Furnival Sculling Club

Furnivall Sculling ClubRowing club based in Hammersmith, London. Established 1896

Training camp review

Sunday, 23rd April 2017

Pangers 2017

by Martin Collins, Men's squad captain

This year’s bout of voluntary self-harm and blister popping fun took place, once again, at Pangbourne College Boat Club from 14 to 17 April. With a burgeoning club membership, the hapless Furnivallistas signed up in their droves for rowing camp, blissfully unaware of the trials and tribulations that lay ahead...

With a four day program in place, and the trailer already on location with our boats (a big thank you to Sol for driving), we crammed ourselves into cars designed for London streets, not for transporting 5 rower-shaped folks, and set off at an un-godly hour from base camp to Pangbourne. On arrival, it was a swift unload and re-rig operation, and then straight on the water for the first of three sessions that day. Several single-scull capsizes later, and a monstrous amount of moaning about Macon blades, we drifted back to the hotel to check in.

The Best Western Reading. What can I say. Like a Betamax in a Blueray world, the Best Western was very slightly dated. However, it did have flashing coloured lights in the entrance, and was throwing a groovy discotheque whilst we were there, so memories of Fez Club came to the fore, and we settled in. For the evening meal, we rolled out of the rooms and into the lavishly decorated hotel dining room (couldn’t be embellishing more on the “lavishly”). Despite strict instructions from Club Coach Chris Vannozzi that we were not to eat steak “as it sits in your stomach for a week”, all the women’s squad ordered steak. All of them.

On the second day, many people fell in again. The training plan throughout was structured so that everyone got a chance to develop skills in both small boats and larger boats, with a focus on not going over the weir. So it was a combination of singles, doubles, fours, quads, and eights throughout, with plenty of protest and shrieks of panic when on singles duty. Saturday and Sunday showed some tremendous improvement, I think, from all camp attendees.

A big shout out to our Learn to Row squad/graduates who turned up en-masse to camp and blew us away with their enthusiasm, effort, and reckless confidence. Both evenings were spent dining on more red meat and cheese in excellent local pubs selected by our resident culinary expert Esther. Credit to Sarah Mazza for eating all the Camembert in Reading.

The final day culminated in an anxiety-inducing, havoc-riddled relay race in small boats, which Team 1 dominated (or Team 2, I can’t remember which team I was in). A final de-rig, trailer load and clean up left most of us torn between leaving the beautifully flat stretch of the Thames to return to the Tideway, and wanting to retain some ability to move/walk/grip things in future.

Made-Up Awards (in no way endorsed by coaches, captains, or anyone with any sort of rowing knowledge):

  • Best capsize: Martin Collins. Self-award. For falling in, getting back in the boat, and then falling in again to rip-roaring unsympathetic applause and laughter. Honourable mention to Pam Major for a flawless outing and landing, and then falling in when the boat was stationary. Although I’m pretty sure I saw Alyson Martinovich tip her in.
  • Best pocket rocket: Sarah Mazza, the self-titled “Mazzerati”, for surprising us all at how fast a small person can row.
  • Best dancing: also Sarah Mazza, although slightly tainting the company she kept as she dances when she’s bored. She danced a lot.
  • Best drinker: Alexis (red wine with lunch, dinner, breakfast, elevenses, tea….)
  • Best eater(s): women’s squad as a whole for eating nothing but red meat for 4 days.
  • Best injury: Mark Dalziel. For what can only be described as flayed hands and no complaints.Best discotheque: Best Western
  • Best beat-boxer: Ramdane. Ask for a demo.


So on to the thanks. Lots of people to thank for this one. First and foremost to the trailer drivers: Sol and Christina, without which there would have been no camp full stop. Major thank you also to Chris, Andy B, and Mike DP for giving up their Overpriced Chocolate Egg weekend and spending a great deal of time organising, coaching, planning, cajoling, shouting, bullying etc. Thank you to the drivers, the loaders, the unloaders, the capsizers, and the show-offs. Lastly, but most certainly not least, a big thank you to the Pangbourne College folks that hosted us, helped us with boat loans, fin fashioning and croissants. Scullers, sweepers, men, women, and those that don’t associate with a particular gender, I think are all looking forward to next year already! 

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