowing round corners, during which they managed to break three rudders – the last one during their pre-race warm-up. Although they very hastily fitted a replacement from a four, it didn’t have the turning power they needed, so they raced around the bends with the cox steering by sticking her hand in the water, and lucky bow-man Maeyens taking the opportunity to rest for the odd stroke.

You can see them at work in this short Youtube clip (watch it once for bow, then again for the steering), and read about the exploits here and here. The latter piece is by the American ‘guest’ in the crew who ‘only’ finished 12th in the Worlds.

Welcome, and welcome back

Congratulations to Krizsta and Peter on their new arrival: Bodza Rose was born on Monday 12th October, weighing in at a respectable 4.16kg and 55cm, ‘after a short but intensive sprint’ says Peter. Whether she’ll be bowside or strokeside isn’t evident yet.

And welcome back to Dorota, after a year out following her knee operation. Her ‘easing back into the sport’ took the form of an 11km row in the eight, on the wildest and windiest Sunday of the year.

Photo of the month

Taken at the 2009 World Coastal Rowing Championships in Plymouth, UK. This looks like fun – maybe we should give it a try; we do occasionally get some practice in water like this.

Miscellaneous sales & wants

I have two items of Royal kit for sale – an all-in-one and a ‘technical top’ (the white long sleeves with the green stripe). Both have been worn no more than four times and both are XL – but be warned, they are a ‘small’ XL, because that’s my regular size (no comments please) and they are simply too tight for me around the chest.

So if there’s anyone out there just a bit slimmer than me who would like them, I’m asking just over half price for them – €30 for the unisuit and €22 for the top.

Has Santa got your list yet?

The good folks at Rock The Boat, purveyors of the funkiest rowing gear around, have come up with some great stuff this Christmas, and have offered the Royal boat fund a very generous commission on anything we order, or have ordered for us, between now and the end of the year.

Check out their website, fill up your shopping cart and – Very Important This – enter ‘Royal Family’ in the additional information box. The offer applies to anything you ask Santa to bring you too, so don’t forget to tell him. All shipments from the UK will pay £5 for postage and packing, regardless of size, so the more you buy, the cheaper it gets (and the more the Club stands to benefit).

The Politically Incorrect Zone

Remember the Good Old Days? Here’s the voice of rowing, dated 1928 (stolen from the UK Fours’ Head homepage)


And now a word about the ladies. Many of the delights of the river would be lacking if it were not for the ladies. Their presence, indeed, should be an additional incentive towards the cultivation of a graceful rowing style. As pleasure boat passengers they make our labours doubly worthwhile, and nowadays not a few of them pull no mean oar.

The question as to whether or not racing is a fit pastime for members of the fairer sex is one that must be decided by the medical profession. Some authorities hold that serious racing is detrimental to feminine physical health and physique, and that the strain entailed may lead to permanent injury. At the same time, no one will deny that rowing in a racing eight, four or sculling skiff, provided the work undertaken is not too strenuous, has any effect upon feminine health other than the maintenance of physical fitness.

Most certainly, no medical man would advise against pleasure boating as a recreation for women and girls, provided, of course, that it is indulged in moderation and without undue strain. Here again, style steps in, for correct style means a conservation of energy, an ounce of style being worth a pound of power.

Given normal health and physique there is no reason whatever why any woman or girl should not develop into a good class oarswoman with perfect safety.

The Royal Does Downtown – episode 3

Following our successful soirées in May and last Christmas, we’ve decided once again to explore the Big City for an evening of good company, spicy food and – yes, it’s true – a beer or two.

Your social secretariat has chosen Wednesday 9th December for this extravaganza, and on this occasion we’re moving up in the world, from the Marolles to St Géry. The venues are, for drinks (18:30) L’Archiduc, 6 rue A. Dansaert, followed at 19:30 by Fanny Thai, just around the corner at 36 rue J. Van Praet. If you want to Google the resto to find out more about it, for goodness’ sake put quote marks around the name.

Note that this is not an ‘official’ Royal occasion, just an informal evening among friends. Nevertheless all are welcome; please email Rebecca or myself if you would like to come.

More old friends

For those who read Dutch, here’s an article on Roeieninbelgie about Pat Lambert, former Royal stalwart. As you will read, she’s now a major celebrity in world rowing so I’ll forgive her remarks about my age while she was commentating at OBIC. Masters’ Master indeed!

And absolutely the last race of the year

Andy is off to London this weekend to race in the Scullers’ Head, over the Oxford/Cambridge Boat Race course (in reverse). He starts 463rd out 0f 500, so some of the early finishers will be on their second beer before he hears his ‘Go’. Looking at the start list there are some seriously once-good scullers setting off close behind him so if he can live with them for as long as possible, he’ll do OK. Our old clubmate Vincent, now rowing for Vesta at Putney, is entered too. Best of luck to both.

Issue 78 October 7th, 2009

Dear Members of the Royal Family,

The last side-by-side racing of the season is finished (see below) and thoughts turn to Winter training, erg racing, braving the blizzards at the Suikerrace and – choucroute. However the last few weeks of the Summer have given us plenty to talk about, as you will see when you get to page 3 and realise that you’re still only half-way through.

Read on…

The Royal puts the WIN in HazeWINkel

Super weekend, super result. The Royal came away from Hazewinkel with sunburned smiles and two and a half titles. On Saturday, Jean-Benoit followed up on his Liège win with a storming victory in Novice singles, heading a field of 15 with a huge margin of almost 9s.

Then on Sunday he teamed up with Andrew for another win, in Novice doubles, by 3s from a field of eight boats Apart from applauding the guys for their great performances, we should note the contribution of Alain from SNUB and Olivier from UNB in coaching the rowers and expertly preparing their boats; the cooperative effort among the three North Brussels clubs is bringing our youngsters on in leaps and bounds.

The half a win was in the Women’s Masters quads, where a crew rowing as RSNB/Norwalk Leander/Circolo Ministero Affari Esteri had a row-over in the absence of anyone brave enough to challenge them. In fact the Italian bit of the crew was Catherine F, who hasn’t got her Belgian licence yet, and the American bit was Esther, returning to us briefly from her new home in Geneva (a US rowing club in Geneva … I didn’t ask). Esther’s clubmate David partnered Andy in Masters doubles, and then joined Andy, Peter H and myself in coxless fours. All involved expressed themselves as satisfied with the rows and if they’d had a bit more training … you know the story.

Best of the other Royal performances was Alex in J14 singles, who came a creditable 21st in a field of 33. In the same event, Nicolas decided to test the reaction time of the safety boat, by taking a dip, Unfortunately the incident didn’t register with the Royal lifesavers (Rebecca and me) who were communing with the cormorants around the half-way mark.

Off the water, diners were wowed by Sergio’s Spanish ham and Peter P’s skills with the filleting knife to produce Maatjes so fresh they had barely stopped wriggling. Unimpressed by the selection at the bar, a trio of cyclists (reputed to include the morning’s safety boat crew) bravely ventured into the Flemish countryside in search of some decent beer, and apparently found plenty of it. Club spirit was Royally reinforced with a gourmet Italian dinner on Friday, courtesy of Sergio, and a delicious barbecue on Saturday, with Albert at the coals.

What’s that? Oh, the Championships, they were won by Ghent. To be more precise, of the 15 Championship events, 8 went to Gentse, 5 to Sport Gent, 3 to Club Gent and none to anybody else. Which is what makes Novice and Masters racing so interesting.

Lots of superb photos here, courtesy of Catherine D.

Don’t stop there, it gets better…

On Saturday 3rd, Andy took his boat to meet its maker at the Carl Douglas Vechtrace, which runs across the Dutch/German border, and beat four other scullers to win the Masters E category. He seems to make a habit of disappearing off to Holland and winning things, when he thinks there’s nobody taking notice.

He hasn’t been out in his single for a while, it must have been that double I did with him a couple of weeks back that sharpened him up.

