When I was 52, I had never seen a racing rowing boat before, but I came to Broxbourne Rowing Club because my sons were keen to give it a go. Rather than wait in the car, I decided to join them on the excellent Learn To Row course, and then joined the recreational squad. After a while, though, the racing bug got me and I started to organise competitive novice crews. We won our first race at Peterborough – even though our opposition caught two huge crabs and we left them far behind, they nearly caught us on the line but, a win is a win, and we all took a swim to celebrate!
Six years later I am a stone and a half stone lighter, and have won medals at some of the top regattas and head races in the country. More important to me has been the camaraderie: building crews, improving together, and finally earning the opportunity to row with and against some of the best Masters rowers in the country, world champions, internationals and Olympians. There is nothing quite like competing in a fast boat.
Ian Henley, Masters Men
With our latest learn to row intake having started their rowing journey last month, I’ve been reminded of my own rowing journey over the last 5 years.
I’ve always been relatively physically active (badminton, football, cricket, running, golf) so when I met my now wife who is a keen rower I was interested to find out what this sport was all about, particularly as President of BRC Amanda was at the rowing club pretty much all her spare time!
I duly signed up for the twice yearly learn to row course and along with a dozen or so newbies I was taken under the wing of the excellent Chris Moody who must have introduced hundreds of people to rowing through these courses over the years. I was immediately struck by the friendliness of the club and enthusiasm of its members. Running a learn to row course requires many volunteers to cox, coach, stroke a boat, etc. but the Broxbourne members were only too happy to give up their time to help to introduce new people to the sport they love.
I immediately enjoyed this different sport and started to fall in love with the challenge of learning to do it. After completing the 8 week learn to row course I moved into our recreational squad and continued to practice my technique for 6 months or more with the recs. The better I got at rowing the faster I wanted to go so it wasn’t long until I decided to have a go at rowing with the masters squad so I could learn to race. This was a big step up in physical and technical demands but after 6 months or so of training I took part in my first race at the Vesta Veterans Head of the River race, which was an amazing experience. Four years later I’m still learning and still loving the challenge rowing provides. Although not a novice rower any more (I’ve won a few races!!) I still consider myself a newbie with lots to learn. And that’s the great thing about rowing, you never stop learning! Now as Vice Captain of the Men’s masters squad, I oversee a squad of about 30 masters rowers from age 36 to 76. I’m constantly amazed by the levels of fitness, enthusiasm, camaraderie and dedication of our masters rowers so at 46 I very much look forward to the next 30 years of competing!!
So to those who have just started their rowing journey at BRC I wish the best of luck and hope you too come under the spell of this wonderful sport as I have. To those thinking of learning, I encourage you to give it a go! Our next learn to row course will be in the autumn so come and join us!
See you on the water!
Paul Hosking, Masters VC