Rowing Canada’s Take on Coastal Rowing!

Coastal Rowing Becoming Increasingly Popular in Canada, Europe

Photo Credit: Club Locarno

Coastal rowing is becoming increasingly popular in Canada.  Furthermore, with quiet whispers of it perhaps one day becoming an Olympic event, the sport is taking root in many parts of the world.

Coastal Rowing has already taken off in Europe and rowers are now beginning to discover it here in Canada. With a recent order of FISA standard coastal boats from France, more clubs in Canada are now seeing the benefits of these amazing boats, allowing rowing to happen in waters that once where considered un-rowable!

A recent regatta this past summer in Alma, Quebec provided evidence of the sports increased following.  A new report from the organizing committee of the regatta, Festirame, described the events increased popularity.

Alma, September 19, 2014 – This year’s fourth edition of Festirame’s Coastal Rowing Regatta has been another huge success, not only because of higher participation, but largely because of the great visibility it received within and outside of Québec and on the international scene.

This year, Festirame was happy to see a 35% increase in the number of participants, coming from 3 different provinces, with 95 seats registered compared to 61 in 2013. These results confirm the scope of this coastal rowing regatta is increasing. Moreover, this year’s event was covered by regional, provincial, and international media outlets.

For the organizers, the most successful project to support the development and the marketing of the regatta, is without a doubt, the video produced by Inside Me Sports, which is headed by a talented Italian TV producer. The 14 minute bilingual video, showcases coastal rowing in action in the Saguenay-Lac St-Jean region as a beautiful destination worth discovering. The great atmosphere and the magnificence of the region are very well captured with breathtaking images.

Inside Me Sports has already broadcast their video on TV stations in Spain, Kuwait, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Suede, Finland, Tanzania, Vietnam and Australia. Festirame is very proud of this video, which can be viewed at the following website:

Festirame now has access to wonderful images to promote the Coastal Rowing Regatta, which can be broadcast by Canadian TV stations.

Festirame invites you to share this video with as many people as possible so they can enjoy this unique sporting event.

For more information on Festirame, contact: Karine Desmeules, General Manager, Festirame Festivalma (418.720.1805).

To learn more about how to become involved at a Coastal Rowing club near you,

More on Coastal Rowing’s Growing Popularity

Is the Tide Rising for Coastal Rowing?

Coastal rowing has been on my mind a lot recently.  Apparently I am not alone.A few weeks ago, the FISA World Rowing Coastal Championship (WRCC for those in the know) wrapped up in Thessaloniki, Greece.  By all accounts it was a highly successful event, with great participation and exhilarating conditions on the last day.Elkhorn Slough

US Rowing is “going coastal”, announcing plans for up to 10 coastal regattas in 2015, including the purchase of a fleet of boats and creating a new responsibility for the program within its staff. .  Likening coastal regattas to NASCAR racing, US Rowing feels that the excitement of the sport will attract attention to rowing generally, and coastal rowing eventually may itself become an Olympic sport.  There are many kilometres of coastline in the United States, offering a multitude of opportunities for the growth of clubs and events.

Rowing Canada is also seeing potential for growth, with a recent news article and coverage of coastal regattas in Quebec and Ontario.  North America seems to be catching up to what the Europeans have known for a long time.

Coastal rowing has been labelled the “mountain biking” of rowing.  On their website, FISA describes it as “the extreme version, the adventure side of rowing.” .  This can be true and is definitely part of the appeal.  There is also an extra component to coastal rowing. Additional skills are needed, such as being able to read tides and currents and even learning to surf the swells and waves.

Addu City Girls going out to race

The opportunity is not exclusively in racing, however, and it does not always have to involve overcoming adverse conditions.  Coastal boats are wonderful for rowing travel.  I already use coastal boats in Bellagio on my Italian & Swiss Lakes Rowing trip and for several rows during the California Dreaming – San Francisco Bay area. The coastal boats allow us to enjoy destinations and conditions that would not be accessible with normal recreational or Olympic class shells.  The FISA Development Tour – Maldives 2015 will exclusively use coastal boats – combining recreationally exploring coral reefs and the great adventure of the Zero Degree Channel crossing – rowing 70 km to cross the equator.  I am investigating full coastal tours in Québec, Canada and Brittany, France for 2015.  Others are already offering coastal day or longer trips. The volunteers of Coastal Rowing Australia seem to have a lot of fun on their tours – who wouldn’t in such lovely locations!  .

