They ranged in age from juniors through to the masters H age group including 70-year-old Diego Rodriguez Lopes competing at this regatta for his 39th time.
They came from all over the Netherlands to do the 57th edition of this annual event. They all knew about the grand prize, indicating the fastest sculler on the river – the Telegraph Cup.
Like all head races, starting one at a time, results remain unknown until the last person crosses the finish line. Top Dutch sculler and 2005 under 23 champion, Sjoerd Hamburger was the favourite, but eyes were also on former top Dutch sculler Dirk Lippits racing his last race before retirement. However, it was the lightweight 22-year-old, Jaap Schouten who recorded the fastest time – 11 seconds ahead of Hamburger and 13 seconds in front of Lippits.
Racing also took the form of the traditional single scull with coxswain event. Taken very seriously, this event is in its third year and competition was severe enough that competitor and well known rowing photographer, Sybrand Treffers launched a protest after crossing the finish line. Treffers claimed that one of the entrants was not carrying a fending pole in his boat. After much deliberation the protest was dismissed.
World adaptive medallist, blind rower Joleen Hakker is a regular competitor and uses the voice of a sighted sculler to guide her down the winding Amstel course. Hakker’s race put her in good stead to be back competing for her country in the adaptive four event.
The race also included in the open men’s category Frans Göbel. Former World Champion Göbel is known as the Emperor of the Amstel and up until 1994 he had won the Skiffhead 13 times in a row. Göbel still trains regularly and makes the Skiffhead an annual event.
Easy winner of the women’s section, Marit van Eupen is the reigning World Champion of the lightweight single but used the Skiffhead as a break from her regular training now with the women’s heavyweight sweep programme.