Rowing continues to link Bath and Alkmaar

17th October, 2019

Links with Bath’s European twin-city continued to be strengthened last weekend when a group of 20 adults and teenagers from the city of Alkmaar in The Netherlands came to row and race with the crews of Minerva Bath Rowing Club (MBRC). An annual visit, this year was different because the majority of the Alkmaar visitors were youngsters – something that Minerva is keen to develop between the two clubs and cities.

Because of previous days’ torrential rain, the Monkton Bluefriars Head Of the River Race – from Newbridge to Saltford – due to be competed on Saturday, had to be cancelled. That left junior, senior and masters crews from the two clubs without their hotly-contested annual competition. But not to disappoint their Dutch guests, Minerva and Bath University quickly staged their own timed race, with the Alkmaar juniors – used to rowing on miles of canals – competing hard in difficult river conditions. With ages ranging from 12-16, Alkmaar entered three crews in the 3000-metre race, with both boys’ and girls’ quad fours performing well. A Minerva men’s four won the impromptu race overall, closely chased down by two university crews and an Alkmaar boys junior crew.

Sue Shipley, Chair of Minerva commented:

For the last few years we’ve worked hard to build our junior squad at Minerva and provide a strong coaching team for them and so we wanted to involve the Alkmaar juniors in this year’s visit. Our twin relationship with Alkmaar NV is long-standing and to ensure this tradition continues we deliberately extended an invitation to the Alkmaar teenagers to train and compete in Bath on this visit.

From the Alkmaar Juniors, Joost Knop said:

It’s been a great experience. Bath is a beautiful city and as well as visiting some of its sights we also wanted to be actively rowing over the weekend. Our Minerva hosts have helped us achieve both, despite the weather! Volgende Keer by ons (Next time at ours!)

In supporting the trip, the Bath Alkmaar Twinning Association provided Minerva with more than £400. The link between Alkmaar and Bath rowing clubs is one of the oldest between the two cities and reflects the relationship built up during and after WWII, when Bath supported Alkmaar with clothing and cash funding, the equivalent of more than £250,000 at today’s prices. With food still scarce in Holland in late 1945, fifty desperate children from Alkmaar came to Bath to spend Christmas in Bathonians’ homes. A year later Alkmaar reciprocated and a large group of 14-17-year-old Bath children spent their summer holidays in Holland.

Chris Davies the chair of the Association said:

Today, what Minerva Rowing arranged closely reflects the origins of the Association. So we were very attracted by this latest visit because there were so many youngsters in the group. The links between the two cities cross all age ranges and we hope many more Bath and Alkmaar youngsters will connect with each other.

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