January Camp 2022

Buffelsjag Dam – An U14’s January Camp!

Written by Dan Loubser – U14 Coach

The Grade 8’s set off early, on Tuesday 11 January, for rowing camp in Buffeljagsrivier on the Buffeljags dam, a beautiful body of water nestled against the base of Langeberg Mountain range. The boys quickly set up their tents and then headed down to the water, a 10-minute walk, to learn to rig their boats and prepare for the upcoming days. After lunch and a small break, the boys went down to the water for their first session and for many, the first chance to try out rowing on the water. The first session in the octuple (or oct) was an introduction to rowing technique and blade work. The boys worked on the ‘arms’ and ‘bodies’ components of the stroke in fours as well as ‘feathering’ and ‘squaring’, all while trying to maintain their timing.

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The boys in Blue Fury, the u14 Oct

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The shallows the boys launched the boats from

In the afternoon the boys had lunch and after the heat died down a bit, they had a short technical ergo session on the indoor rowing machines in small groups to practice their ‘full-strokes’ technique in preparation for the evening session. A few hours later the boys were on the water and practising ‘full-strokes’ in fours.

On Thursday morning the boys had their first chance to try ‘full crew, full-stokes’ rowing and kept their composure from the previous day’s full crew, and apart from some small periods of ‘caterpillaring’ and the catching of a few ‘crabs’ (when the blade is not extracted cleanly and remains stuck in the water) the boys showed great potential and teamwork.

In the afternoon they had another slightly more taxing ergo session and that evening saw the boys on the water doing ‘full-strokes, full crew’ with a few harder efforts. Focus levels were fairly low after a long day but after a stern talking-to from the coaches, the boys responded with renewed vigour and showed some extremely fine form for u14’s!

Friday’s weather had been a topic of conversation for the three days prior with highs of up to 40̊ predicted. By 8 am the temperature was already over 30̊, and the boys continued work on their ‘full-strokes full crew’ as they gained more confidence together and did a few practices of higher ‘rate’ (measured in strokes per minute) and lining up for the start as well as start practices.

Shortly after the session, the boys were treated to a surprise cruise on the barge to the cliffs in one of the dam’s tributary valleys where they enjoyed a few hours of swimming and cliff-jumping before lunch. After lunch, the boys had another swim to avoid the heat of the fairly shade-less campsite and in the evening those who had not done their ‘capping test’ learnt how to get back into the boat, while the boys who completed theirs on the previous camp headed out for a session in the quad.

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Wednesday morning saw the boys graduating to ‘full crew arms and bodies’ and the first chance to try to maintain timing as an Oct! Usually, this leads to the ‘caterpillar-effect’ – a huge mismatch of timing simulating the legs of the bug, but the boys managed to keep composed and relatively in time which was a promising sign of things to come.

The next morning the boys packed up camp and headed down for their last session of camp, and for many their first “small boat” session, in doubles and quad. The boys enjoyed honing their skills in the less stable platform, and quickly de-rigged and helped pack the trailer for the trip home.

Open Boat – Hudson USP ‘Shark’

It was a successful and enjoyable camp, and the boys showed great potential for the upcoming WC Championships Regatta in Elgin. The highlight for most of the boys was the exhilarating speed of ‘full crew, full-strokes for the first time and cliff jumping with the other age groups!

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Angus and Matt in the double