In the run-up to the Dutch Water Week we put a number of stakeholders in the spotlight. Coastal Rowing is a relatively unknown sport, which you can admire and practice during the Dutch Water Week. Olympic rowing champion Nico Rienks (1988 & 1996) is full of it. “It’s a spectacular branch of rowing, with definitely Olympic potential.”
What exactly is Coastal Rowing?
“Basically, coastal rowing is rowing on open water. The rowing boats are wider and more stable than in the current Olympic rowing class, making rowing on rougher water possible. It’s all still fairly new. There are currently only about 30 coastal skiffs (single-seater boats) in the Netherlands.”
Why does Coastal Rowing belong in the Dutch Water Week?
“Coastal rowing is still in its early stages, but is developing strongly internationally. The facilities required for competitions are very similar to those of sailing. It is therefore logical to enter into a collaboration with the Dutch Water Week. This may offer opportunities to organize a top event for rowing in addition to sailing and other water sports. An NK, EK or even a World Championship.”
What is the potential of this new sport?
“I think this will become an Olympic sport within rowing. TV viewers want more spectacle, I understand that very well. It’s good that the sport of rowing itself can contribute something innovative. Personally, I hope that this will not supplant the current Olympic rowing, but that it will be added.”
What do we not yet know about Coastal Rowing but should?
“The winners in coastal rowing are often the same rowers who row at the front of the current 2,000-meter race courses, the set distance for international races on smooth water with smooth boats. This is bound to change. On waves, agility is more important. The average current Olympic male rower is almost 2 meters tall and weighs 95 kilos, the winning women are often taller than 1.80 meters and heavier than 80 kilos. It may well be that in a while, the top competitors in coastal rowing will be smaller, more agile and nimble. Also, the distance they have to row is longer, about five kilometers.”
Do you have any tips for visitors to Dutch Water Week?
“I think it would be nice if the visitors could also row a bit on the IJsselmeer themselves. Doing it myself is often more fun than watching. But especially when the weather is rough, it’s a completely different sport than what the current rowers do. More spectacular and less predictable because wind and wave conditions can vary greatly. Not every rower can handle that equally well.”