Ten things we learned about rowing from the Welsh Boat Race
1. Crew trumps all – no matter what you may feel about parading publicly in a unisuit, whether your thoughts are too fat, too thin, too tall or too short, being part of a crew supersedes personal identity enabling you to get out there – we thrive as a herd.
2. Winning is not everything – on paper, the Cardiff novice men’s crew should have won as they won the last 10 of their 12 encounters with Swansea. They went off hard and fast and on the first left-hand bend a combination of the cox steering around the bend and bow side laying down some extra watts ensured that they ended up beached on the bank. Rotten luck but the crew, albeit temporarily humiliated, finished the race with energy and were happily recounting their plight in the bar afterwards.
3. Rowing is run by unsung heroes – three Welsh Rowing umpires gave up their day and no doubt more, to officiate at the race without publicity or any direct thanks.
4. Don’t underestimate the need for experienced people to manage rowing events and provide role models to inspire young volunteers. They bring not only gravitas to the situation but they also know how the event works in the interests of creating the safest, most fun and enjoyable event possible.
5. The Welsh Boat race is the one you’ve never heard of – it’s didn’t even make the British Rowing top 6 list of varsity boat races.
6. Crew conquers kit. Swansea University has no boathouse or clubhouse. Its boats are stored on racks behind Sainsbury’s on open land, 200m from the slipway into the Tawe. Their kit is older than they would like no doubt but being in a crew and all that that brings, is better than being alone with shiny new kit.
7. Rowing runs on volunteer energy – Swansea rowers are coached by a volunteer student coach who together with other volunteers organised the event.
8. Nesting swans are vicious – Swansea University Rowing Club share Swansea Marina with some nesting swans. Come within 5m of the male and he will let you know you need to back off.
9. University rowing is a great way to find your tribe, feel part-of and get engaged with other humans.
10. What a difference the weather makes – there is no doubt about it, rowing in the sun is hard to beat!