Racers! Attention! Have you ever dreamed of representing your country at the international level, maybe competing in a FISA World Rowing championship? Think that is impossible now? Maybe not. Coastal rowing could be the answer for you. Read on, or if you are really impatient to know, skip to the last paragraph for the secret.
Most so-called flat water rowers, using Olympic class or fine boats or perhaps touring and recreational boats, have never tried coastal rowing or perhaps are not even aware of it. While some are embracing the sport, there appear to be some biases against it. One concern is that as attention shifts away from the 2000 m down a straight course approach to racing, already limited resources will be further reduced. Along with recent changes to Olympic events, competitive rowing is evolving, which is not necessarily easily nor quickly accepted.
Remember when mountain biking or skate skiing or snowboarding appeared? Road riding survived and then flourished, as did classic cross-country skiing and snowsports. Rather than spreading the sport too thinly, the new variations offered more choice and opportunity and increased the total number of people passionate about their sport. Why not for rowing?
Previous Rowing Travel Blog posts have explored the benefits of coastal rowing and some of the barriers. We made the case for using coastal boats on lakes and have argued that the tide is rising for coastal rowing. Those blog posts focussed largely on the opportunity for coastal rowing generally and especially for rowing travel and tourism. What about racing?
Yes, the equipment is a bit different and definitely heavier. A growing number of manufacturers are experimenting with new designs and bringing more choices to the market. Just like snowbikes. Your flatwater skills are a good base and now there are increasing number of camps and ways to learn the techniques specific to moving more effectively through waves or turning rapidly around buoys on the coastal race courses. Just like learning to ride single track down a steep hill on a mountain bike.
Coastal rowing is under consideration to be added to the 2019 Pan Am Games in Peru. Beach games feature coastal rowing, including at the 2019 World Beach Games being hosted in San Diego. There is chat about inclusion in future Olympics. Change is coming.
The pool of competitive coastal rowers is comparatively small, but increasingly flatwater rowers are trying the sport. For example, the winner of the women’s single at the World Rowing Coastal Championships 2017 (WRCC) was Diana Dymchenko of Ukraine, who competed the month before at the World Rowing Championships in Sarasota.
There are coastal races all around the world, culminating in the WRCC. If you want to get a sense of the excitement of a 4000m or 6000m race course with up to 10 turns check out these links to the 2017 Championships held in Thonon-les-Bains, France: official website; results (including crashes); perspective of a flatwater rower. Really want inspiration, watch this video from WRCC 2016 in Monaco.
All rowers should care about coastal rowing. It will inject new excitement and energy into our sport, offering a broader range of options and enticing new athletes to become rowers. But on a very selfish, personal level, this might just be your chance to represent your country at the international level. Especially if you live in a country where coastal rowing is nascent.
Every boat that competes in the World Rowing Coastal Rowing Championships bears a sticker for the country of the rower(s). Countries like France and Italy, where there are many clubs and rowers, have coastal championships to select the national team for the WRCC. For other countries, if you register and show up, you may in fact be the national team. Ask Charles Hauss, who was the entire Canadian team in WRCC 2017. Made it to the B finals for the men’s single, so did Canada proud. Don’t wait too long. The window to race at the international level is closing as coastal rowing gains traction.