Meanwhile, down on the Meuse …

A (very) small contingent from the Royal went along to the Francophone League regatta at Wépion on Sunday. Jean-Benoit, Andrew, Pedro, Cyriane and Peter P entered a number of small-boat events, but without any high-scoring big boat crews the intention was not to get a league placing but just to enjoy some end-of-the-season sprint racing. Best result was a third place for Andrew and J-B in novice doubles.

The LFA regatta can be a grand day out if a lot of people go and turn it into a Club event, but coming just a week after Hazewinkel it’s difficult for the less committed rowers to keep the momentum going. It’s not just us who don’t get excited about it – Tournai and two of the Liège clubs didn’t go at all and Dinant’s participation was about the same as ours.

I don’t know the when & where next year. We’ll see …

Are you sitting comfortably?

This may take some time. The thing is, a 160km row, taking 15½ hours, isn’t something you can describe in a few words. So here is Claus being as brief as he can:

Friday 25.9.2009, 7:30 AM. Three brave Royal rowers meet at Zaventem airport to enter the plane heading for Geneve to do the "Tour du Leman".

Some time later we (Charles, Claus and Indrek) arrive in Geneve, where we take the bus to get to the apartment of Charles' parents. After having a coffee with Charles' mother, we take her car to get to the harbour of Geneve, where the rowing club is located. This place is already crowded with trailers, boats, oars and a lot of rowers. Here we get out rental boat: A white C-Line of the first generation. Luckily Charles knows people and boats here quite well, since he learned rowing in this club years ago.

Coverage for bow and stern? There was once one... But where is it now? It disappeared. Hmm. OK, then let's build one... The next little problem: Charles' brother Christian is joining our crew, too. But we still haven't found rower no. 5. A guy from Geneve was planned to row with us, but he is now in the US and begged for pardon some days ago. Charles was quite optimistic in Brussels, that there will be somebody around to jump in for rowing this easy 160km (Indrek tried to find one in Brussels, but he didn't want to :-).

So Charles and Claus start talking to the people to find Mr. X. Claus' first rowing club (Kölner Club für Wassersport / KCfW) is present with two boats and 10 rowers. And they are directly interested and ask twice "Do you really have a place free?" - "Yes, otherwise we won't ask ;-)" - "Ok, we have one rower for you - but - he is still in Cologne.". So they handed over Rolf's phone number and after several phone calls Rolf agrees to complete our crew. He admits later, that he started packing his stuff directly after the first call (as he planned to row in a third KCfW boat; but the crew break apart, one of them could get a place in one of the other two boats and Rolf was waiting until Friday morning for a call to get a boat place. So he was really happy, that he got a boat place to row this regatta for his about 20th time.)

The next step is to get our equipment together. Claus had a small electrical pump in his luggage (and lost his no. 10 key at the security check at Zaventem, (it seems you can crash every airplane if you get a no. 10 key on board), Christian organized a battery, some wood and tape. For the rest we entered a D-I-Y market in Geneve. And afterwards the supermarket next door to get water and food. After eating supper at Charles' family we take some tools and some more wood and wires and a switch and drive again to the rowing club.

We are quite late - nearly all other boats are prepared already and some crews are going out on the water to check it out. But since this is not the first marathon for us, we already have a plan in mind how to build a wavebreaker on the bow and how to make a comfortable seat for the cox place.

Around 10:00 PM we are finished with the boat. But Rolf is still not here. On the phone he apologizes and explains, that there was some traffic jam, where he lost one hour. We decide to wait for him and to use the time for checking the oars. We make them a bit lighter, since nobody really knows how hard it will get on those 160km...

Rolf arrives shortly after eleven and does a serious inspection of the boat. Everything was fitting for him except the plastic handles on the oars. Since it was already dark we decide not to go on the water any more to check the proper settings of oars and locks.

Instead the complete crew drives back to the flat of Charles' family where we fell asleep after having dinner. The night is quite short since we are proposed to get on the water at 7:15 AM. So breakfast and everything was a bit hectic but we get back to the club in time. After supplying the boat with all the things we think to need (life-jackets, lights, whistle...) we get some unplanned problem with a simple screw, that attaches a wire to the battery. Of course we fixed that, too. But for the price to be the last boat that goes onto the water.

The weather is really good for rowing this morning. Cloudy with some fog on the water, no burning sun and not too cold and just with a little wind blowing. For the start all boats are lined up close to the mole and wait there for the firing of a gun to start the race.

*Boooom*. We are in the race. First we head from the harbour mole to the old town of Geneve where the first buoy is placed. After turning there our strokeman Indrek starts kidding, that only 159km are left... We planned to change the cox every 30min, so everybody has to row two hours and then gets a break of 30 minutes. The first 2 hours pass away quickly, but then we get into rough water at Nyon. This place is the area where the "Petit Lac" becomes the wider "Grand Lac" and it's known for being quite wavy. With the pumps we are able to get rid of the water, but from now on most of the shoes are wet (for the rest of the race).

After passing this area the water gets much better and in the following hours we find places where it is as flat as a mirror. We keep busy with rowing and changing the cox for some more ours. We catch up with some boats and overtake them, of course some other boats do the same with us. According to a GPS device we make something between 10.5 and 11km/h. We pass Lausanne and the we get to the buoy in Montreux, which marks the turning point for going home. There we are in a good
mood and still making jokes (in fact, we make jokes till the very end, if I remember correctly - according to our motto "I love rowing").

After Montreux we pass the little island with the big tree, see the Rhone flowing out of the lake, get thanks to Schengen without passport control to France and pass Evian. Somewhere around that point we finished around 3/4 of the distance. It starts getting dark. It also hurts a bit (well, not only a bit to be honest) while sitting and it feels quite tough to hold the handles. Rolf starts to put some tape around the plastic handles each time he gets onto a place where he didn't row before. So after some time the whole boat is taped and this is a great relief for all of us.

Rowing in the dark is also quite funny, especially when we enter the "Schweinebucht", the name most of the German crews use for the "Golfe de Condree". Thanks to Charles we have the GPS position of the next buoy and with some steering advice from Rolf and using the GPS we take the straight line over the bay to the buoy. Some other boats stay close to the shore to search for the buoy, but this makes their trip a bit longer.

After passing the "Schweinebucht" we get back on the "Petit Lac" but from this place are still 25km between us and Geneve. This is really the hardest part, no other rowing boat in sight, Geneve not in sight (it's hidden behind two or three capes), hands and butt are hurting, we feel really empty and on the cox place we fell into microsleep. But we managed to continue our rowing with a speed around 9 and 9.5km/h and finally get back to the mole in Geneve where a lot of people cheer for us.

After reaching the pontoon and getting out of the boat we get a fine lesson in how easy the body compensates life on a rowing boat. While standing on fixed land again, everything starts shaking and turning. We take out the most valuable parts of the boat, then a finisher photo is taken and afterwards we can take a really nice shower. After getting something to eat (at least the ones who where able to :-) Charles' mother taxis us to our beds, where we fell asleep quickly.

Sunday morning it's feels again too early to get up. After a little breakfast we drive down to the club, remove all additional constructions from the boat, clean it and put it back in the garage. The last official part is the prizegiving, where every crew is invited on the podium, every rower gets a unique trophy and every crew gets their own battle of Champagne. After chilling out with some beer on the pontoon we have to take the flight back to Brussels. In the plane we started thinking of buying tickets already for next year – so it was tough, yes indeed, but even more fun at the same time!

In the final results we end up on place 15 out of 28 boats. Our time is 15:36, i.e. an average of more than 10km/h including the breaks for changing the cox.

I would like to give a big "Thank you!" to Charles at this place for his organization and a second "Merci beaucoup!" to his family for their support! And of course a "Dankeschön!" to Rolf for jumping in the Belgian boat.

The mystery of the missing bus

Those of you who commute to the Royal by public transport may have worked it out by now, but our only means of access – bus 47 – has been interfered with. The city-end origin/destination of most services is now Hembeek, rather than Pont Van Praet. So if you are coming from town on the number 3 tram, or from Montgomery on the 23, you have to travel one extra stop, after the bridge.

