‘We’re getting wasted on Fristi!’

This weekend, the Gyas-Hunze Race kicked off the rowing season in harsh conditions. Approximately 216 teams, including many Gyas and Aegir members, competed with each other on the water. The first year ladies at Gyas did not earn their first medal.

While they were still rubbing the sleep from their eyes, the draw had already determined that they would start very early on Saturday. Yet Berber Dantuma (18), Bibia Hellinga (20), Rianne van Diepen (19), and Anke de Leeuw (21), aren’t complaining. They finally have the chance to see the results of months of training. The ‘Vi Vil Vinde’ team – Danish for ‘We will win’ – is ready.

‘It promises to be a tactical game’
Coxswain Bram Schipper is looking perhaps tiredest of all, but he’s hiding it by being extra energetic. He spent the night guarding the many boats in case drunkards got the idea to play a prank. The people that followed his shift are already having a beer at the bar. Schipper himself is pinning a number 20 to the back of his shirt.

Fall back

The 2.7 kilometre race starts at the Oostersluis, where Gyas’ boathouse was located until 1984. After that burned down, they moved to the current location at the Hoornsediep. The finish is at De Hunze in the Westerhaven. The race promises to be a tactical game. Under the many bridges they will encounter during the race, they are not allowed to overtaken one another. Don’t have enough room to overtake the boat in front of you after all that effort to catch up? Too bad: you have to fall back!

The ladies are not bothered by the fact that the temperature is barely above freezing. ‘It’s just extra motivation to work hard. At least it’ll keep us warm!’ jokes De Leeuw. ‘Juffrouw Jannie’, their boat, is quickly being prepped on the slippery jetty. At a quarter past eight, the Vi Vil Vinde 1 is rowing towards the Oostersluis, where the starting gun will be fired at 9:20.

Into the water

A little past 9:30, the Vi Vil Vinde is already gliding over the finish line. ‘We overtook two boats, including one Aegir one’, says Hellinga proudly. ‘We had to fall back because of a bridge at first, but after that we nailed them.’ Their time of 12:16 is the fastest time for now. There is cautious speculation about a medal. They will have to maintain their position tomorrow during the 400-metre sprint. ‘If we succeed, Bram has to jump into the water!’

‘A rower from Phocas is hit in the head by an oar’
The rest of the day is a coming and going of boats. At one point, the race is upset by an incident. At the Trombrug, a rower from the Nijmegen club Phocas is hit in the head by an oar after the boat got too close to the side. He is taken to the hospital for his injuries.

At the bar

That evening and night, the majority of the 1,300 rowers can be found at the Gyas bar. The association has removed all the valuable items from the room, so nothing can be stolen. Medical student Hellinga is on stand-by to provide first aide, and Schipper is guarding the bar. Every first year has their task for the event. Meanwhile, everybody wants to stay sharp for Sunday: ‘We’re going nuts on Fristi!’

On the second day, Vi Vil Vinde is starting as fourth in the league. One of the great rival’s boats, Aegir 1, has passed the Gyas rowers on Saturday, among others. The Fristi from the night before does net the ladies first place in the sprint. The boat crosses the finish line at 1:31:3, the same time as Aegir 3. It makes no difference to the final results. Schipper will not need to jump into the frigid water.