It was certainly up with the larks for the girls who went to Ghent. With the trailer leaving at 5am the rest of the gang were very close on their heels.
The day was to be the start of a good 3 days away for all Marlow crews and coaches, the weather was sunny and hot from the off and the sea was calm for the crossing of the English Channel.
The first problem for the whole Marlow squad was a major accident on the M20, which saw map books out in the truck and phone calls to the following fleet to turn hard a-port at junction 7.
With the exception of one this proved to be no problem at all, but to get to Dover around the busy M25 proved too much for the sleek crew of the blue Mercedes.
Never mind though, you can always be assured that if you miss one bus (or ferry), another will be along shortly.
The only close encounter for the towing crew was a large sign at Calais explaining that sandwiches with meat in were not to be taken into France. The decision had to be made, ditch the sandwiches lovingly made by Mrs Phillips or smuggle them in……
Once in France the new truck soon found itself cruising at a massive 60 MPH in the direction of Belgium.
We reached Club Ghent at last, and the Marlow posse set up the nerve centre (Phil's Gazebo - B&Q - £19.99)02ghentclubTrestles were strewn around awaiting the squad and Mrs Phillips sandwiches were eaten.
The Hotel yet again proved excellent value, even if it was under refurbishment and dust covered everything. The management had moved the bar but failed to beat Russell, who found it with the ease of a true veteran.
Saturday was the start of racing and as usual when you have lightweights in the squad it was an early morning call. The FISA scales proved to be inaccurate (or at least Julie and Emily thought so) so it was a day's heavyweight rowing to look forward to.

Jo (Terissa) Chesney, Helen (Kevin) Seldon, Caroline (Billy) Hillaby & Toni (Food processor) Truman had a great first race and, after a week of practice starts at the club, came out in front and pushed away to win their first heat.02ghentw4
It was soon realised that the opposition was of top quality as shown by the Oxford Brooke's crew who consistently won races by large margins. But battle on they did and built strongly on each race, taking the good parts and looking how to carry them forward to the next.
Julie McCulloch and Emily Booker fought hard in the double sculls event but were up against some right big birds nonetheless, neither of them gave up in any of their races and, although they may not have won, produced some excellent races against crews not at the front.

After a hard day's racing there really is nothing better than to go shopping, and as coach to a bunch of shop-aholics, Phil 02a_ghenthasbindustbinneeded little encouragement to go looking for a present for Mrs Tinsley.
Sunday was another new day and again required an early start to confirm that the scales were still not reading correctly. Why, oh why, can't they buy a nice cheap pair like Emily has in her bathroom? They seem to read ok. . . . . .
Anyway breakfast was great and all crews were ready for another day's battle. Once again the four showed great guts and determination, only narrowly missing out on winning their heat again, but did produce the fastest time to go through again to the final. Sadly it was not to be the same story for the Marlow/Avon County composite.
02a_ghenttonybillyThis boat was made up from the Avon lightweight pair and Marlow's Booker and McCulloch. After Avon's success from last year in light fours, it was a real bonus to put our two girls into this boat, and as a scratch crew they raced well against the heavyweight opposition. Let's see what the future holds for this boat.
All in all the weekend was a success for the women's squad, as they boldly push forward towards Henley Women's and the Nat 02a_ghentsquadtruckChamps. All athletes produced hard gutsy rows and the following weeks will see them working ever harder towards their goals for this season.
This weekend was also a great team builder as men's and women's squads crammed into the truck to cheer and scream at our crews; Alan Hooker made his unusual noise, which sounds like a drunk yodelling with a kebab in his mouth.

Well done to all Marlow crews.
Gary Phillips