words by David Peake
Most of the world is now in lockdown with restrictions on travel, and exercise. Rowers around the globe are becoming landlubbers, and resorting to erging their way through their summer/winter racing season. The standard (typically watermarked) racing rowing photos on Instagram are being replaced by solitary, sweaty erg screens.
Here in the UK, the exceptional weather we've had recently has made the (totally understandable) loss of not being on the water even harder for those of us who live for those summer water sessions.
As for us here at Square Blades, our pop-up shop would now be touring the rowing regatta circuit. We'd be meeting old friends, making new ones, showing off our new spring/summer collections, and generally chatting, eating a lot (and I mean a lot) of cake, and drinking copious amounts of coffee.
To help counteract the loss of river time, and to keep their athletes fit, rowing clubs around the world have loaned rowing machines to their members so they can erg in the safety of their own home/garden/garage...
I'm not going to lie, there's been a pang of sadness that I've not managed to secure a loan rowing machine from my club during the lockdown.
I never thought I'd EVER be sad that I couldn't get on an erg!
However, what this crisis has shown is the sense of community we have within our sport. Many Facebook groups have sprung up to help motivate, provide workouts, and provide a community for the avid rower now stuck behind the dreaded Concept2 erg screen. Including the aptly named, "Stuck At Home Rowing Club", set up by Sander Roosendaal and Gregory Smith.
I'd joined the group a while ago (in the hope I'd get a loan erg), and seen the numbers of members gradually increase. Sander and myself got chatting about the possibility of creating a training top to raise money for a COVID-19 related charity. The idea being we could keep our suppliers and manufacturers working (safely), provide kit to rowers to "celebrate" isolation erging, whilst also raising much needed funds to help with the crisis.
Sander and Gregory agreed this would be a good idea, suggesting that the club members of the newly formed SAHRC design the logo, and choose the charity. Over the next week and a half, logos were entered in to a competition, and a charity was voted on.
The chosen charity was Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), who are providing urgently needed medical care and support in more than 40 countries to counter the new coronavirus disease.
With our initial discussions we thought perhaps we'd sell 20 to 30 and raise a few quid. Nope. Not even close....
As of today (14/04) we've raised nearly £2,000!
To say we're humbled is an understatement.
Thank you all so much.
To buy yours, go to the Stuck at Home Rowing Club collection page.