There are still some 47s which run from the centre (De Brouckere) but not on Sundays, or in the evenings. On Saturdays they are every 40 minutes. The frequency between Hembeek and the Club (stop Chemin Vert/Groenweg) is still 20 one every 20 minutes.

For those of you who have found yourself having to walk from Van Praet to the Club, the STIB apologises most sincerely, I’m sure.

The Royal Winter Ergo League 2009/10 is up and running

You were warned last time, and it’s here already. Claus has been the first to put down his marker, and I can think of one or two people who won’t be far behind. To remind you – row a 2k on the C2 and send me your time, and in case I don’t know or can’t guess, your sex, age and weight category. I’ll work out the index to your target score and let you know – roughly – where you are in relation to the others. When we have enough names I’ll start to publish league tables. Repeat as often as you like until the end of March when we’ll declare winners and distribute prizes (maybe).

Suiker for punishment (sorry, that’s a joke for native English speakers)

Traditionally our last racing opportunity of the year is the Suikerrace, just across the border in Roosendaal, a 7km head race for both shells and heavy boats with handicaps by age/sex/boat type applied to the race time. Andy won men’s singles one year, and for a while the yole was unbeatable in the ‘clinker fours’ class, even setting the course record at one stage.

Equally traditionally, it is normally rowed in heavy rain or freezing wind or, more usually, both.

If none of this puts you off, the date is November 15th. The race is rowed in two heats, late morning and early afternoon, so the same boat can be used by two crews. I can coordinate expressions of interest initially, until we get to the stage of planning boat transport, etc.

Then, for those who prefer their pain to be condensed into 7-8 minutes, there’s OBIC, the Belgian Ergo Championships, in Antwerp on November 21st. Either you take part because your coach tells you to, or because you’re a superhero. See you there?

P’tit chou

Sauerkraut is back on the menu at the Royal … pause for each of us to consider our individual reaction to that news. For those who love the stuff, no doubt you can scarcely contain your excitement at the prospect of our annual choucroute weekend on October 23rd-24th. For those who don’t there’s an option to enjoy the party anyway with ‘boulettes tomates’ and chips.

There is always enormous demand for this occasion, so if you want to join in, get your name down on the sign-up list in the clubroom.

Crew rowing is more fun – official.

A study by Oxford University’s Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology (try saying that with a mouth full of cornflakes) had demonstrated that participants in team sports are happier than solitary athletes.

To prove this, they involved participants in ‘virtual rowing’ – the erg again I suppose – either individually or in groups and then tested them for tolerance to pain (is that how you measure happiness these days?).

Actually, it’s all about endorphins. Exercise produces endorphins, which make you feel good and also suppress pain. Exercising together in a team produced more of them than exercising alone.

So if you’ve ever wondered why single scullers are such a miserable lot, there’s your answer. When one of them overtakes your crew, despite all your efforts to hold him off, remember – you’re enjoying it more than he is.

Issue 77 September 10th, 2009

Dear Members of the Royal Family,

September … la rentrée … back to work or school, and back – briefly – to competition, in that curious five-week mini-season which starts in Liège and finishes at Hazewinkel. The latter is one of the most important occasions in the RSNB calendar, but from time to time the first one turns out to be a significant event for us too.

Another WinWinWinWinWinWin

A new name on the Royal’s Roll of Honour – Jean-Benoit won the Novice Sculls at the 1000m de Liège on 30th August. He headed a field of 13, from nine clubs, and his winning margin was a decisive 3½ seconds. Jean-Benoit emulates his sister Anne-Sophie, who won the corresponding women’s event here not so long ago (well I can remember it, anyway).

Warmest congratulations to J-B, and best wishes for the rest of the season, starting this weekend when he races J1x over the 2km distance in Ghent, both on Saturday and in a big international field on Sunday.

Still in Liège

It’s rare to come across a decent rowing club website in Belgium, but the new one from RSNML is rather good.

I particularly liked the section on the Marathon, which this year takes place on October 24th. In case you didn’t know, it involves either 5 or 7 circuits (you choose) of an 8650m course. What tickles me is that they have records of the maniacs who have done the most races and the most circuits. The Royal’s old friend Marcel Fourré is in the lead on both counts, with 45 Marathons and 298 circuits – that’s more than 2500km – and our own John De Bakker is well up the list with 33 appearances and 179 laps (1548km). Just think – if you start now, you could overtake him in 2034.

PS, here’s an interesting fact. Until 1949, Liège used to be called Liége. Not many people know that.

What do men and women get up to after dark?

Another snippet from the RNSML website – a notice for a new event, sadly now over and past, organised by Belgium’s newest club, the Club Nautique de Visé. It is – or was, on September 5th – the ‘10 Mille Mixte nocturne de Visé’, and involved a 10km row, in doubles, fours and eights, with (obligatory) 50/50 mixed crews, starting at 21:00. Sounds as though it must have been great fun.

Seeking partners

Our old friend Esther, now in Geneva, is planning to make the trip to Hazewinkel, accompanied by one of her rowing partners, and they are looking for an opportunity to row in a composite with the Royal in one or more of the Masters’ events. Since they won’t arrive until Saturday afternoon, this means in effect the Sunday morning programme, and specifically the men’s double at 11:20 and the women’s quad at 12:00. There’s also a men’s coxless fours race and a women’s eights race on Sunday afternoon, although they would require a more remarkable feat of organisation.

Time is getting short – the deadline for entries is Monday evening although we can make provisional entries, then change them without too much hassle up to one week later. So if you are interested in making up a crew for any of those four events please let Marc know.

Esther’s friend is a Masters D while she is in the youngest category. They would be rowing in the colours of Norwalk Leander Rowing Club (US).

Warning: Science lesson ahead

Last issue, I set a conundrum:

Consider a single sculler: he weighs maybe 80kg. His boat and oars weigh 16kg. So 5/6ths of the mass which is being propelled along the course resides in the body of the rower.

Consider also: rowing is not about ‘sliding backwards and forwards’. That massive body of yours is always travelling in the same direction, and without a great deal of variation in its speed over the water.

So – is it the rower or the boat which is the object of the propulsive effort? Since anything more complicated than Relativity Theory makes my brain hurt, I turned to a real expert (and good friend of the Proclamation), Carl Douglas, maker of the world’s most beautiful boats.

What you want is for the boat to maintain constant velocity and trim. Non-constant boat velocity through the water incurs additional drag. The instantaneous power loss in overcoming fluid drag bears a very non-linear relationship to boat speed – P = k x V3 or worse - which means that the most economical way of achieving a set average speed is for the boat speed never to vary from the mean.

A further problem is that a surging boat will also be constantly changing in its pitch, & maybe its elevation, in the water. This pitching & bouncing of the boat generates additional wave patterns, and these take away energy for their creation.

To maintain constant velocity and trim is in reality is rather hard to do. We can do better or worse, according to how we manage our technique, since by the way we choose to move the body with respect to the boat we can apply variable forces through the foot-stretcher.

During the recovery, you have to get the stretcher closer to your own centre of gravity or there's never going to be a catch. You are the heavy, inert object which Newton tells us wants to continue with constant speed and direction in the absence of externally-applied forces. By that virtue, it is your inertia which keeps the boat running, although the drag of the water on the boat continually saps energy, so it reduces your kinetic energy & hence your velocity over the water – you grind after infinite time to a halt.

Since you must "get forward" (which in real terms means you must pull this dragging boat towards yourself) you are already committed to doing actual work - because the drag on the boat is pulling your legs straight and you must more than match that drag force, and move against it through the extent of your leg contraction & consequent relative movement of your centre of gravity and the stretcher – force x distance = work.

Your doing that work helps to keep the boat moving – it feeds extra power into the system. But it does so at the cost of reducing your own kinetic energy, which derives originally from your speed of motion over the water. The way you do that work can be varied in pattern and in intensity, which is how you can, in theory and in practice, markedly vary the boat's velocity profile during the recovery and, with that, the sum of the power lost in overcoming its fluid drag.

