Wednesday, 15 June 2011

A New Voice from England - Coach Pat

From Coach Pat:
Henley-on-Thames:  Where modern rowing was born.

Even for those following the blog who are old rowers like me, understanding the mystique of Henley requires that you visit here at least once.  Henley, and other River Thames towns have rowing roots older than our United States.  The history and tradition is amazing.  For a rower, the river can be absolutely magical at times.  Our hosts at the Henley Rowing Club have been extremely gracious and accommodating.  I asked if I could row a club single or double sometime and without the slightest hesitation they set me up with all the needed equipment to explore the Thames around Henley and invited me to use the equipment whenever I wished, following a few simple club rules of course.  The rowing contingency at HRC is several hundred strong and they row often and all are skilled rowers of all ages from 10 to 100.  Last week, Linda and I took out a double for a tour of the race course from the water. The weather was a bit windy but still nice enough as we swung down around Temple Island.  It was neat being out there.  Yesterday the weather was delightful and I launched a club single from HRC at about 630 AM with one or two other club members in the early morning sunshine, but many row in the afternoon (no power boat issues here).    As I swung down the course and past Temple Island with a good steady state swing, the still water, beautiful English countryside, mist rising off the river and fields, and a slight hint of wood smoke on the damp air was an intense experience for all of my senses....spiritual really.  I am thankful that I am here with our team.  It is truly a rowing mecca where excellent rowing is expected rather than an exception, and it has been a privilege to experience it while representing WPI.  Someday, I will return, only then I will know where to find those gemlike pubs off the beaten path, which platform to be on to catch the Twyford train from Reading, which side of the car to get in on, and I will know not to rent a car with manual transmission.  My morning coffee (with milk not cream) is "takeaway", not "to go", I need to order my meal at the bar, and to "mind the gap" while exiting a train.  I will also never forget the charm, hospitality and good cheer of our English hosts which has been truly memorable.  Cheers!     
More photos from our semi-pro team photographer, Coach Pat -


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