Tales from a “Tyred Swans” outing

A guest post by Tonia Williams, rowing artist and a club-mate at North Shore Rowing Club, Auckland [Tyred Swans is a joke on kiwi plant pots, the club logo and the state of the master’s training group].

While the wind wailed (or was that Rico?), and the spray pounded the lake shore, those of us inexorably drawn to ocean rowing (or a penchant for soggy kit) had some mentoring of a school girl double to do, so off we went.

Safety briefing, flashing light and floatation device attachment completed, we packed up our knitting needles (knit one, pearl one, drop one) and headed off into the wild blue yonder.

Even in the dark, it quickly became apparent that our two young protégés required some input.  How best to facilitate, given the large waves, blustery gales, inky black and inability to be heard or seen? (yes I know – some may say a blessing in all too thinly veiled disguise!).

A few succinct gems of wisdom I thought it prudent to share with you:-

First challenge – application of effective power to generate boat speed (otherwise known as ‘pull harder’).

Answer:- ‘The Lawnmower’

Translation :- so imagine it, grabbing the starter handle of the mower or a motorboat for that matter, making sure you have a good grip (locked), and then accelerate the handle as fast as you can towards your torso (and then letting go when it fires into life) – now you see the analogy?

All very well, but when you row in a most lady-like manner with elbows close to the body, something has to give, and usually it’s the holding on to power at the finish, hence:

‘The Chicken’

Translation: – you can’t pull your handle all the way into your body if your elbows are below your wrists. If you scull (as many of us do) as a converted sweep rower, you generally to row with your elbows closer to the body, below your wrists, as this is a stronger position for sweep. But NOT for sculling.

So, row like a chicken, and suddenly you can do the lawnmower all the way into your body without losing power and acceleration, and have plenty of room to deal with a bit of rough – easy!

So picture this morning if you will then – two girly doubles completing several kilometres of side by side rowing, calling ‘chicken’ and lawnmower’ at each other, hardly noticing the waves, wind, or absence of our fellow swans, (with the exception of Cameron – who also likes rowing with soggy kit it would seem!)

Jolly marvelous!


Next week: the ping pong ball and the kitchen sink. (and no this is not an extract from Priscilla Queen of the Dessert!)

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