Now – go away and think about that for a while. It’s not rocket science, after all. Is it?

Well, that’s the Summer gone, what next?

We Royal rowers are more sensitive than most to the changing of the seasons, never more so than when we have to give up our evening sessions. Those of us who struggle to be on the water before 19:00 are probably looking to this Thursday as our last or second-last evening row of the year (sob).

But don’t despair, you can carry on building your muscles or burning your calories in our gym, which is available every weeknight except Monday. Last year, for the first time, we had a reasonable turnout on Thursdays, such that there was occasionally a wait (but not too long) for an ergo to become available. This year, with one more machine available, our capabilities are correspondingly increased. And you needn’t be doing all this ‘just for fun’, there’s an additional incentive out there …

Yes it’s nearly Royal Winter Ergo League time again

Starting 1st October and running until 31st March, all Royal rowers are invited to take part in the Winter Ergo League. All that is required of you is to set a time (once, or as often as you like) for 2000m on the C2 – at the Club, in a gym or at home if you have your own machine. I’ll feed your result into DEBS – David’s Ergo Benchmarking System – which will give you a score and a ranking that takes account of your age, sex and weight category. So the best man will not necessarily always win.

Just to remind you – last year Andy was the overall League leader and Carol the women’s champ. Only Andy beat his target time (equivalent to being in the top 25% in the world rankings in the previous year) but Jean-Benoit and Kevin both came very close.

You will be able to follow the progress of the League through the Newsletter and latest standings will be posted occasionally in the boathouse.

If you’re new to the ergo, don’t be scared of it. Get to know the machine, explore your own capabilities, set a time – no matter how slow – and then think about how you can improve on it. Andy, Kevin and myself will always be happy to advise.

Hazewinkel (one last time)

Yes, I know, you’re getting fed up with all these reminders. You know it’s on the 26th/27th, you’ve signed up at the boathouse or by mailing Marc, you’ve been given fun jobs to do like driving launches or less fun ones like making the judges’ tea, you’ve booked your chalet and you’re looking forward to the bike rides and the barbecues, early morning paddles and late night trips to the pub.

It’s just that I’ve got to mention it one last time, it’s in my contract.

Belgian Rowing Championships

26-27 September 2009

The Royal is the organizing club for the Belgian Rowing Championships for long boats (4s and 8s) which will take place on the rowing lake at HAZEWINKEL, Beenhouwerstraat 28, Heindonk (between Willebroek and Malines)[1].

We shall be there from Friday 25 September and have reserved on-site accommodation at Hazewinkel for the Friday and Saturday nights so we can also take advantage of the excellent facilities (rowing lake, classrooms and recreation rooms).

We need a large number of volunteers on Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 September, in particular for:
• setting up the facilities,
• transporting the club’s boats there and back,
• the secretariat (issuing bow numbers, distributing results, collecting bow numbers again),
• the starting pontoon (6 or 8 + 3 people to hold the boats at the start + 1 coordinator),
• safety boats (drivers + rescue crew),
• umpires’ boats (drivers),
• technical assistance for the club’s competitors,
• operating the bar,
• preparing the catering (umpires’ meal, sandwiches, barbecue),
• commentary on the races,
• safety on land,
• video reporting and digital photography,
• taking down the facilities,
• 2nd regatta secretary
• collecting trophies, before the weekend, from various ministerial offices in Brussels and Namur.

Please reserve your accommodation and indicate your availability by means of the sign-up sheet displayed in the boat shed.

Your suggestions are also welcome.
For further information :
Pierre CAPPELEMANS : (Regatta Secretary)

‘It's clear, fresh and funny and playfully informative’
Mira Hozakova

Issue 73 April 2nd, 2009

Dear Members of the Royal Family,

Where are we – let’s see … the calendar says April, the clocks have changed, there isn’t a cloud in the sky – it must be Summer. And that means the Royal is open for business 7/7.

While crews and individuals are welcome to come along any evening, Thursdays are traditionally ‘club night’ and hopefully this year numbers will be up and folks will stay on to socialise afterwards.

If you are aiming to row in anything bigger than a single or double it would be helpful to contact David or Carol beforehand so you’re expected and we’ll give you a mobile number to call in case you’re on your way and you’re held up. A 6:30 rendezvous would be nice but 6:45 is probably more realistic for the working classes.

Early season exploits

Most of the large Royal contingent who descended on Wépion for the Handicap intenational de printemps de la vallée mosane namuroise (try saying that as you come up the slide) enjoyed themselves but not, unfortunately all.

The borrowed boat used by the ladies eight of Carol, Geneviève, Heather, Liz, Marie-Hélène, Rebecca, Toni and SNUB guest Eva, coxed by Jean-Pierre, revealed certain technical deficiencies in the steering department and after a tentative departure from the pontoon which involved two encounters with the opposite bank, the crew called it a day and returned to shore.

Out on the water, the other Royal crews enjoyed a pleasant afternoon, an unexpected bonus after the terrible conditions on the journey down. Pride of place went to the yole of Andy, the Peters H and P and Graham, cox Martine, which finished 13th of the 47 starters. In 17th was the canoe of François and Pedro, just one place and five seconds ahead of the double of Claus and Indrek which had started 3:10 behind them.

In 32nd place was the ‘conjugal quad’ of Marc and Solange, Philippe and Patricia and in 44th our new four made its debut in the hands of Brigitte, Lars, Paul and cox Catherine, with a substitute from RCNSM.

The event remains one of the most attractive and friendly on the calendar. No doubt we’ll be back next year, but I guess the ladies will be in their own boat.

We’ve been to one or two other events too. In Bruges at the beginning of March, Claus and Indrek rowed in doubles and Kevin in a SNUB eight, then Kevin and Indrek rowed doubles and Andy in singles at Seneffe two weeks ago. Not forgetting of course that Claus and Indrek showed how inseparable they are by competing in the RSNB Run’n’Bike at the end of February.

As far as the randonnées (rowing rambles?) are concerned, we’ve already got the first one out of the way, last Saturday, when a cox and three rowers from the Royal (JePee, Carol, Pedro and myself) rowed our new four in various combinations with various guests down the Sambre from Jeumont in France to Landelies south of Charleroi. Don’t ask how far it was – the river was in flood and it took no time at all, if you discount the time spent trapped against the bank by the roaring stream, or going through locks which were 1m50 narrower than the boat and oars. Scary.

Coming up

This Sunday, April 5th, sees the UNB Regatta, with a new date, about 3 weeks earlier than usual, and a new, 500m course from the Buda Bridge to the clubs. I can only assume they were sore at losing the masters ladies’ quads last year to the Royal in the last few strokes of the 1000m course that they shortened it this year.

We have lots of people entered in lots of events through the day, including some notable debut appearances. A couple of events are uncontested, so we’ll have a guaranteed winner or two. Apart from that, I quite fancy the ladies’ quad to retain their title – if they can get off to a faster start than last year.

The masters men’s quad is the only Royal boat performing in the morning session. Our other crews are in action all through the afternoon, from just before 14:00 to the end of the regatta at 16:15. If you’re not rowing, come and cheer!

For the aficionados

The best rowing you will see in Belgium this year will be on display at Hazewinkel on Easter Sunday and Monday when the British final team selection trials will be held. Most of the Beijing medal winners will be there, racing singles or pairs.

If anyone wants to join me I plan to go along for the finals on Monday. Although the timetable hasn’t been published yet it’s usually an early-morning affair which is all over by about 10:00 (unless it’s delayed by mist on the lake) so you can be back home before midday to enjoy the rest of your day off.

Yet more classy rowing

As the first week of July comes around, there’s only one place a rower wants to be – Henley. The Royal Regatta takes place this year from Wednesday 1st to Sunday 5th and as usual I have some spare Stewards’ Enclosure badges for anyone wanting to soak up the atmosphere of this unique event.

You would have to promise to be on your best behaviour, and of course observe the dress code, since the rules are rigidly enforced and my member number is on the badges. Or do what everybody else does and exit the Stewards’ before misbehaving.

