Riverside Boat Club at the Heineken Regatta

This past March, Riverside sent three eights over to Amsterdam for the 47th annual Heineken Roeivierkamp.

The regatta is self-identified as a “quadrathlon”, or an event with four competitions within it. There are four races of various distances; a 250m, a 750m, a 2500m, and a 5000m. The event is hosted by Nereus Rowing Club, and is held on Amsterdam’s Amstel river. The regatta is proudly sponsored by Heineken Brewery. Riverside was well represented on the Amstel river by our Men’s sweep team, and our Master’s Men and Women’s teams. The regatta was held on March 9th and 10th, and as you can imagine, conditions were not exactly favorable. Our crews battled high winds, heavy rain, and low temperatures, as well as hours spent on the water waiting for their next event. Some competitions were cancelled altogether due to the dangerous conditions. However, the stripes did manage to get down the race course a couple of times! Of course, in true RBC fashion, our rowers and coxswains found a way to see the silver lining, and found themselves having a great time. The Heineken regatta is truly a unique experience, and as such, the stories are best told by those who experienced it. Check out the blog posts written by Men’s sweep rower Charles Wu and Women’s Master’s sweep rower Janice Hayes-Cha to read about the excitement and chaos that was the 2019 Heineken Roeivierkamp.  

Recap of the Heineken Regatta


the Men’s Sweep squad

by Charles Wu

The men's sweeps team sent it's first ever lineup to the Heineken Regatta in Amsterdam this past March. The lineup consisted of coxswain Sarah Ivey, as well as rowers Armando Chavez, Alex Barat, Evan Meisler, Charles Wu, Ryan Brown, Nick Tsantes, Jon Dwyer, and former meatwagoneer and Dutch native Gijs Hoogerwerf. The group arrived in Amsterdam on Thursday, March 7th, and was able to get a first practice in using our borrowed boat from De Hoop, a local rowing club. Conditions were extremely windy (not unlike our worst basin days), so after a short swing row to shake off the overnight travel the group headed back to our rented house boat (right along the race course). The first evening was spent with a dinner out with the group at a neighborhood restaurant and preparing for the regatta hydrating with authentic Heineken beer. After attempting to explore the nightlife and discovering that, even internationally, 8 dudes still have a hard time getting into any clubs, we settled down at a bar called the "Cooldown Cafe", which featured a DJ named Vinnie, the playing of the period classic  "Levels", an oddly timed playing of "All I want for Christmas is You", and bartenders doing things that would be definitely illegal in the US.


The next day, after a long sleep-in to shake off the hangover and jet lag, we had a much better row in flatter conditions, and spent a bit more time exploring the downtown area. With racing starting the next day, the group decided to head in early (definitely not because we are old) and got a good night’s sleep before the first race day.

Saturday was the first day of racing, and the forecast once again was showing significant wind and rain. Races were delayed for hours, and we were uncertain that we were going to be able to race at all. At the end, they cancelled the 5K head race, but kept the 750m piece. Once we found out, we quickly gathered and headed to the boathouse and launched. After almost 2 hours on the water, in between queuing for the race and finally starting we were lined up against the Norwegian Club Laga. After being head to head for about 500 meters, we managed to catch up to the boat that had started ahead of us, forcing us to slow down significantly to avoid a massive collision, much to the dismay of the spectators at Nereus, which was stationed at the finish line. Nevertheless, we got off the water satisfied that we got to race that day (other events, such as the masters races, were cancelled for the day).

That evening, the Heineken brewery hosted their annual  Heineken Experience for international crews, so the gang dressed up in our finest formal attire (Henley jackets included) and headed over to the brewery. Turns out international crews pretty much just meant US clubs, as there was a strong presence from RBC, CBC, and other US teams. An open bar of Heineken products was just the cure we needed for an exhausting day of waiting around.

Picture Credits: Charles Wu

Finally on Sunday, the final two races were held (2500M and 250M). Much like the Head of the Charles, we rowed up to the starting line, where we waited with competitors that mostly consisted of European collegiate crews, as well as other clubs. By fate, the Tideway Scullers club (that famously knocked us out at Henley in 2017) was seeded right behind us, and we took particular pride in being able to extend our margin against them over the 2500M piece. One member of our boat claimed that this means that "we could have won Henley".

