21st May 2011. Had an outing this morning in an VIII - usually we take an VIII sculler out (with 2 sculls each), however this time we had an VIII set up for rowing.. ie, with one long oar each. Rowing, as opposed to sculling, is more technical and demands more in the way of precision from everyone if the boat is to be well balanced and pleasant to row in.. We had our moments! 14km today (Running total 700km).
Another difference between rowing in France and rowing in the UK - and I've been meaning to mention it for months - is that here in France the seats in an VIII are numbered from bow to stern from 8 to 1. In the UK (can't speak for the rest of the world) it's the other way around - thus, from bow to stern it runs from 1 to 8 - except that 1 & 8 are known as "Bow" and "Stroke" respectively. The habits of a lifetime die hard in the heat of the moment.. that's all I'm saying!
And - for any oarsmen reading this - here, they start from backstops which generally means the balance of the boat is compromised right from the start. It's much more difficult to balance a boat that's static when people start moving around. When I learnt to row we always started from frontstops.. Non-rowers here might think - what's all the fuss about?
According to this guide to rowing from Trinity College, Cambridge, octuples (an VIII sculler) and coxed quads are used only by children!