County Antrim Yacht Club – Coastal Rowing
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Why Coastal Rowing?
Rowing has been an important part of life around the coastal areas of Ireland for centuries. While it is no longer essential for communication and commerce, it is still embedded in many coastal towns as a community sport. In Whitehead and Islandmagee early in the 20th century, rowing in gigs was popular and included racing for prestigious prizes. It is our intention to revive this tradition after a gap of many years.
Coastal rowing is great way to improve your fitness, strength, and flexibility as it uses most of the major muscle groups in the body. It is a low impact sport which means that anyone can do it and it is possible for men and women, children and grandparents to be found rowing in the same boat. You can participate in coastal rowing for pleasure, fitness or competition and the sport has a very strong community element in towns and villages all over Ireland. CAYC-Coastal Rowing has recently been accepted into the Antrim Coastal Rowing Association which is affiliated to the Irish Coastal Rowing Federation http://www.coastalrowing.net/. As part of this setup, Whitehead has been chosen as the venue for the inaugural Ulster Coastal Rowing Championships in August 2018.
What fitness level or experience will I need?
No of prior experience of rowing or boating is needed nor is there any expectation of fitness levels. There is no age limit for rowing and rowers come in all shapes and sizes. Some degree of fitness and flexibility may help your progression but both of these will improve the more you get involved. Rowing is a sport which can be undertaken by visual or hearing impaired people on the same basis as anyone without a disability and some of these athletes can compete at the highest levels of the sport. People with physical disabilities can also row in boats which are appropriately adapted, and it is hoped that the club will be able to facilitate this in the future.
What boats will I be rowing in? Is Coastal Rowing dangerous?
Like any sport on or near water, safety procedures must be implemented and followed closely to ensure safe activity. The coastal rowing boats are much wider and more stable that the boats you might have seen being rowed at the Olympics. Each crew has four rowers and a coxswain who steers the boat and gives commands. When the oars are properly secured and extended out of the boat it is virtually impossible for the boat to flip over. However, no boat is unsinkable and rowers can still fall into the water, so all outings are undertaken with modern lifejackets. The boats are designed to be rowed at sea even when it is a bit choppy. However, careful assessment of the conditions, the weather forecast, and the experience of the crew will be made before any outing goes ahead.
What if I want to be involved but don’t want to row?
If the physical demands of rowing do not appeal to you but you enjoy being out on the sea or derive pleasure from bossing others around, coxing is for you! As each crew needs a coxswain, it doesn’t matter how many rowers there are in the club, if we have no coxes there is no rowing. If this interests you, training will be provided so you can manoeuvre the boat and give commands to the crew so that they can paddle, train and race.
If you are a land lubber but enjoy being by the seaside or seeing family and friends messing about in boats from comfort of the club bar or patio, you can still contribute. CAYC is exclusively run by volunteers so you can do your bit to help out, be it fundraising, cooking barbeques, administration, organising events and races etc. As we develop the coastal rowing in Whitehead, we will also need people with technical skills to help fix and maintain the boats and equipment.
What training/coaching is available?
No previous rowing experience is required to take part. If you are a complete beginner then you will be coached in the basic technique, skills and terminology on land (indoor on a rowing machine) and on the water. You will go through a Beginner Training Scheme in which you will participate in a number of training sessions on and off the water. This will bring you up to a level where you will be able to and row as part of a crew which can safely launch and land a boat, respond to appropriate commands, and row effectively in moderate weather conditions.
Weather permitting during spring, on-the-water sessions will be held every Saturday and Sunday with an online sign-up for different slots. Land training sessions will be held in the club house on Wednesday evenings to work on basic technique and improved fitness. These sessions will eventually be extended to include outings in boats once the daylight extends late enough into the evening. As we progress into the summer additional sessions may be organised throughout the week depending on demand or the need for additional competitive training.
Can I row competitively? Do I have to row competitively?
It is intended that coastal rowing at CAYC should be available for all levels of ability and interest. So if you only want to have a nice paddle once in a while when the sky is blue, then this will be possible (provided a boat and equipment is available). You are also welcome to try out racing at a local regatta which will have many categories for different ages and levels of experience. These regattas are family friendly and there is great craic to be had whether you come first or last, or are just there to watch.
For those of you who catch the competition bug, then there is plenty of events on offer. In particular the Ulster Coastal Rowing Championships will be held in Whitehead on 11 August 2018 and the Irish Coastal Rowing Championships in Wexford the following weekend. In other clubs it is very common for rowers to go from complete beginners to competing in the Irish Championships in a few months. It is the goal for our new club to send at least one crew to this event in our inaugural year and to get as many crews as possible on the water for the Ulster Championships.
What clothing do I need?
You might have the misconception that rowing is only undertaken by titans or amazonians clad in lycra. You do not need the latest hi-tech, tight-fitting apparel to row. Looser fitting leggings, track suits, T-shirts etc. can be worn but baggy clothing should be avoided as it may snag on parts of the boat. For getting into and out of the boat your feet may get a bit wet so an old pair of trainers is recommended. Being out at sea means that you are more exposed than on land and your clothing should be appropriate for this and the weather on the day. A number of layers is recommended as you will find that rowing generates a lot of body heat and you may want to peel off as the outing continues. A light splash jacket is also useful to fend off any spray. If you are coxing then you will not have the benefit of rowers’ internal heat source and you will require more serious outdoor clothing.
When you initially take up rowing you may develop a few blisters on your hands which can be protected with some surgical tape. Blisters eventually harden so that if you are rowing regularly this is no longer an issue. Some people may also prefer to wear light gloves (fingered or fingerless) to protect their hands.
What does CAYC offer?
Founded in 1902, it is one of the oldest sailing clubs in Northern Ireland. Sailing remains the core activity of the club which is a recognised RYA Training Centre and runs both adult and junior RYA Training Courses for beginners and for those who want to advance their skills. The club also runs courses for kayaking and powerboating with coastal rowing now included. The club owns boats and equipment which can be used by club members so you don’t need to buy a boat or expensive equipment to get started.
In the last 10 years the club has invested more than £1M from grants, donations, and fund raising to completely re-build the club house, renovate the old coastguard boathouse and implement various other infrastructure improvements. The club house now provides modern training facilities, a luxurious bar, social area, and patio, and a full size snooker table. It is the best place in Whitehead to watch Six Nations Rugby matches. The club house is the venue for variety of social events and children’s parties for members and the wider community, and hosts book, bridge and craft clubs. CAYC also has a golf society, rambling group and organises cycling and kayaking trips several times a year.
How much will it cost? What are the benefits of CAYC membership?
If you are a non-member you will be initially asked to pay £5 per on-the-water session to cover insurance. After 3 sessions you should be in a good position to decide if you want to join the club or not. If you decide yes, then the money you have already paid will be deducted from your membership fee for the first year. CAYC membership fees are very reasonable and can found at www.cayc.co.uk/membership/becoming-a-member/. Membership allows you not just to take part in coastal rowing but any of the other myriad of sporting and social activities within the club.
Check list for participation: You must return a completed form as advised by Committee members or Coaches:
- Medical / Consent Form as per link above
- Membership Form (if applicable) Website section : Becoming a Member
Any further queries contact : firstname.lastname@example.org