The primary objective of this project is to reintroduce myself to the sport of Rowing at the level of a recreational user; for me a big task after 50 years of land sports like Rugby Union Football, Target Rifle Shooting and Lawn Bowls.
Why? Rowers and Wikipedia tell us that Rowing is one of the few non-weight bearing sports that exercises all the major muscle groups, including quads, biceps, triceps, lats, glutes and abdominal muscles. Although health is extremely important to me in taking on the challenge, there are also the opportunities to relive and reactivate the friendships, fellowship and associations that were so much part of my too short an involvement in the Rowing scene back in the late 50s early 60s when I was a member of the Star Boating Club in Wellington.
Well, having taken the plunge and having experimented with a racing skiff, next on the “to do list” is to acquire a more suitable boat for my purposes.
To meet the requirements of an elderly and some would say rather geriactic recreational rower living in Wellington, New Zealand, there are a number of challenges to be met, including:
- Portability: If one is to get adequate training time on the water, one must have a means of transporting a boat to the most favourable and available water conditions. In my case this can be at some distance, one end of the Harbour or the other, the Ruamahanga Diversion in the South Wairarapa or even further afield to Whanganui. To cope particularly with the length of the boat I have had a trailer built with an extendable rack. A “car topper” would however be more efficient, but this would require a shorter dimensioned boat to meet the traffic regulations and permitted overhang.
- Stability: Age brings with it shakes, achy bones, physical decay, a lack of balance etc. This somewhat rules an 8.5 metre racing shell out of consideration, pride has to be swallowed and something close to an open water boat becomes the only option.
- Storage: This is closely associated with both of the aforementioned factors. Look at it like this: you have a programme that sets a target of getting out on the water 4 times a week. Achieving this is dependent on weather and water conditions and may require you to use different sites for each, or some of your dedicated training days. To reduce travelling distance it is most likely that home is the best base and will obviate having to travel distances to pick up your boat for carrying to the most ideal bit of water. An 8.5 metre length of boat is most likely beyond the capacity of your garage or stable. The only answer is a boat of reduced length, around the same weight (14 KG) as a racing boat and with dimensions for stability as mentioned above.
- Hull design: Something close to an “open water” boat is imperative for reasons of coping with the “physical decay” mentioned above and to allow greater opportunities to get out onto the water. The racing boat design coupled with the issue of stability requires millpond conditions which is a huge constraint for us older guys when one takes into account the Wellington, and elsewhere of course, weather. A boat that will cope with a little chop will allow for more time out on the water.
On the left here is my current and somewhat inappropriate boat in storage with trailer in position for loading. The trailer rack uprights are in the lower position to allow access to the garage. Because of its length the boat actually extends through to keep me company in my office at the rear. On the right the trailer loaded ready to go.
In brief what I have done to answer some of these thoughts is to engage well known rower, Viv Haar of Carboglass Moldings, 11-16 Peterkin Street, Wingate, Lower Hutt (Tel: 04 567 9854; Mobile: 027 446 8900) to produce a boat to meet my, and the requirements of a recreational rower with a bent to try and relive his youth with an unachievable objective of setting aside 50 years of abuse of the body and getting a lift from sitting up a sculling boat.
Viv has undertaken to produce and prototype such a boat from a kayak design, give it a sliding seat and some riggers and see how we can meet the challenges outlined above.
I intend to chronicle this action for interest and possibly there are others as senile as me out there who may be interested in getting into the action.
Boat Mold Step 1
I proudly announce that a start has been made. Here is the mold produced as the first step in the process.
More news soon.