Rowing – Day 22
There is no doubt Cornwall is beautiful, especially when the sun is out. So, even with my post-Insanity aching limbs, I was keen to join Robin from Castle Dore Rowing Club for a row on the river. Robin is the Cornwall Under-25 Coach of the Year for the work he does for his club’s junior section, and we also play hockey for the same club, so he’s just the person, a rowing rookie like myself, needs to show me the ropes. I considered bringing a couple of bottles of beer to enjoy over a natter, whilst Robin rowed me around in the sun and we caught up about hockey gossip.
When I turned up at Golant, the river looked stunning. Robin welcomed me to the club and showed me around the boatyard, explaining the different types of boats you could use. I couldn’t believe the width of some of them, and there was no way my bum could fit into any of those. Robin reassured me I would be using a bum-appropriate boat. We went into the clubhouse, where I got the opportunity to hone my technique on the rowing machine. Robin said that apart from swimming, rowing was best for working out your whole body. He was impressed with my rowing action and mentioned that I was one of the better people he had seen. Turns out I am an excellent, land-based rower.
As we walked down to get the boat, I was brimming with confidence. Robin picked me out a suitably large arsed boat, but there was only one seat. Naïvely, I asked where he would sit, thinking he might be a cox perched on the top but no, I was on my own. Worse still, I was on my own in a boat with a lead attached to it. I climbed in, concentrating as always on not capsizing. I put the oars into position, with my right hand in front of the left. I had seen this action many times, as I cheered on our Team GB Olympic rowers throughout the years. All I had to do was harness my inner Redgrave.
Robin told me whatever I do, I had to focus in front and not pay attention to the oars. Apparently, the oars misbehave if they are given attention. With a gentle push into the water, I was off. I waggled the attention seeking oars around a few times before being dragged back on my lead by Robin to start the sequence again. This happened three times and each time I tried to focus on the indoor row boat technique I had been shown in the club house.
Foolishly, Robin then decided that I was ready to go off the lead and told me to go upstream while he followed along on the bank. I felt alone and abandoned and I pined to be put back on the leash. Rowing in this type of boat is like reversing a car: you have to look over your shoulder, be spatially aware and know which way you will go if you steer one way. Living in the country, I haven’t parallel parked since I left London 10 years ago.
Firstly, I veered straight into the wall to the left and it took a good while to work out how to get myself out of the flotsam and jetsam jungle I had managed to get myself tangled up in. Robin was calling encouragement from the side and telling me which oar to paddle. Once I straightened up, I started to go backwards and with a couple of strokes, I managed to move in the right direction. Hark though, what was the noise I could hear getting louder? Oh yes, that of course, would be the beer garden and yes, of course, it would be full, being such a beautiful evening. I zigzagged past them, summoning all the dignity I could muster.
Once past, Robin told me to turn and come back. Turning seemed to be ok and off I went again. I think the massive problem I had was that my boobs were too big and my action was halted mid-stroke as I bashed them, which made one of the oars go up and the other down. Back at the start, Robin gave me more instructions and encouraged me to do it again. I was starting to feel slightly more confident but unfortunately, somebody had left a pesky boat in the middle of the harbour and I went careering into it, not knowing how to stop.
In a pinball type motion, I then went into the other bank before I got it together and straightened up. I got a full 4 strokes of non-crashing, straight, strokes in and could feel the wind in my hair as I whistled gracefully past the beer garden. The oars felt I was being too confident, so started playing up again but I have had 3 toddlers and I was not going to be outdone by a bit of carbon fibre. Redgrave, I wasn’t but I think if I had a few more attempts, I could get myself out of the harbour and onto the actual river, where the real action happened. Robin told me tales of salmon leaping into the boat and dolphins impishly jumping about as you rowed. I would love to experience that - maybe one day. For the moment, I had to contend with reversing out of my tight parking space to get home. Baby steps…
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