It’s a bit of an indulgence, I know. I don’t actually NEED a single of my own. I’m lucky enough to be in a club that has a few nice single sculls that are not massively outside my weight category. I’m a featherweight 53kg and we have a couple of lovely singles that are 60-75kg, so they’re not crazily big for me. If our juniors can manage fine in them, then so can I. But having sculled in a boat at Tyne United that was actually the right size for me – a gorgeous 50-60kg boat in a racy scarlet – I’ve been yearning to experience that same sensation again. It’s a bit like that feeling of stepping into a nice little hatchback after driving a minibus. Everything you need is within reach, there’s no stretching or adjusting, and it all feels just right.

So when word reached me via Twitter that a second-hand, super-lightweight Wintech International had come on the market, I couldn’t rest until I’d seen it. After a couple of weeks of rummaging around behind sofa cushions and digging into old building society accounts, I took a deep breath and arranged a test drive. And it was love at first sight.

And who could blame me? I mean, look at her. Small, perfectly-formed and with the cutest design on the canvas. Unusually for a second hand boat with two previous owners, she hadn’t ever been named, so I even had the opportunity to make her fully my own. I was about to have my final cancer treatment and had been looking for something to mark the end of 18 months of living in Cancer Land, so it felt like it was meant to be.

I had to act fast as there was someone else interested in her, too (these boats are like hen’s teeth), so I made an offer and before I knew it, she was mine. She arrived this weekend, the day after my final injection, so on Sunday I got to take her out for a spin on home waters – nervously at first (as you can see from my hunched shoulders in the first pic, taken before I’d got my feet in!) and then with increasing joy and confidence.

 

 

 

It’ll take a while to get used to her smaller stature and I have yet to get her properly set up for me (and to get blades – the next project) – but for now I’m just enjoying getting to know her and relishing the feel of a boat that’s perfect for me. You won’t be surprised to learn that I’ve somewhat recklessly entered her for Llandaff Regatta next month, despite being far from race fit at the moment, and I can’t wait to put her through her paces.

There’s just one more thing I need to do – my new boat needs a name. I’ve been toying with a few ideas. As my nickname at the club is Trash – long story – I thought it might be funny to call her Trailer Trash – until I realised that while it would be huh-larious to anyone in on the joke, it might just look rude to everyone else (and frankly unworthy of my sleek new ride). So I’ve settled on the obvious choice – on a name that reflects something that has been incredibly important to me since I started rowing and which has brought me friends and connections around the world (something, even, that in the early days kept me rowing at times when I came close to quitting). So *drum roll*… my new boat will be called —-

GIRL ON THE RIVER.

Not sure yet when the naming ceremony will be but I’ll be sure to keep you posted. Until then, happy rowing.