Explore Rowing helps Twickenham thrive
‘I’m here to talk a bit about challenging preconceptions,’ Twickenham RC’s Paul Davis told the 2011 British Rowing Conference in September. ‘We did it with Explore Rowing and Learn to Row.’
Twickenham is the joint-third oldest rowing club on the River Thames, with an illustrious 151-year tradition of sweep rowing.
The club’s proud history, however, did little to improve poor retention rates in its membership and a decline in boatmanship skills in even the club’s high-performance crews.
‘For some years now, we have had many experienced coaches all with a wealth of technical knowledge and the ability to inspire and encourage any new intake we can find,’ Davis continued.
‘What we didn’t have were the boats or the equipment to put the novices into to achieve these aims. We were still teaching people in fours and eights.’
‘We needed a fleet of small boats, ideally sculling boats, that would afford the new participants the opportunity to get into a boat quickly, to be safe, and to be able to enjoy themselves while learning, and yet not be so stable as to teach nothing about boatmanship and balance.[newsimage=1]In stepped Explore Rowing, with a fleet of wider, stable singles, doubles, and quads specifically designed to provide a safe, enjoyable experience for novice and social rowers.
‘Where we once had the desire, we now have the means to deliver what we consider a thorough and comprehensive Learn to Row program.
The Explore Rowing boats are nothing like the clinkers of old – these actually look like the sort of boats that people would want to get into and learn in. It’s not a case of ‘us’ and ‘them’ anymore; the boats all look the same.
‘When you’re on the water, you can’t really tell the difference between the wide boat and the narrow boat.’
The result of bringing in the stable boats has been a seismic change at Twickenham RC, with the retention rate from the club’s Learn to Row courses soaring to a staggering 90 per cent.
Since bringing in the Explore Rowing boats, of the club’s 50 Learn to Row graduates 45 have now joined the novice squads or other development paths.
‘We’ve now got a men’s novice squad of over 30 – all having passed their sculling competencies and all able to train in fine boats.[newsimage=2]‘As one of our coaches – who has just come to us from Cambridge University – said, it’s the best bunch of novices she’s ever seen.’
The future looks bright for the new, beginner-friendly Twickenham RC, but the club is refusing to rest on its laurels now that the door to social rowing has well and truly opened on its reach of the Thames.
‘We’ve got some tours and trips planned, and we also want to do some adaptive rowing. We’ve got the boats, we’ve got the floats, and with British Rowing’s help we can do that and get the local disabled and special needs groups into our club.
‘We couldn’t do any of these things without the equipment – we’ve now got it.’
To find out how Explore Rowing can help your club thrive with social, community rowing, visit www.explorerowing.org.