Rowing friends in other places

You might have noticed in last month’s newsletter a photograph of me with my new friends from Piermont Rowing Club on the Hudson River in New York. Rebecca has prevailed on me to write a bit more about my experience.

We have family – including a grand daughter – who have lived in New York City for some years, so we have become regular visitors. Over the years made some rowing friends associated with the Traditional Small Craft Association in Connecticut. One summer with my friend Bill from there I rowed the Blackburn Challenge, a 26 mile ocean race around Cape Ann in Massachusetts, in a fixed seat double. Another summer he and I built a fixed seat single, then (with another boat) did a rowing camping cruise in the Adirondack Mountains, Saint Lawrence River, and Lake Champlain. Good times.

Now I’m a Masters rower. On previous trips I have contacted clubs directly to ask if they host guest rowers, with little success. This time I posted on Masters Rowing International Facebook group where I got half a dozen replies and discovered, curiously, that very little rowing occurs in New York City. It was people from clubs in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York who responded. 

Converting a response into an outing proved to be something of a challenge. Partly because my plans depended on friends and family’s plans; partly because rowing clubs are often hard to get to. They can be out of the way and not close to public transport, and rowing tends to happen early in the day, or late. Lacking local knowledge and a car it was hard to work out how to get there. 

Two people came to the rescue. The first was Bill who now lives in Delaware. He drove me 30 minutes to the Wilmington Rowing Center, just across the border in Pennsylvania. He generously (and patiently) waited through the two-hour process of going for a row in one of three eights. The second was my new friend Vince from the Piermont Rowing Club who told me the easy way to travel by train, then he drove across the Hudson to Tarrytown to meet me, and dropped me back at the end.

The row, Wilmington RC

I learned this about being a host: somebody at the host club needs to be persistent, responsive, and helpful. At Wilmington it was Karen Walsh who responded enthusiastically, offered opportunities and made it happen; Vince performed same role at Piermont, in addition to the taxi service.  It made me think about how we can better host visiting rowers who come to Petone Rowing Club.

Being around different rowing clubs is always interesting, more so when they are in a different country. Both the clubs I visited were Masters clubs, and at Wilmington they ran two school programs as revenue earners. People with whom I rowed were at various places around the middle of the continuum between dedicated racer and enthusiastic explorer.  At both clubs the people were lovely, enthusiastic and welcoming. Also curious about rowing in New Zealand and surprised that we row all year.  Both clubs use the terms ‘port’ and ’starboard’, which is a long-term boatie, makes more sense than the terms we commonly use.  At Piermont were delighted to note that, in common with Petone PC, their initials are PRC and colour is fluoro yellow.  A difference is that they eliminate the issues of looking after an elderly boathouse by not having one!

It was also great to row on different (and famous) water. The Christiania River at Wilmington wound for 10 km through the city and beyond, starting amongst derelict factories and railway bridges, ending in some marvellous marsh country with birdlife on one side, Interstate on the other.  The Hudson River is 3 miles across with the Mario Cuomo bridge dominating the scene, it is tidal, and as someone pointed out, has been used for navigation for maybe 10,000 years.

I’m wondering how many other New Zealand Masters rowers have had experiences of rowing informally and other countries. It would be great to hear some more stories in this newsletter.

Nga mihi

John Hitchcock, Petone Rowing Club

World Masters Rowing Championships – Libourne, France 2022

The DeLong Brief:

The World Master Rowing Championships in 2022, in Libourne, France, was once again, a FAMILY AFFAIR (+ good UK buddy Liz)!  

