It’s been almost a year since I first got in a boat at Trent Rowing Club. It was a yellow “play boat”, at the time it seemed very unstable. But, back then, I was much more nervous about being in a boat in the first place. I have since been in a double, quad (coxed and coxless), a four (coxed and coxless) and an eight. But today was my first ever outing in a single. I was pretty nervous, but fortunately it was only “sprung” on me when I turned up for training this morning and everyone else wanted to go in singles. So, that was that, decision made and no time to worry about it!
I started off a bit nervy at arms only, taking very short strokes. Gradually I built up to introducing some body swing and the boat started to move a little quicker. The main problem I had wasn’t with my technique, but rather with the size of the boat I was in. Because I’ve had almost a year of boat experience I knew roughly how to steer and sit a boat, my stroke technique is reasonable. So, at least I didn’t have to worry about slide progression/timing, squaring, feathering and all of that malarkey. I weigh somewhere around the 90-95kg mark, and the boat I was in is built for 70kg folk. Conseqeuntly it was a bit short, so I couldn’t pull through to my reference point properly. I ended each stroke with my hand at different heights.
So I learnt how to steer a single fairly quickly, I found myself constantly having to correct my course. All useful stuff, possibly not the best start in a single. But, I achieved my main goal, which was to stay dry!
During the “session” I managed to put some power into the drive and get some (what I thought was) good boat speed. I think I even managed to get my blades squared and ready before taking the catch on a few strokes. Mostly I the blades were flat on the water keeping me upright, and more importantly DRY 🙂
In terms of the slide, I began introducing a little slide a few hundred metres from the boat house. Eventually managing to string a few strokes together at 3/4 slide. But when I stopped “rowing” and started thinking about what I was doing it made me panic slightly, saying to myself “What the hell are you doing!”. Then I’d realise I was starting to get carried away and I’d settle back into ½ slide, after having got the boat sat again. As with anything like this, I gradually gained confidence to the point where I’d start off from stationary with slide, rather than arms/body only.
A few scares were had, but I managed to recover from them all. Including having to back down in order to get myself out of the bank on a few occasions.
I really enjoyed it, being in complete control (well, sort of!!) of my own destiny. I could do things at my own pace and could try to figure out what I was doing wrong. Plus, it was nice to just sit in the boat a few times when I found myself on my own private little stretch of the river. It was very peaceful 🙂
So, after recently having had fleeting thoughts of packing it in. I find my enthusiasm for rowing renewed, and I just want to go faster in a single now. In the latter parts of today’s session I managed to get a bit of a rhythm going and just found myself wanting to put some real work in and get the boat shifting. Hopefully with a boat that can accomodate my size and weight I wont have to stop every hundred metres and correct my course. Although I do pull much harder with my left arm, so that was contributing to my constant veering to the left, but I think not having enough length on the slide also contributed. What the proportion is remains to be seen.