Steady. Consistent. Synchronicity. Teamwork.

This weekend at rowing training, we did twice our usual distance on each day, and just rowed, steady state, no fancy bits, no drills.

Just rowed.

Together.

Steady. Consistent. Powerful.

No stopping.

Here is a quick video that our coach took of us square blading. (This is a technique which promotes balance and focus. This was about 15km in on day two so we were getting tired!

Oh and our coach isn’t the most technically proficient and so it changes from portrait to landscape half way through! Treat yourself to a lie down if you get that far 😉 )

This steady state, consistent rowing, getting extra miles on the water, helps a crew really get together. To work together to get the synchronicity that ultimately makes the boat go faster. It doesn’t happen straight away.

It takes hard work. It takes commitment. It takes hours and hours rowing together on the water.

Such consistency and steadiness is important in business and teamwork.

It’s important to take time to learn how to work together, get used to each other, understand each other’s styles and needs and get into the ha it if fully supporting each other and working together to achieve the common goal.

Wow we LOVE rowing. And we LOVE teamwork!

 

Pure good fun and team work

BR umpire(TC) “ I could do with a pint of whatever they were on 🙂 They claimed to be sober… hmmm!”

Response from one of said WRC rowers “ …Not a drop despite what TC says. Pure good fun and great team spirit.”

Northwich Spring Head, Easter Sunday and April Fools day all in one!

When we think of Easter we think Spring and feeling the warmth of the sun on our faces. Well Easter Sunday fell on April Fools Day this year and we were fooled early in the day. The sun was shining and the landing stage at Northwich Rowing Club was buzzing with competitors ready to boat but we were warned at the coxes meeting not to be fooled “it was jolly cold out there on the water!”

The Masters Ladies from Warrington Rowing Club were out in force racing two singles and two quads. It was our first race in months and we were very excited.

 

A small glitch early on when one of our rowers got lost finding the club. Fortunately Northwich very helpfully delayed the start for a short time and with the help of team mates rigging the boat, and putting it on the water our Gloria took to the water and raced. Probably not the best preparation but she didn’t let that stop her. Straight up to the start, a quick turnaround and race back down. Bravo Gloria!!

Our other single rower – an experienced competitor – Sian had an oarsome race and came home with a medal. These were no ordinary medals but wooden ones made from the old boat house recently demolished to make way for new!

And so the quads took to the water. A healthy set of entries in our category – six in all.

What most people don’t realise about rowing is just how sociable it can be.There were about forty crews in our division so it takes a while for them to boat and plenty of time is given over to everyone getting up to the start (we basically row the course backwards to get there!) and then each crew has to turn around and sets off individually under starters orders as this is a timed race.

So as you sit at the start you are surrounded by your competition. You have two options here- either stare them out and try to scare them off or have a jolly good chin wag!

Obviously we chose the latter and by the time the umpires were shouting “Warrington Go!” we had a pretty good idea that the crew we were chasing down the river were going to give us a good race. It seems that this crew have trained and raced together for some years and were very successful but we gave it our best shot!!

We had a great race with a good start and we kept the momentum going all the way through. We didn’t let York get away. Head races are tricky as you can’t tell if you’ve won until the results come out unless of course you overtake your competition (which we didn’t!). Lots of support from the river bank kept us going.

Both quads were  buzzing when they came off the water, we had done our best and it felt good.

The results were out before we had even de rigged our boat and York had beaten us, the Smile quad so we came in second – no medals for us today!

This didn’t deter us. It was time for a bacon butty!!!! After bacon butties, cups of tea and scrummy cakes we went to watch the next division and the banter continued.

We were disappointed that we didn’t win but we had an oarsome race and on congratulating the York crew we had decided on a rematch at a future York event.

So to sum up the day it was “pure good fun and great team spirit!”

The Youth of Today

A couple of hours a week I spend some time coaching children from local secondary schools as part of the Warrington Youth Rowing programme. They are predominantly Year 9 so around fourteen years old and have attitude by the bucket load! Backed by British Rowing these children are being encouraged to take up a sport they probably wouldn’t normally have access to.

I guess a visit to the rowing club can be quite daunting for some of them and everyone reacts to new situations in different ways. They generally come across as being overly confident while trying to be nonchalant, cool and unamused. I’ve coached a couple of the schools and generally they all dampen their enthusiasm in front of us adults.

The programme has been running for over a year now and it’s not easy juggling timetables, staff and travel arrangements for eight different schools in the borough but this is what is happening.

In July a mini regatta was organised so the children could showcase their newfound skills to parents and staff alike. It was enormous fun and gave these children the opportunity to shine.

Last week an indoor rowing challenge took place at Priestly College organised by the Warrington Youth Rowing coaches and a variety of other people, including students from the college, head teachers and teaching staff and various volunteers.

Twenty four rowing machines had been collected and arranged so that there was a warm up area and a competition area. The machines in the competition area were wired up to the big screen so everyone could follow the race and shout encouragement where needed. The PA system was fully tested and they even had a professional sports photographer snapping away!

The children arrived looking nervous and not quite sure what to expect, huddled in their groups shivering with excitement ( or was it nerves?). Eventually the first competitors names were announced on the screen and after a warm up period they were asked to take their seats for their race. The start procedure was explained and then WHAM! off they went rowing as hard and as fast as they could – how many meters could they row in a specified time?

