Copy of an article that was published in January 2019
You may have noticed a few pictures appearing on your Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, Instagram accounts and websites... they show racing around buoys in close proximity to other boats and maybe even some waves. Welcome to the world of Coastal or Offshore rowing!
What they don’t show you is just how much fun you can have if you try this new and emerging section of our sport.
Tim (left) & Richard Neall both entered the sport in 2018
Over the past 6 months I’ve been lucky enough to try out Coastal Rowing and even compete in the National and Welsh Championships - how many 50+ years olds can say that about the sport they are involved in?
This says quite a lot about the sport - you will find that your fellow rowers and competitors are very welcoming and keen to offer advice. This openness was striking during the British Championships at Sandbanks last year where everyone ‘pitched in’ to help make sure that launching and beaching of boats was a safe as possible - an essential factor when your pride and joy is in the shore break as you run up the beach to the finish line.
Racing in heats of over 4km and finals over 6km is not for the faint hearted... perhaps surprisingly, your fellow Coastal competitors cover a wide range of age, height and weight... maybe the established ‘rules of thumb’ for success are different to ‘Fine Boat’ rowing?
The excellent 2018 Welsh Open event at Aberporth
The most noticeable thing though, is the ‘vibe’. At this point you may be thinking “what the hell has this to do with rowing? I just want to focus on perfecting my technique and go as fast as I can”. Well trust me, it’s different in Coastal. Yes, we all want to go as fast as possible and beat our fellow competitors... and eight boats heading flat out for the first buoy may lead to a certain amount of ‘jockeying’ for position, but we all want to enjoy the sport and be an active part of the Coastal family. Perhaps the approachability of fellow rower stems from the fact that if you are up to 2km offshore you all need to be prepared to help a fellow competitor if they have a problem.
Maybe it is because the equipment and techniques are still evolving; maybe it’s the disco music blasting out from the beach during the start and finishes; maybe it’s the people who are so open and friendly; perhaps the manoeuvrability of the boats, (even though a FISA single weighs around 35kgs); it could be the sun, sand and waves. Whatever it is, I’m hooked!
Don’t think that this means giving up Fine Boat rowing though, I’m finding that the strength, coordination and flexibility you develop give a boost when I step back into a boat that is half the weight.
Over the next few blogs I’ll explore the boats, competitions and some of the tips that have been shared with me so far. If this sparks your interest, or you can also help to provide advice to people who are interested in Coastal Rowing let us know.
Remember though - bring an open mind, excitement, respect for your fellow competitors and leave the blazer at home - bring a pair of flip-flops and enjoy!
Hollowell Scullers Rowing Club