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Sport / New blood sought for yoal rowing

Pictured in Lerwick on Sunday, from left to right: Emma Harper (Bigton Rowing Club), Mairead Travins (Nesting Rowing Club), Andrew Anderson (Lerwick Rowing Club and rowing association), Ewan Tait (Burra Rowing Club) and Kerry Tait (Eid Rowing Club). Photo: Dave Donaldson

PEOPLE are being encouraged to think about trying out rowing as clubs in Shetland look for new members.

It comes as the first competitions of the season were held in Lerwick at the weekend.

Shetland Yoal Rowing Association commodore Andrew Anderson said there are both physical and mental benefits to getting out on the water.

“It’s a really social sport, and a generational sport,” he said. “It can also be a focal point for communities.”

Anderson, who has rowed since 2001, said clubs naturally tend to go through dips in numbers.

“It is peaks and troughs, but there’s probably been a slow downward trend unfortunately,” he said.

For example photos of inter-club races back in the 1990s showed 17 or 18 boats involved – but in Lerwick at the weekend there were four.

The yoal is a clinker-built boat used that has traditionally been used in Shetland.

There are yoal rowing clubs dotted around Shetland, including in areas like Burra, Nesting and Bigton, who train and compete in events.

Anderson said each race can be relatively quick, adding that teamwork is key.

“You need stamina because you’re reasonably flat out during that five, six, seven minutes,” he said.

“But you’ll get lots of practices. Most clubs will have one or two practice nights a week.

“To be honest the key to rowing in my view…it’s timing, and the technique. That’s what makes a big difference.”

With the Tall Ships Races visiting Shetland in July it is perhaps an apt time to raise awareness of yoal rowing.

The crews of the visiting tall ships will also get a chance to try their hand at yoal rowing on one of the days too.

“We have to think about what we can do to raise the profile and promote yoal rowing,” Anderson said.

“I think there’s a real lot of benefits from the physical side, the social side, the mental side – all of that, and the community side of things.”

Anyone interested in trying out yoal rowing can access information via the Shetland Yoal Rowing Association Facebook page.

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