Susan Barrett was surprised to learn there are still a few places in the world where crews still row in fixed-seat competitions.
“We began researching online (about) other countries that still participate in fixed-seat rowing, knowing that most parts of North America row (only) sliding seat,” said Barrett who is captain of a local four-member crew that’s headed to Wales in August.
“In our search, we found that fixed-seat rowing is alive and well in most parts of the United Kingdom. England, Scotland and Ireland have many rowing clubs, but it was obvious to us that it was a passion in Wales… a way of life.”
Barrett said while there are 32 sea rowing clubs in Wales, as well as one associate club in Ireland, “We found an appealing, organized and passionate website for a club called Mumbles Amateur Sea Rowing.
“We decided to send an e-mail off to their contact and see if we got a response, not knowing really what to expect.
“This began a flourish of e-mails filled with questions, wondering about similarities and differences in the sport from Wales to Newfoundland and Labrador,” noted Barrett.
“Although participating in the same sport, we were both amazed at the differences between the sport here and there.”
The biggest difference is the number of crewmembers. It’s six here, but four in Mumbles,
The Newfoundland quartet, which also includes CindyLu Edwards, Vianne Hannon, Renee March, leaves for Wales Aug. 7 and will be staying in Swansea, just minutes from Mumbles and the rowing club.
“Each boat has four fixed seats for crew and they also include a coxswain. The oars used in these Celtic longboats are exactly the same length and type of oars used by our club, and used in all the rowing competitions held here on the Avalon,” explained Barrett.
The Newfoundland team’s race in Wales is set for Aug. 10 and will be part of a local regatta, whose program includes a three-mile race in the sea, and a seafaring festival in a town named Llanion.
“We will be using their boats and they are also providing us with a local coxswain,” noted Barrett, who added the Newfoundland crew will be given the opportunity to practise in the local boats.
The team has been planning and training since last September, including using ergometers, running and other cardio training.
Barrett said the crew is involved in many fundraising efforts and has sought the sponsorship of local businesses to assist with the cost of the trip. Including air, accommodations, rental vehicle and meals, it will run is close to $15,000 for the crew of four.
In the meantime, the Mumbles Amateur Rowing Club is planning a trip to St. John’s to possibly participate in the 200th running of the Royal St John’s Regatta.
The Royal St. John’s Regatta is celebrating its 196th event this August on Quid Vidi Lake.
The Newfoundland crew, with the addition of Victoria Mitchell, Denise MacDonald and Kim Connors along spare Mary Rideout and coach Robert Greeley have plans to participate in the 2014 St. John’s and Harbour Grace Regattas under the crew name of NL Ladies Row UK.
"We’ve formed a team this season consisting of some of us who have rowed together locally for a number of years, as well as some others that are completely new to our core crew,” said Barrett.