Going it alone in the sea
Sole entry from Canada at this year’s World Rowing Coastal Championships in Bari, Italy, Michelle Boss, from Victoria City Boat Club, was going it alone. Racing a tough field in the women’s single scull, this masters rower enjoyed a tight race in the B final to finish third. But why coastal rowing? World Rowing spoke to Michelle just after her final.
World Rowing: What do you think about Bari? How do you like the venue and being in Italy?
Michelle Boss: The venue is awesome for racing because the spectators get to see the finishing strokes of each race. It’s also more manageable for rowing as the course goes in and out as opposed to parallel to the shore where you will always have waves hitting you. I love being in Italy but normally spend time in northern Italy with the Canadian rowing team (Michelle works for Rowing Canada).
WR: How was your race? Were the conditions tough?
MB: The conditions were different each race - every day on the ocean is different. For me in the solo, with not too much ocean experience, this was challenging but not impossible. Today was easier than yesterday.
WR: When did you first start rowing?
MB: I started rowing seven years ago as a masters rower.
WR: What inspired you to start rowing?
MB: I’ve done sport all my life. My karate club closed, and I needed a new sport. I chose rowing but it was a pretty random choice. I was aware of rowing from the Olympic Games, but never really followed it.
WR: What is the highlight of your rowing career?
MB: I can’t choose! I’ve rowed against seniors in the national team in local regattas. I’m not afraid to step up as a masters rower and row against younger people. I’ve loved so much of it. I had a great race today, even though it was only the B final. I love a good race and I also really enjoy racing Head of the Charles Regatta.
WR: What inspired you to start coastal rowing?
MB: I decided to do a marathon race in Quebec and Jen Parfitt, who is in charge of domestic development for Rowing Canada, recommended it. The organisers were so enthusiastic and welcoming, so a few others and I went over to do it, but conditions were impossible. We couldn’t complete the race. Before I began to sink, it was fun rowing in the big waves.
WR: Would you want to do crew boats?
MB: If I can get more of Canada interested, I would love to. I tried and I was close but we have limited boats to train in. Coastal rowing is relatively new in Canada, we only have one double! We’re working on getting boats and encouraging people to buy boats so we can train. It is a very small community, but I think it can grow – I think everyone who enjoys flat water rowing should try it. There are a lot of people who might just fall in love with it.
WR: What is it you love about being on the sea?
MB: There is an added dimension. I love flat water too, but the ocean is such a challenge, so not only are you racing as hard as you can, but you are also fighting the ocean. Even if you’re out there by yourself, you are still challenged with the water.
WR: How have you been training for the Coastal Champs?
MB: In a normal training week, we would row on the water six times, but I’m lucky if one is on the ocean. On top of that, we would maybe go two or three to the gym. In winter, we have way more erging and less time on the water.
WR: Will you be competing next year in the World Rowing Coastal Championships?
MB: It depends where it is (Note: it will be in Barcelona, Spain). I would love to, but it will be a big year of work for the Canadian team.
WR: Finally, can you sum up coastal rowing in three words?
MB: Fun, challenging and exhilarating.