Rowing is one of the oldest Olympic sports and is still growing in popularity today. The first known "modern" rowing races in the UK began between professional watermen (those who provided ferry and taxi services) on London's River Thames and has evolved into the British Rowing Association. Although there are still races on the Thames, like the infamous Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race, many clubs have been established around the UK to partake in our sport. Everyone is welcome to join and either pick up an oar or sit in the coxswain's seat! Please see the British Rowing page in the "About Us" section.
Rowers are athletes who quite simply enjoy the sport of rowing. The principle of a rowing stroke is that the rowers place their oar in the water, push with their legs, pull the oar through with their arms and then come back to the starting position. One thing you might notice in the above picture is that they travel backwards! This is so the stroke can be a fluid and powerful action and thus accelerate the boat through the water.
One common misconception is that rowing is a sport for those with biceps bigger than trees. Biceps do help but power actually comes from your legs - only the last 30% comes from your core, shoulders and arms. In a rowing boat the feet are in a fixed position and your seat moves forwards and backwards on what are called 'slides'. Thus the harder you 'drive' with your quadricep muscles the further the boat will move. But that isn't the whole story; there is technique to learn too. Rowing is a great sport for combining technique with fitness as well as skills such as team work, rhythm and determination!
If you would like to learn how to row the club will show you all the different parts of the boat and explain the components of the stroke. In the meantime take a look at this British Rowing link on the basics:
If rowers are the muscle, the coxswain is definitely the brains. Their role includes:
Keeping the boat and rowers safe by skillfully steering the boat - the MOST important thing!
Being in command of the boat at all times and communicating any changes to the rowers, e.g. speed, timing, technique
Providing motivation and encouragement to the crew
Providing feedback on the crew's performance after both training and races
Making any necessary tactical decisions during races
Organising and directing the crew at all times, including when moving the boat around off the water.
Coxes assist larger boats (4s and 8s) and can either sit in the bow or stern of the boat. They face the opposite direction to the rowers, i.e. towards where the boat is heading, so that they can see along the course. This is critical for steering!
Most coxswains tend to be small (although not essential!) but more importantly have a big personality: a good cox needs to be confident, able to communicate well with their crews/race officials and keep thinking under pressure.