Last Sunday, on the Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal in Houten, rowers David Fox, Floris Von Bonninghausen, Jasper Tissen, Reinier Spillenaar Bilgen and coxswain Kimberly Kamp were able to bring home the ninth Varsity victory for the Rotterdam rowing club Skadi. The party back in Rotterdam following the win even brought the traffic on Coolsingel to a halt.

Six hundred ‘Skadians’ had shown up along the canal to help the Rotterdam crew through the competition and cheer them to victory. And it worked. In addition to winning the day’s most prestigious race, the club chalked up a triple win (called blikken in Dutch rowing jargon) for women’s 4+, lightweight men’s 4+ and women’s coxless pair. Arriving back in Rotterdam, the Skadia crew found a huge crowd waiting at Rotterdam Central Station – the start of a magical evening of victory celebrations.

Arrival of the winning crew at Central Station. Image: Skadi

Golden carriages and a sea of beer

Upon their arrival, the crew was loaded into a golden carriage pulled by white horses and carried to Skadi’s parent association RSC. The line of Skadi sympathisers was so long that for some time even couldn’t get across Coolsingel.

Carriage procession to RSC society hall. Image: Skadi 

In the RSC hall, a solemn tribute ceremony was followed by a rowdy post-race party. At least 150 donated kegs of beer were opened, and the entire hall ‘swam’ in a sea of beer.

Post-race booze-up at RSC. Image: Skadi

‘I had considered quitting.’

Rower Reinier Spillenaar Bilgen looks back on a wonderful evening: “It was 7 a.m. before I started to head home. The party was crazy – it’s incredible what a win like this does to people. You feel like an absolute legend when you arrive in Rotterdam and you’re welcomed by 600 singing Skadians. I actually had a knee injury for a while and my recovery took so long that I had seriously considered quitting rowing. Right now, I’m so happy I could kiss my physiotherapist!” NB