I am writing to update everyone on the trip to the UK so far. In short, we are having a terrific time! I can’t possibly do the trip justice in one letter, but I will try to write about some of the highlights of the trip so far.
Last weekend, we rowed on the River Thames past Hampton Court Palace (former home of Henry VIII). We spent two days rowing on this stretch of the Thames and scrimmaged our hosts and local high school crew Kingston Grammar School. The team had a great time meeting the English boys (they also had a female coxswain so Katie was well at home there). It was fun to listen to the kids swapping rowing stories and I know the guys plan to stay in touch with them and cheer for them as they progress through the regatta this week. Our thanks go to Kingston Grammar School and their coaching staff for all of their support on this trip for us. We are grateful for all of their help in making this trip a successful venture.
On Monday last week we visited London. On our first stop we got the chance to view the changing of the guard in front of Buckingham Palace.
Then we walked a mile or so toward the river and took in Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. After this, we walked to Trafalgar Square. On the way we passed Downing Street (home of the Prime Minister) and he was actually outside in the street at the point we were there! After lunch, we visited the Tower of London. In my 38 years, I had never actually been inside the Tower of London and so took it upon myself to view the crown jewels for the first time in my life. Terrific stuff!
The next day we took the crew to Stonehenge. The team had a good time coming up with ideas as to why Stonehenge exists. I liked Baruch’s explanation that it was an ancient place of worship, although Aaron suggestion that aliens had something to do with it was also is appealing.
Tulsa Rowing Club Will Be Represent at this Year’s Henley Royal Regatta
We spent the remainder of the week training on the Henley Reach of the River Thames. Last Friday we watched the qualifying races. Henley Royal Regatta is such a popular and over subscribed event that time trial qualifying races have to be held the week before the main event. The purpose of this is to allow the fastest crews to progress forward while eliminating others from the main 5 day competition. When we left for the UK we fully expected and were prepared to be involved for these races as we are an unknown crew. However, we found out the week before that the committee of HRR had allowed us to compete in the main competition without having to qualify. This means that we will be racing in the main competition and will be the first time in the history of the regatta that a crew from Oklahoma will be represented.
I’m not entirely sure why they choose us for this gift and opportunity, but it possibly has something to do with the fact that they recognize the amount of distance we have traveled, the expense and effort that it has taken to get our crew to this event. Our thanks and gratitude go to the organizers of HRR and of course to all of our supporters for enabling and allowing us a place at the table this year.
This past weekend, we competed in Reading Town regatta. This was another historical first for the club. It’s safe to say that we learned a great deal about how competitive it is over here and rowed very hard against some very talented competition. We placed third in the final of the school juniors eights at the end of the day. In addition, our Varsity boys coach Micah Hartwell made it to the final of the intermediate 1 sculls and put in an extremely good show to place 2nd overall in the competition.
Last night we attended the overseas crews reception at the Henley River and Rowing Museum. The museum is fantastic and was recently voted to be the 48th best museum in the world. We met crews from all over the world and our crew is really excited for what Wednesday will bring.
Tulsa Rowing Club will race in the Thames Cup at 7:05pm, UK time tomorrow evening (Wednesday 3rd July). We race a crew from Nonesuch Rowing Club. I know that our crew will do us proud. Regardless of the result of the race tomorrow night, this trip has been memorable and a benchmark for our club. I can’t tell you how proud I am of this club and all that it has achieved in a very short period of time.
There are photographs of our trip on our Facebook page. You can follow us on Facebook at the following URL: https://www.facebook.com/TulsaRowingClubJuniors
Finally, I wish to thank Dan and Jennifer Seely and Carmela Grantham for chaperoning this trip so far. There is a great deal of planning and behind the scenes work that goes into making this trip happen and be successful. These boosters have put in a great deal of time and effort to get us to where we need to be. We can’t do this without committed parents and appreciate all of your help on this trip. Thank you!
I leave you with a picture of our crew (attached) dressed up in our blazers and bow ties. It was fantastic to see our athletes represent Tulsa last night and this week at the regatta.
I will update you all after the race tomorrow. Until then,
Coach Neil Bergenroth