Unfortunately, the Heineken Regatta is not as well managed as the Head of the Charles, so we had to wait about 2 more hours in between finishing the 2500m and starting the 250m race. This was especially awful since it was pouring rain and about 40 degrees out. By the time we finally lined up against our paired crew for the 250m piece, everyone was barely able to move without shivering. We were paired up against a crew from the University of London, and despite not being warmed up at all, we were able to nip them by about 1/2 length, giving them a full show of the power of American muscle (since there was absolutely no finesse involved).

Finally, we finished racing, and after rushing home and warming up, cooked a family style dinner, ate some space cakes, passed out and ready for an early morning flight back to Boston (except for Evan and Barat, who gallivanted off to Spain for a follow-up Bro-Cation).

the Master’s Women’s squad by Janice Hayes-Cha

Picture Credits: Janice Hayes-Cha

Amsterdam—what an amazing trip.

Where to begin? In Amsterdam for Heineken regatta. Practice on Thursday- Shackleton expedition, 29 mph. We call off the women's practice. Friday was okay, we got the obligatory photo with the windmill in the background, and  attended a fun pasta party at Nereus boat club where Melanie and Christine are accosted by cute drunk dutch guys.

Saturday races were cancelled because of high winds. Sad. Meatwagon got to race in afternoon, and we told everyone they won but they didn't. They looked good.

Saturday afternoon the race official said our Sunday races were on, happy. Then we were at the Heineken brewery and we got the word after dinner that all masters women races were cancelled -so the elite men could take our early time in the schedule. Whaat!? Sad and mad.

So we drank a lot of beer with a 1/2 hour to go on the open bar, after abstaining because we were racing.

Then our RBC master’s men get organized and say they would take four women in their boat as a protest. Ok, great idea and really supportive. RBC H4K Mixed 8.  We made sure we wouldn’t be banned from the regatta with race officials. Then we went to bed very late after more beer.

Then at 6 am texts galore! Officials said the master women races were back on, maybe. Everyone to the river. Yay.

Then our master’s men raced and crashed at the start into another boat and two men were injured (took oars in the back), so they somehow finished that race and rowed to our dock, (we were at a different boat house near the finish) to drop the injured men and grabbed two women, and then got to the start for the 250 race while we called an ambulance. For real. This is all during a huge cold windy monsoon by the way and everyone has hypothermia (not literally). Are you still with me?

We wait for our cold wet women to get back and then we launch late and book it to the start where officials are yelling at us in Dutch but Melanie interprets it, and we almost miss the race and have no time to adjust our riggers in a heavy weight boat where we have to pull into our necks. And start the race. It’s a killer. Ugh. Wind and waves. Be careful what you wish for.

We get to the last sprint of the race and an oar flies out of the loose oarlock and we almost lose it but Sammi holds on and while we are trying to sprint somehow gets it back into the oarlock and we finish the race alive with 8 oars and 9 wet women.

And then the last race is cancelled (hypothermia and all) (again not literally).

We had hot tea and apple tarts.

The injured men are going to be okay. Hans, a dutch guy, had to stay in the hospital for two days!

Then more beer. And here we are.

Go stripes!

The Master’s Men’s squad

by Paul Heimlicher

The masters men sent an 8+ to Amsterdam to compete in the H4K (locally called ‘the Heineken’) in the F bracket. This regatta is perhaps the biggest in the country. It’s unique format with four (hence ‘vierkamp or 4K distances (three for Masters) is inspired by the allround speed skating races that the Dutch are so fond off and successful in. The line-up from from cox to bow was Peter Choi-Rudy Schreiber-Paul Heimlicher-Trevor de Koekkoek-Andy O’Brian-Mark Klinker-Hans Kroon – Murk Mulders - John Yasaitis. Hans and Murk are from Rudy’s new rowing club in Maastricht and graciously offered to substitute for two injured Riverside rowers. The weekend was plagued by foul weather, and our races for Saturday were canceled. Which gave us extra time for socializing and exploring the town. Finally it was decided on Sunday morning to race the distances originally planned for Saturday. The 2,500M event was a tight race and ultimately we took second place just behind CBC. We took 4th place in the 250M dash. The 5k head race was canceled due to high winds. While the weather was less than cooperative, we thoroughly enjoyed our 4 days and 4 nights in Amsterdam. The Dinner and Beer event Saturday night at the Heineken Experience was great fun. We spent much of the evening with local crews and crews from the US including our friends at CBC. All agreed it would be fun to come back and race again next year.

Picture provided by Phil Heimlicher