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Boat Club update – February 2021 - Feb 26, 2021

Winter is never an easy time for a rower – even in a normal year, the freezing temperatures, dark evenings and mornings, high river levels, high winds make getting out on to the water very difficult – we are fortunate to have Dorney Lake just over the river, but in the winter it is susceptible to very high winds which cause almost ocean like waves.

So rowers normally have to retreat to the gym for endless weeks on end – on the rowing machines, lifting weights, and varying the training with running and cycling activities. The training is hard, both physically and mentally, and that’s when you have the electric atmosphere of the gym pumping away. It really is the epicentre of the training and the boys love being in there, together – in it together, pushing through the tough times to get to the good times.


So, this past year has been an even bigger challenge, as it is with all areas of normal life at The Windsor Boys’ School.

The gym has very little equipment in it now – most of it has been pushed out, yet again, to the boys’ houses since the third lockdown was announced.


The thing with rowing is that taking a break is not an option for those who are aiming for top honours.  While there is a risk it might all not happen through the summer, the fact is, it might, and you don’t want to regret not being as ready as you can be. It is a mindset, and a tough one at that.


Training as a group is challenging. Training on your own, at home is brutally tough. And yet the best part of 100 boys in all year groups have engaged with online training sessions, and activities – it is seriously impressive.


The first week you have equipment at home from the gym is exciting, but very quickly the opposite emotion can take hold.  It then comes down to individuals understanding the bigger picture, remembering why they got involved with the Boat Club in the first place, remembering that the start line will be there, eventually, and then concentrating on the daily session, (and if you are a senior rower, two sessions).


Daily Squad briefings and daily training sessions have really helped engage the boys. The briefings are an opportunity to chat and ask questions, super important, and to understand the many quotes of the day! Whole Boat Club strength and conditioning sessions before and after school, all led online, open sessions for getting on with rowing machine work, 5k run challenges, an online match against Hampton School, online ergo races and much more have made the training as enjoyable as possible.  Keeping it competitive is also really important too!  Boat Club boys thrive on competition and its all about ATTITUDE!


In February the Boat Club engaged all the boys, along with parents, family, and alumni to ergo, run, walk or cycle around the whole planet – 40,075 km! A long way! Each day we have had anywhere up to 150 people involved though and as we approach the end of February we are so very nearly there! We are raising money too with the challenge, both for the Boat Club (much needed given the year we have had) and for the Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice – so important for the boys’ morality to be raising money for other people.  It has been fantastic to have so many Alumni get involved with this challenge too.  If you can support the cause, please visit the Boat Clubs Facebook page to do so or use this link:


Alongside training, nutrition is also important – to the extent that following the recent inspirational Cook Alongs with Chef Kev, the boat club has held two for the boys.  The first made pasta carbonara and garlic bread from scratch including the bread and pasta. Brilliantly attended, it was a great success.  Watch them in action here –

The second one was even more fun as we cooked up pancakes and freshly made doughnuts on Shrove Tuesday – it was a lot of fun as can be seen at this video link! A cheat day!


I have been so impressed by so many of the boys who have engaged. Really well done if you have been involved and engaged! Standards are super high in the boat club and I won’t apologise for this – I look for boys to get on board with the standards and I challenge them all to be the best version of themselves, always, but to learn from mistakes and use the tough times to “weaponize” themselves for the start line and all of life’s many challenges that will be ahead of them.


Well done to all of them! Who knows what the rest of the year will look like, but as ever, onwards we go!


Mark Wilkinson
Director of Rowing