‘Extreme rowing’: Nikos Gkountoulas of Greece talks about his love of rowing coastal
Nikos and his twin brother Apostolos had great success as international rowers from 2004 to 2012, with gold, silver and bronze medals at the European and World Championships.
When he was looking for a new challenge after retiring from racing, Nikos heard about coastal rowing.
The Gkountoulas twins competed at the World Rowing Coastal Championships in 2014 in Greece, where they finished third. They followed this up with a seventh place finish at the 2016 WRCC.
Now Nikos spends his time operating Greece’s first exclusively coastal rowing club called the Coastal Rowing Club of Thessaloniki. Since 2014, he has promoted coastal rowing for fitness and recreation, as well as competition.
He’s passionate about sharing the sport with as many people as possible.
We contacted Nikos to find out just why he is so enthusiastic about coastal rowing.
“The coastal rowing championship is a great opportunity for Canadians to “explore” the extreme way of rowing,” said Nikos by email from Greece.
“The good thing with coastal rowing is that the race taking place by the coast so it’s easier for the audience to follow the race!!!!”
Nikos says the coastal rowing format also makes for exciting viewing.
“There are around 20 crews per race which make the difference with Olympic rowing (six crews per race) making it more fun with a lot of crashes during the race and especially on the turns,” he said.
Nikos says coastal rowing also offers new challenges for experienced rowers.
“I think that coastal rowing is more “complete” as a sport which makes you think more,” said Nikos.
“Not only about your physique and technique but you have to worry about a lot of issues, like your orientation during a race, the boats rowing around you and the water conditions as well.”
Coastal rowing, says Nikos, is more accessible and easier to learn than traditional rowing.
“Coastal rowing has great potential to spread in the future,” Nikos said.
“The main elements are that you can join the sport without already being a rowing athlete.”
“Also the boat characteristics – bigger and wider boats, more resistance to the waves – allow the sport to grow in any target group.”
At this point, Nikos is not sure if anyone from his club will be making the trip to Canada, much as they would like to.
“It would be great if we have the chance to travel to Canada for the championship but it is far from Greece and too expensive for Greece’s economic conditions,” Nikos said.
He hopes that will change and Greece will be represented when Canada hosts the World Coastal championships for the first time in October 2018.
To hear an interview with Nikos: