To continue with our series of getting to know rowers who row with us, we’d like to introduce the Ladies of York!
On a Rowing The World trip on the Lot River, a group of women who have been rowing together for years joined us. They all learned to row as adults through York City Rowing Club. Together, Holly Read, Lydia Brear, Wendy Iles and Sharon Clements epitomize how friendships flourish when rowing friends go on holidays for women who row.
They have been rowing for anywhere from five to 10 years and in that time have trained, raced and, over the last few years, have gone on rowing adventures together. As a team, they have all participated in the Traversée de Paris more than once. Last year, they had a fun and fantastic experience on the Sulkava Rowing Race, a two-day 70-km event in Finland, that involved rowing around an island in a church boat.
“It included a crew of 14 rowers and a cox and was a fabulous few days meeting people from Russia, Finland and other countries,” says Wendy Iles, 58, from Yorkshire, who has been rowing since 2008. “We came third overall and were the first all-women crew over the finish line.”
Another happy memory is the first race they won in the Tees regatta. “We felt such elation as a crew when we realized we had won, having had to go through repecharge and two other rounds,” she adds.
But, not all memories are so joyful. For Wendy, one particular heads race in York stands out.
“Our boat had every possible problem you could endure. It was a particularly cold day in February so we got very cold waiting at the start. Then, the cox box failed and the steering broke. A boat tried to overtake us in an area that was too narrow, so that boat’s blades clashed with one of ours. A blade broke and hit me in the head, and after the finish that same boat bumped into us again and broke off our bow ball. We limped to the boathouse looking a real sorry crew.”
All we can say is we’re glad that didn’t happen on one of our trips!
So, what about combining rowing and travelling. What’s that like?
“Combining a holiday with rowing absolutely works,” says Holly Read, who enjoys training and racing but also cherishes enjoying the outdoors from a river. “I don’t think any of us would enjoy a holiday sitting on a beach doing nothing—so why not combine an activity we all love with travelling to a beautiful part of the world and meeting new friends?”
Wendy agrees. “You get to see interesting places with people you love, meet people from all over, and do something you enjoy. What’s not to like?”
Read another Rowing Your World post here, this one on Kathy Berezin.
Because Rowing The World works with clubs in various countries, meeting new friends is exactly what happens.
It didn’t hurt that they kept a plentiful supply of “champagne soup” flowing aprés-row.
“The members of Aviron Cadurcien, the French club that hosted us on the Lot River were amazing, friendly and fun,” says Read. “Besides the highlight of travelling with old friends and meeting new ones, rowing under Saint-Cirq-Lapopie as it rose out of the early morning mist was sublime.”
Other highlights included going through the locks, and having picnics along the banks surrounded by the beautiful French countryside of the Lot Valley.
“It is hard to express the fun and pleasure we encountered on our Lot trip,” says Wendy. “The other guests we rowed with were wonderful. Our French hosts and Ruth worked very hard to ensure we all had an amazing experience. We’ll definitely be joining Rowing The World again.”
Sharon Clements, another of the “Ladies of York,” is a born organizer. She initiated the push for the “Ladies” to do the Lot River trip. On that trip, she invited Ruth Marr, President of Rowing The World, to get in touch if she was ever in York. Ruth followed up, and Sharon organized a row, followed by two meet & greets, and invited Ruth to stay with her. On top of that, fellow lady Wendy hosted a dinner for Ruth, inviting the rest of the ladies to get together for the first time since their Lot River trip.
We call this series Rowing Your World for a reason. Holidays for women who row bond old friends and present the opportunity to meet new ones.