Not being blessed with the greatest co-ordination or sporting prowess, I was a tad anxious when Balmain Rowing Club invited me to take part in its Learn to Row program last month.
Surely this is only a sport for really accomplished athletes?
It took about half an hour out on the water one rainy Sunday morning to realise how wrong I was.
Yes, rowers are passionate, fit, and co-ordinated, but at Learn to Row, with patient teaching, anyone can do it.
For my first row I was placed in a quad with fellow learners Hamina and Lisa, with experienced rower and volunteer Katrina.
Club vice-president Liam James, our teacher, jumped in his tinnie and was with us the whole way.
Terror and awkwardness were quickly replaced by sheer enjoyment. We learned to co-ordinate our strokes and to balance the boat. This is more tricky than I thought. I struggled at first, but then started to get it.
James was amazingly patient and supportive. We laughed like mad women when we stopped flailing around and gained control. We were even gliding across the water and made it to the Iron Cove Bridge.
A few of the first-timers said they started rowing for relaxation. I understand why now.
Out on the water, concentrating on the rhythm of the strokes, far away from the shore, it’s a form of meditation. Quite simply a stunning experience.
Others said they started for fitness, preferring the outdoors to a stuffy gym. After 90 minutes I was surprised at how much we had picked up. By then it was raining and cold but we didn’t want to head back in: we were hooked.
Balmain Rowing Club is one of the very few clubs who train new rowers, no experience required. Volunteers give their time to pass on the skills because they love the sport and their club.
The Learn to Row program runs for nine weeks and operates twice a year.
For details, check out www.balmainrowingclub.com
More news on rowing at the Village Voice