In part one of our exclusive interview with the Naked Rowers we were introduced to the new stars for the 2016 calendar and film. Lucas, Alex, Will and Tom told us how they got involved in the calendar and their nerves about getting naked for the world to see. We also heard how Tristan has returned for his second calendar with Angus capturing the images once more.
We had so much we wanted to ask the rowers that we had to split the interview into two parts. In this part we chat about trolls, charity and filming in the buff.
Tristan, after your involvement last year, how was it to see yourself naked in newspapers, websites and in all your glory all over twitter?
Tristan: It was somewhat startling to begin with, but you soon get used to it. My family are so used to seeing pictures of me naked in the media now that they make jokes about me wearing clothes for once whilst we take family photos.
This year’s calendar sees the rowers leave the boathouse and the river. What was your inspiration for this calendar and why did you decide to move away from familiar surroundings?
Angus: After six years, I was fresh out of ideas on new ways to play with an oar! But I’ll be honest – the idea of the “summer holiday” developed organically. First off, the new deck at the boathouse wasn’t very photogenic, and the crops in the neighbouring fields weren’t high enough to give us the necessary cover. Fortunately, we’d talked to the local landowner about shooting in the grounds of his house, and he had kindly agreed. When we realised what a great backdrop this was for shots of the rowers at play, the idea started to emerge. We got shots of croquet, messing around with horses, drinking Pimms by the pool. Then, when my neighbours agreed to lend me their amazing Marbella villa, the whole rock star lifestyle thing took shape!
With this being the first shoot for many of you, did you have any boundaries before you started filming or were you comfortable with the idea of everyone seeing you naked?
Will: The idea of being naked on the Internet was quite a scary prospect at first. But the project does a lot of good work raising awareness for a fantastic cause so it’s a small price to pay to hopefully inspire LGBT+ individuals to become more involved in sport and share the same kind of fond memories and strong relationships that I’ve built in sports teams over my life.
How long did it take for everyone to be comfortable on set and did any of you forget you were naked? Who was the last person to get dressed once all the pictures were taken? Is there anyone we should keep a particular eye out for when the film is released?
Lucas: As I said before, I found it amazing how quickly everybody felt comfortable naked on set. After a short time of awkwardness, we just behaved the same way as if we were wearing clothes which is pretty much forgetting about being naked. I think the last person to get dressed after the pictures were taken might have been me. I don’t know about the person you should particularly keep an eye out for when the film is released but we have kept a character secret that nobody knows yet called Johnson, and he might be the one people should look out for in the film!
How has spending time together, up close and naked changed your relationships as a team?
Lucas: For me, spending time naked around my mates has only strengthened our friendship. Now there are no more boundaries to the banter and the fun! I think being all together in this project has also made us work closely together and we had to be able to support each other in any way. As the shoot happened at the end of the rowing season, we didn’t get the chance to train together again, but I’m sure it can benefit us in a boat next year.
Tom: I think spending time has made us all better friends. Both the shoots in England and Spain shoots meant I spent a lot of time with the guys which only made us closer as a group. Also I think when you’re all naked it makes you realise that everyone really is pretty much the same underneath and I think that makes you closer as a group.
Will: I think we’ve become an even closer knit group of guys since the shoot. We spent a lot of time together and the shoots created some funny memories that I’m sure we’ll all carry for a long time.
The calendar raises money for the rowing club and for the charity ’Sport Allies’. How has the money been spent both at the club and through the work undertaken by ’Sport Allies’?
Alex: With Sport Allies, initially we’ve wanted to research and assess what underlying issues there actually are such that we truly understand where we’re starting and so that we can have the most positive impact possible. Some of the money raised has also been invested into supporting and improving the club and its facilities. Just in the last couple of years alone three of the clubs’ crew times on the water have been broken and we’ve set new records with where we’ve come in some of the bigger events with the most notable being the top IV this year placing second at BUCS Head Race in a boat that was funded by the calendar.
Tristan, you featured in the #PrideHeroes campaign for Pride In London. How did they approach you and what was it to be involved?
Tristan: We were extremely grateful to be nominated as a Pride Hero as part of Pride in London. They contacted us to see if we’d want to be featured on an advertisement campaign in the London Underground, and we were obviously happy to be a part of it. I had a great time at the shoot with the incredibly friendly team, and the campaign looked amazing. I started work in London the week of the campaign, so luckily managed to see myself everyday on my commute.
Have you received any negative feedback either from fellow students, rowers or on social media about the calendar or what it stands for?
Tristan: Given the size of our project we do get the odd negative comment. These however mostly come from internet trolls or people who just don’t understand our project. At some University races there have been jokes made at our expense, for example a commentator saying “and here come Warwick, this time with their clothes on”, but this is generally light hearted. The vast majority of feedback has been incredibly supportive and it makes it easier for us to deal with the small amount of negativity.
In September some of the rowers went to Venice to take part in a Regatta. Can you explain what was involved and how you get on?
Alex: Our university is linked with Venice University and each year a few members of the club are selected to partake in the Regata Storica amongst some other international university crews. The event takes place over the first weekend of September and this year Tristan and I were lucky enough to be invited out. We then found out that we were to be racing down the Grand Canal in boats that resembled Galleons more than a rowing boat. So after training and practicing for the first time on the Saturday morning, and watching other crews that had trained specifically for the event show off, we managed to wrangle a place in the time trails for the 3rd and 4th final that was to be held on the Sunday on the Grand Canal in front of everyone. On the following day in front of a few thousand people we unfortunately lost out on the coveted 3rd place by a few feet, we didn’t even realise who’d actually won until afterwards, but all in all and to sound a clichéd as possible it was a once on a trip lifetime.
What can we expect from the Naked Rowers in 2016?
Lucas: You can expect a lot of new things from WR16. First of all, most of us featuring in it are new to the project and I think that’s something to look forward to. We also got some amazing new shoot locations which allowed us to produce different shots and filming environment to make the content of a new kind. You can also expect more content as the shoot lasted longer than last year and there is also content from WR15 US tour if you can’t get enough of the naked rowers! Basically, WR16 is a lot of content and products with the old good recipe that people love: some naked rowers supporting an amazing cause!
Tom: Well apart from what we think is our biggest and best calendar yet we’ve got a lot more for you than that. You can join us on our shoots in England, the USA and Spain with our film and through our many bonus packs and furnish your house with our coffee table book. Keep an eye out on our website and social media accounts.