I’m all on my own—in a racing boat, for the very first time! It’s astonishing how different the touch-and-feel is if you are no longer part of a coxed four and have to assume the consequences for all mistakes you made.
And boy, I made a lot. First of all: a racing boat is shaky. Really shaky. One reason is that the boat itself is very slim; another, that you sit on top of it rather than in it, while the boat sinks in deeper than the usual gig boats. All of a sudden, the swans appear huge and extremely dangerous 😉 It is not easy either to turn around all the time to see where you are actually going (I can imagine that this becomes easier once you are able to row nicely and straightly without moving in curves; but I am definitely not that advanced yet). You really have to pay attention to keeping your sculls at level every time you turn around and not drop any of them.
I was close to toppling over more than once, but I tried not to be afraid of falling into the water. After all, what would be the worst that could happen? If you are unable to mount the boat again, you pull it behind you and swim back. You would be wet and the laughing-stock for some time, but who cares?
As autumn is beginning, the water started getting misty while I was on my way back. And all of a sudden, I heard drumbeats at a rhythmic interval. When I looked back, I saw a boat appearing in the mist under the bridge. After a few metres, it turned and moved back and out of sight. A spooky moment!
Not too long after, I managed to maneuver myself into a willow tree next to the riverbank. I was going down the stream and somehow got caught in the branches. Unfortunately, the current only took me deeper into the tree! I remembered that once we had practiced rowing backwards; and after a little logical reasoning, I was able to free myself while laughing my butt off for the absurdity of the situation.
All in all, rowing alone in a single racer was a success, though: I reached my two goals of (1) bringing the boat back in one piece and without larger holes, and (2) of getting back without getting wet 🙂 It was great fun, and it sure wasn’t the last time!