As Small Person in Residence at my rowing club, I feel I have to add value wherever I can, to make up for my lack of heft. So it was only a matter of time before I felt obliged to do my bit steering a quad. For those of you baffled by how this all works, a quick run-down. Most sculling boats (the ones with two oars each instead of one) and some sweep boats (one oar each) don’t have a cox to steer them. The advantage is they’re faster. The disadvantage is that someone in the crew has to take responsibility for steering the boat. Whilst rowing hard and accurately. Backwards. Without unduly unbalancing the boat, hitting anything, mistaking a canoeist for a swan or a buoy for a … crash!
If you look over one shoulder the bank looks unnervingly close.
If you look over the other, you feel like you’re veering out into the middle.
And all the while you have to keep an eye on the footplate to make sure you haven’t absent-mindedly moved your foot out of place (the steering plate is attached to your right foot).
I’ll be the first to admit I’m still getting the hang of steering. I can’t deny that it does funny things to my technique, and even funnier things to my face. Here, for example, is my steering-hard-to-the-right face. Attractive, huh?
And I can’t deny that we tend to take the scenic route more than the direct one. I’m still learning not to over-steer, but it’s a work in progress.
All of which makes it kind of terrifying that this weekend I’m steering a quad in my first ever sculling race, on a course with both a bridge AND a bend. What could possibly go wrong?
So wish me luck, friends. I’ve told my shipmates that my race plan is, “Don’t crash and don’t get disqualified” and that’s it. But if you have any tips to help me along, I’d be ever so grateful. I’ll report back next week, hopefully not from a hospital bed.
PS My all-in-one is the Nicky by Queen B Athletics. Fab, isn’t it?!