A ‘life changing’ sport: Meet the Skullers Rowing Club of Exuma, Bahamas
Michael Knowles is President and Captain of the Skullers Rowing Club, a Bahamian elite team member based in Exuma, Bahamas. We are looking forward to meeting him in Victoria in October.
Here’s Michael sharing the story of his club and the journey that will bring him to the World Rowing Coastal Championships.
We’re pretty new, history-wise. It all started back in 2015. At the time, I was involved in coaching track and field and was searching for something new to bring to my small island here in the Bahamas.
By chance, I met Melissa Swaby at a flag football tryout and discovered that we had a shared interest in developing rowing, despite both of us being complete novices!
We started out with homemade boats, two pairs of oars and no ergs for four people. Somehow we were able to keep it going, and it resulted with me competing at the 2017 FISA World Rowing Championships in Sarasota, Florida.
We have a distinct lack of protected water here in Exuma, so our rowing is predominately coastal in nature. Our main training area is the Moriah Harbour Cay National Park. It’s about 4 kilometres of some of the most beautiful water anywhere in the world.
The flipside to that is it lies directly in line with our prevailing tradewinds so it can get quite nasty with current and a combination of swells and chop.
Although we row primarily flatwater-style rowing shells, these ever changing conditions have taught us how to handle even a unstable fine racing single in even the worst conditions.
Our plan for WRCC is simple. We want to perform to the best of our ability and continue our mission of showing the people of Exuma and the Bahamas that a person’s circumstances do not have to dictate what they do in life.
Fundraising-wise, we are doing it the old fashioned way: handing out letters. We also have two online fundraising campaigns going, one via makeachamp and the other is selling t-shirts through Bonfire. We’re a tiny club, so fundraising is an ongoing challenge.
It will mean a lot to be a part of WRCC. We believe in challenging our perceived limits; the additional training for a 4 or 6 km race on top of our 1 km sprint training for World Masters is definitely a challenge.
It will also mean a lot to our people here in Exuma. We’ve discovered how life-changing our sport can be, and we want to provide every opportunity to get more people of all ages involved, competitive or not.