From novice to racing in 6 months…

Well where do I start…I am actually going to say Wednesday 29th March 2023…despite this being about the Inverness Regatta on this weekend (11th and 12th  November 2023)… 

Wednesday 29th March was the start of the last Tay Rowing Club “Learn to Row” course and 5th April the first time 8 learners in that group, including myself, tentatively got into our first boat on the River Tay…..another group of 8 starting on the Saturday. 

The courses ran for 10 weeks ending officially on 31st May but with a “Graduation BBQ” on 24th June…. never at that point did I consider that in just over 4 months time I’d be attending my first Regatta as a competitor….but that is all credit to the committee and members of the club…. 

I think all learners on the course would agree that from Day 1 we were all made to feel extremely welcome and no question was too stupid or mistake too frustrating for the coaches (or at least they hid it well). 

Having never been in a rowing boat before and no, not knowing the difference between sculling, sweeping, front stops, back stops etc I genuinely felt I was learning a new language as well as a new sport…but all was explained well and still working my way through a few additional phrases that maybe don’t feature in the Scottish Rowing Dictionary… 

So as you can imagine being asked if I could help make up a ‘more senior ladies crew’ boat at the beginning of September the nerves really kicked in….still unsure that I could even row and keep myself afloat, I now had to consider I could potentially sink 3 experienced members of the club and more importantly Committe Members and those posts are difficult to fill at the best of times!!! 

Despite the setbacks with weather and scheduling personal lives we managed 3 trips out on the Tay before departing for Inverness having navigated a race licence, ordering team kit and many sleepless nights worrying about layers, timing, location and yes, still worrying about being responsible for all the possible catastrophes I had conjured up in my head associated with rowing! You’d never think I’d been trained in a previous life to deal with major incidents including firearms incidents, fatal collisions and terrorism situations….I was more terrified of ‘catching a crab’ in the Caledonian Canal…. 

The day however was amazing…. first things first our crew “TAYna Turners” did not drown…we looked the part in our team kit, started well, stayed afloat and finished….all of which I’m taking as big wins….and no we didn’t win but I genuinely had a great experience… 

The event was well organised and people so friendly and helpful….Molly from Dundee Uni Rowing Club jumped in to cox for the other crew racing that day – the “Racing Snakes” and Martin, another new member to the club but extremely experienced, helped out another team to allow them to race after one of their crew was injured…a great sense of rowing community. 

Despite our crew not putting up any strong competition (on this occasion – but watch this space!), I can seriously say on reflection it really was about the taking part….not a phrase I’ve ever used in relation to competitive sport but there is a first time for everything…we went out and took part and I certainly learned a lot…ย 

Paige from the club however did stick to her race plan of โ€˜Start hard. Go a bit harder in the middle. Finish hardโ€™….coming away with 1st out of 12 in her first Scottish Head Race….well done! 

So the motto behind this is you think you would like to try rowing then just do it…. a great sport, a fantastic club and a welcoming rowing community!

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