2020 is off to an interesting start, just as 2019 ended with umph. That is from a rowing perspective, not just thinking about Brexit, coronavirus outbreaks and the US presidential elections. Recent announcements that coastal rowing will replace flatwater racing in the 2022 Youth Olympic Games is just one indication of changing and interesting times.
Rowing challenges are perpetually fascinating, whether new firsts are achieved, records smashed or consistently impressive performances in annual events draw our admiration. It seems timely to review what is happening in the world of rowing challenges, and perhaps to think about setting new challenges, and embarking upon new adventures to push ourselves. We’re excited about lots of challenges here at Rowing The World—including new initiatives and new rowing trips. This is the kind of stuff that makes us innovative, and changes us, in big and small ways.
What is challenging to one rower may not be challenging to the next. For some, training for and joining us on one of our rowing trips can be a challenge and an opportunity to become able to row longer than usual distances for multiple days. For others, our trips are a row in the park – sometimes literally. For many, ocean rowing can be a challenge, while for others, endurance is the thing. Combine the two? You get the idea – there is always a bigger challenge.
A New Rowing Challenge Met
We are all very impressed with the aptly named Impossible Row. In late December 2019, six rowers from four countries and three continents rowed across Drake Passage from Cape Horn to Antarctica. For 12 days nonstop, they rowed 24 hours a day, in shifts of 90 minutes. Wow. Well done. That is a very big rowing challenge.
Really Tough Rowing Challenges
The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is called the world’s toughest row, in a race that goes more than 3000 miles west from San Sebastian in La Gomera, Canary Islands, Spain to Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour, Antigua & Barbuda. Up to 30 teams participate from around the world, and start off with an electric atmosphere as people help each other prepare for the challenge of crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a rowing boat.
Here are some compelling rowing facts:
- Each team will row in excess of 1.5 million oar strokes over a race.
- Rowers will row for 2 hours, and sleep for 2 hours, constantly, 24 hours a day.
- More people have climbed Everest than rowed an ocean.
- The waves the rowers will experience can measure up to 20ft high.
- Each rower loses on average 12kg crossing the Atlantic.
Every year it seems more and more firsts or records are achieved. For example, this year a record was broken by trio of British women. As we write this, four teams are still on the Atlantic, making their way to Antigua. But teams are already lined up for the 2020 and 2021 events. Serious training is required for this rowing challenge!
Undoubtedly, the Prague to Hamburg Rowing Race, an 850-km row for 12 straight days between Prague and Hamburg, is a challenge of the epic sort. Completed in October, 2018 with a second edition in 2019, the scullers had challenges within the challenge, such as powerful currents or trying to grab a few winks with high winds on the river. Read more about it in this article Extreme Row Across Europe on the World Rowing site. We can’t tell if a 2020 edition will take place. But we understand if you choose to admire these rowing challenges from afar.
For those of you who row still rivers and placid lakes, going coastal may be a rowing challenge you’d like to try, especially because it’s a sport that is growing rapidly. What exactly is coastal rowing? Apparently, everything but the movement of the stroke is different.
Coastal rowing is the mountain biking of rowing. It’s wilder, and typically over different terrain, and there may be more surprises. Simply put, you need to relax but constantly adapt to wind, waves and current. Have a soft catch and apply power mid-stroke. Row more upright. Ensure a clean release. When rough, get about 20 cm of horizontal hand separation. Keep rowing or you’re really in trouble. Does that sound fun? Challenging?
More and more of our tours use coastal boats. With different levels of difficulty. Want to learn coastal technique, along with some traditional fixed seat rowing? Join us in Cornwall for the first ever Coastal & Traditional Rowing Camp. Our Cork + Carbery Islands trip in Ireland is a bit of a step up, but still an excellent introduction. However our new Martinique Caribbean trip requires higher skills and confidence. We are happy to guide you to select a tour which best suits you.
More Approachable Rowing Challenges
Monster the Loch is a relatively new event, with two years in the bag. It is the first mass participation boat race on perhaps the world’s most famous lake, Loch Ness. All human powered boat types are invited to race The Loch, which is 22.7 miles long. The 2020 edition will take place on 26 September.
In Australia, the Flying Doctor Rowathon, on the Murray River, is not a race but is a major draw. Watch the site for next year’s row, an annual one-day marathon row held at Wentworth, New South Wales. The row raises funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, that has been saving lives and assisting people in the outback and remote communities for 90 years.
And then there are old faves like Rallye du Canal du Midi, a race come tour, which has been held in the south of France every year since 1982. Teams, typically of six or seven are needed, with one or two people on bicycles along the canal tow path. This is because the multiple locks have to be portaged – no easy feat to get the boats out from a steep bank, transported around the lock, and then back to rowing. 203 km in 5 days with a total of 48 locks… Luckily there are long lunch breaks and of course good wine in the evenings (and maybe with lunch – perhaps that is the challenge!). Some friends who are past guests with us are participating in 2020 – go team go!
Whether rowing across an ocean, a lake, or the river through town, choosing a rowing challenge is also a challenge.
Choose wisely, have fun and good luck! You’ll change yourself and perhaps the world in the process.
The original post was published on 20 November 2018. Ruth Marr updated the post on 22 February 2020.