Our first FAMILY AFFAIR (+ good UK buddy Liz) was at the World Masters Champs in Hungary in 2019.  (Not much has changed, eh?).

master rowing, FISA masters, NZ Masters rowing

Family DeLong in 2019

Family DeLong in 2022

Libourne, France ‘put on a great show’, just as Hungary did at Lake Velence in 2019, but this year we had hotter weather and better water. Venue logistics were superb, from registration to training schedules to on-off water flow of boats to boat rental to food to vendors to parking to shade to toilets (important!) to bag check to water to beer! The racing was kept to schedule each and every day and included a few minutes of reflection for the loss of Queen Elizabeth on Thursday 8 September, as Martha and Liz were on the water, waiting for the start of the WE2x. It was GREAT to see our KIWI officials out on the water also, giving us a nod, a smile and an occasional chat, back on the pontoon!

New Zealand was well represented with the DeLongs registering as Auckland, North Shore and West End (+ good UK buddy Liz as Weybridge). 

Caroline and Anna were the ones to walk-away with the BLING this year (as they did in Hungary, but in very different events), each winning 2 golds, both in composite W8+s.  They won together in a WC8+ with Anna stroking and Caroline in 6-seat, then individually, each stroking different W8+s.

Liborne racing by the De Long family

Unfortunately, Martha and Liz were unable to repeat their gold in the WE2x (Copenhagen 2016), but had a great time visiting many old friends from past WMRC regattas (Varese, Hazelwinkle, Copenhagen, Bled, Sarasota, Hungary, Munich (Euro champs)). Martha’s racing campaign was cut short in Libourne as she became a victim of VBS – Violent Body Sabotage, aka some pretty nasty gastro-super-bug that knocked her down and out for 3 days!  Martha was devastated, as the WG1x was her race!  Next time! 

The Bordeaux area of France welcomed all rowers with open arms and were excited to have tourists, post-Covid.  We never found language to be a barrier, but were happy to have Martha’s sister visit from the Netherlands as she speaks fluent French. We stayed out in the middle of the vineyards, near St Emilion, where the grapes were just days away from harvesting, and where the sunlight danced off of the local limestone chateaus.  Spectacular vistas!

GREAT time!  Thank you Libourne! Time to get ready for the NEXT Family Affair in 2023? European
Masters Champs in Munich or will it be South Africa?

More photos from Paul MacDonald

Liborne FISA MastersLiborne FISA MastersLiborne FISA MastersLiborne FISA Masters

How to stay on track with your training with business travel

By Marlene Royle – first published at Faster Masters Rowing

“What is that?” He opened my box. A seasoned security guard, he looked at the folded skeleton of metal, puzzled, like the guys at gas stations who think your boat is a missile on the roof of your car. But in this Middle Eastern airport the situation was more serious. “It’s a rowing machine,” I answered, “for exercising.” “Well then, put it together and exercise,” he said. I put my erg together as a crowd gathered. It took some time. Two sniffing dogs were nearby. Then I started rowing. After a few minutes, I was ordered to stop. The monitor was removed and sent to a scanner for explosive devices. I had to prove I was really a rowing coach so the guard insisted I turn on my laptop and show him some of my emails. Four hours had passed. They were still suspicious of me until a young baggage porter stopped and said that his mother has one of those machines. “She even races on it,” he added. Only then they decided I could  pack it up and be escorted to the airplane. 

I must admit that it was not always so complicated. In Italy and Slovenia, when seeing my machine no questions were asked. When they saw my erg, they just smiled and waved me through. Yes, there are countries where our sport is respected. Having an indoor rower with me was a good way to stay fit when I was away for extended periods of time, but for short trips working out requires creativity, diligence, and organization. For many adults who travel for professional purposes, training on the go is a fact of life.  Recently, some masters shared their experiences with me about how they stay on track when away from the boathouse.

Business travellers take kit with them

The two biggest obstacles for exercising when away are finding the time and the motivation. Work in different continents can mean being in several locations in a short amount of time. Asian itineraries with appointments in China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea in the matter of a few days often means a long day in one location and then a short flight or long drive to another. In addition to a tightly packed schedule, business dinners also consume time in the evenings. Staying motivated is tough when you are tired, hungry, and the nearby fitness room is dreary or you feel pressured that you are not getting your workout in and losing shape. A trip is more enjoyable if it isn’t preventing you from getting your workout done. All agree that you have to do something each day- no matter what. Be it nothing more than a 20-minute run, a couple weight exercises, or stretching. One missed day easily becomes two or three. Sticking to basic daily maintenance keeps you feeling in sync with your normal routine and goes far in the long haul.

