How about taking time to reflect on the past year of coastal rowing? Let us know about your experiences, achievements in 2021 and plans / hopes for 2022.
Following a slow and slightly chaotic start to the year, we have seen huge developments across the sport. Here are just a few observations and thoughts on the following aspects. We have broken this down into two parts:
- Participation in coastal rowing across the world
- Removing the barriers to the sport
- Juniors and Masters
- Learning and improving coastal rowing
- ‘Beach Sprints’ vs ‘Offshore Enduro’
- Performance improvements
- Looking forward to 2022
St Andrews, Scotland
Our sport is still evolving, and we are developing a new language to describe the way we do it.
A year ago, Guin Batten produced a pilot World Rowing Coastal Coaching course. This contains excellent material and has now been deployed in many areas. Having been on the course it helps to explain the basics and provides clear guidance on how to manage the inherent risks involved in coastal and tidal conditions. I would say that this course is essential for anyone coaching or organising coastal rowing activities.
Boat design and equipment set up are still evolving and do not seem to have matured yet. New offerings have come from several manufacturers, but it is hard to evaluate them alongside each other in the same way that you would when buying (say) and new windsurf board after trying multiple different types at a test centre on the beach. Something for the future perhaps…?
Radical changes in bow and stern design from Rebel, Filippi and Ave combined with the entry of Kanghua to all promise to create waves for other manufacturers. Let’s see how this works out - where the top athletes put their faith and which boats perform in the vast range of conditions we experience when rowing on the sea.
Competition rules, standards and penalty systems are becoming more mature; however, we still have some way to go for them to reach the levels required for Olympic competition. There is plenty of time to sort this out before Los Angeles though.
Beach Sprints and all that jazz
We need to mention a subject that has become the talk of the beaches. Beach Sprints have become a real focus for many National Governing Bodies due to the temptation of Olympic competitions. People seem to be polarising into those that support Beach Sprints from those supporting ‘Offshore ‘Enduro’ events.
Personally, I love both race formats. Most clubs will inevitably be involved with Offshore racing as it requires less infrastructure, fewer boat handlers and cause less wear and tear on the boats (and crews). Beach Sprints are bringing more media interest and are very exciting for participants – mainly those who make it through to the knockout stages. We should embrace both formats and take advantage of the increased interest in the sport that can help attract people into rowing at our coastal clubs. Hopefully everyone will ‘chill out’ and look for ways to work together to grow the sport with National Governing Bodies taking a more balanced approach to both complementary disciplines.
Similarly, we need to reach out to ‘fine boat’ and traditional coastal rowing clubs who can compete at a high level in our ‘World Rowing’ standard coastal boats. 2021 has seen a significant increase in the number of people competing in multiple boat classes and really enjoying them.
By working together, we can help to increase membership and participation at all clubs by attracting more people. Coastal rowing is still at a very early stage of development, and we need to learn from each other. Save the competition for the water, not the club committee room.
Clearly there are some ‘stand out’ teams and athletes emerging. The Ukrainian team and Spain’s Adrian Miramon are giving extraordinary performances and setting a new standard. Participation by Olympic level athletes in increasing, a trend that looks as though it will continue.
For those who have ‘grown up’ with coastal rowing, it is now time to decide whether to adopt the more progressive and intensive training/coaching or to lower their expectations in competition.
Whatever you decide to do, it is fascinating to see these athletes in action and awesome to have the opportunity to compete alongside them (well at least at the start anyway) … If you have a chance just take a look over their shoulder at the erg times they are pulling when warming up before a race…!?
The opportunity for club rowers to compete alongside Olympic athletes is extraordinary and remains a differentiator for our sport. Long may it continue.
So, what for 2022?
2022 already looks as though it will be an action-packed year… I’m already finding it difficult to find calendar slots for family holidays…!
We should expect to see the standard of rowing continuing to increase in a wider variety of boats and locations.
The World Championship in Saundersfoot promises to bring something different to previous competitions. With potentially stormy Autumn weather conditions and lower temperatures. Athletes will need to prepare themselves – much as we did for the Beach Sprints and Offshores in 2019 where we trained in UK horizontal rain and 8-12 deg C temperatures for racing on 28-30 deg C in the warm waters of China.
This is a chance for rowers from across the world to see and experience the Welsh sea conditions and culture. Several rowers stayed in region after this year’s World and European events, maybe 2022 provides the opportunity for competitors to visit and acclimatise at rowing locations around the UK – taking advantage of equipment at the clubs and centres?
Many people are also looking forward to the European Championships in San Sebastian which has such strong history of coastal rowing.
See you on a beach somewhere soon!
Here is a link to the first blog in this series: https://www.positivefloat.info/post/2021-a-year-of-coastal-rowing