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There are certain things in life that are bound to provoke arguments with your kids. Teaching them to drive is, I’m guessing, right up there.  Choosing a playlist for pretty much any occasion. Offering thoughts on what they’re wearing.

But what about rowing? Well, we put this to the test at our latest regatta, with a Mums and Sons’ mixed 8. The sons ranged between 15 and 19. The mums ranged between ** and ** (cough… no need to be specific). The combined points (everyone else’s, that is; I was the only novice) took us into IM2. We put the boys in the stern and decided we’d just sit the boat and let them do all the work (just kidding).

As with most scratch mixed 8s, we only managed one outing before the big day, and the bickering was … what you might expect.

“You need to assert yourself more”, No. 2 shouted to the cox.

“Mu-um, stop bossing everyone around”, moaned No. 5 at No. 3.

Thankfully my boy and I were too far apart (with me at bow and him at 7) to communicate.

Despite the squabbling, we soon noticed that having our well-coached boys in the boat immediately raised the bar. The mums warmed up first, neatly but without much panache, but when our offspring took over we realised what it really ought to look and feel like. Suddenly we started rowing better. Crisper at the catch; faster at the finish; slower up the slide.

And the outcome on the day? Well, we lost, but only by 1/4 length, and it was one of the best races I’ve had. Our opposition looked gratifyingly exhausted at the end. And the arguing afterwards? Actually, I don’t think there was any.

So would I recommend family rowing? You bet I would. I’m already planning next year’s line-up.

Mums and Sons (girlontheriver at bow; sonontheriver at 7)

 

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