Intermezzo: amateurs

Your Narrator may continue this intermezzo and provide a few other posts. This post is about world-class amateur rowers – oarsmen, who with (almost) all effort want to be selected for one of the two students race crews who will compete for the victory in the annual regatta on the Thames.

During his holiday, the first protagonist read the book “The last Amateurs” by the author Mark de Rond on the preparation of the boat race between the University teams of Cambridge and Oxford. The subtitle of the book is “To hell and back with the Cambridge boat race crew” or freely rendered “To the end of the world and back with the Cambridge race crew”.  The second part of the quest for “who are you” of the two main characters may also be subtitled “To the end of the world and back” and both main characters are also amateurs. They perform – just like the oarsmen their training – this search from a deep inner urge and for temporary moments of joy in achieving a milestone that at the same time unfolds a new horizon.


Alongside their studies at the University of Oxford or Cambridge the oarsmen/rowers – many of whom have already been selected for Olympic Games or World Championships for their country – prepare themselves during seven months usually twice a day for selections and for the final regatta. In the morning the training includes more than an hour on a rowing ergo-meter.


In the afternoon follows a workout in the boat of about two hours. A part of the preparation is a constant selection on the rowing ergo-meter to determine which candidate can deliver the most power. Continuous seat-races are performed to get an impression which crew will deliver the fastest team. During this preparation the candidates are each other’s companions and each other’s opponents. A mix of these factors affects the selection process, because if one candidate is tested in a seat-race, the other oarsmen in the boat will subconsciously perform a trifle better for a good friend. At the end of the selection process, the future crew sometimes takes the selection fully into their own hands, whereby the choice of the coaches is completely ignored.

The oarsmen have a different background and they arrive from many countries. Some oarsmen need to sacrifice everything to go to the University and to be included in the initial selection. Other rowers are Sunday’s children: they already have everything at hand to arrive at this position. Of course, the oarsmen have an excellent posture in common, but above all they have in common that during the preparation and after the race their self-image is entirely dependent on the outcome of the selection and the race. A positive result confirms their status as Alpha-man and a negative outcome lets the self-image – temporarily? – shrink to a failure. Their role as a student and their privileged position in society is complete inferior to their position in the rowing team. Their self-image is fully determined by the outcome of their sport and a trifle by the results of their study.

Your first protagonist has noted with astonishment the extreme changes of the self-image of the oarsmen that depends on the outcome of the selection and the race. This change of self-image seems to have characteristics of being in God’s grace or not [3]. Your first protagonist has endured a hard quest; emerged from the complete One and All, separated and completely disintegrated during the first schism of air and earth and all subsequent separations during Two, and by trust rebalanced during Three. The oarsmen have endured the same quest, but they are unaware of this feat, because their attention is focused on other activities. Despite these far-reaching changes, the first protagonist has a rather balanced self-image, but the exploration of the everyday life has yet to begin.

In preparation for the meaning and madness of everyday,  your protagonist has read three books on the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta in 431 to 404 BC.

  [4]   [5] [6]

The following post is about “a war like no other” or about oarsmen in triremi during the Peloponnesian War.


[1] Source image:

[2] Source image:

[3] See also post “Three – Object in the middle – Word” and Psalm 119:105-106 en 118-119

[4] Cover of: Hanson, Victor Davis, A War like no other – How the Athenians an Spartans fought the Peloponnesian War. London: Methuen, 2005

[5] Cover of: Kagan, Donald, The Peloponnesian War – Athens and Sparta in savage Conflict 431 -404 BC. London: Harper and Collins Publishers, 2003

[6] Cover of: Lendon, J.E., Song of Wrath – the Peloponnesian war begins. New York: Basic Books, 2010

[7] Source image:


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