2018 World Rowing Coastal Championships, Victoria BC Canada


‘An amazing adventure’: U.S. rower Ben Booth shares his love of coastal rowing

‘An amazing adventure’: U.S. rower Ben Booth shares his love of coastal rowing

As we count down to the World Rowing Coastal Championships in October in Canada, we are reaching out to coastal competitors from around the world to explain to us what makes coastal rowing so special.

U.S. rower Ben Booth is writing a series of blog posts helping rowers prepare for 2018 WRCC.

Check them out!
Beginner’s Guide to Coastal Worlds

Here is our conversation with Ben.

Q: How did you get into coastal rowing?

A: I have always loved the sea, boats and skillful physical activity. Coastal rowing nails all three! My first boat as a kid was a little plywood pram, mostly because it was what I could afford, and I would row that thing year round all over the coast. I was simply hooked on rowing. I progressed into traditional coastal boats (dories and other heavy historic wooden craft), surf boats, ocean shells and the whole mix. From there, I got into designing and building my own coastal boats, and have been really excited about the FISA coastal class.

Q: What is the appeal of coastal versus flat water competition?

A: In short, I’d say that flat water competition is an amazing sport, but coastal rowing is an amazing adventure!

I think that is the key difference. Coastal rowing, for me, is an adventure into the ocean, a way to get deep into nature, and honestly, it’s a fix for the adrenaline junkie in me. In some ways, it’s a bit of the surfer lifestyle. I check surf reports, I chase down storm swells and challenge myself to row through big water. There is something truly amazing about riding waves that reach over my head!

Q: You’ve written about the transition from flat water to coastal. What would you say to people who want to try competing in coastal for the first time?

A: Do it! Be open-minded. It’s still rowing, so if you are a flat water rower you have the basics down. But it’s also substantially different from flat water, so be prepared to embrace the unexpected rather than to assume familiarity. And read my Beginner’s Guide to Coastal Worlds blog series for some ideas on what to expect: www.rebelrower.com/blog

Q: What does it mean for coastal rowing that these championships are being held in North America for the first time?

A: I think this shows, even though there are not large numbers of people around here in the sport yet, that there are pockets of extremely enthusiastic and dedicated rowers who are committed to making this exciting sport gain visibility. What this means in the long run is, hopefully, a large increase in North American participation both locally and internationally.

Q: Where would you like to see coastal rowing go next?

A: Geographically, I don’t have any opinions about that. In general though, I’d like to see coastal racing move towards venues with the potential for big waves, more waves, more turns. I’d vote for more waves every time. I think we could do some more adventure racing in these boats. A downwind run, surfing the whole way, between Hawaiian Islands would be awesome. Anyone game?

I’d like to see coastal rowing go in its own cultural direction, free from historical norms of the rowing world. I’d love to see board shorts rather than blazers and tank tops rather than ties! I’d love to see coastal rowing continue to grow as a sport while also breaking the bounds of sport and become a beach-bumming, wave-chasing lifestyle!

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Rowing Association
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