The most effective strategy is planning your training as part of your travel schedule. You’ll need to do some work up front. Know what exercise equipment is available at your hotel. Then, for the future, keep your own notes about each location. If you will be in a rowing city, make call a local club ahead of time to inquire if visitors can access an erg or shell. The use of ergs is usually easier than a boat but in some cases you might be able to get a morning row by arrangement. Rowing at a new club, in an interesting setting, is an aspect of business-related travel that is universally met with delight. Commit to setting your alarm clock and getting up early. Define what your workout will be; how long, what routine plus, warm-up, then allow extra time to adjust for any inefficiency. Always pack running shoes, workout gear, and a stretching strap. Sean Maloney of Bair Island Aquatic Club travels overseas 30 percent of the time. He advises, “If you are out running stick on main roads even though in some places the pollution is bad. Taking side roads has led to being attacked by dogs (Thailand and India) and of course getting lost.”  

Potential illness and changing time zones are major factors to contend with on foreign journeys.  Maloney says, “Avoiding illness? No magic remedy. I get sick on trips. Economy class on planes is a big culprit. If you can go business class the air is less crowded with germs. Obviously the basic stuff- never drink tap water in Asia or emerging markets, never eat ice cream, never eat salads unless you are in a good hotel.”  Eat lightly and stay well hydrated. Taking a multivitamin and extra vitamin C can help keep your resistance up. Carry hand sanitizers with you at all times and wash your hands frequently. On long flights, drink a lot of fluids and eat less than you would when not traveling; bring good snacks with you. Rowers can be more comfortable with upgraded seats that have more room. Otherwise, get up and stretch frequently. To avoid jet lag, try to get into the correct time zone as soon as you can. Resist sleeping a lot on long flights. It is better to get to your hotel when sleep is past due. The first day might be brutal but adjust as soon as you can. For small time changes you can ignore the differences and use the extra time to do something relaxing. Finally, pad your weekly program with two days off so you are sure to get in all the sessions you planned.  Do a harder day before you leave and allow for an easier day when you are back home to catch up on needed rest. Pay very close attention to how your body feels as this is when you may likely get sick.  Sleep as much as you feel you need to get back in balance.

Web site resources for the business traveler include:,, and

Tour of Aotearoa

At the Legion of Rowers 2022 AGM our guest speaker was Martha DeLong – this is a summary of her very entertaining speech.

Martha DeLong – Tour of Aotearoa: A Personal Journey

“The Silver Ghost (aka MeloYelo Traverse E-Bike) had quite a long trip to make

From Cape Reinga to Bluff in the south

Fully decked out for a trip of such length

Dreading only the rider’s big mouth”

….. so begins the ballad, written and shared at the Legion AGM, by Martha DeLong after the completion, in March 2022, of the Tour of Aotearoa (TA): a 3,000 km – 30 day brevet event.

The ride covered the length of New Zealand, following a set route, including allowable alternate routes, with photo check-in points.

The trip was originally the brainchild of Liz Forde, who celebrates the beginning of each new decade by doing something BIG!  Therefore, the TA.

Four weeks prior to “take-off”, Martha was asked to join the team as a “pinch hitter” (another Stephen Donald!) as Cynthia Lund could not secure a spot in MIQ.  Therefore, Martha had only four weeks to train.  Do you know how much money can be spent on bike stuff in four weeks? Geez …..!

Liz Forde, Tina Frantzen and Martha (plus Cynthia Lund for the South Island leg of the journey) served as ambassadors for MeloYelo, a New Zealand brand of e-bikes who support the charity “Evolocity” (which promotes “E” technology in schools).

