Blackfalds to host Alberta Rowing Championships

Ice may be still on the lakes, but the Central Alberta Rowing Club is ready to compete.

Ice may be still on the lakes, but the Central Alberta Rowing Club is ready to compete.

This weekend on March 22, the Central Alberta Rowing Club will be hosting the 2014 Alberta Rowing Championships in Blackfalds at the Abbey Centre.

This year, the Central Alberta Rowing Club has seen record-breaking registration for the competition, said President and Coach Andy Nokes. With 150 registered, it promises to be the largest competition since the club started hosting the championships in 2005.

“We’ve never had over 100 before,” said Nokes.

Indoor rowers have been around for a while and used as tools for fitness or training for rowers in the offseason.

But Nokes said that it wasn’t until Concept2 developed a rowing machine (the kind that is used in the competitions) in the late 80s that any of them accurately simulated the mechanics of rowing.

“It was the first type of gym rowing equipment that simulated the forces that you experience in a rowing boat reasonably well,” said Nokes.

Nokes said that the posture, technique and motion of rowing in a boat are the same when using these machines.

He said the differences come with holding handles instead of oars.

As such, proper hand movement isn’t necessary for the machines, but rowers are encouraged to still use it while training and competing indoors.

Rowers are also required to balance in a boat, but not on the rowing machines. Nokes said it is possible to sync a number of machines together to simulate balance – the machines will sway slightly when rowers pull in unison and more violently if not – but this is not done in the competition.

In addition to accurately simulating a rowing boat, these machines also monitor information about the rower such as number of strokes per minute, time, speed and distance traveled were the rower actually maneuvering a boat.

“It’s an ideal training for rowers during the winter.”

Of course, the next natural step in training is racing the dry-land rowing machines. Nokes explained how the information from each rower can be hooked up to a computer to simulate an actual race.

Using specialized software, the computer can even project an image of animated boats on a racecourse so spectators and rowers can see the progress on-screen.

This kind of fun, off-season competition is a good way to keep rowers interested in training while waiting for the summer rowing season to start, said Nokes.

It’s also used as a way to gauge the abilities of the rowers before the season starts and times in the competition are used to assess which athletes have potential to compete in the Canada Summer Games and other competitions, he added.

Rowing is a great way to get fit in addition to being fun.

Nokes said it works all of the body’s muscle groups and is a fantastic way to shed fat and might even be the best cardio workout in existence.

“If you row 10,000 meters, which takes between 45 and 50 minutes, you’re going to lose between 800 and 1,000 calories,” said Nokes.

“There’s no other activity indoors where you can lose that number of calories, really.”

Central Alberta Rowing Club hosts the championships each year because it is a central location between the major rowing clubs of Alberta.

Unlike typical rowing, all of the rowers at the indoor competition compete as individuals.

There are races for all ages and skill levels, at the Alberta Indoor Rowing Championships, right from Junior Novice all the way to Masters.

Nokes added there will be a relay race for fun to at the end of the competition as well.

All the races at the championships will be 2,000 meters except the Masters’ races.

Masters have the option of doing a 1,000 meter or a 2,000 meter race, said Nokes, adding that these races are handicapped and rowers receive a one second deduction from their time for each year they are older than 27.

The competition will take place at the new Abbey Centre in Blackfalds. Nokes said that, while the Abbey Centre is not yet 100% complete or fully open to the public, he has been assured that it is ready for the championships.

Racing for the 2014 Alberta Indoor Rowing Championships begins at 9:30 a.m.

For more information contact Andy Nokes at 403-782-0732.