Whatever your background or age, wherever you are based in Wales, there’s a rowing style to suit you. Although river rowing is the most well known, there are plenty of other options, both outdoor and indoor, to suit every person regardless of ability.
Give it a go and you’ll soon see what an effective way rowing is to relax and socialise, get an all body workout, and enjoy nature all at the same time.
As the name suggests, river rowing takes place on rivers and lakes around Wales. You can choose from two boat styles - the traditional ‘fine’ boats that you’d see in the Olympics, or more stable boats often favoured by beginners or recreational rowers.
River rowing competitions take place throughout the year but rowing tours are also becoming popular, giving you the chance to explore a stretch of river as part of a social excursion, without worry about getting to the finish line first.
Most clubs either offer their own learn to row programme or make use of local watersports centres for learn to row courses.
Celtic Longboat Rowing
Coastal rowing takes place on the sea in traditional and very stable fixed-seat boats known as Celtic longboats, which are crewed by four rowers and one cox. There are currently over 100 boats in Wales and the sport is becoming very popular, with a strong social scene.
Welsh league races are generally three to four miles long but there is a full calendar of challenges and social events ranging from one to 26 miles. The longest is the Celtic Challenge, a continuous overnight race of more than 90 miles from Arklow in Ireland to Aberystwyth in Wales.
There are sea rowing clubs along the entire coast of Wales, most of which offer learn to row sessions for beginners. To find your nearest club visit the Welsh Sea Rowing website. We can also help you set up your own event or club, and have hire boats specifically for this purpose.
Using sliding seat boats makes this sea based rowing discipline the wilder cousin of river rowing. Boats can hold between one and four rowers and be used in one of three key disciplines, meaning there’s something for everyone, whether you want an adrenaline rush or a bit of dolphin spotting.
There are three main formats of coastal sculling race:
This combination race begins on the beach, with rowers running head-to-head to their boats on the shoreline. Once aboard, they must slalom around two buoys, turn 180 degrees around the third just 250m from shore and race in a straight line back to the beach. Then it’s another on- foot race to the finish.
This endurance competition started in the late 1980s in France and was originally based on the rules of sailing. An Enduro race may start and finish on or off the water, with rowers navigating a series of marks along a course of between 4km and 6km, set no further than 1.5km from shore.
Coastal sculling tours vary when it comes to length, distance and time. Crews of between one and four are often supported by other watercraft and need to have good endurance, navigation and sea skills in order to complete the tour.
As coastal sculling is a very new discipline and new boats are being delivered regularly. Please contact us and we’ll let you know your closest sea rowing club with this discipline.
The 2022 World Rowing Coastal Championships will take place here in Wales at Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire in October.
Even if you live miles from the nearest coast or river, you can still enjoy the fitness benefits of rowing with indoor rowing. Most rowing clubs, gyms and schools have this equipment, which can be used by anyone or any age, ability or fitness level.
Rowing machines use the majority of the body’s muscles, giving you a really thorough workout while being non weight bearing. Although it can be enjoyed solo, it’s also fun to train as a group too.
Taking up indoor rowing is really easy, just join a gym or rowing club with access to rowing machines and get started. A coach or gym instructor will be able to show you how to use the machine, improve your technique and achieve your goals, or take a look at our quick video guide.
All rowing disciplines can be enjoyed by people with a wide range of physical and learning disabilities, including those who may need adaptations to the rowing equipment. Have a conversation with your local club to discuss your individual requirements for getting on the water.