Rowing is a classic sport that dates back through the ages, so why not discover how it maintains its popularity by taking a course with the Stratford-upon-Avon Boat Club? Here I’ve been talking to Glyn about their exciting courses, the history of the club, and exclusive insider information.
1) Please explain your journey as ‘Stratford-upon-Avon Boat Club’ so far.
I’ve been rowing most of my life, except for that tricky bit where work, family and kids intervene, and coaching for 4 years. The big change I’ve seen in rowing over that time is that it has become much more accessible. A wide range of people have a go these days and we have a range of boat types that make it much easier to learn. Importantly coaching is much more available at most clubs although you usually have to sign up for a club course. The difference here is that we are offering all the same facilities and coaching but for taster and day experiences – so that people can try without committing to joining a club.
For me the best part of the sport is not just the big regattas and competitions but being out in an ‘8’ on a silent river early on a misty autumn morning. You can’t beat the experience.
If I had to choose my favourite competition of the calendar it has to be the Great River Race which runs 22 miles through the heart of London each September. 300 traditional rowing boats all fighting to get through Tower Bridge – brilliant.
On a day-to-day basis the rewards of coaching are in seeing people gain in skill and confidence as they realise they can do it. I think for a lot of people getting into the rowing scene opens up a whole new aspect to their lives.
2) What has been the biggest or most memorable event you’ve provided?
Our biggest event recently was when club member James Row won gold at the London Paralympics. The town went a bit crazy; open top bus tour – golden post boxes – the works.
We are also home to Junior world champion Camilla Hadland.
3) Is there any inside information you can give us?
Top tip would be to have a look at the basics of the rowing technique before the day. The rowing machine site Concept 2 or British Rowing site are good for this:
The most important concept to grasp with sliding seat boats is that we don’t pull the boat along with our arms – we push it with our legs. If you can get that right you will learn faster.
4) Do you have any exciting plans for the future that you’d like to tell us about?
Only that we have just won planning permission to extend the club so that we can offer more activities. Hopefully we’ll get started on this next year some time.
5) What would you say is your most frequently asked question?
I think I covered all the questions we get. The most common comment we get is “there’s so much to think about” which sounds daft for what looks like a purely physical activity, but to get the most out of it you really do have to keep your brain switch on. That’s why we say it really is a physical and mental challenge and that’s what makes it a bit addictive.
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