“Beach sprint rowing is definitely the most fun!” St Andrews rower, Ryan Glymond, tells Eden BC about representing GB at the 2022 World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals in Saundersfoot, Wales.
Earlier this month, 4th-year ScotGEM student, Ryan Glymond, represented Great Britain in the Coastal Mixed Quadruple Sculls at the 2022 World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals in Saundersfoot, Wales. We spoke to Ryan about his experience at this event:
Credit: James Lee
How did you first become involved in beach sprints?
After announcing the introduction of the coastal rowing programme at St Andrews University last year, the university boat club entered a few of us into the British Rowing Coastal Championships in July 2021, to get a feel for this new format of rowing. We spent the week before the event in Exmouth, learning about the coastal boats and the format of the endurance and beach sprint races. We did pretty well picking up three medals across the two disciplines, and a couple of us were invited to a training/selection day for the GB Development Squad – everything else has just progressed from there!
What was it like to compete with the GB Beach Sprint Team at the 2022 World Rowing Beach Sprint Finals in Wales?
It was unreal. If someone had told me a year ago that I’d be standing on the start line, hearing “Great Britain, Attention”, I’d have never believed it. Working with and competing against the most experienced coastal rowers, as well as World and Olympic Champions, was truly epic. The racing didn’t go as well as I’d hoped for the quad, but whilst I’m disappointed in the result, I’m really proud of my crew and how we attacked the race. Representing GB at a home championships was also really special. There was an excitement around the regatta and so many people stopped me to wish me luck. The atmosphere from the spectators was incredible and it was mad to hear so much noise when I was sprinting down a beach about to launch myself into a moving boat!
Credit: Ben Tufnell
How does beach sprints compare to any flat-water events you have been to?
It’s so intense! There’s just such an atmosphere about the beach sprint regattas that you don’t get at flat water events, because it’s such a great spectator sport. The fans can see everything: the start and finish are in the same place; there’s high rating and high intensity sprints, all ending with a dive into the beach for a buzzer – what more could you want?!
What is the role of the cox in beach sprints? Is it different from coxing in flat-water rowing?
I think the most noticeable difference in beach sprints is that the cox runs. It’s great, because I think a lot of rowers can be a little guilty of taking their cox for granted, but in this format the cox is an athlete and every second counts. I followed dedicated sprint training, as well as S&C programmes, in the lead up to the event to make me as speedy as possible for the sprint. The other difference is that there is so much more to steering in the beach sprint format. The course has it all: a slalom, a 180 degree turn, and a straight line sprint back to shore, trying to catch surfing waves. You’ve got to be constantly alert to lots of variables and this means the cox can make a huge difference to the result.
Credit: James Lee
How did you and your crew prepare for the event?
Throughout the majority of the last year we’ve all gone through a fairly intense trials process. Beach sprints is so unpredictable and dependent on so many variables that anyone really can beat anyone, so GB have spent a lot of time this year trying to work out what makes the fastest, most consistent beach sprint rower. We’ve been pretty solidly tested and I think it really showed in the regatta that we were prepared for anything! We also had a week-long, pre-regatta training camp just round the corner from Saundersfoot, in Tenby. We had a real mix of conditions there, so that was definitely good preparation!
Are you planning to continue beach sprints?
Absolutely. It’s too much fun to miss out on. I’m not yet committing to trialling again for the 2023 GB Beach Sprint team, as I’m going to have a few months just enjoying my rowing, but it does feel like I have some unfinished business for GB, so we’ll see!
Do you have any advice for anyone who would like to try coastal rowing?
Be open minded! I was the biggest critic of coastal rowing. I used to wonder why anyone would want to row on choppy water in a slow moving boat, but it is so much fun! I’d also say that St Andrews rowers are perfect for coastal rowing: you’ve got to be able to get stuck in, embrace the chaos and adapt to situations quickly, all whilst rowing really fast – we’re pretty good at that here!
Final difficult question! Which format do you prefer: coastal or flat-water rowing?
Can I choose both? The two disciplines test you in different ways and I still have so much to learn about rowing on the sea, so I’m loving that. Flat water rowing definitely “feels” better; the run of a fast boat at pace in flat-water rowing is really cool. In coastal rowing you do get that sometimes when you catch a wave and surf it, but you’ve got to be quite skilful on the waves to be consistent with that and sometimes the conditions are so rough that you’re just fighting to stay upright. I’m not sure which one I prefer, but beach sprint rowing is definitely the most fun!
Credit: James Lee
Coastal rowing is an exciting new discipline which was recently introduced to St Andrews students, with support from Saints Sport to purchase five new coastal rowing boats.
If you would like to support rowing at St Andrews University, please donate to Legacy 60: the club’s 60th anniversary fundraising campaign.