Martha deLong’s photo album of her cycle trip


At the AGM, Martha provided insight into trip logistics and the performance of the bike, especially “The Blessed Battery”!  She noted that because they chose to take several alternative routes …… this was NOT being chicken, but WISE!

Martha did not deny that there were both high and low points and it was a HARD adventure, but says it helped her to “HANDLE HARD BETTER”!

She concluded: “at the end of the day, whether memories be good or bad…it was such an EXPERIENCE and one we shall always be mindful of …! NO REGRETS.

Martha Delong and colleagues get to the end of the ride.

(For a great overview of both the robustness of the MeloYelo bikes and riders, check out:


Technique makes my brain hurt!

When coaching masters, I often find that they over-think the coaching instructions they receive. 

This can be tested by asking the athletes to “think about nothing” for ten strokes and then to take 10 strokes thinking about a technical point. Most row better when thinking about nothing!

In our debriefs after practice many tell me that it’s hard to think about two or three things at the same time – their brain races from thinking catches, to thinking pressure, to squaring early and they fail to execute any of these well.

Thinking about multiple things simultaneously is just not possible.

So how does the human brain work when you are learning a new skill?

There is a 4 stage progression which begins with Unconscious Incompetence – you don’t know how bad you are. As the athlete starts to learn they become Consciously Incompetent – they know how bad they are. Later as skill is acquired and successfully deployed, the athletes become Consciously Competent. When they think about a technical point, they can execute it skilfully. The final stage is Unconscious Competence – you can row well without thinking about it.

Eight on Saugatuck by Timothy Aquino

Coaching using the 4 stage competence model

If you are a coach reading this article, you can use this 4 stage progression to help your athletes acquire technique skills. If you are an athlete reading this article, you can use this for self-coaching.

Most of us start at the consciously incompetent stage – we know what we are trying to learn but we cannot do it well. Coaches introduce drills and exercises to isolate part of the rowing stroke to help you learn the technique. This moves you into the conscious competence stage. When doing the drill can you do it well? After the drill can you introduce it into your normal pattern of rowing? If you can do these two things you are well on the way. 

The trick to moving to unconscious competence is to practice not thinking. The athlete may be working on an early square during the recovery. Can you do this movement while rowing and thinking? Then try rowing and not thinking about squaring early – don’t think about anything…. Just row. And after 10 strokes, bring your thoughts back to squaring early but don’t make a change to your technique. You have to first observe your stroke – is it squaring early or not? When you have answered that question, you can make a change if you need to square a bit earlier – or no change if you are executing skilfully. Go back to not thinking as you row. And check back how your technique is going after a few more strokes. This is how to train your brain towards unconscious competence.

A word of warning – beware the devil on your shoulder. Most of us have an inner voice who talks to us while we row. As an adult it is very influential on your ability to learn. Children don’t have such an active inner voice and this is one of the reasons adults find it more challenging to learn a new skill.

Your inner voice has a tendency to be very critical as you learn to row; it may be saying “you’re an idiot”

It’s really important not to listen to the voice because it gives a subjective assessment of your rowing technique. And frequently it’s a hindrance to your learning and acquiring skill. 

When you review how you are rowing, try to be very clinical in your assessment of your skill. Be objective, not emotional and use logic only. Female athletes often have an overly-critical inner voice who can work them into a spiral of despondency which does not improve their technique!

And lastly it is not possible to think about multiple things simultaneously in rowing. Even the Olympians cannot do this. Experienced rowers can focus on one aspect of the stroke, add a second complementary aspect and then try to do those two things together. So even that is just one thing at a time – keeping one in the background while you think about the second and then re-introducing the first to reinforce them working together. A good example is to work on improving power in the second half of the stroke – start by activating your back swing; then add the arm draw to the back swing and lastly do them together. 

And keep that inner demon voice quiet while you are rowing!

Article supplied by Faster Masters Rowing.