A central Alberta man is heading to France this week to compete in the 2022 World Rowing Masters Regatta.
Andy Nokes, who lives just east of Lacombe and is a part of the Central Alberta Rowing Club, will compete in four different races while at the event which takes place Sept. 7-11.
“I’m feeling a little anxious because I’m rowing with five rowers from the Gorge Narrows Rowing Club in Victoria. I’ve only practiced once in June with all of them,” he said.
Paul Hardy, who Nokes used to race with when Hardy lived in Red Deer invited Nokes to race with the team at the World Rowing Masters Regatta. Nokes will race in three doubles events in different age groups that range from 60 to 75 years of age as well as a four-person team race. They race 1,000 metres instead of the 2,000 metres the younger competitors usually race.
“Every year there’s a world masters championship held in different countries. Next year it’s going to be South Africa and I think the last one was in New Zealand and then there was one in Australia. Generally, the level of competition is, in spite of us being incredibly old, is pretty high,” he said.
The 68-year-old has been training all winter on the rowing machine and all summer on Lacombe Lake at least five times a week to prepare for this event.
“That involves rowing anywhere between five and 10 kilometres on the water depending on the time we have,” he said.
He began rowing and competing as a young man in high school in the United Kingdom at the age of 14. He said his school had a very competitive rowing team and has competed on and off since then. Nokes moved to Canada in 2000 but has lived in Belgium, France, and Houston. His work as an engineer in the chemical industry has taken him to multiple places around the world.
“If you train reasonably well then your level of fitness tends to be high. It’s not a contact sport, it’s not hard on your knees like running and hockey so I think we last longer,” he said. “It’s tough but the satisfaction comes from training and rowing as best as you can in the race. The whole atmosphere of being surrounded by well, in this case, it’s supposed to be about 5,000 competitors from 50 countries, so it’s a sense of achievement and a good excuse to go to another country.”
The sport utilizes your whole body but Nokes said the greatest power comes from the legs and lower back. Body coordination is an important aspect and in a crew, the challenge is moving in unison with everyone in the boat.
For those looking to enter the sport, he said people should contact the Central Alberta Rowing Club. They run sessions to teach rowing and Nokes explained they’ve also worked with Lindsay Thurber High School and ran some indoor rowing sessions in February.
“As long as you can still get into a boat there is no age limit,” he said.