Last week I headed off to Barton Broad to spend a morning with a dedicated team of rowers on one of their winter training sessions. The group is called Coastal Rowing Association Blakeney (CRAB) and comprises an enthusiastic (and fit!) group of mostly retired folk who just love to get out on the water and row. I believe the club has around 30 members in total and they take it in turns to take their two handmade St Ayles skiffs out on the water throughout the year.
In the winter they use the more sheltered waters of the Norfolk Broads, launching at Barton Turf but their true home (and spring/summer/autumn rowing ground) is North Norfolk and the stunning area known as Blakeney Pit, a sheltered area of water protected by the National Trust owned Blakeney Point. I plan to head to Blakeney with them in the spring & summer to capture more photos and footage of them doing their thing but couldn’t resist an invitation to come along with them on one of their winter training days.
We arrived on a cracking January morning with light winds and plenty of sunshine. As the skiff was prepared I donned my lifejacket and was given a comfy spot in the bow and we were off. It takes some skill to manoeuvre a boat out of a tight staithe with only paddlepower and these are some long & quite delicate looking oars. Before long we were out in the open water and the rowers had found their pace, with the hypnotic rhythm of the oars dipping in & out of the water. After about half an hour they offered me a go at the rowing so we switched places and I was shown the basics – keep in time with the stroke oar, don’t dip the oar too deep or come out too high, how to use arms, legs & back for maximum power. Doesn’t sound much but it’s quite a lot to get right and I think I’d need a while to get the hang of it! I rowed for about 15 minutes and I have to say it was quite hard work, must be amazing for core fitness.
After about 45 minutes of rowing through these peaceful waters we were at How Hill with a couple of lovely old windmills nestling amongst the reeds to complete the scene. I hopped off and got some shots of them rowing up & down this section. I also put the drone up for some aerial shots. While above the rowers I panned down & captured some video to allow them to see their timing & technique from above. Looks pretty good to me! The short video of this is a bit further down in this post.
Here’s the short film I made from the air…
A huge thank you to the lovely ladies and gentlemen of the CRAB rowing club, I had a really great time out on the water and look forward to seeing them again later this year out at Blakeney Point for some shots of them in their summer habitat!
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