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A wonderful Copenhagen Mermaid Regatta

31 May 2003 | adtan
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A wonderful Copenhagen Mermaid regatta. See all the images here.

The Nordic weather gods were in the gayest of spirits this year at the first Copenhagen Mermaid Regatta held May 29th 2003 at the beautiful surroundings of Lake Bagsværd. The late spring weather was warm, the sun was shining from a bright light blue sky and the leaves of the forest trees surrounding the rowing course was the brightest of green - but most important to the participants, there was just a calm breeze blowing down the rowing course.


With over 70 (predominantly) gay and lesbian rowers from 5 nations the Copenhagen Mermaid Regatta – the first regatta ever of its kind held in Denmark was a truly wonderful experience! Held in connection with Eurogames 2003 in Copenhagen the regatta was organised by three rowers from Denmark’s largest rowing club, Danske Studenters Roklub - Erik Koch Rasmussen, Rune Gärtner and Adrian Tan. Inspired by the gay regattas held in Amsterdam and Berlin, they thought it only obvious that rowing should be one of the sports offered at the Eurogames 2003.


Strawberries and Champagne


The regatta was declared officially opened by Klaus Bondam, a member of the Copenhagen City Council, to 50 bottles of chilled champagne and strawberries dipped in chocolate. An extravagant picnic table with delicacies galore, donated by the organisers of the regatta to all the participants and spectators, was served on the lawns overlooking the regatta course. A true treat for the spectators but a true trial for the participants that had to wait till after their races to taste the bubbly! Consumption of chilled champagne is not the best way to prepare for a race...


The were races for both men and women in 4 four different boat classes, single and double sculls, fours and eights. All races were held over 1000m on the six lane course which hosted the World Rowing Championships in 1987. Participants came with a whole range of different rowing backgrounds some were novices at their first regatta others were former national team rowers with ages from 26 to 56. No matter what their level the rowers were all determined to do their best out on the water.


The Races


The first race of the day was the men’s double sculls and already here a high standard of rowing was showed. It was a close race between the crews from the Nederlands and Denmark, with the Dutch team of Jeroen Onstein and Arne Wentholt passing the finishing line in only 3:29.


Next up was the women’s single sculls and here it was the Dutch again that showed unsurpassed rowing in the form of Gudrun Kremeier. Gudrun went on to win the women’s double sculls with Sonja Rouf from Denmark as well as the womens quad scull (combination Nederlands/Denmark/Germany) – and thereby became the most winning rower of the regatta!


The Dutch were dominant in the sculling races. Siebe Rosendahl of the Nederlands continued to win the men’s single sculls. In the men’s coxed four inrigger (a Danish sea-going tub) it was the team from London based Orion Rowing Club that showed their superior strength in this heavy boat class. Last but not least was the men’s coxed eight with 5 crews from four different nations. A tremendous sight seeing them coming down the course. Here it was the host nation, Denmark, that won closely followed by the Dutch and the British.


On the shore Olympic Gold medalist Victor Feddersen (Atlanta) and Olympic contestant Inger Pors (Seoul) honoured the regatta by handing out medals to all the winners of the races.


Due to the limited amount of boats and many of the participants competing in several races there was plenty of time between races. But this was not a problem as spectators on land were kept entertained by the Danish drag queen artist group, DUNST - Ms. Ramona Macho and Ms. Fish organised their own mini gay games with the original gay sports disciplins, 50m Stiletto Sprint and Handbag Throw to much amusement of the spectators.


The Dinner Party


The wonderful day was followed by a wonderful evening with a dinner hosted by Danske Studenters Roklub in their club house overlooking the marina. Heidi, the in-house cook, dished up a scrumptous three course meal and an a cappella choir created just the right atmosphere to enjoy the day’s achievements.


The Rowing Tour


The sun was up bright and early the next day and about 40 rowers embarked on a sight seeing tour of Copenhagen by rowing boat in the Danish speciality – the coxed four inriggers. These big and broad boats are built to row on the sea and many rowers use the boats to go on camping trips around the coasts of Denmark. From the club house a convoy of boats made their way in to the canals of Copenhagen passing the Little Mermaid, the Royal Palace, Nyhavn and finally stopping for a picnic just behind the old hippy community of Chistiania. After a solid late lunch the rowers found themselves experiencing the fun of rowing on the sea, as the wind picked up and gave everybody a choppy row back home to the club house.


The X-Party


After the official Eurogames 2003 sporting events were over and medals duly awarded it was party time – and what a party! The entire DGI-village was transformed in to the biggest party in town with over 3000 people gathered together with a choice of four venues featuring a variety of music: disco, techno, house and ballroom. It was the place were the participants could meet up and exchange experiences of the past few days – some with a medal to prove their success but most just with a smile that was proof enough of a wonderful experience.


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