Sunday, 17 June 2012


Sometimes it’s disheartening to be me, I am such a slow learner. To counteract this I have to remember how far I’ve come and count all the baby steps.

For example rowing. Rowing in a straight line is working reasonably well for me now, however, I do still run into trouble when I need to cross the river to go the other way or back the boat. Then it’s as if I’ve just gotten into an alien craft that will not obey any of my directions. And my brain goes into NFI* mode.

As I peer around behind me I see the riverbank looming close, then know I need to steer more to the left or right. However, figuring out which side to row, or to simply plant my oar, is often more a matter of trial and error than actually knowing what I’m doing. Still. (Dammit brain work harder!)

So, this week I need to acknowledge some progress, as small as that may be. I remember the very first time I sculled by myself I swore that rowing wasn’t for me and was just about ready to give it up. Despite having rowed for five months now, I have only rowed by myself four times and this week I didn’t have a mild sense of panic as I crossed the river to go in the other direction, unlike last week. Nor did I end up behind the two poles sticking up in the water causing me to need to back up the boat.  I didn’t get so close to the bank that I couldn’t row either. (Oh, OK, maybe once but I knew what to do this time.)

Backing up the boat still meets with some brain freeze. For a start when you back up the boat you want it to go ‘forward’ in the direction you are seated. In reality ‘forward’ is behind you as you sit backwards in the boat. Then you need to do the opposite of rowing; push the oars away from you. Looking at the end of the oars and hoping your arms will automatically do the rest is not helpful.

I spent some time dithering, talking myself through it as our coach yelled from the bank, “Back it, Stella. Both oars.”

Well, Good Garden Party! if I could just easily do it I would’ve done it already. I knew I had to back it, I’d gone past the start line as we practiced for a race next week. I was meant to be next to someone else instead I'd pulled ahead. (In my defence I thought she'd wanted to me to start rowing.) Yelling at me to “Back up, Stella!” was not helping. Neither was looking helplessly at my arms. “You have to do it quickly!” Didn’t have the desired effect either.

When I returned and spoke briefly to another rower she suggested “B for backing, B for body” and that means I start with the oars at my body, and then push forward. That makes so much more sense for me now I have a starting point. 

I know my brain is acting as if it’s gone on holidays but there’s not a lot I can do about that. I had wondered about the wisdom of entering a race where I have to scull by myself but I figure it’ll be good practice. And I need the practice, it’s the only way I’m going to improve.


* No Friggin’ Idea


  1. Forget whether your brain can row left/right (Or is that port/starboard?! LOL)you must be getting so fit with all this sculling. Very impressed. Wish I had your dedication.

    1. I like being fit, it feels so good. :-) ALthough I had to back out (get it?) of the races, I was sick for 2 of them. Still rowing once a week though.

  2. Oh my that sounds confusing... kudos to you for trying something new - good luck at the race!

  3. I'll stick to canoeing and kayaking. I wouldn't do well with the whole backing up AND getting yelled thing either! And besides, I like to see where I'm going :)

  4. Seeing where you're going would be handy but I am still enjoying it. It's a lot of coordinating things though. Have resolved the being yelled at thing by pulling out of the races. I was sick for 2 of them and couldn't row, and this way I have more time to fine tune my rowing skills.