Members of the sailing fraternity on Barton Broad were puzzled to find half way through last Saturday afternoon’s Cruiser Open event that half a dozen very swish quad rowing fours were speeding across Barton Broad in the direction of the staithe. Could it be they had taken a wrong turn at Henley?
In reality the six boats were part of a Broads event organised by Beccles, Lowestoft and Norwich Rowing Clubs and Yare Boat Club. It was called “Explore the Broads.” Over a period of two days those taking part would row some 15 miles between Wroxham Broad and Hickling Broad with diversions up the River Ant etc. A bit like a Three Rivers event with oars instead of sails. This wasn’t a race though – I was a fun event allowing crews to enjoy the scenery, and the experience of rowing together with a common purpose.
I really came across them after their night halt at Barton Turf. The boats, a little different from the racing fours that I had enjoyed at school, looked very new and very well cared for. Each oar (or lady oarswoman – participants were mainly ladies) needed to have sculling skills. (I could only ever manage one blade!… but there again I wasn’t very good – but you knew that already! These people looked fit and quite up for the distance. They certainly made the boats speed through the water once they got into rhythm.
Last Sunday you may remember turned out to be very hot and there is no shelter in a Quad boat like that. Could their speed have been prompted by the need to get to the next eating place? I notice that they had very civilized stops for lunch.
Much as I enjoy the sailing on the Broads, I felt this was such a splendid venture. Fresh air, environmentally friendly and great as a form of exercise. It was clearly popular with the crews – some of them had come from different ends of the country to take part. One group arrived in Norfolk from Runcorn and another lady I spoke to hailed from Durham. It would be good to see more events like this. My thanks to the organisers who let me take pictures and provided me with the details about the event.
Come on you lot – let’s see more of you out on the water like this.