February saw the dawn of a new Learn to Row at Curlew. Demand was high, and the course sold out in a mere two weeks.

We’ve now welcomed nine women and twelve intrepid men to Curlew for ten weeks. We’ll teach them how to scull in the first half of the course and then sweep in the second half.

So what are they in for?

Blisters! Lactic acid! Super attractive all in one lycra! Catching crabs! The dreaded erg! Distinctive tan lines! And they paid for the privilege. More seriously, although all of the above will be true at one point or another, they are also going to have a great introduction to a sport which while practically masochistic really gets under your skin. I’m a relatively recent graduate of Curlew’s Learn to Row myself. When I signed up it was out an impulsive gesture founded on the confidence I would probably be brilliant at rowing. Spoiler, I was not. Not at all. If they are anything like me, our new cohort are going to learn that rowing requires a great deal of things: flexibility, every major muscle, a superior VO2 max, precision, timing, will power, teamwork, and the ability to sit up straight. On the latter, I remember being completely baffled by Nick’s exhortations for me to sit up during the course. As far as I was concerned, I very much was sitting up. Looking back, I was definitely Slouchy McSloucherson.

There’s no doubt that rowing is demanding, physically and mentally. But it’s the challenge that makes it. You really get to see yourself and team mates improve throughout the course. Its also something where you get what you put in. So, while it helps to be an amazon, you can do well by showing up and being willing to keep trying. And that’s pretty satisfying. Also being on the water in a boat is fun. Fact. So far our novice rowers have been in the tank, focused on learning the sequencing of the stroke, improving their timing with all the drills and learning how to apply pressure through the legs. They’ve also had their first session on the erg, the start of what no doubt will be an enduring love-hate relationship.

They are already making great progress even though the weather has been against them. Next week they’ll start on the water and in a few weeks, they’ll have their first races. Which will be the event of the head season. Follow the group on Curlew’s social media or come and meet them at one of the upcoming socials (and tell ‘em all your best rowing stories). Words by Charlene Woolley

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