WHY I NEVER FALL IN
In over 40 years of sculling I have only ever fallen into the water three times! The first time was as a result of a full speed, head on crash after 18 years. The second time was after a six month lay off owing to injury.
Why is this? Well it's not because I am superhuman. Far from it.
Very few people these days take up sculling without getting a ducking fairly early on in their experience. Why is that?
Well it's not because there is a shortage of good coaching around. That has always been the case! In my own case the only coaching I ever received was from the late Neil Thomas, subsequently to become the President of the Amateur Rowing Association. And all he said was, "Never let go of the handles". Sound advice but not the reason that I never fell in.
NO, the reason I never fell in was because I learned how to scull in a stable boat. I was first pushed out in an old clinker scull. Then after I had shown myself competent I was allowed into a restricted scull. The design was one in which the dimensions were restricted by the Amateur Rowing Association in order to provide a stable learning environment. The dimensions were very similar to the old clinker boats but the hull was smooth and the boats were lighter and faster.
I was not allowed into a fine shell boat until I had won my novices at an open regatta. This took about a year. So for a year I was confined to sculling, and indeed racing, in stable restricted boats.
Only then was I permitted the privilege of sculling a beautiful, fine, cedar, racing boat. I can still remember the reward of that first stroke that I took in this slim, racing, shell called "Blackbird". The boat seemed to fly! Certainly in comparison to the stable, heavy, restricted boats I had become used to.
Yes "Blackbird" was unstable. But by now my level of skill was such that I felt confident and not scared. I had a well practised technique that could instantly be transferred to the finer, less stable boat.
If you want to acquire the necessary technique for preventing capsize in a sculling boat then I have a resource for you, it's called Sculling Academy.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Stable learning boats work. They get people to take up the sport and they allow novice scullers to learn at their own pace and to learn properly all the necessary skills. Just look at my track record for getting wet. I am probably tempting providence here and my next outing will see me ignominiously dunked!
Sadly, restricted boats have all but disappeared. They were a good design but rule changes about racing novices in shell boats and the ravages of time on wooden hulls have seen to their demise.
Enter the VIRUS boat range and more recently the EDON TS515 Training Scull. And not a moment too early. These ranges of sculling boats offer clubs an opportunity to revitalise their flagging memberships. And in particular to create more scullers. Good scullers make excellent rowers.
The boats are stable and robust without being heavy. They are also very affordable.
These are very important points. If a club is to grow and be healthy it needs members. Members need boats to row in. With VirusBoats you get far more seats for your money and they last longer than racing boats. So these boats are a good economic proposition for a rowing club. Scullers learning in boats such as the Yole require less supervision than scullers learning in fine boats. Scullers can progress quickly to one of the Turbo range of boats. The polyethylene boats are virtually indestructible (though I did have a customer destroy one by driving a truck over his). The result of manufacturing boats from this robust construction material is that casual confrontations with immovable objects, such as dock walls and jetties, which might seriously damage a fine racing boat, are of little consequence. Frank Durkin of Offaly RC in Ireland said, "They are our most useful boats."
Parents of juniors, who would normally be intimidated by the offer to take up sculling, are much more amenable to the idea when confronted by a stable boat such as the VIRUS and EDON boats that we offer.
The influx of participating families into a club is a great asset. Parents bring management, fund raising and supervisory and many other useful skills to a club. They also bring money and their enthusiasm often matches or even exceeds that of their children.
Then there are those individuals who want to row or scull but do not have the time that crew rowing and sculling so often consumes. These are the sort of people who would pop into a gym for a quick work out on an ergo or who would book a squash court for an hour or attend an aerobics class or perhaps go for a quick swim to keep fit. They may have young families or high-pressure jobs. For whatever reason they cannot spare the time faffing around before going afloat that crew rowers regularly waste. These people need accessible boats like the AHOY-BOATS range of boats if they are ever to be attracted into the sport of rowing or sculling on water instead of machines.
So what started out as explanation of how I have remained dry over the years has ended up as an enthusiastic recommendation of stable boats and why every club should have some. Sorry, I can't help myself. Despite being an avid racer, I think that stable boats are important and tremendous fun. So will you.