Going off too hard meant they ran out of steam – would slow and steady win the race? It’s not just about strength but about technique and also holding your nerve and not giving up.

They were fantastic – each and every one of them. Not only showing great skill and stamina but also empathy and encouragement for the fastest and the slowest! Many kids cracked their PBs!

After the individual round came the relay race. Now if you thought handing over a baton while running was tricky try the equivalent on a rowing machine!

So you row full pelt for about a minute, stop, drop the handle, take your feet out of the straps, move off the seat making sure the next person can sit down, strap feet in, pick up the handle and get that machine going again from scratch.

This really was the ultimate in team work with competitiveness, stamina, energy and enthusiasm by the bucket load. They all deserved medals – they were oarsome!!

Looking around the gym as they raced the last few meters it was heart warming to see the dedication from the children, staff and coaches as they screamed each other on when legs were sore, arms aching and lungs gasping- it would be easy to stop but they didn’t they powered on.

Teenagers get bad press today but this lot showed their true colours because someone believed in them. Warrington Youth Rowing is giving these children such a fantastic opportunity and they are certainly making the most of it.

I hope this programme continues to grow and you never know we could have some Olympians in the making, but even if they don’t take it to that level they will have skills for life – not merely the rowing technique but team spirit which will serve them well all through life.

Hands On!

Winning Team at Dee “Build for five!”
“We’re off!”
 “Let’s go!”
 “…and settle”

 

What the Dickens am I talking about?

So last Saturday was the ‘Head of the Dee’ – a rowing event where the actual race lasts for less than twenty minutes, however the prep before and after the race takes significantly longer!

Regardless of training, coaching, choosing the crews and making the entries, all of which are carried out by other ‘teams’ often behind the scenes, the main prep for this event started on Friday around 5pm.

Participating crews are instructed to be at the club to derig and load. Woe betide anyone who turns up without a rigger jigger!

“Where do you want Smile?”
“Are we splitting Kevin?”
“Which blades?”
“How many trestles?’
“Check if that’s tight enough please”
“Fasten the seats in!”

This usually takes a couple of hours depending on the number of boats and indeed trailers going to the event.

As we wave the trailers off our thoughts turn to carb loading and food prep for the following day, an early night and definitely an early start!!

Silly ‘o’clock Saturday morning and we hook up said trailer and drive to Chester. One last check – ties are tight, riggers stored safely, seats tied in, tool boxes easily accessible and we’re off.

Navigate round the Roman walls – some more accurately than others. Arrive at allocated car park and try man handling a trailer full of boats down a muddy slope into a space big enough to park a mini!

“Hands on Marge!”
“Let’s put Kevin back together”
“Where’s Boizel’s box?”
“We need more tall people”
“Cox’s meeting in ten!”
“Who’s got the numbers and safety pins?
“All singles and doubles to boat immediately!”

And so boating for the first division begins. All boats are on the water and must row up past the starting post over four thousand metres up river. There could be as many as one hundred and fifty crews! Imagine how long it takes to get them all on the water and up there? If you’re one of the first it seems like ages!

We are racing in division two so now we can relax, eat, drink coffee and watch the first division come down. It’s great when the weather’s good but on a rainy day… it’s wet!!

12.45pm and division two start boating.

“Last toilet stop!”
“Have we taken the blades down?”
“Check foot restraints”
“Hands on!”
“To waists”
“Shoulders”
“Heads”
“Bring the bow round”
“Whoa ahead!!”
“Excuse me please err excuse me err watch yourself err mind your backs”
“Easy – feel for the edge – and down”

That’s us getting from the trailer to the water’s edge with the boat!!

Always Oarsome rowing in Dee Head Race 2017Blades in and we head up the river. Umpires and marshals along the way pass the time of day and shout instructions at us. We have been notified where we need to wait and we must NOT under any circumstances turn the boat around in preparation until we are told. Very tricky in windy conditions as the boat seems to develop a mind of its own!!

At last we are told to make appropriate kit choices and turn the boat around.

“Warrington start paddling’’
“Here we go girls – let’s give it our all – nothing left in the tank – this is our race – we can do this”
“Build for five!”
“We’re off!”
“Let’s go!”
“…and settle”
“make it easy for bow – up two – back up stroke – we’ve got overlap – let’s have them – keep it there – this is nice – ratio – last 500 let’s go”
“…….and easy there!”

They are the best words ever!

Now we ‘just’ need to paddle back to the landing stage, lift the boat out, collect the blades, derig, load the trailer, count the trestles, push the trailer up the slope, hitch it on to the car, drive back to Warrington, unload the trailer, rerig, put blades away, and lock up the club.

6.30pm – call at fish and chip shop, drive home, and pour a large glass of liquid refreshment.

All this happens because we are part of a team – the Warrington Rowing Club team and best of all our little sub team – our crew – our quad. We had a fantastic row because we work together (we have photo and video evidence!) we back each other up, we respect each other and we listen. Our bow person might be the smallest in the boat but she is the most powerful part of our crew leading the way, keeping us informed and encouraging us every minute – all fifteen minutes and thirty seconds!

We also know we worked together because our team WON!!

At an Always Oarsome rowing day, you’ll learn how to do this amazing sport! Read about one of our team building days and what others have said about us. And contact us to find out more. GO!