By: Blake Donovan
December 29th, 2006 marked the Grand Valley Rowing team’s return to Winter Park, Florida for the second annual Winter Technical Vacation. Arriving by both vans and planes, an impressive 48 rowers, 8 coxswains and 5 coaches were able to attend the winter training. This years Winter Technical Vacation far surpassed last years in quantity of rowers, coaches and coxswains. Thanks to an increase in support for Grand Valley Rowing from alumni, the school and staff, our rowing program was able to literally double last years number of athletes participating in the Winter Technical Vacation. Our programs strength was not only displayed in the large quantity of athletes, but in our equipment as well.
The previous year, training in Florida required us to borrow boats and equipment from the generous Winter Park boat club. This year we brought the entire navy, from eights all the way down to singles. With so many boats and great athletes to fill them, this years training was made significantly more competitive whether doing race pieces or drills. In the end, more competition means more fun.
Fun is what the Florida trip is all about. This year’s highlight for me was on the water. No, it wasn’t the two or three a day practices, it was the New Years Eve Regatta. The team was broken down into four smaller teams, each representing a different country. Each country made their own racing shirts and line ups for the regatta. The regatta consisted of sprint racing in singles, pairs, fours and eights. Boats consisted of mixed men and women, novice and varsity. It was a blast having a friendly competition while rowing with teammates, that under normal racing circumstances, you usually wouldn’t row with. Afterwards the entire team cleaned up and headed out to eat and to downtown Orlando to celebrate the New Year. However, not all the fun centered on being in a boat. Two afternoons we went to the beach for a relaxing day of surf, sand and sun. Winter Technical Vacation is without a doubt the most fun I have during winter break.
Getting off the ergs and back in a boat is an incredible opportunity, especially when you are going from a Michigan winter to Florida. It is amazing the improvement of our athletes from the beginning of the week to the end. The time we spend training in Florida is an invaluable asset to making us stronger oarsmen. The increase in scale of this year’s trip compared to last years was immense. I can’t help but get excited when I see the direction this team is heading in. Every year holds more and more promise.