Coastal boats on the beach in Brittany

Maryellen Auger of Little Harbor Boathouse in Marblehead MA( ) has found that a big barrier for people trying coastal rowing is fear.  Flat water rowers can be intimidated by the water conditions, the size and weight of the boats and just the concept of launching out onto the great huge ocean.  This will start changing as knowledge of the sport grows.

Maybe coastal rowing can really become like mountain biking – which not only features daredevils, death-defying single track and wild, heart-stopping descents, but is also a sport that many recreational cyclists enjoy on a Sunday with the kids.  Let’s catch this rising tide.

Coastal Rowing Grows in Popularity – Time for us to invite crews to P.E.I.?

Big water rowers race at Balmy Beach

Most rowers like their water flat, but not Samuel Lavoie.

Watching half-metre waves plow up Balmy Beach after the opening heat of Ontario’s first coastal rowing regatta, Lavoie was all smiles.

Steady wind promised even bigger surf for the 6 km final.

Rowers from the Club d'Aviron in Alma, Quebec, compete in a coastal-style, or open-water regatta at Balmy Beach on August 16. Hosted by Hanlan Boat Club, the regatta drew 45 rowers from three clubs and was the first sanctioned event of its kind in Ontario. PHOTO: Andrew Hudson

“I came today because they said it would be really windy this afternoon, so hopefully it’s going to be crazy wavy,” said Lavoie, sounding more surfer than rower.

Given the right waves, coastal rowers can surf – their metre-wide boats sit higher and feel more stable than the sleek but tippy shells used for flat water racing.

Back home in Alma, Quebec, a lakeside town north of Quebec City, Lavoie and his team row on Lac Saint-Jean. On windy days, the shallow, 40-km lake gets short, choppy waves that make for good surfing – quick rowers can ride one for 10 to 15 strokes, Lavoie said.

But Lake Ontario is another story.

“Here, you don’t really have protected water,” he said, nodding at the open shore and sea-like swell.

Nick Matthews is president of the Hanlan Boat Club, which hosted the August 16 regatta at Balmy Beach. He said the club started getting coastal-style boats partly because flat water is hard to come by in Toronto’s Outer Harbour.

“Our recreational rowers really enjoy them because they can go out in any conditions,” he said. “The rougher the water, the more people enjoy it.”

Besides riding waves, coastal rowers also crash through them, which is why modern coastal boats are “self-bailing” – they open at the stern so any water that splashes in can channel out under the rowers’ feet when the bow rises.

“You get wet, but that’s part of the fun of it,” said Matthews. “As long as you’re rowing hard, you don’t get cold.”

Jean-Christophe Marly leads the coastal rowing program at Hanlan, which owns three doubles boats and a quad with a fifth seat for a cox.

Marly has been rowing for 35 years, but like most rowers in Canada, he is new to coastal rowing. While there is a long tradition of racing “Viking” and fishing-style rowboats in Canada, modern designs are mostly made in France.

“That’s where they started this crazy thing,” said Marly.

“It’s still cheaper to get the boats than trying to build a dyke,” he added, laughing. “That’s the philosophy – deal with what you have.”

Lavoie says coastal rowing is already growing at home – after the Alma club raced the new boats at the town’s summer festival, 40 new members came on board. The stable boats are popular with beginners, he said.

“It’s not hard to jump in, not like the little shells,” he said.

As for competitions, Lavoie hopes coastal rowing becomes an Olympic sport in 2020, so he can try out for Canada’s first national team.

“I want big wind, I want to see big water,” he said. “I don’t think they’re going to cancel a regatta because of the wind.”

Meet and Greet with Emily Cameron from Team Canada



Hi Rowing PEI members – Just a reminder that we will be getting together with national team rower Emily Cameron at the Merchantman tomorrow (Monday) starting at 6:00 p.m.  Feel free to drop by and say hi even if you can’t stay for a meal.  It’s always interesting to hear about Emily’s latest experiences training with Team Canada.  

Also – indoor rowing sessions are finished for 2014 but will start again Saturday January 10th.  Watch for an email to sign up if you’re interested in taking part.
Feel free to drop us an email if you have any questions!
Wishing you all of the best for the holiday season — and looking forward to a great year of rowing in 2015.
Rowing P.E.I. Board of Directors