Sports & Health
Olympic athlete talks rowing in Hanoi
A former Olympic athlete gives the low down on the Ho Tay Boat Club in Hanoi
My name is Yvan and I am an Olympic rower. To be a coach was always a dream for me. As an athlete I trained in the morning, at night, during the weekends and holidays. I never stopped. This intensity of training takes years off your body. After many years on the Canadian National Team as a rower at the World Championships and Olympics, sometimes stepping on the podium and so many years fighting for the first place, it was time to move on to something else. Coaching was my destiny. I had the fire to teach and I still do, but the question was, where? The answer soon came: I would teach rowing in Hanoi.
The first time I arrived at the Ho Tay Boat Club, I was infatuated by the picturesque view of the rowing boats lining the West Lake in the center of Hanoi. The horizon looked eerily similar to my computer background. It was astonishing how I had been unaware of this beautiful place the first time I was here, two years ago. While admiring the view, I was greeted with a warm welcome, and I instantly felt like I had been a member of the Rowing Club for years. This is when I met M. Hung Nguyen, president of the Ho Tay Rowing Club.
Our connection was instant. We were on the same page and had the same vision of the world of rowing. What can I say, I had an incredible chance to meet a man in Hanoi who loves rowing as much as I do.
This was the starting point of my collaboration as Head Coach within the club. My previous positions as rowing Head coach (Europe, North America and Africa) were exactly what was needed. I had worked with masters, seniors, beginners and juniors. My expertise would give a new momentum to this incredible club, which opened its doors in 2007. Ho Tay Boat Club has a modern boat club and a wide selection of boats to cater to rowers of every skill level. What an amazing surprise that was.
Every day at the club is a reckoning: training, questions from athletes or simply repairing boats. Everything has to be perfect all the time. Our rowers deserve the best.
Language is a barrier in Vietnam, but I do my best to make myself understood, and each member also makes efforts to follow my advice during training or explanations after training.
“The ‘Sunday row’ is a great opportunity for all members, new and existing, to get together and listen to some rowing stories from foreigner members.”
The club is starting to gain a reputation not just in Hanoi but across Vietnam. People are approaching us more and more to learn to row, or to continue to row despite being away from home and their home club. Right now we have Vietnamese, Italians, English, Swiss, Canadians, Americans, South Africans and Australians.
“Our members have seen some great successes over the last 13 years and we hope to continue to share our love of the water for many more years to come,” Hung Nguyen says. “The ‘Sunday row’ is a great opportunity for all members, new and existing, to get together and listen to some rowing stories from foreigner members.”
“Of course we’d also love to attract more people to join the club as it is good for fitness, enjoyment and socializing. We are so excited to take part in something so big and we hope we can do well and maybe bring a medal home for our first race next June in Danang.”
The Ho Tay Boat Club calendar does not stop with Danang; the teams are forming for international regattas like Paris and Monaco. The rowers of the Ho Tay Hanoi Boat Club will row with the greatest discipline.
Whether you are looking for a recreational sport to improve your health, want to be a part of a supportive and active community or foster your competitive nature, joining the rowing club is a great way to do it.
Rowing is a physically tough workout but also provides excellent practice in mindfulness. Not wanting to flip in the water is a strong motivation for staying focused on the present moment.
Gliding across the water, full of focus and in such dreamy surroundings is a great way to get in shape, feel at ease, meet wonderful people and see Hanoi from a unique point of view, on the West Lake.
Ho Tay Rowing Club offers rowing, para-rowing and school programs for old and young regardless of their fitness level. Recreational programs are available and focus on fun and fitness, while other junior, senior and adult programs develop competitive athletes.
There’s nothing like shoving off the dock at sunrise when the water is calm and still as a mirror.
Rowing is a physically tough workout but also provides excellent practice in mindfulness. Not wanting to flip in the water is a strong motivation for staying focused on the present moment. Every stroke is an invitation to correct mistakes made during the one before. Rowing is about perpetually starting over.
Enough talk. It is time for me to train. After so many years on the water rowing every day, I am still amazed by it. There’s nothing like shoving off the dock at sunrise when the water is calm and still as a mirror. I stretch my arms out like a divining rod and press my legs until the boat glides backward and takes me with it. I hope to see you on the water soon.
For further information on the club, its history and how to get involved, visit the Ho Tay Boat Club Facebook page.
292 – Lac Long Quan, Tay Ho, Hanoi