Recreational Rowing at London Rowing Club
London Rowing Club is well renowned for its record of competitive success achieved by both men and women, but in 2011 the Putney based club started to consider how to broaden the opportunities made available to current and future members and the focus turned to recreational rowing.
A perhaps unknown fact about London Rowing Club is that it already has a well-established recreational group; In the 1960’s a group of oarsmen who no longer had the time to commit to regular crew training but who still wanted to row and socialise came together to form a group which is today known affectionately as ‘The Irregulars.’ The simplicity of the formula of turning up at 10am on Sunday or 6.30 pm on Wednesday to row has been its strength and has sustained its continuity, and what once was a close group of elderly men has expanded to include younger men and an increased number of women. The Irregulars uphold a strong social element; a dinner after the outing is arranged at the Club on the first Wednesday of the month, visits are made on a regular basis to other clubs in the U.K. and abroad, every year a crew is entered into the Venetian Voga Longa, and visits have also been made to Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Amsterdam, and The Hague.
It is this group which has enthusiastically supported the plan to work with British Rowing to secure a 50% funding grant through the Explore Rowing Programme to purchase stable boats which can be used for Learn to Row courses, recreational sessions and touring opportunities. The funding also includes the training of two club members to complete a UKCC Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Rowing.
The funding package was approved in March 2012 and the stable boats have arrived and are already in use; two quads, two doubles and two singles are currently being used by 14 new participants in the club’s summer Learn to Row course. The course started with an introductory evening on June 7th with the first lesson on June 10th, and it will run over 6 weeks with two sessions per week. The enthusiasm from the clubs members has ensured that lead coach Stuart Heap is supported by a further three experienced club members during the sessions, ensuring each individual receives a fair share of one to one coaching.
The clubs Explore Rowing Coordinator Iain Laurenson says ‘As coordinator of the Learn to Row course two things have impressed me; the demand for rowing instruction - enquiries are flooding in - and the quality of the recruits. Our challenge is to nurture their enthusiasm and talent when the course comes to an end and at London Rowing Club we have the structures in place to do this.’
The novices have so far experienced learning the rowing technique on indoor rowing machines and in the clubs rowing tank, and due to the stability of the new equipment they have been able to go out on to the Thames despite some challenging blustery weather. There are two possible outcomes of their participation; it is envisaged that at the end of the course the novices will be encouraged to join the clubs competitive squad if they wish to compete, or alternatively they will have the option of joining The Irregulars. Above all, it is clear that a positive rowing experience is a main aim of what the club is trying to achieve for its new members.
London Rowing Club is planning to host regular Learn to Row courses, and the next will start in September, with an introductory evening on the 6th. For more information on this and other rowing opportunities at London Rowing Club please visit www.londonrc.org.uk