Sue Sljivic |

Friendships, wine-tasting and singing on the World Rowing Tour

The 2022 World Rowing Tour took place in Canada on Lake Ontario around the Bay of Quinte and the ‘Thousand Islands’. Running from 10-18 September, there were six days of rowing and many off-water activities. Runcorn RC member Sue Sljivic, the only UK participant among 50 other rowers from 12 countries, reflects on why she had such a great time.

Boats, distances, schedules and crews

The tour was extremely well organised by World Rowing and Ontario Adventure Rowing with support from Rowing Canada Aviron; there had even been a complete run-through of the route the previous year. An helpful team supported the tourists with logistics throughout.

We rowed in coastal coxed quads, which were ideal for the mixed weather, open water sections of the route and beach landings. On average, the crews covered about 30km a day; the longest day was 39 kms. The total distance covered over the six days of rowing was 185km.  

map of the route of the 2022 World Rowing Tour

On a typical day we set off early but had a break for lunch on shore at a local club or heritage location where boats could be beached or lifted out. 

Coloured boats pulled up on a beach
Beach landings: a chance to stretch our legs and refuel (note the flip-up riggers to avoid boat-on-boat damage)

Ten crew captains, who were named at the beginning of the tour, stayed with the same boat throughout. The other members of each crew changed every day so that rowers could get to know each other. We took turns coxing, and often swapped over on the water, which involved some tortuous new yoga positions!

woman climbing over a crew mate in a boat during the 2022 World Rowing Tour
YOga or Row-ga?

Part 1: Rowing in the Bay of Quinte

During the first three days of the tour, from Weller’s Bay to Adolphustown in the Bay of Quinte, we experienced the tranquility of the Murray Canal as well as more open waters along the route. This section gave us all a wonderful introduction to the beauty of this area.

Off-water highlights included a welcome BBQ at the Trenton Rowing and Paddling Club; a stop at Quinte RC; a lunch prepared by the Conway United Church women; and wine tasting at the Three Dog Winery.

people tasting wine outdoors
Wine tasting

A mid-week rest day off the water gave the opportunity for blisters to subside and for us to move to Kingston as the base for the Thousand Islands leg of the tour.

Part 2: Rowing in the Thousand Islands region

We launched our boats from Kingston RC to begin the Thousand Islands experience. As the boats wound their way through the Admiralty and Fleet islands, we started to spot curious onlookers running for their binoculars and cameras. A big group of rowing boats like this was a rare sight in these waters!

With the low water levels of the late summer, each of the support boats, in turn, found some ‘less friendly’ areas where the river was unusually shallow, and the risk of running aground was high. One of the local volunteers who knew the waters well ended up wading to free the grounded boats.

rowing boats and a large sightseeing boat under a bridge during the 2022 World Rowing Tour
Avoiding hazards: the coxes’ challenge

Weather forecasts caused some uncertainty for the organisers but, in the end, very pleasant Canadian autumn conditions prevailed. The late summer sun invited a few swims at the lunch stop beaches, and we managed to out-row some stormy skies that provided some great photographic opportunities but left everyone dry in the end.

rowing boats under stormy skies
Stormy skies but the rain held off

World Rowing Tour roundup

In fitting style, we finished the week with a Farewell Banquet at Old Fort Henry following a tour of the fort. Following the tradition of past World Rowing Tour Gala dinners, rowers from each participating country had the chance to thank the other participants and organisers at the podium. The Danish contingent (which was the most numerous) delighted everyone with an interactive song, which had been composed during the bus rides to and from the boats and summarized the fun and adventure filled week perfectly.

It was wonderful to see old friendships re-kindled and new ones formed. The sound of laughter constantly mixed with different languages and accents was a memorable background to the tour. Everyone was very friendly and there was absolutely no problem joining the group on my own. A great bunch of people bonded by a love of rowing. This will not be my last tour!

4 coloured rowing boats loaded on a trailer
BOats loaded and ready for the next adventure

Interested in going on a rowing tour?

You can find more information about British Rowing Tours and other touring opportunities on the British Rowing Recreational Committee website.

The next World Rowing Tour will take place in Malta in April 2023. Book early!

There are many other opportunities for rowing overseas too:

  • The most extensive series of not-for-profit tours is by Aviron France, which offers about 45 tours in a year.
  • Karelia Soutu in Finland has tours in church boats every August.
  • t’Diep RC in the Netherlands hosts ‘guest rowing‘, providing boats and maps for various one and two day routes.
  • Cape Coastal RC in South Africa welcomes visiting crews and rowers.

Several commercial companies also organise rowing tours. These are usually more expensive:

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