The participants enjoyed three days of sports, leisure and culture. Together, they experienced true inclusion in a way that only rowing can offer.

After the physical and mental challenges of World Rowing Cup II in Linz-Ottensheim, the Austrian National Federation offered the Austrian and Italian para-rowing crews an opportunity to row downstream from Linz to Poechlarn. This was the first para-rowing tour on the Danube, in which athletes with and without a physical disability rowed together as ‘inclusion crews’.

One participant was classified PR1, two were visually impaired and three were classified as PR3. The other crew members came from Circolo Canottieri Tre Ponti in Rome and from Donauhort in Vienna.

Two quadruple gig boats and a double scull was used with the double equipped with one para-rowing seat and one sliding seat. All rowers assembled at the boat house of rowing club Wiking Linz, where crews of mixed nationalities and disabilities were formed.

Inclusion Tour, river Danube, Austria © FISA

 

“An exciting moment came when we entered the locks of the hydropower plant at Abwinden. All crew members had to take the life jackets on, and we passed through the upper gates of the lock,” says organiser Florian Kremslehner. “While we watched the water level going down and the lower gates to open, our Italian friends profited from the acoustic of the lock by singing "o sole mio". When leaving the lock, we thanked the lock keeper with a loud “hipp hipp hurra”.”

“A motor boat of the Austrian Navigation Inspection accompanied us through a narrow part of the Danube valley,” continues Kremslehner. “The vessel had instructions to stop any other boat traffic if necessary and guided us safely to the harbor of Grein.”

The Tour then went through Strudengau to the hydropower plant of Persenbeug. “On the third day, we had planned only a short row from Ybbs to Poechlarn, where we arrived just in time before heavy clouds and thunderstorms would have interrupted our journey,” says Kremslehner.

The Tour was 94km over the three days.

“We demonstrated that in rowing boats the principle of inclusion can be made visible and can offer new and pleasant experiences to every participant,” says Kremslehner. “Each of us felt that combining the abilities of all participants compensated individual disabilities and that the supporting each other added a new aspect to our rowing life.

“We hope that this first successful example of a ‘full inclusion tour’ will entice others to develop new forms of combining athletes with and without disabilities, not only in recreational but also in competitive rowing.”

 Copy thanks to Florian Kremslehner