Traversee de Paris

The Traversee de Paris is a 20 mile row along the Seine from Sevre round the Isle de Paris and back to Sevre. This year the Lea rowing club was represented by 10 women masters. We were the only British crew in this annual event. Organised by our very own Mary Finlay, who proved to be an excellent travel agent, we left for Paris on Eurostar on Friday morning 23 September. Arriving in Paris, Mary organised us on the metro to get to our hotel. She had chosen a good spot near the Eiffel Tower with attractive local cafes serving attractive local beer.

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We began to relax. After all this was Not A Race – it was a tour so we did not need to be competitive did we? We walked round Paris in the afternoon, taking in some of the sights and in the evening we went for a very pleasant dinner with some very pleasant wine.

On Saturday, after an early morning swim for some of us, we visited the centre where the tour (It was Not A Race) started from. The centre was large with a very substantial stock of boats as well as canoes. The facilities were amazing with lovely changing rooms and a good canteen area. There was plenty of space for all the boats arriving for the event and plenty of slipway access. We were delighted to find that the boats we had reserved were brand new touring boats. We had two coxed quads.

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We checked the footplates and fitted the heel restraints after some negotiation on how tight the heel restraints should be.

We let Mary organise the holding deposit and we collected out ‘goody bags’. Then, after refreshing ourselves with some more beer and a light lunch, we went off for more sightseeing. We convened for a nice dinner and then an early night as we set our alarms for somewhere around 4am the following morning.

On Sunday we were all ready at 4.45 am for our taxi to Sevre.

Whilst breakfasting at the rowing centre we attracted a lot of attention from other competitors due to our T shirts. The message that we had ‘voted in’ on the back of the T shirts caused great hilarity and ensured us a warm welcome.
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We boated in the dark with about 200 other boats. We were given wheeled slings to help us get the boat to the landing stage, then (better still!) many strong men to help us get the boats down the steep slipway. Most boats were coxed quads like our recreational boats, but there were a few more elaborate but slower boats.
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Prior to starting, we all raised three cheers for Sandra who had expressed an interest in this trip but sadly died in March.
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Both our boats were close together as we set off watching the sun rise over the Seine. An amazing sight! This was Not A Race but we are Lea and of course both boats were a bit competitive. With various injuries to be accommodated, one crew had to stay in their seats and the other had to swap places to take turns coxing. Sylvia’s sprained wrist prevented her from rowing so her crew of Ashley, Sara, Antoinette and Antke had to row the entire course. Mary began coxing the other crew comprising Elaine, Fran, Laura and Mai Kim. Elaine took a turn coxing to rest her very recently mended ribs and Fran also opted for a turn coxing. There were lots of laughs as some of us had to clamber over each other when changing places and it was not the most elegant, ladylike sight! The swapping process was a manoeuvre that had been practised on land.

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Of course, the swapping procedure lost that boat some time but every effort was made to catch up with the other boat.

Somehow, despite the fact it was Not A Race, we can confirm that Lea boats were not overtaken by any other boats.
The row from Sevre to the Isle de la Cite took us past famous landmarks including the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty and Notre Dame.

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The conditions were good: there was very little wind, the water was reasonably calm and the temperature pleasant. Initially the tide was against us and then, as we turned at the Isle de la Cite, the tide was with us.
However, it was not a strong tide which was just as well since it was difficult sometimes to ‘pick’ our spot on the river. The boats were all very close together and it was often necessary to slow down. Some crews did not realise this and there were a few crashes though nothing very serious. A few crews were really enjoying the scenery and stopped to take photos! One crew really saw it as a fun event and had a bottle of champagne on board. We declined their invitation to join them in a drink!

It was really a recreational row and a new experience for some coxes as we realised when boats shot across in front of our bows without warning. However, that doesn’t stop Lea boats having to get in front.

It was a long row but so interesting, punctuated by the antics of other crews as well as the amazing scenery and local sights of interest. There were several safety boats on the river to ensure we all went through the correct arches of bridges and keep us safe. As we approached the last island before the finish, we were encouraged by the call that we only had one kilometre to go. We just about had enough energy to de-rig the boats and thank the owners for the use of them.

After our early start we were back and having a well deserved lunch before midday. As with every other part of this event, the lunch was very well organised. Providing a hot meal for all the crews was an amazing feat! Needless to say, we were back enjoying lunch long before some of the other crews.

Exhausted but happy, we boarded a Eurostar back to the UK on Sunday evening.

We would really recommend this tour!

Elaine, Mary, Fran, Laura, Maikim, Ashley, Sara, Sylvia, Antoinette, Antke.

Elaine Hare
03 Oct 2016

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