A caption competition, of sorts

Have a look at this video, then see if you can resist coming up with a catchy phrase. Or if you are Michael in Luxembourg, see if you can resist coming up with ten catchy phrases – honestly, some people have too much time on their hands.

That’s all, folks. See you tonight, Sunday, next week or … whenever.

Newsletter 72

Newsletter 71 February 2nd, 2009
‘It's clear, fresh and funny and playfully informative’
Mira Hozakova
Dear Members of the Royal Family,

A very Happy New Year to all our readers.

January 1st is of course the official birthday for all junior and masters rowers. Congratulations (or commiserations) to all who have moved up a category, notably Bob, who has reached the grand old age of Vet H, René who is now a D and Andy who is an E, not to mention my own achievement in making it to level F. We look forward to more generous time allowances in the handicap races – and a few ‘special’ birthday celebrations during the course of the year.

Did somebody mention the cold? We thought we’d seen the worst of that a couple of weeks back, but yesterday was the coldest Sunday outing so far, and our eight had an unusual and unexpected encounter with sheet ice in the Humbeek reach while travelling at some speed. Maybe all those seagulls standing on it should have been a clue …

We might be mad, but not as mad as the fishermen who are as numerous as ever up at Vilvorde – who have been sharing their pursuit with quite a number of cormorants as well as the occasional heron, so something must be swimming about in those murky waters.

Not too cold to race, either

Next Sunday, February 8th, is one of the biggest dates in the RSNB calendar. The “Brussels Winter Rowing Regatta” combines two events, a Fours Head in the morning at 10:00 and the 85th Grand Winter Handicap in the afternoon at 14:30.

If you haven’t grasped the distinction, the Head is a time-trial with crews setting off at intervals and chasing each other over a 5km course which begins below the Royal Park, between the Van Praet and Laeken bridges, and finishes shortly before the Ring viaduct. It’s for (supposedly) competitive crews in racing shells.

The Handicap is also a 5km race but because of the need for room to manoeuvre at the start it begins just above the yacht club at the Pont Van Praet, and finishes shortly before the Vilvorde Bridge – so the Club is round about the half way point. It’s for (supposedly) less serious crews in any kind of boat other than racing shells, and each crew has a start time which allows for age, sex and boat type, with a first past the post finish – so if the winner is one of the faster boats starting at the back, they will have to overtake 50-plus other crews along the way.

The Head has attracted 13 entries, which doesn’t sound much but it’s the best so far. The Royal has two of them. The men’s quad contains Indrek, Claus, Kevin and a mysterious ‘Mr XX’. We also have a ladies four consisting of Katie, Heather, Toni and Rebecca, with François on the rudder-strings. As always, the event will have a strong international flavour, with regular supporters (and winners) Treviris from Trier sending five crews, with another from the Saurus club in Maastricht.

The Handicap had 53 entries at the time of the draw; hopefully a few more will materialise before the day. We have seven crews entered, with rumours that Kristian may trek down from Denmark to go off third in the trimmy, followed by François 9th and René 13th in canoë singles. The yole containing Peter, Bob, David Roberts and Graham, cox JePee, go off 17th and the yolette with Lars, Chantal, Géné and Marie-Hélène, cox Alex, go 24th. The triplette with Carol, Brigitte and Paul aboard go 32nd and completing the Royal contingent are Romain and David de Portocarrero it 37th in the double canoë.

This being a big Royal ‘occasion’, there are plenty of tasks that need to be done, from selling soup to helping to get the fleet of boats on and off the pontoon with the minimum of delay. Plus, of course, lots of Royal crews to cheer for. So let’s hope we have the biggest possible turnout on the day, not least to show our visitors that the Royal means business this year.

The boat of my dreams

Well, not quite, but it could be.
Thanks to the great generosity of Pierre Cappellemans, we have a new arrival in the boathouse. It’s a shell coxed quad, which we have obtained, pre-used but in excellent condition, from a club in Amsterdam. It’s suitable for 70-75kg crews so I shall probably never have the pleasure of rowing in it, but it’s ideal for our ladies and our lighter men. Here it is with Pedro, JePee and François ready to start its trip South yesterday.

Coxed quads are not common boats in Belgium, however. It could be raced in some of the Spring handicaps – Liège for example – and there are several long-distance events in Holland which have a 4x+ category.

However, I’m starting a one-man (and several women) campaign to fit the boat with a set of sweep-rowing riggers,, giving us much more flexibility of use, both in training and in competition. Maybe there’s a world-famous rigger maker reading the Proclamation and thinking “I could do that”.

I hear the boat may be (re)-baptised at a ceremony on the 8th. Let’s hope they know what they are doing; renaming boats can be a risky business, you have to follow the right protocols. There’s a version of the ceremony here, which gives an idea of how tricky these things can be.

Ergo League update

One or two newcomers and one or two changes of position in the ergo league. Jean-Benoit’s effort in the OBIC championships has been upgraded since he is actually a lightweight, which moves him into second place, and a good test by Kevin brings him in at number three..

Here’s the ranking list. I’ll put up a full list including times and scores in the boathouse next weekend (for all our visitors to see on Sunday). If you want to get onto it, or improve your position, you have until Friday afternoon …

1. Andy
2. Jean-Benoit
3. Kevin
4. Pedro
5. David
6. Carol
7. Claus
8. François
9. Paul
10. Bob

Alright, you can stop sending the captions now

The €100 prize for getting exactly the right answer to the ‘Titanic’ caption competition sadly went unclaimed so will be carried forward to the next time.

Michael Mann from LIRC Luxembourg must be desperate because he sent in seven attempts, so we’ll give him an honourable mention for
“Ernest Wingbottom poses as 'January' for the 1912 ARA Calendar sponsored by M&S thermal underwear”
Special mention too for Rebecca Caroe from Rowperfect UK (who should know a thig or two about ergs) for
“I say, Darling, am I half way there yet?”
And to Andy for
"The man who put the "erg" in "iceberg"...”
Newsletter 70 December 12th, 2008

‘It's clear, fresh and funny and playfully informative’
Mira Hozakova

Dear Members of the Royal Family,

“This is the turning of the year
The final scene before the curtain falls …” (so – what comes next?)

OK, that’s the sentimental stuff out of the way. It’s been an interesting year at the Royal, with lots of new members, particularly in the Junior age-groups. We had a successful summer stage, and a successful Hazewinkel weekend. We had the unusual sight of a ladies’ and a men’s eight working side-by-side one Sunday morning in October. We had a solitary regatta win, courtesy of our ladies masters quad at UNB, and towards the end of the year a couple of successes that modesty prevents me from mentioning. Oh, all right then, if you insist.

Going nowhere fast

“I get the feeling this is not the sort of thing grown men should be doing”. I said to Andy as we neared the end of our journey to Mount Doom, otherwise known as Sporthal Expo in Deurne, for the Open Belgian Indoorrowing Championships. Sitting on a machine, expounding enormous amounts of energy to make it ‘travel’ at 16 to17 km/h without moving a single centimetre.

The Royal squad were four in number: three total novices in the art of ergo racing – myself, Pedro and Jean-Benoit – and old hand Andy, who was looking to pick up a second title at the event, having won the men’s 50-59 category two years ago. In the meantime, the age categories had changed to reflect the FISA groupings, which meant that I went in Masters E, Andy in Masters D and Pedro in Masters C, while Jean-Benoit contested the Junior 18s.

I was unopposed in my category, which meant that I was morally obliged to race the clock, which is even worse than racing a human being. The good news was that I was in the first heat of the day, along with a collection of other senior citizens, so the ordeal was over before the hall started to fill up, and the even better news was that I beat my personal best time, by a second.

In the next round Pedro took on one adversary and also beat his best time, by 0.2s, but not his opponent. Andy, in the same heat, had three Dutchmen to contend with, including a 101kg gym gorilla whose profile boasts of 13,000km in training distance. Behind in the early stages, Andy pushed past his opponent in a tactical move to unsettle him, and then had to hang on grimly through a pain barrier or two. He clinched the victory by a solitary stroke, and in the process broke the seven-minute barrier by just one-tenth of a second.

