Touring is a great way to experience Canada's waterways, keep involved in rowing and have a great time!
Touring is an activity that enables participants to explore scenic waterways, lakes and rivers in rowing shells. Touring shells are typically sturdier than racing shells, allowing safe travel through rougher conditions, on larger bodies of water - and there is enough space in a touring shell to take along some food and drink for that picnic lunch at the other side of the lake. Touring in any part of Canada or other countries make an excellent vacation option.
Touring in Ontario is now promoted through the Ontario Adventure Rowing Association (OAR Touring). Each year OAR Touring offers a full slate of tours on various scenic waterways of Ontario.
There are several varieties of tours to choose from:
Leisure tours typically offer rowers a half day to a full day of rowing up a scenic river or lake, and include lunch in the park or at a small restaurant where participants can spend time socializing. Logistics and costs can be minimized on leisure tours by launching boats from existing boathouses or a location only a short drive away, and asking people to bring or buy their lunch.
A few leisure tours have also been organized for high school students to plant the seed that rowing is more than just a serious competitive sport; it is also a fun recreational activity. Students are typically very receptive to short 2-3 hour tours - keep this in mind as an option to use equipment in off peak hours.
Weekend adventure tours attract more experienced and physically fit rowers. These tours, which often involve navigating rough waters and sculling over 40km a day, are "not for the faint of heart"! As these tours typically happen on the weekend, local organizers need to secure some form of overnight accommodation - in the form of camping or other forms of lodging.
Vacation tours, such as the annual FISA tours, take place during the week and often last for several days. Vacation tours bring together people from around the world who share a love of rowing and a desire to be challenged. In addition to exercise (which in many cases is secondary), vacation tours offer participants an opportunity to visit with old friends and explore a new region or country. The logistics of organizing a vacation tour are considerably more complex than other types of tours. Organizers must arrange accommodations for boats and people in many different towns, transport boats between evening docks and morning launch points, and arrange sight-seeing excursions or evening events. Vacation tours can be a tremendous source of revenue for clubs, but the dedication and time required by organizers cannot be overlooked.
Finally, events such as marathons and relays, give touring a competitive edge that is appealing to younger rowers and corporations seeking team-building activities. Because touring takes place in wider, more stable rowing shells, participants with very little rowing experience can join in on the fun. Corporate challenges are great ways to increase awareness of rowing and attract new participants.