What is Coastal Rowing? – Part 2

Stephanie Chantry from France 02 racing at the 2014 World Rowing Coastal Championships in Thessaloniki, Greece.

Once more we take to the choppy water of the open sea to try and find out the truth about coastal rowing, how it differs from rowing on rivers or lakes, and what equipment you might need. In part one of our blog we saw how there are many different techniques to coastal rowing to other forms of rowing, and in this voyage we look at other variances.

We left our first blog with the advice to keep rowing when you are out on the open sea. This is critically important as unlike a placid lake, there can be strong currents at sea that can throw you well off course. And as for rough waves, these can make rowing a real challenge.

Knowing Your Water

When you first attempt coastal rowing, it is advisable to keep to the same stretch of water until you have become familiar with how to handle a boat. Coastal water is renowned for being difficult to read, and if you are still trying to master your technique then it is best that you do it in waters that you are familiar with. Keep to the same stretch of water until you feel confident in your ability, as well as getting to know your boat and what techniques you should be applying, learn to read coastal conditions and the water. Get to know about currents, how to row in choppy waves, and how to predict the wind.

Learn to Launch and Land

Trying to launch a boat from a beach can be a real difficult experience, so is when you come back and try to land the craft in the surf. Before you potter off into the open sea you must practice these two disciplines until you are fully confident that you can do both easily. As an aside at this point, you may be used to wearing a personal flotation device (PDF) when you normally row. But when you are ever rowing in the sea, you must wear a full life jacket. Life jackets are designed to allow a person to float unaided and are far more buoyant.

To effectively launch a rowing boat you will need to master these skills first:

  • Driving – Learn how to drive with a trailer and be confident of reversing with a boat. Practice this away from the water, you may end up driving somewhere wetter than you thought.
  • Stowing Your Equipment – Make sure everything you are going to need on your voyage is safely stowed away and secured. Things need to be protected from the elements so watertight covering is essential.
  • Tie-on any Buoys & Fenders – Ropes, buoys and fenders need to be secured before launching.
  • You will need a complete wet gear kit, as you will have to wade into the water with your boat until it is buoyant enough to get in.

Coastal rowing is becoming a really popular pastime for both experienced rowers and for people taking up the sport for the very first time. It does take a great deal more practice to start than other forms of rowing but can be hugely rewarding and heaps of fun.