Lake Bagsvaerd, Copenhagen, Denmark

Lake Bagsvaerd
Lake Bagsvaerd

7 September 2016

Göran R Buckhorn looks back at his connections to København, Copenhagen, capital of Denmark, where the 2016 World Rowing Masters Regatta starts tomorrow. Göran writes:

Growing up and going to school in the city of Malmö, in the province of Scania in the south of Sweden, we Scanians have a different history from many other Swedes. When I went to school, we were taught everything about the Swedish kings starting with Erik Segersäll, Eric the Victorious, who ruled from c. 970 to c. 995 and the following reigns onwards. It was, however, first with the Treaty of Roskilde in 1658 that the Danish province of Scania fell into the hands of the Swedish king Charles X Gustav after a devastating defeat for the Danes. Then began the indoctrination of the Scanians to make them into good Swedes. The last uprising in Sweden was in Scania in 1811 and many of the rebels were killed by the Swedish army or later died in prison.

Almost 160 years after the last rebellion in Sweden, many Scanians still felt closer to the Danes in Copenhagen over the Öresund straight from Malmö than they did with the stuck-up Swedes in Stockholm. When we school children in Malmö went on school trips to the ‘capital’ it was Copenhagen we went to, not to the far away Stockholm. And we children liked it, as in Copenhagen was the world famous amusement park Tivoli, the fabulous Zoologisk Have, Copenhagen Zoo, the Botanical Gardens and much more. Getting older, among the ‘much mores’ were the cheaper (and much better) beer, Carlsberg or Tuborg, take your pick, easily picked up at Nyhavn.

Nyhavn, 'New Harbour'
Nyhavn, ‘New Harbour’

When I began to row at Malmö Roddklubb (Malmö RK) in the 1970s, it was also to the annual Copenhagen Regatta, held at Lake Bagsvaerd which is 13 kilometres from the centre of Copenhagen, we boys were looking forward to (girls and women were still a few years shy from being able to join the club). When I later hung up the oar to become a coach at Malmö RK, we continued to take the ferry over to Copenhagen and Lake Bagsvaerd.

For the 1987 World Championships at Lake Bagsvaerd, we were a contingent from Malmö RK who arrived to the regatta for the finals, which proved to be a disaster. The regatta organisers did not have the weather gods on their side: strong winds and heavy rain spoiled the races for many good crews. Our group sought shelter in the Regatta Pavillonen, the restaurant overlooking the last part of the course, including the finish line. From there we saw how the Britons in the coxless pair, Steve Redgrave and Andy Holmes, took their second world championship title (they had become world champions the previous year, too, in the coxed pair, with Patrick Sweeney as cox). Alas, from where we were sitting in the restaurant, it was a wet affair.

Malmö RK’s treasurer had tagged along, too. He was a real business man, and a gentleman, who persuaded the Americans, who took the gold in the eights at these championships, to sell him their shell, a Vespoli, as it would be too expensive to ship it back to America. I cannot remember if he bought the eight before we visited the restaurant, or after.

When we got the shell to Malmö, it took us a very long time before we painted over the American colours on the blades – it was this groovy feeling of rowing in an American champion boat with white/blue/red blades on the canals of Malmö.

Tomorrow the 2016 World Rowing Masters Championships start at Lake Bagsvaerd. Time to visit the Regatta Pavillonen again?

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