We run Learn to Row courses throughout the year. The information on this page is a general guide, and people gaining a place on a course will be sent specific details directly.
When is your next course?
Courses run at intervals throughout the year. To find out about upcoming courses, you must Register your Interest, and you will then receive email notification when signups open.
How do you select people for the course?
The course is filled entirely on a first come first served basis. Our automated signup system will automatically allow signups until the course is full, at which point it will stop accepting payments. However, participants must be over 16 and able to swim 150m competently.
Do I need any prior experience?
No. Our Learn to Row courses are designed for people who have no rowing experience at all. You will be taught everything you need to know with no assumption of prior knowledge.
Do I need to be physically fit?
No. While rowing is a great sport to improve your fitness, we do not assume that you are already an Olympic athlete! However, if you have physical difficulties that might make it hard for you to get in and out of boats or carry equipment, please contact us to discuss your needs before registering for a course.
What will I be learning?
- Safety, both on and off the water. The circulation pattern on the water, rowing terminology and commands.
- Being able to identify the boats and equipment that you will be using, both on the course and in the future.
- The correct rowing technique, focusing on sculling.
- How to get on and off the water, and in and out of the boat safely.
You will also be meeting other members of the club and and making new friends!
The course is broken down as follows:
- Introduction, safety and basic movement
- Manoeuvring and the Leg Drive
- Recovery and Placement
- The Perfect Stroke
What do all those words mean?
Don't worry, we'll teach you all the vocabulary you need to get going. You can also swot up on our Glossary page, but we're not going to test you on it.
What equipment will I be using?
The course is based around two main areas. We have use of an indoor rowing tank, which simulates the action of being in a rowing boat in a controlled environment, and is perfect for introducing and developing technique. On the water we use sturdy Lake Boats which are very stable and specially designed for beginners. Once you graduate you will have the opportunity to progress to a further course where you learn to apply your knowledge to fine racing boats.
Where do your courses take place?
Courses take place at the Royal Docks Adventure (formerly known as the London Regatta Centre), which is near the ExCel centre in London's Docklands. The address is: 1012 Dockside Road, London E16 2QT.
The nearest public transport is Royal Albert DLR station. Prince Regent DLR station and bus station is also within a few minutes' walk. There is limited parking available on site.
What time do the courses start?
You will receive details about the times and dates of each session. Usually they will run over consecutive weekends. Please ensure you are changed and ready at least 30 minutes before each session.
What do I need to wear?
As we train both indoors and outdoors, you'll need to wear clothing appropriate to the weather. It is best to dress in layers so that you can add or remove clothing to adapt to the conditions. In cold weather we recommend thermal layers and a beanie hat. In warmer weather shorts and a t-shirt are suitable. Close-fitting clothes are preferred as there is less chance of them catching on any of the equipment. Jeans are not allowed on the water. You should wear normal trainers as footwear.
Bring a change of clothes and a towel for a shower afterwards.
What else do I need to bring?
Bring a bottle of water. If the weather is sunny, please wear sunscreen, as there is no shelter out on the water! You may also wish to wear sunglasses.
Please make sure you have had breakfast before each session - rowing is hungry work! You may want to bring some energy snacks or cereal bars to keep you going.
Where do I store my bags and belongings whilst training?
There are a limited number of lockers available at the Royal Docks Adventure which are available to rent from reception. However, as we as a club use a lot of lockers, we have use of a room to store our bags in during training. Your coaches will direct you to the correct place. We do not recommend that you bring mobile phones or valuables into the boat with you.
What facilities are available on site?
There are changing rooms, showers and toilets on site. There is also a coffee shop for refreshments.
Is it usual to row in Winter?
Rowing is a year-round sport. Autumn and Winter seasons are generally time for preparation in anticipation of the Spring/Summer regatta seasons. Advanced rowers compete in long distance endurance Head Races during the winter months. As it takes time to learn how to row competently, this is an ideal season in which to learn in order to give you the time to prepare and potentially enjoy the benefits of the following regatta season.
What if the weather is bad?
If conditions are too bad we will train indoors in the tank, which is a rowing boat simulator. As above, please dress appropriately for the weather. In severe circumstances we may have to postpone or reorganise sessions.
What happens when I graduate?
Once they have completed the Learn to Row course and the followup fine boats course, graduates will be offered the chance to join the club as a full member. Participants should be able to join either the Novice or Social squads to continue their development. And of course, course attendees will be invited to social gatherings and events.
The course fee is non-refundable. Once a participant commits to the course by making the payment, then they are enrolled on the course.
All participants will be sent a waiver form by our safety officer and secretary. Each participant must sign and return this to our club secretary via email prior to the course start date.