Pull! You Are Not Doing This For Fun, Are You?

The latest issue of Rowing News, December 2010, arrived on Saturday.

I must confess I have mixed feelings about this magazine. Although all articles are very well-written and the photographs almost all the time are incredible, the coverage is single minded. You can read about the top-notch rowers – ‘the best of the best’ -, or how to train to be one in that group, and which regattas they won. Articles are telling you how to eat and drink right, to train on the erg to hit the high scores (as a matter of fact, in the December issue there were several articles dealing with rowing machine work-outs), how to do the right winter training to please your coach, etc.

If you are a pleasure rower who is doing this sport for fun, as a recreational activity, rarely will you find an article in Rowing News helping you with your little endevour. But maybe the magazine knows that those women and men are not subscribing to their magazine anyway? Being the best (coming second never counts), I guess, this is the mind set of doing sports in the U.S., and for rowing, the way the governing body in this country, US Rowing, has its focus. Why, for example, has USRowing not launched a campaign like British Rowing’s successful Explore Rowing? Here you can find where can you learn how to row and scull, which waterway routes you and your friends should take to see the scenic views, which clubs will lend you boats, etc.

The competitive tradition in the U.S. is very strong; if you are doing it anyway, why not do it for winning gold by pushing yourself to the extreme limit? Or so the way of thinking goes it seems.

I am not saying that I did not enjoy Rowing News December issue, I actually did. Peter Van Allen’s article “The Right Fit” tells me a way to get my children to the right colleges so they can row, on any level. Topher Bordeau has a very unscientific article about why hard-pulling rowers produce more female offspring (they do?). Of course, Andy Anderson, a.k.a Doctor Rowing (seen on the left), has yet to write an uninteresting, boring piece. In this issue he straightens out the question what kind of rowers are sitting in the eight’s different positions, starting with the Stroke and down to Bow.

Here is a little of what Anderson writes about the position I mostly had during my short but lively racing career, Bow “is the artist, the stylist, the best dressed […] And how can it be that [he] is always so articulate, even after an intense session of speedwork?” And of course the question comes: “Could it be that [he] doesn’t ever really pull?”

Of course, I did, or so I would like to remember it. And to be honest, me rowing at bow was many years and many kilos ago…


  1. USRowing, the national governing body for the sport, is not affiliated with the Independent Rowing News magazine. For more information about recreational rowing, tips for masters and how to find a club near you, visit http://www.usrowing.org. Can't find what you're looking for? E-mail your ideas and feedback to members@usrowing.org.

  2. Dear ‘Anonymous’ from USRowing – I am aware that [the formerly called Independent] Rowing News is not affiliated with USRowing, but their coverage tends to highlight the competitive aspect of the sport, which is also the impression I have of USRowing.

    As someone who loves rowing, I am interested in promoting the full spectrum of activities. While I do recognise that USRowing does have ‘tips’ on their web site for master rowers and has ideas for youth rowers, the organisation still has its focus on the country’s top rowers, not the grass-roots. I did find something interesting on USRowing’s web site, a pdf from the workshop and presentation, “The ARA Youth and Community Outreach Programme 1996-2009” by Simon Dickie of the ARA (nowadays British Rowing). If USRowing aims to reach those goals, there is a long way to go still. I understand that this takes time, but I wonder if USRowing is going to start a nationwide outreach campaign like Dickie discussed and British Rowing is doing right now? If so, that news doesn’t seem to have filtered down to the Rowing News staff or indeed to us in Connecticut.

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