Once the Masters had been disposed of, the serious business of sorting out the large numbers of J16s and J18s began, the crowds got noisy and the first-aid teams started to be called upon. Jean-Benoit was one of 18 competitors in his group and rowed a gutsy race to finish 12th, just a tenth of a second outside seven minutes.

The seniors event was won by a huge Dutch erg specialist (and recent convert to on-water rowing) who set a new Belgian all-comers record of 5:53.3 and beat his nearest opponent by 17 seconds. None of the three Belgian Olympians contested this race although Christophe Raes took part in the afternoon team event and Tim Maeyens put in an appearance for the prizegiving. Annick De Decker of GRS was the only lady to beat seven minutes with a winning time of 6:55.9. Jo Hammond of ARV set a new Belgian record for women’s lightweights of 7:16.0.

For those who like looking at hard work, pain and suffering, photos of Andy, Pedro (p1) and J-B.(p8). I guess my picture was deemed not fit to print – suits me fine.

Last stroke of the year

The last stroke of the year pulled ‘in anger’ was the one which took Andy across the finish line of the Scullers’ Head of the River in London on the 8th. 435 competitors took part, and Andy finished a creditable 276th, and tenth out of 19 Veteran D entrants. Our old clubmate Vincent, who last year finished an excellent 143rd in RSNB colours, this year came in a still-pretty-good 190th, rowing for Vesta RC, which I suppose must tell us something.

Ergo League

It’s time to publish the initial standings in the Ergo League. Seven brave souls are in the listing at the moment. I won’t give scores at this stage, just overall standings. Remember, these are not based on raw times, they are indexed against benchmarks derived from the world Concept 2 rankings by sex, age and weight.
1. Andy
2. Pedro
3. Jean-Benoit
4. David
5. Carol
6. Claus
7. Bob
At the end of December I will post a half-term list (the league runs until the end of March), either in the next Newsletter or on the boathouse notice board, including times and scores. Hopefully with a few extra names on it.

Looking forward

The Belgian racing calendar for 2009 has been finalised and as usual it looks painfully thin, with no new events that I can see. As usual, everything closes down for three months after the end of May. Here’s the programme for the first five months.

Saturday Jan 31 Ergometer competition Gent (GRS)
Sunday Feb 8 Brussels Winter Head (am) and Handicap (pm) 5km Brussels (RSNB)
Saturday Feb 28 Run & Bike Brussels (RSNB)
Weekend Feb 28 – Mar 1 Nieuweghe - Brugge 5.2km Bruges
Sunday Mar 8 Handicap de la Haute Meuse 5km Wépion
Sunday Mar 15 Head of River 6km Seneffe
Saturday Mar 28 Randonnée de la Haute Sambre Jeumont-Landelies
Sunday Mar 29 Time trials 4km + 1km + 250m Wijnegem
Sunday Apr 5 Regatta Brussels (UNB)
Weekend Apr 11/12 Regatta Gent
Weekend Apr 25/26 Regatta + National Championships (small boats) Hazewinkel
Weekend May 9/10 International Regatta Gent
Sunday May 17 Meuse Handicap 5km Liège
Thursday May 21 (Ascension) Regatta Maubray
Saturday May 23 Boucle de Liège 8.25km Liège
Sunday May 31 Keizer Karel Cup 6km Gent
Sunday May 31 Vogalonga Venice

What’s to report? Well nothing much really. It would be nice to have a ladies’ four in our Head on Feb 8th, and maybe even a ladies’ eight for the Meuse Handicap four weeks later.

In the UK, the Head of the River Race is on Mar 21st, with the Veterans’ Head the next day. The Women’s Head is on March 7th. One of these years …

One other rowing event in Belgium that might be of interest to the Brits is the final GB selection trials which will be held at Hazewinkel between 10th-13th April (very early in the morning, for those who want to get a first look at the London 2012 hopefuls).

The Dutch rowing calendar on NLroei is very thin for the time being, apart from a couple of ergo competitions in January (any takers?). We’ll keep our eyes open for new events being added.

Your papers are in order, yes?

The usual seasonal reminder that in order to participate in any of the above-mentioned events (well, not the GB trials or the Run & Bike) you MUST be in possession of a valid licence from the federation. The forms are available from Albert and to remind you – if you have already had a licence you need to attach one ID photo; if it is your first one you need two photos plus a photocopy of your ID or passport. In either case, your doctor has to stamp the back. Even if you don’t intend to race you need a licence. If your doctor refuses to sign you off, find another doctor, otherwise see if he will compromise by endorsing your form ‘recreation only’. Or failing that ‘fit to cox’.

If you want to row in the Royal races on February 8th, your completed form must be in the Club’s hands by January 25th at the latest. And please, please remember to sign it.

Do U Facebook?

In case you’re into this social networking stuff, you are cordially invited by Marc to join the group ‘Brussels Rowing’, whiose members are predominantly but not exclusively Royal members. Who knows? It might make the Proclamation obsolete.
Not another caption competition.

The last not a caption competition got so many answers – all from the same reader – that I’ve decided to do it again. This time there is a prize of €100 – but only if your entry matches the one which I have written down and sealed inside this envelope.

The scene is the first-class gymnasium on the Titanic (you probably recognised it straight away).

Festive rowing

Our hero Damien tells me that the Club will be open on weekends over the holidays, so there will be rowing for those who can’t do without it on Dec 27th-28th and Jan 3rd-4th. There will be no weekday opening between Christmas and New Year.

And finally

The Management and Staff of the Royal Proclamation wish all their readers a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. May the sun shine on your outings, may your boat stay balanced and your crew keep in time. May your opponents wither under y our onslaught and your erg times just keep getting better. May Santa bring you everything you wish and may Carl Douglas and his elves keep up with the resulting rush in demand. And may all your blisters be little ones.

Issue 69 November 13th, 2008

Dear Members of the Royal Family,

How time flies. At the time the last Proclamation was issued, we were still rowing in the evenings, and looking forward to a late-summer break in the country. Anybody remember Hazewinkel? Here’s a helpful memory-jog.

And a good time was had by all

Well, who would have expected that the Belgian Summer and the RSNB Regatta would happen on the same three days of the year? Hazewinkel ‘08 has come and gone but all of those who were there will remember for a long time the warm feeling of … feeling warm.

No wins for the Royal but a very honourable mention to the quad of Marie-Hélène, Geneviève, Patricia and Esther who battled brilliantly with UNB to hold them to a third of a length until beyond half way, and were still within striking distance at the finish. A particularly gutsy performance from stroke Esther who first stepped into a rowing boat just a few months ago.

An honourable mention, too, to Alexander, who in his first-ever race beat six opponents, twice as many as all the other Royal entries put together, in the heavily-subscribed J14 sculls event.

For those of you who were too busy to follow the proceedings in the big races:

Belgium’s Olympians had mixed fortunes in the championship events. Tim Maeyens drew a blank, as his KR Brugge crew lost narrowly to a late charge by Sport Gent in coxless fours while his eight was left behind by a huge tussle between Sport and Gentse, it was GRS who took the title with Beijing double scullers Raes and Poelvoorde aboard, these two having already scored two wins, comfortably taking coxed fours and narrowly beating a very experienced TRT Hazewinkel crew in quads.

Gentse carried off the womens’ fours and quads – with the same crew – with the women’s eights going to TRT. One solitary title went to a francophone club, as U.N. Liège picked up the women’s lightweight fours.

Farewell to René

At a simple but very moving ceremony during the lunch-break on Sunday at Hazewinkel, René Vingerhout was given a final farewell from the Belgian rowing community. After short speeches by our President, Pierre Geismar, and Federation President Georges Lambert, the boat which carries René’s name was rowed to the pontoon by our ladies’ four which had just raced in it. There, it was dressed with wreaths and made a number of passes in front of an appreciative crowd,

More results from far & near.

