ROWING: I had tinkered with rowing in my teens, but it wasn’t until the late 1970s that I began to take it more seriously. In my third year at Oxford Polytechnic, a trio of established schoolboy rowers thought it might be a good idea to plonk me in the stroke seat of a ‘four’ one day and the rest, as they say, is history.
Within a year Oxford Polytechnic Boat Club had been formed. I was awarded a blade at the end of the season. At the time, you don’t realise the significance of such a period in your life, especially in the shadow of the more august institution down the road.
EXPERTISE – as a qualified coach I’m able to teach beginners how to row, and prepare juniors and veterans for competition. I can also combine my rowing and communications skills to teach business professionals how to pull together and achieve success: Companies can learn a lot from rowing. Like crews, high-level teams of executives operate in stressful, pressure-cooker environments. Both contain ambitious players from diverse backgrounds whose personalities often have edges as sharp as their talents.
- Oxford Falcon Rowing and Canoeing Club: Founded in 1869, it’s one of the oldest rowing clubs on the Thames. This friendly and sociable place offered us a safe haven in 1978 (not 1987 as stated in the Club’s pdf above) which we used to develop our skills and ultimately create a new club – Oxford Polytechnic Boat Club (OPBC).
- Oxford Brookes University Boat Club: Founder Member. Formed in 1978 as OPBC, OBUBC has become a centre of excellence for the sport, producing winners in women’s and men’s rowing, from novice level to World/Olympic class. There were 16 wins in 14 years at Henley Royal Regatta, and in 2006 Oxford Brookes crews won The Visitor’s Challenge Cup and The Temple Challenge Cup, reaching the quarter final of The Ladies Challenge Plate and the semi-final of The Grand Challenge Cup – quite a year! I still have to pinch myself when I remember how few resources we had in that first 1978-9 season, and see the support and fame OBUBC now enjoys. By way of an update, Oxford Brookes University secured the biggest ever trophy haul of any rowing club in a single Henley Royal Regatta in 2023.
Background: OPBC (OBUBC) was founded by a group of enthusiastic school rowers (led by Nick Ryan, Russell Cook, Alasdair Davies, Hadyn Morris) in 1978 as the Oxford Polytechnic Boat Club (OPBC), where it was given its first home with Oxford Falcon Rowing and Canoeing Club and begun to enter competitions as a composite Polytechnic/Falcon crew. In its infancy, the club was led by Nick Ryan, as the inaugural Captain of Boats (1978–80) and President (1981). Other founding members included Clive Couldwell, Martin Durgan, David Cooke, and Charles Stimpson. Check out pages 9 (‘Boat naming’) and 18 (Clive Couldwell’s club history piece) in the February 2011 edition of Taurus Boat Club News.
- Quintin Boat Club: A further four years followed as veteran stroke at this, one of London’s most respected boat clubs. Formed in 1907 we toasted in its 100th anniversary in 2007 at the RAC in London. When I called it a day in the mid 1980s because of work pressures and a reluctance to make up numbers each week, I thought that was it until 20 years later, when I popped down with my son to Bewl Bridge Rowing Club in Kent.
- Bewl Bridge Rowing Club: One of the largest rowing and sculling clubs in south east England. Founded in 1979, the club enjoys strong links with the local community. Its members cover a wide range of age and ability. In 2006 Bewl rowers Chris Andrews and fellow Molesey man Clint Evans won the 2005 Woodvale Atlantic Rowing Race – and in record time. I’ve been a coach and press officer for BBRC since 2004. The club is Sport England ClubMark accredited and open to all.
- Taurus Boat Club: For former oarsmen and women of Oxford Polytechnic and Oxford Brookes University Boat Clubs. Combination of competition and social – and why not! Taken part in World Championships. Many of its members are internationals.
- IA/L2 Coach: I’m a member of the sport’s governing body in England, British Rowing (formerly, the Amateur Rowing Association), and a fully qualified ARA Coach – holding an Instructor’s Award (IA), the equivalent of the new UKCC Level 2 Certificate in Coaching Rowing. Up until 2005, the ARA’s coaching scheme consisted of the Instructor’s Award, Bronze Award, Silver Award and finally the Gold Award. These were overhauled in 2006 and brought in line with the Sportscoach UK system that many other sports in the UK have adopted.
- CRB Disclosure: If you’re working with children and vulnerable adults then you need to be vetted by the Criminals Records Bureau. There are three levels of Disclosure – Basic, Standard and Enhanced. Because of my level of contact with junior and veteran rowers, I have been passed at the highest level of Disclosure safety – Enhanced, which involves the use of additional police and other agency checks.