It all started 5 years ago, on a windy day in April. The four of us were part of a rowing team (Sloeproei Haarlem) participating in a rowing match in Urk. The wind force increased until it measured 7 on the Beaufort scale. It just so happened that, on that day, our team, boat and weather conditions formed the perfect combination.
We started rowing against the wind. The waves were smashing against our bow and surprisingly we gained on the other sloops. The team got ignited with the belief that we actually had a chance in this race. Everybody gave it their best; with each wave and each stroke, we screamed and pulled as hard as we possibly could. With blisters on our bleeding hands, we crossed the finish line. We did it!!!
This was the first victory in the history of our Rowing club.
BIG DREAMS START SMALL
This success motivated them as a rowing team to train harder, get better gear and devote more of our weekends to training. We started to win more races in the Netherlands and Belgium and even won a race in Ireland. Because spirits were high, we took on a 145 kilometre nonstop rowing adventure on the Volga river, also known as the Crazy River Race, which took us nearly 18 hours to complete.
It was after this that the four looked at each other, exhausted, and asked themselves… What’s next? When interviewed by a Russian local newspaper they bluffed that they could row an ocean, not knowing which one. This became a running gag after the rowing trainings in Holland until the men put a bottle of Talisker whiskey on the table. The rest is history!
MEET THE OARSMEN
Having been born and raised in a small village in the water-rich province of Friesland, water and boats played a prominent part in Bart’s youth. As a boy he spent a lot of time building rafts, floating around on them in the village pond and rowing around the village in a rowing boat with friends. When his parents bought a sailing boat he discovered the ease and beauty of sailing and started spending most of his time sailing on the Frisian lakes.
His love for boats led him to Haarlem, where he studied Naval Architecture. He now works as a project manager at Feadship, a builder of custom superyachts.
His study association built the lifeboat Haarlemmerhout, the sloop which is now used by the sloop rowing association of Haarlem. Bart started sloop rowing 15 years ago. As the starboard stroke rower of the team, he sits next to Marcel during races.
For Bart, with his deep love for and interest in anything related to boats and water, the decision to join the TWC team came easy. What could possibly be better than being on the water in a boat non-stop for about 40 days, facing the elements, testing his skills and his physical and mental endurance? Nothing, is his answer. This is the ultimate challenge.
Bart is the silent engine of the team. His fitness will most likely not be a problem, but unlike the others he needs to fatten up a bit to make it to the other side.
Born and raised in the industrial & fishing town of IJmuiden, on the North Sea coast just west of Amsterdam. He has loved engineering since he received his first Meccanoo set as a Sinterklaas* present, and as a son of a garage-owner he could drive cars since he was 13 years old then.
Since that time he developed a special talent for keeping machines running with minimal effort and sometimes significantly fewer parts than it was originally designed for. One of his motto’s: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” (Just wait until it’s actually broken.) Actually, Erik enjoys many activities that fall slightly outside his comfort zone, including extensive travel to new places, doing things in new ways under new circumstances, but always together with old or new friends.
It was no surprise that he ended up working with experimental geological equipment in the oil-industry for 15 years. One week he could be working on a freezing floating platform high up in the Norwegian North Sea, the next week on a sweaty swamp rig in the Nigerian mangroves. For various reasons, Erik decided to slow down to a more regular life. He now works office hours as Production manager for train refurbishments for the Dutch Railways.
He lives on a farm north of Haarlem, in the very lowest part of Holland, about 15 ft. below sea-level, together with his girlfriend Marian, two Nubic goats, a cat, five chickens and approximately 100,000 honeybees. He thoroughly enjoys throwing laid-back parties at this amazing place all throughout the year.
Erik tried different sports over the years, but was never patient enough to practice long enough to really get into it. This ended when he started sloop-rowing with the Haarlem team five years ago. The rest is history! He really looks forward to the TWAC2018 race. And just like David, he quit smoking recently.
But will Erik be fit enough in time?
DAVID DE BRUIJN
David, aka Rough & Humble, the creative & shortest of the team. He Lives with his Girlfriend in Haarlem and recently became father of his son Toon. David grew up in an entrepreneurial family in the north of Holland.
His parents had a furniture/antique company and travelled the country to exhibit at outdoor fairs. It was at these outdoor fairs were he always came up with small business ideas for him and his sisters to earn an extra buck. Nowadays, he is making his living as an Art Director at an Experiential Agency in Amsterdam, working for big brands around the world. He is still getting people in trouble with his so called “great” ideas.
Weather it’s a winter’s dive in the sea, fishing or rowing through the canals. David always gets lured to the water. This year David is building a sustainable Houseboat in Amsterdam where he will move in after the Race together with his Son and girlfriend.
By exchanging his habit of smoking and drinking for a daily rowing & gym routine, he is determined to get ocean ready. He will try to set the record of being the first Art director ever to have crossed the ocean on manpower. His motto is “Never make a plan B”.
Marcel grew up in Nieuwkoop, a little village near one of the most beautiful lakes in the Netherlands. His grandfather repaired an old rowing boat and from that day on he was spending his free afternoons on the water. Fishing, swimming, building huts on the small islands, he was always on the water, and as his brothers and friends did not like rowing, he did most of the rowing for them.
Now, 50 odd years later, he is still messing around on the water. Fishing, wakeboarding, kite surfing and of course rowing. At 6′ 9”, with hands like shovels and arms like the wings of a mill, Marcel is well-equipped for this sport. 10 years ago, he started sloop rowing in a replica of an old lifeboat called “de Haarlemmerhout” at the rowing club Sloeproei Vereniging Haarlem. He is the portside stroke rower of the team, competing in races of 10 to 36 kilometres.
His credo is: “the faster you row, the faster you will be back”.