It was a cold January morning, the three of us huddled up in the cab of Xav’s van and as we entered the gates to the Newport Rowing Club at 8 am, the mission at that point was simply to see who would leave the driest. It turns out it wasn’t just us braving the water in 3-degree weather, as the car park was bustling with life, almost as if it was everyone’s new years’ resolution.
We were greeted by Matt Wishaw, the poor soul who’s taking us under his wing as our rowing coach and there’s the three of us looking at each other smiling as if to say “he doesn’t know what he’s let himself in for”. Although it might not be all that bad, Paul is from a family of longshoremen and has been rowing since his childhood, so there’s at least one of us with a degree of transferable skill. But we looked like a team, thanks to Manni’s Christmas present of matching t-shirts and it felt like the start of the journey.
After setting up the boats we took to the water around 9 am to learn the correct technique and find the sweet spot of efficiency, all while staying balanced and dry. For Paul, the challenge was adapting to this new style of rowing, where the seat slides and leg drive plays a strong part in the method and ignoring the last 29 years in fixed seat boats! Xav’s ability to look where he’s going needs some work, and Matt’s new catchphrase of “square early” has become etched in Manni’s brain but it didn’t take long for us all to become hooked. We left the rowing club that day with excitement for the journey ahead, if not a little sore.
As the weeks have gone on we’ve continued to make regular visits to the rowing club, on occasion using a three-man boat to practice together as well as rowing machines on those not-so-pleasant days. Paul is often down the fire station, racking up the miles on the machine waiting for a call to come in. It’s almost as if he didn’t already have an unfair advantage! There’s a long way to go until we’re ocean-worthy, however, we’re already seeing positive progress and we hope this year to push ourselves out of our comfort zones of the river Medina and out onto the coast.
We would like to thank Matt and the Newport Rowing Club for welcoming us as new members and supporting us through our ambitious journey. Your help and support is fundamental to our success and we appreciate the time you’re so kindly investing.
Xav, Paul and Manni.
(p.s. No one has fallen in. Yet.)