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ailor, raftsman and fisherman guilds also existed in the Middle Ages and there Members were already Trained in the boating sport. But the construction of power stations and the introduction of modern means of transport, such as trains, were the end for a great number of those guilds. However, clubs emerged in the following where people keep practicing the boating sport. They not only organize competitions, but also help people in need during high water and are present at water - sports events as a lifesaving service.
Equipment and the Way of steering the Boat
The most important part of the equipment is the Weidling" which is made out of wood or
synthetics and have a length of about 10 meters. It weighs around 350 kg including the oars,
the pole and other instruments ( Rudernagel, Sasse ).
Competitions are usually done in pairs with a coxswain and another oarsman in front. But also
individual competitions exist. Every three years a Swiss championship is organized. Compared
to the numerous kinds of rowing boats where one is sitting and looking backwards, the
Weidling" has be steered while standing and looking ahead. It is moved upstream with pole in
shallow water and with oars in deeper parts. The boating is mostly done in running water.
Every year, 10 to 12 national pairs and 2 to 3 individual competitions are organized. In a
national pairs competition, usually 400 to 600 people take part, in a Swiss championship,
however, 700 to 800.
In competition, one has to punt against the current along the bank and to row when crossing the
river. Fixed places are marked by buoys. If one touches those, five seconds are added to the
actual race time as penalty points. The change between rowing and punting has to be made at a
special place. If it is done well, one should not loose speed or even stop.
In a competition, one pair after the other starts the race. The order of them is chosen by lot , only the host club is always the one to start first. As a reward, the best competitors receive medals. Compared to other kinds of sports, water sports can be done even up to an advanced age with a regular training. Experience and teamwork help very much to get good results. Thus, it sometimes even occurs that veterans ( members at the age over fifty ) do better than younger competitors.
Written by Claude Furer and Didier Glauser