In late spring last year (2022) a Nordic quattro – Johannes, Patrik, Søren and Joonas - embarked on a new challenge. Fresh out of the Nordiska rowing course, each of us had gotten a whiff of the possibility to row a few regattas along with Nordiska’s experienced former rowing legends in the newly formed Nordiska Regatta team a.k.a "We also row". How hard could rowing in an 8- boat be for a relatively sporty Nordic posse we thought?
In the first few outings we quickly discovered that the transition from Røde Orm to the narrow regatta boat Sleipner was going to challenge us. As the boat rocked from side to side more than the rocking chair at a Scandinavian summer house in July, we struggled to reach even a top speed of 2:00 / 500m – stretching the nerve of our captain Martin and making the whole experienced crew contemplate whether they’d be better off having a beer rather than trying to tune a Nordic engine to regatta shape by the Sursee regatta in September. Realizing that the learning curve was going to be steep over the summer, each of us set our minds to improving the 2-3 worst mistakes in our strokes based on feedback from Martin.
After a rowing filled summer and our form improving, we decided that it was time to join the fall Uster 500m sprint regatta a week before the registration deadline – not in a single oar boat that we had practiced all summer, but in a 4x Knut Nylund II. This caused distress not only for the rowing committee but also for Martin, as the crew was already ramping up for a long-distance race in Sursee. Three practice outings, one sunken underwater experience and a Nordiska T-shirt borrowing saga later, we found ourselves at the starting line. Well prepared the night after the annual Nordiska crayfish party and a brief excursion in the buoys at the start of the race, we found ourselves 300m into the race cruising with confidence at stroke rate 40. However, it was not meant to be as our form deteriorated at 450m and we spent the last 50 meters half-dead fishing for crabs. On the positive note, thanks to the sprint start we had reached a personal best of 1:45 / 500m. Upbeat we vowed it wouldn’t be our last regatta.
Inspired by the fun we were having with our newly-found rowing hobby, Antti – a new member to the engine - joined us in the Fall - thereby completing the Finnish Four, as Søren was sidelined with old flared up back issues. Leading into the Fall regattas our performance kept improving sparking some hope in our experienced crew. That Fall our regatta team first had a pretty solid performance at Sursee recovering from a collision incident at a mass start with a rogue Uster boat and went on to win the Pot de Chambre making the whole Nordiska rowing community proud of the return of the POT to its home where it belongs.
As the year drew to its close and the winter slowly turned into Spring, the long-awaited flat Winter water conditions kept evading us. With more trainings resulting in unfavorable wind checks at 5:45am than solid outings, the freshmen quattro branded the whole flat winter water season a myth despite persistent reassurance from Sebastian that it was the worst rowing winter since 2000(?). After a miserable winter campaign, the whole regatta team found itself at the end of March questioning whether the wind gods had completely forsaken Zürich rowing community and mourning the loss of a good rhythm we had found in the Fall.
Despite the setbacks, we set ourselves the goal to take part and prepare for the Greifensee and SM regattas in mid-June and beginning of July. As the wind conditions improved slightly in the next weeks, we experienced several rusty outings with little to no rhythm – enough so that 5 weeks before the regattas our regatta team leadership considered whether we would be ready for the SM or make fools of ourselves. However, with strong guidance from Martin, the crew of 4 experienced rowers along with the Finnish 4-cylinder engine slowly started to click. With a focus on synching and not rushing the slide, our pace improved, and as we started finding our balance, our cruising speed surpassed our race pace in Sursee Regatta giving hope to our captain. In the last weeks of build up to the Greifensee regatta and SM, we spent time on improving our starts and rowing fast stroke rate intervals. As we started consistently reaching sub 1:30 / 500m split in our series, the hopes of our captain and the crew started rising – if we could maintain a 1:40 / 500m split throughout the 1000m race, we would have a good shot of staying with the pack of other boats with FAR more experience than us (at that point each of us had accumulated around 600km at the most).
The Greifensee regatta started (again!) with a small crash at the start but ended with a solid performance and a 4th place finish. However, on Sunday in near-perfect sunny conditions, we pulled our best race yet and finished 2nd beating multiple boats in the process, which prompted praise from our captain.
Excited by the great results, we continued good progress and kept hitting our splits in the lead up to the SM regatta. The preparation culminated to a fantastic outing at Rotsee in which we clocked a 1:25 / 500m split in our last interval before the race raising the hopes and expectations for Sunday’s race to an all-time high – could we hold sub 1:35 all the way through?
As the Sunday regatta rolled around, the crew got a reminder that not even "We also row" can PB in every outing. The warm up felt rather nervous and a slightly too fast start in the 1000m race resulted in us falling apart in the last 100m. Post-race disappointment was in the air, as we got on the podium to get our SM medals after finishing 4 seconds behind the #2 rank Basel boat in our category with a final time of 3:19. Nevertheless, in the evening the disappointment had after a small reflection already turned to positive. Looking back, a year ago as complete freshmen we had struggled to reach a 2:00 / 500m split and now we were disappointed with a sub 1:40 / 500m average split over a 1000m – our initially intended goal.
While a lot of untapped potential and learnings remain, just like that the Finnish quattro had turned from newbies to rowers within less than 800km in a rowing boat and giving some other experienced boats a good run for their money. We believe such a feat is a solid testament to what a good group of individuals working in a team towards a common goal together can achieve. While there have been ups and downs along the way, it is safe to say that it’s been a fun year and the Finnish engine and We also row are looking forward to the next challenges ahead! We hope our story inspires our fellow ambitious newbie rowers (independent of gender) to step outside of their comfort zone and give a regatta or two a go - we are hiring! ;)
Finally, we would like to extend our deepest thanks and gratitude to our whole We also row - team as well as the rowing committee for all the support and belief in us over the past months! In addition, a special thanks goes to Martin, who has since become a father figure for the whole group - keeping us on the learning path and guiding us through the waves of the Zürisee!
Nota Bene körhelg
Nota Bene körhelg
Våra veteraner kommer på besök och har fest på Nordiska på lördagskvällen.
Kom med och ro och heja på Nordiska när vi försvarar vår seger från ifjol!
Nordiska Roddföreningen i Zürich
Wilhelm (Ville) Redl
Susanna Sarkki Ekestubbe
Søren Magnus Olesen
Sigrún Stella Þorvaldsdóttir
Our rowing club, Nordiska Roddföreningen i Zürich, is one of the oldest in Switzerland: It was founded in 1878. From the very beginning, we have combined sport with social activities for Nordic expats. In order to become a member, you must either be a citizen of a Nordic country or command a Scandinavian language (or both). For more information, see our regular homepage.