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Pesky knees make rowing a bit tricky

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: January 17, 2013

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Coordination is not my strong point and trying to get them out of the way as my hands move forwards with the blades proves more complicated than it should be.

Still, Stuart Redden is optimistic: "You're doing well," he shouts, before adding a caveat, "Considering you're doing in half an hour what we'd normally do over 12 weeks."

I'm going to take that as high praise, no matter what you say.

Stuart, who has coached all over the country at a high level including at the University of the West of England and the University of Birmingham, and now leads Exeter Rowing Club's mens' squad, said: "Anyone can row. And after the age of 18 there are competitions to suit all sizes and abilities – the sport is not turned off to anyone who isn't a hulking giant.

"To compete at the highest level, sure, being 6ft something will help, but the great thing about rowing is it is the only sport of its type where you can pick it up at any time and always find people of similar ages and abilities to compete against.

"Every regatta will have junior, senior and veterans' competitions at the same place – no one is excluded. And we'll help everyone get started with the equipment they need."

Now, the equipment and the terminology...

In sweep boats, each rower has one oar or blade. In sculling boats the oarsmen use two blades. Boats generally have one, two, four or eight seats. The eights will always have a coxswain (or cox) to steer and direct the crew whereas a four may be coxed or coxless, depending on the type of boat used.

A cox is a vital member of the crew and is the person in charge of the boat, particularly its navigation and steering.

A cox must be positive, a good motivator and very encouraging – being small is also an advantage. Exeter Rowing Club is always looking out for new coxwains so if you would like to be part of the club's success and compete in some of the country's most prestigious rowing events, get in touch.

The riggers of a boat hold a pivot for the blade out from the side of the boat.

Rowers sit on a seat which will move backwards and forwards on wheels to allow the rower greater movement. The runners on which the wheels sit are called the slide.

Generally, rowers use shoes fixed to a metal plate in the boat. This provides them with a stable base to push off.

The bow is the front end of the boat and it is also the name given to the rower in the bow. The person at the back or the stern of the boat is called stroke.

And remember, it is a mistake to think that rowing is pulling with the arms. The legs should always be doing most of the work.

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