What kit is needed

 

Starting Out

When you start to learn to row, it is not necessary to rush out and buy expensive rowing specific clothing. Most children will have access to suitable clothing from other sports: shorts and leggings or track suit bottoms, long or short sleeved t-shirts and sweatshirts. Hats are very useful in the winter. It is important that tops are relatively close fitting otherwise folds of clothing can get caught up with the hands at the finish of the stroke. It is best to wear several thin layers rather than one thick one as this allows temperature to be regulated though an outing by slipping layers on and off. Hoodies should not be worn on the water - there have been reports of people getting trapped under a capsized boat when their hoody caught on a boat fitting.

Rowing in the depths of winter can be hard on the fingers. It is possible to row in gloves but most people don't like the lack of direct contact with the blade handle. A compromise is provided by "pogies" - these are special rowing "gloves" that fit over both the hand and the blade handle, enabling the rower to keep warm and connected to the handle. In case of capsize, all rowers should bring with them a spare change of clothing and a towel.

Winter In the winter, once crews have warmed up rowing to the start of a head race, they can then face a wait of often more than an hour sat doing nothing before the race commences. It is vital in such circumstances to have lots of layers, hats and gloves to put on and it is impoartant that they are put on before the athlete starts to feel cold.

Given the fickleness of the British weather it is best to always assume it is going to rain while you are at the start even if the weather is sunny and spring-like when you boat. Acting on this advice would have saved a lot of suffereing a couple of years at at Northwich. Gloriously sunny weather lulled a lot of junior crews into boating with minimal kit. While at the start, it clouded over in a matter of minutes leading to an immediate drop in temperature and then it began to hail. Many of the crews finishing that day had to be helped out of their boats into survival blankets because of inadequate clothing - though not any of the Pengwern contingent.

Scullers waiting at the start of a head race on a beautiful but frosty December day.

Summer You might be excused for thinking things would be simpler in the summer - they aren't, and in fact you may need more kit than the winter. The problem is that if a crew is winning, they may have several races in a day at a summer regatta. If it happens to be raining (or if the crew has a habit of splashing a lot of water around), that can lead to an awful lot of wet kit and a rower should always change into something dry in between races. Once again, even if the forecast is for a scorching summer day, it is best to always turn up at a regatta with a large bag of kit, just in case.

And finally...

When your child starts to compete, they will require one of the devices shown on the right - known as a rigger jigger. In fact, given how frequently they are lost you should probably get several. They combine a 10mm and a 13mm spanner, which are the sizes needed to take the riggers on and off the boat, something that has to be done several times for every competition. They cost about £7 from rowing supply companies, but you can find equivalent devices for half that if you do a bit of Googling. 

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