THERE are rowing clubs up and down the length of the Thames and crews being put through their paces by enthusiastic coaches pedalling along the river bank are a familiar sight for anyone who regularly takes a stroll beside the water.
But few groups are, I suspect, as welcoming as the folk at Staines Boat Club who can be found at their well-equipped clubhouse in Riverside Drive just off Chertsey Lane in Staines.
Club captain Craig Twaddle, an amiable Scot who took to rowing at the St Andrew’s Boat Club in his early days, explained the rationale that has made Staines BC such a popular place to row.
“This is definitely not an elitist club,” he said, “and we’re always keen to attract new members. Sometimes rowing has a bit of a stuffy reputation but we have people from all walks of life here at Staines and we welcome everybody regardless of their occupations or background.”
One thing the club is always keen to do is to attract youngsters into the sport – and, being affiliated with the Amateur Rowing Association, Staines offers first class coaching and tuition for both boys and girls. Indeed the club has been awarded the Sport England Clubmark certificate of quality because of the excellence of its teaching for youngsters.
Established in 1894, the club now boasts around 200 members – both rowing and social – and has a full calendar of events for all standards of oarsmen and women.
Craig, who works for BAe Systems, added: “We’ve got eights, fours, pairs and singles taking part in a whole host of regattas throughout the season – everything from Henley to the heads of the river and individual town regattas. We also help organise the annual Staines regatta so there’s always something going on here.”
That, indeed, is true. The clubhouse, which was built in 1953, is used practically every night of the week – for circuit training, coaching classes and general socialising. The club also shares its facilities with crews from Brunel University.
So if you’ve ever stood and watched a rowing eight putting on the power and wondered just what that might feel like, Staines BC would love to hear from you – they run regular ‘learn to row’ courses for a wide range of age groups and would be delighted give you a demonstration.
For more information, visit www.stainesboatclub.co.uk or call the club on 01784 453595.