“Be the Boat” – A Sculling Experience in Florida

In February 2016 I flew across the pond to take part in a rowing tuition at the Florida Rowing Center in Wellington, FL. It may sound strange, going such a long distance just to improve ones sculling skills. No, I’m not a World Champion oder a member of the German National Rowing Team. I’m just a person who newly developed this sport, became quite affectionate and who since long likes travelling (long distances, especially in Winter).

Last year I made my first experiences in rowing a racing boat and I must admit that I found it challenging. It didn’t help that I tried to concentrate hard to find my balance. To be honest, it didn’t feel comfortable at all. Clear enough that I needed training and advice, but in some way I was not at the right place at the right time. So when I found the offer of the FRC, participation seemed to be a very good idea.

Gordon Hamilton as chief trainer and his team Harvey Rubinstein, Larry Gluckman und assistant Cindy Shirts, as well as Marlene Royle, are absolutely high professionals. You can find their impressing list of merits and experiences here. The nine members of our group were all „Masters“ and except of me all Americans. The course lasted four days (you can also make three or seven) and was highly demanding but very efficient. The theory is followed by outings, so you can practice what you have heard immediately and the next morning again, and you are accompanied by „Coach’s Eye“, i. e. the coaches follow you by boat and give technical advice and correction. Coach’s Eye is also an app used to take videos of your performance. I was suffering quite a lot watching myself on video during the in-house lessons. However, this is an indispensable part of the learning process. Gordon’s analysis is so precise and his advice so concrete, you can’t get better ones.

That rowing, if one tries to execute it ambitiously, is not a simple sport, I had known already. And different trainers tell different things. But if you feel that applying what you have learned makes it easier and look better, that’s quite convincing. For me almost everything was different. I had to free myself from old patterns, and of course I’ve not yet got it, but I have an idea. The most difficult thing was to put no pressure on my feet. Gordon says „… one idea that will improve your sculling more than anything is the ability to keep your weight off your feet during the recovery until AFTER the blade is loaded and locked on.“ Of course you can’t do so if you don’t have techniques to keep yourself stable. So one has to attend a tuition at the FRC or get Gordon’s book „Sculling in a Nutshell – A Polemical Guide to Making Your Boat Go Faster“. Or one can watch this little video I made during the course where Harvey Rubinstein demonstrates how it works. Doesn’t it look easy?

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