You might think that because the youngster in your life has a passion for rowing, they’ll be easy to buy for. All you need to do is get them something – anything – with rowing on it. Or canoeing, ‘cos that’s basically the same thing, right?
STOP RIGHT THERE. You need help, and fast. Just because someone is a rower doesn’t mean they find rowing jokes huh-larious. And especially not if those jokes are printed on a cheap Café Press mug or T-shirt. Your poor junior could end up looking properly ridiculous down at the boat club with your ill-chosen gift – assuming, that is, they feel obliged to wear it so as not to hurt your feelings.
Mercifully for you, I’m here to guide you with my Christmas gift guide for juniors – five ideas your young rower will actually thank you for. Oh, and if you feel like lobbing a rigger jigger into the bottom of their stocking as well, they won’t mind a bit, as someone nicked theirs at the last head. Fact.
1) Callus Quench, by Dermalicious, £6.84
I don’t know if you’ve glanced at your junior’s hands lately, but the chances are they’re in a horrible state. And if they end up on a rowing camp this year, they’ll only get worse. This stuff, which I reviewed a few months ago, is the absolute business for healing their hurty hands. Just don’t buy them gloves to wear on the river. Please, just don’t.
2. Square Blades T-shirt, by Square Blades, from £15.99
Square Blades specialise in high quality, varsity-style T-shirts, hoodies and accessories for both men and women. Juniors seem to love them, and so do I. The logos are nicely understated, nodding in the direction of rowing without resorting to bad jokes or puns. Definitely a good bet.
3. Customised rowing necklace or cuff links, by Becky Button, from £10 (depending on design)
Becky (a rower as well as a jewellery-maker) can make you a laser-cut, acrylic necklace or cuff links with any club’s blade on it, just like this one she did for me. Brilliant, totally different and just rowing-y enough without being too tried-for. Best to get on the case quickly, though, if you want to be in time for Christmas. Click on the “request custom order” icon on Becky’s site.
4. Clean Bottle, from Amazon, £10.99
I’d be willing to lay money on there being at least one stinking, mouldy bottle lurking in your junior’s kit bag. This genius bottle will make cleaning – and drying – that skanky bottle a realistic prospect. It unscrews at both ends and is BPA-free so you can scrub it in hot water and have it dry by the next day. If it gets really revolting, you can even run it through the dishwasher. Best of all, it doesn’t leak – important when it’s kicking around a bag and a boat yet surprisingly rare in a water bottle – and you can drink from it one-handed. I’ve had mine for several years and won’t use anything else on the water.
5. Summer rowing course at Imperial College, London (2016 prices TBC; 2015 prices were from £475 non-residential, £600 residential)
Imperial does summer courses for juniors (14-18) and by all accounts they are excellent. They cover rowing and sculling and have lots of off-water seminars on things like nutrition and fitness. You won’t just be giving your young rower a leg-up in rowing terms – I’m told these courses are a lot of fun, too.
So now you’ve got Christmas sorted, all you need to worry about is getting through the festive season without coming to blows, but I’m afraid I can’t help you with that.