Daytime Learn to Row takes off in York

Over the past few years, a sizeable group of leisure rowers – formed under the stewardship of club stalwart John Sparrow and “mum-turned-rower-turned-coach” Hilary Howe – has developed at York City RC. This merry band is serious about its rowing, but also serious about having fun, being sociable and frequenting the local coffee shop, ‘The Perky Peacock’, for coffee and cake after their outings – habitually on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and Weekend afternoons.

With a bit of help from British Rowing staff, over the last seven weeks they have run their first “Leisure Group Learn to Row course”, which has been notable for not only the fun and enthusiasm with which eight to 10 not-so-young rowers have thrown themselves into the challenge of learning a new sport, but also by the fantastic weather that accompanied every one of the sessions so far. Wall to wall sunshine was the order of the day, which created a fantastic backdrop to the whole experience.

Taking place across the country, these sorts of initiatives aim to get more and more people involved in rowing at different times of the week. This means that clubs can increase their membership and participation by getting more rowers out on the water during the day, as well as at more traditional rowing times.

York City now has 40+ leisure rowers, and they are increasingly self-sufficient with regards to maintaining and growing their activity. The club has reached this point with the help of British Rowing’s new Rowing Instructor course, which five members of the of the leisure squad attended.

These five participants were then able to assist John and Hilary in the delivery of the Learn to Row course; sitting in learner quads, coxing boats, helping the beginners get onto and off the water and ultimately working with rowers and starting to develop coaching skills of their own.

“When the Leisure Group started, all the rowers were dependent on me to get on and off the water” says John Sparrow. “Since then, however, there has been one or two like Hilary who have stepped up to gain coaching qualifications and now with even more people with basic qualifications, the help that we can call upon to run these types of courses is really taking the load off individuals” 

The Learn to Row course was designed, ultimately, to help learners become self-sufficient on the water, and so tuition began in coxed quads and progressed to wide beamed doubles and singles. Some of the more capable members of the group ended up in tracer singles and were pretty much ready for fine singles.

This all bodes well for the continuing growth of the York City leisure group; let’s hope the heatwave they have obviously created in York holds too!

By Rob Cree