By Tony White
Rowing a single scull competently requires balance, precision, technique and coaching.
Simply getting in and out of the craft can be particularly tricky even for a skilled exponent.
Just ask Grafton Rowing Club president, Greg Thompson.
The experienced Thompson, a former national and NSW champion, had the misfortune to slip overboard recently, much to the laughter and subsequent jokes aimed his way from a variety of rowing club members.
But a new invention ? Easy Row ? will ensure beginners and even experienced rowers can embark and disembark safely and learn to row the craft with ease.
The training aid is manufactured by Brisbane-based company Rowfix and made available to the GRC thanks to the sponsorship of Robert Blanchard of Blanchard's Haulage.
"It's the only one of it's kind on the North Coast," Thompson said. "We had a look at it during a recent Grafton regatta and everyone was impressed.
"The Easy Row is two platform pontoons put under the rigger and attached by clips.
"You simply clip them on and after learning how to row the single scull, take them off.
"We've got over 140 members at the GRC and this will suit kids from 12 to 85-year-old's.
"I believe it's a tremendous asset to the club, a great learning tool.
"And particularly when we're lucky enough to have two of the best coaches in Australia available ? Ken Maughan and Ron Beattie."
For the layman Easy Row is somewhat like having training wheels on a bicycle.
Considering the tremendous depth of talent in the Clarence Valley, the new invention should be a boon to youngsters wanting to try the single scull.
Despite calls to the contrary by club wags, Thompson reckons he doesn't mind being a 'test pilot' for Easy Row but there's no chance of the training aid being a permanent fixture.