Boathouse Chic

When you are a member of a racing crew, a uniform is very important. It makes you feel good and gives your opponents something to think about as well. Rowing an VIII is all about merging individuality into the oneness of the crew and a uniform is part and parcel of this mindset.
However while you are training I suggest that comfort is the most important criterion. Comfort and safety. Coxes have to wear a life jacket, I’m not sure why coxes are more likely to fall out than rowers, but who knows? But another aspect of safety is not getting hypothermia. In a Christchurch regatta four years ago one SPC crew waiting below the Gut was told to strip off ready for the race. Then the race was delayed because of a snow storm and before it could be restarted one of the girls in the boat started shivering, turning blue and had to be hauled back to the bank by the safety boat. In my own selfless way I offered to share my body heat. Tough life being a Coach! You need to wrap up fairly warmly but you also need to be able to bend and row. A T shirt and a fleece or a waterproof should be enough. It’s wind and wet that cools the body, exercise warms it. Oh yes, take a hat. A nice woolly tea cosy with a bobble on top may look daft but it keeps the heat in and if you get too hot it is easily taken off. A couple of layers of thin clothing are much more useful than one great sheepskin bomber jacket.


Any fashion solecisms? Yes, scarves are an invitation to get caught in something moving. Anyone with long hair should make sure it is secured with a hat or a band. Tossing your head to clear your eyes plays havoc with the balance of a boat, even worse is taking your hand off the blade to brush your hair back. Oh yes….gloves are a no no, you really can’t feel your blade to feather and square with gloves on. Young people with good circulation don’t need gloves. Go for a quick run before getting in the boat if you suffer from cold fingers, get the circulation going. While you aren’t rowing tuck your hands under your armpits. Disgusting ? Sure, but warm.

The other garment to avoid is a hoodie with a pocket in front, it’s just too easy to catch and sprain your thumbs in the extra fold of fabric moving away from back stops.

OK so trackie bottoms, a rain/splash jacket and a bobble hat may not make you irresistible, but frankly at 6.45 am who’s got their eyes open?
Francis King

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