Our senior men decided they wanted some bigger barges to play amongst, so on 11th October they went off to take part in the Rhine Marathon, 42km between Leverkusen and Dusseldorf.
The crew of Indrek, Kevin, Charles and Claus, coxed by an expert from one of the local clubs, said they found it ‘hard work’ – 2 hours and 25 minutes of hard work, to be precise. That put them in 43rd place out of 113 overall, or 12th/23 in their category.

On the same day, Andy was also in Germany, briefly, as the Vechtrace, the only cross-border race we know, started there but finished 5 km later in the Netherlands. Andy’s an old hand at this one, which is sponsored by the maker of his sculling boat, Carl Douglas. He came 46th of 88 overall and second of three in his category.

9th November saw the combined randonnée and head race between Bruges and Ostend – the randonneurs paddle the 18km between the two, while the racers race the middle 8500m section. We sent two crews of paddlers, in the yolette and the quad, while Claus and Indrek raced the double and Kevin rowed in a SNUB eight. The eight finished second (of two) and the double was third of five.

Still to come there’s the Belgian Indoor Rowing Championship on Nov 29th, where Andy is aiming to regain his M50+ title and David is aiming to keep him company (at a respectful and hopefully respectable distance). Then a week later Andy is off to London to row in the Scullers Head.

Come all ye faithful

Also on Saturday 29th is the Club’s AGM – the Assemblée Generale, when the great and the good put on their ties and blazers and tell the hoi polloi how the Club is doing. It’s all very official, but of you want to see how the RSNB machinery grinds, you’re welcome to attend. Tip: sit on a stool at the bar and tell Damien to make sure you’re always topped up. It lightens the proceedings, somehow.

I’d tell you what time it starts but it’s not on the website. You won’t go far wrong with 14:00, though

Reflections on a lost generation

So there I was on Hazewinkel Saturday, driving a launch for a very personable if somewhat intimidating lady umpire, and thinking I must be on my best behaviour and not get drawn into discussions about rowing politics. When it came to the MJ14 singles she told me, with some satisfaction. that there are 40 entries in this event. ‘Indeed’, I replied, ‘this is a very healthy sign for Belgian rowing’, to which she readily agreed.

‘But’, I said, ‘I wonder how many of them will still be rowing in two years’ time, when they have to row 2000 metres’. Her reply was that we would have to wait two years before we can know that.

Well, yes and no. The 2008 entries will tell us what is happening in our sport. In men’s sculls, 39 raced at J14, only four at J16. For the girls it was eleven and four. In fact, if you discount the veterans, there were 100 participants in six short-course singles events (J12, J14 and Novice) while the six 2000m events (J16, Lightweight and Open) managed just 26. Where have all the rowers gone?

Should I care? Well, if more people stayed in the sport, there would be more money in the clubs, more boats, more races, more events in the calendar (is there anywhere else where all racing stops for three months in the Summer?), maybe more clubs than the same 22 as when I first came to Belgium in 1980. Maybe there would be more Belgian rowers to cheer at the 2020 Olympics.

Get on the ergo you lazy lot

The Royal Winter Ergo League has got off to a shaky start with so far just four people posting 2000m times.

Many more have promised to participate, and we have had Thursday evenings when all our machines have been busy, but there’s a curious reluctance to face up to those two kilometres. I’m not going to post a league table until I’ve got a few more names on the list so come on you lot – it doesn’t hurt … much.

newsletter 68
‘It's clear, fresh and funny and playfully informative’
Mira Hozakova

Issue 68 September 25th, 2008


Dear Members of the Royal Family,

The last few pieces of the Hazewinkel jigsaw are falling into place – the food and the drinks, the tents and the flags, the trophies and the crockery. The biscuits and the biscuit bags. On Thursday evening, we’ll be loading up the boats for the Royal crews who will be racing as well as the boats for our training sessions.. On Friday afternoon, the Royal bandwagon rolls out of Brussels and begins to install itself in the country.

A final reminder – all are welcome to come along and help out. We have opportunities for supervised outings on the course at the end of Friday and Saturday afternoons, Nature rambles and bike rides. Club suppers and barbecues, Live music and classic cars. Overnight accommodation with breakfast for €30 for two nights (no, that’s not a typo). Even if you can only spend half a day, a good use will probably be found for you, and if not, there’s plenty to do and see. And whisper it ever so quietly – the weather might just be pleasant.

Race times for the Royal crews (and their supporters):
Saturday 11:10 – Masters M1x – Andy
Saturday 11:20 – Masters W2x – Esther, Patricia
Saturday 11:40 – Masters M4x – Indrek, Luc, Kristian, Claus
Saturday 12:00 – Junior14 M1x – Alexander (40 entries!)
Sunday 11:20 – Masters M2x – Indrek, Claus
Sunday 11:50 – Masters W4x – Marie-Hélène, Esther, Généviève, Patricia

Congratulations to Esther and Alexander, making their competitive debuts, commiserations to Chantal who had to withdraw injured from the double and to Kevin who isn’t old enough to row Masters, but welcome back Kris, where have you been?

Aficionados can keep an eye out for Olympic star Tim Maeyens rowing (yes, rowing) in the K.R. Brugge four on Saturday and eight on Sunday, and Belgium’s last Olympic star, Annelies Bredael (W1x silver in Barcelona) in the TRT quad and eight on Sunday.

If anyone wants transport for Sunday, I can offer a courtesy car service from Roi Baudouin metro (the terminus of line 1A) at 9:30. This MUST be organised in advance to 0474/21.39.37.

Getting to Hazewinkel
Take the E19 Antwerp motorway to Junction 9 (Mechelen North/Willebroek), about 17km from the Ring. Turn left onto the N16, direction Willebroek. After 3km, having passed the village of Heffen, turn right at a set of traffic lights where you should see a ‘BLOSO Hazewinkel’ sign. After about 350m, turn left and follow this road about 2km – and you’re there. There is a car park just inside the gates.

If you have a GPS which sends you up the A12 instead of the E19 don’t worry – you can get there that way too.

Here’s a couple of exotic racing opportunities in November

On Sunday 9th, there’s the Veterans Fours Head in London, over the Boat Race course in reverse. Our Putney correspondent believes he can lay his hands on a coxed four (complete with Tideway-savvy cox), provided he can personally vouch for the excellence of the crew.

Meanwhile, our Lisbon correspondent invites us to the Lisbon Classic Regatta, on the 15th/16th. This is over a 1500m course on the Tagus between the iconic landmarks of the Discoveries Monument and the Belem Tower. Races are in yoles (4+ and 8+) for men and yolettes (4x+) for women and there is a Masters category. Boats and accommodation are provided for foreign crews. The standard, I guess, is pretty high.

Car Free Day plays havoc with Royal activities

Well, not really. Our Sunday turn-out was slightly less well attended than usual, but a group of die-hards arrived by bus, by bike or on foot (from the impromptu car park by the Buda Bridge) and made the most of the fine weather by rowing the yole down to the lock at the Porte de Ninove to entertain the crowds promenading up and down the city’s rives gauche and droite. (I jest…)

With beautiful water most of the way we thought it must be Barge Free Day too, until we encountered a convoy of three when we were nearly home, but the yole doesn’t worry about such things and anyway they seemed to be respecting the 30kmh limit.

A couple of thoughts: how come I was passed by ten cars during my 700m walk from the Buda roadblock to the Club? And more constructively, maybe next year (if it’s fine) can we make some arrangement to ‘capture’ some of the very many passing cyclists who stopped to have a good look at our activities, perhaps offer them a free drink and an information service.

And our other upcoming activities

The lists are now open for the Club Regatta on Saturday October 11th. Remember that the show kicks off at 13:00, so if you turn up at the usual outing time of 14:00 you will mess up all the crew plans and get grumbled at. Remember – all are welcome, all the crews will be made up of experienced and less-experienced rowers.

And as from next Wednesday, you can post a 2000m time for the Royal Winter Ergo League. Overleaf is an information sheet in the form of a ‘FAQ’ – if anybody would like to have a go at translating it into French for me, I would be most grateful.

