We are unabashed fans of coastal rowing. Over the past five years, we have published a few posts on the subject. In this one, we revisit and update those earlier, but still relevant, posts and share some of the signs that interest in coastal rowing is building.
It is certainly getting attention when Row2k.com publishes an article saying as much! Titled Going Coastal – Breaking Tradition Could be Part of Rowing’s Future, it is an excellent and in-depth feature about the possible inclusion of coastal rowing in future Olympics, the response of Rowing Canada Aviron and USRowing, plus a nice focus on one of the American athletes at the 2018 World Rowing Coastal Championships (WRCC). Maybe coastal rowing is going mainstream? Not everyone agrees, of course. We think that debate is good, and the more people talking about, and especially trying, coastal rowing the better.
In 2014, Rowing The World wondered Is the Tide Rising for Coastal Rowing? The 2014 WRCC had taken place in Thessaloniki, Greece. (May we digress briefly to point out that we are running two coastal rowing trips in northern Greece, including rowing in Thessaloniki, and the event organizer, Nikos Gountoulas, will be our guide.)We noted that a dozen coastal regattas were planned for 2015 in the U.S. and that North America seemed to be “catching up” to coastal rowing.
Perhaps we were a little early with our optimism. Coastal events in North America remained few and far between. Participation by North Americans at WRCCs was spotty, to put it politely. As for countries such as Australia and New Zealand, well, you wouldn’t know that there was any rowing there based on participation in coastal competitions (Apologies to James Cowley, from Tasmania, who has been involved in the development of coastal rowing in the Maldives, has raced in WRCCs and this year may be the very first Tasmanian with a coastal rowing shell). Meanwhile popularity surged in Europe.
Over the years, we have had the opportunity to enjoy coastal rowing in many different and beautiful locations. Not everyone is so lucky. We realized that there are many misconceptions about coastal rowing, stemming from a lack of knowledge and experience. So last year we asked, How Different Exactly is Coastal Rowing? Coastal rowing is the mountain biking of rowing. The movement of the stroke is similar, otherwise, everything else is different.
In the post we gave some technical pointers and offered online resources, all of which remain useful. What is exciting, is the new emphasis on coastal technique and a growth in opportunities to learn and experience the sport. One of the leaders on this is Ben Booth and his Rebel Rower Blog. In the lead up to 2018 WRCC he had an excellent series for beginners, including race strategy. There are a growing number of places to “come & try” – for example the Coastal Rowing Centre in Dorset, UK (good link to coastal events in the UK and Ireland too) or Fast Sports centre on the Baltic Sea in Germany.
Rowing Canada Aviron recently published an excellent summary Going Coastal for World Oceans Day. It includes an extensive list of coastal events (tours, camps, regattas and come & try days) in Canada. What a huge jump in coastal opportunities! We are especially tickled about Coastal Rowing Weekend in Lunenburg NS and the Red Island Regatta in Brudenell PEI, the venues for our Prince Edward Island & Nova Scotia tour!
One of the legacies of the 2018 WRCC held in British Columbia, Canada is the fleet of coastal shells brought in new for the event, most of which have remained in BC or on west coast. We hope to see more coastal boats in Canada and elsewhere, and not just on salt water. In 2017 we made The Case for Coastal Boats on Lakes. It is still true. Coastal boats on freshwater allow rowing when wind prevents finer boats from leaving the dock. They are brilliant for learn to rows and perfect for distance rowing, when you need to carry extra food and clothes and conditions can change quickly.
As the number of manufacturers grows and reps appear in more and more countries, the supply of boats is growing. The fact that coastal rowing shells tend to be more affordable facilitates the growth of rowing in countries where the sport did not previously exist (many of which are island states with coastal waters). Coastal boats were used on the 2019 World Rowing Tour in New Zealand (including rowing them on a lake). The fees paid by the participants facilitated the purchase of four boats now destined to create a rowing program in American Samoa. Maybe they will be competing in the Olympics in 2024?
Which brings us to our last post and Why All Rowers Should Care About Coastal Rowing. We featured Charles Hauss, the sole Canadian competitor, and therefore “national team” at the 2017 WRCC held in Thon-les-Bains. We are thrilled that for the 2018 WRCC, Canada had the largest athlete contingent! Of the 385 competitors from 22 countries, 54 were Canadian! Now, the question is, how many Canadians and other nations new to coastal rowing will be at the 2019 WRCC, which will be held in the stunning setting of Hong Kong’s harbour? World Rowing created a superb video from the 2018 WRCC – watch it for inspiration and a succinct overview of what is coastal rowing and why it is growing in popularity. As one of the athletes says: “You can also show how smart you are”.
There certainly are more opportunities to hone competitive chops. We have already pointed you to websites for events in Canada and the United Kingdom. For 2019, USRowing is supporting several new regattas, including a race around Alcatraz Island from San Francisco in October and Sarasota International Coastal Regatta in November. For more events in North America search for “coastal” and “open water” on Regatta Central. But there are so many more worldwide, too many to list here. An exciting trend is for beach sprints. For the first time ever, the World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals will happen in 2019, nicely timed around the 2019 WRCC. Now there is a topic for another blog post!