The 1st Royal Winter Ergo League, October 2008 – March 2009

What is it?
The Royal Winter Ergo League is a chance for Royal rowers to stay fit and focused through the winter, to match themselves against each other in a fun and friendly way, and to celebrate all this with a party to mark the start of the 2009 season.

Who can take part?
Anyone who can ‘row’ the Concept 2 ergometer (of which the Royal currently has four) for 2000 metres, which should take anywhere between 6:30 and 11 minutes. Hopefully most of the rowing members will give it a try.

How does it work?
The C2 is equipped with a monitor which measures time, distance. speed and stroke rate. Set it to 2000m and row. When you have completed your row, note the time taken and send it to, along with your age and weight category*. I’ll do the rest.

You can do your row at the Club, at the gym or at home (if you are one of the few…). The times do not need to be verified – we trust you.

Scores will be measured against a target which will vary according to sex, age and weight. The targets will be the ‘75th percentile’ score in the Concept 2 world rankings for 2007-8 which are available here: (set ‘year’ to 2008).
In other words, if you beat your target time, that would have placed you in the top 25% in the world rankings last year in your category.

You can set as many scores as you like, to keep improving your ranking.

How long will it run?
From 1st October 2008 to 31st March 2009

Will it cost anything to join?
We propose a one-off charge of €10, to cover eventual prizes – which will not necessarily just be presented to ‘winners’.

How will results be published?
Whenever you notify a new time, you will be informed of your indexed score and your position in the league table. Progress reports will be posted in the Newsletter and we’ll put up league positions from time to time on the boathouse notice board. To keep things interesting we won’t publish complete scores more than once or twice during the six months.

Need help?
Kevin, Andy and David will be happy to introduce you to the ergo, show you how to set the monitor, and give you tips about how to plan your row.

Men and women
Age ranges: 13-18; 19-29; 30-39; 40-49; 50-59; 60-69
Lightweight – max 61.5kg women, 75kg men (only applies to the 3 youngest age categories)

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 11th, starting at 13:00

On a 500 metres course (Pont Buda to the slip)

ALL club rowers are encouraged to sign up and participate on the day in this enjoyable rowing section afternoon event, regardless of age, experience or ability.

Crews will be formed on the day. A deliberate policy of mixing (m/f, experience, ability, age, etc.) and evenly matching crews will be pursued so as to produce closely-matched boats.

Advance registration is recommended to facilitate and enable planning of the event.

Club crews (to be randomly selected) will race in two events:

The R.S.N.B. coxed YOLETTE FOURS (4x+)
Racing will be in a heats format, two-abreast from a starting point prior to the Pont Buda to the club slip (roughly 500 meters).

Eight crews of four (plus a cox) are envisaged for this event, allowing for quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final.

The R.S.N.B. coxed EIGHTS (8+)
Racing will also be in a heats format two-abreast from a starting point after the Pont Buda (to be decided) to the club slip.

It is hoped that four mixed (m/f, experience, age) crews can be fielded so as to facilitate semi-finals and a final, spread over the afternoon.

With a view to maximising participation and giving everyone an opportunity to row at least twice, it is hoped that participants in one event will also enter their names and participate in the second event. All are encouraged to enter in both events regardless of experience.

The winners of events will receive engraved presentation tankards.
To help cover the cost of the prizes, a small entry fee of €8 will be levied prior to the racing commencing.

A sign-up sheet will be posted in the boathouse. Please register your participation early!

12 September : Regatta of Brussels 2008
The Royal is organising the "International Regatta of Brussels" at the Hazewinkel Lake on Saturday and Sunday, 27 and 28 September and the " Belgian Rowing Championship - long (rowing ) boats".

Dear Sporting Friends,
We have the pleasure to invite you to participate in the International Regatta of Brussels and the Belgian Championships for long (rowing ) boats which takes place on Hazewinkel Lake on 27 and 28 September, next.

Different activities will be organised by the Royal at the edge of this sporting event, notably a pop concert by the Group "Bloc Notes" after races on Saturday and a stage of a Veterans' Car Rally on Sunday afternoon.

Otherwise, we remind you that the Bloso ( ) is an accommodation for rowers.

We recommend you take direct contact with the Hazewinkel Centre for reservations, notably by email , by fax :
00323 886.22.97 or by telephone to 00323 886 64 64 or to 00323 886 46 01.

We hope to meet many of you during the Regatta and wish you the best sporting greetings.

Saturday 3rd may
A fine job old friends,

Saturday 3rd May, 9.30 in the morning, the sun's rays already warm the climbing ivy on the front of the Royal and seems to implore the Wisteria to come back to be as majestic as it was before its trimming , last September.
Seated on the balcony, Raymond is already enjoying the tasty morning coffee.

No noise, not a wave on the canal, not a breath of wind disturbs the calm of this Spring Saturday.

If we close our eyes, we could believe we were in one of the peaceful countrysides of Provence so superbly described by Marcel Pagnol, we were only missing the chirping of the cicadas and the smell of lavender.

About 10 o'clock, unfortunately for him, this was not cicadas but some ants which brought Raymond out of his torpor.

Paul, Albert, Ghislain, Philippe, Jean-Pierre, Stéphane, Damien and Roland had responded to the appeal to all our members to fill-up a steel monster of 24m³ lying in the alley which leads behind the building.

The task was to remove all the rubbish accumulated not only from the reserve table tennis area, from the Secretary's office and from the workshop but also rubble, earth and dead branches from around the boundaries and to put them in different piles.

We then rolled up our sleeves, took out the wheelbarrows, spades and rakes and began to fill the impressive container.

The ever present sunshine exacerbated the fatigue engendered by this hard work and the small noon hour beer was welcome to slake the thirst of our courageous team of volunteers.
After this short but beneficial break we resumed the job without interruption until 15hrs, the time at which we fermly closed the jaws of the giant.

Pantagruel was satisfied and could remain resting sated until its removal expected on Monday.

We left the Royal about 15.30, tired but with the satisfaction of a task accomplished.
I heartily thank those few members who put themselves at the Club's disposition for a few hours to the benefit of all.

I deplore that this kind of operation gives rise to a lack of interest at the heart of our community and am shocked that someone like our vice President Paul Maes (nearly 78 ) who felt obliged to work the shovel and wheelbarrow.
Thanks again Paul.
I wish at the next appeal that a greater number of volunteer members will respond favorably to the request.

Let us not forget that this kind of work contributes to the well-being of all sections.

Your devoted friend,

(Long Face)

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On Sunday, the 10th February 2008, the Royal is organizing a Head of the River and Handicap Race. Beforehand, on Friday evening, a festive supper with visiting delegations. On Saturday, cultural activities, training and a spaghetti Supper.
For details, check our website : , subpage "Winter Regatta" :



The RSNB's AGM, and 25 years under the presidency of You-Know-Who!

24 November saw our good old Royal's Annual General Meeting (AGM).
It was one in a long, long line of AGMs over the Royal's 142-year history.
But this one was very special and a cause for celebration, marking as it did 25 years under the presidency of our friend Pierre Geismar.
A quarter of a century as president and much longer than that devoted to his (our) club.
The warm and sincere speeches all paid tribute to the commitment, objectivity, foresight, versatility and good current and forward-looking management (just look at our new sports hall!) of the man who has left his mark on the RSNB in both the 20th and 21st centuries.
The words of Daniel Veulemans were particularly apt, and the emotion in those of his inseparable friend and companion Claude Weckmans was palpable.
Several novel gifts were presented to the President, foremost among them a superb watercolour of the beautiful frontage of our clubhouse, wonderfully painted by Gary's father (yes, really!).
All this took place during the AGM in the afternoon and the annual banquet laid on for committee members in the evening.
Once again at the Royal, it was a highly convivial and festive occasion, marked by what can only be described as "Royality" (and not Royalitude, as one female Royal-ist would have it!).
Once again, dear Pierre Geismar, a huge thank-you for everything you have done and continue to do for our club.
In all seriousness, I sincerely hope to be able to say much more on the subject in... another 25 years!

Philippe Kreusch 2008