Albin Moser, Narragansett Boat Club’s (NBC) director of rowing programs, takes me on a tour of the clubhouse, and explains how both the clubhouse and NBC’s programs have grown over the years. Moser, a teacher and principal before retiring in 2003, still coaches indoor rowing during the winter.
You’ve been associated with the NBC for a very long time. How did you get into rowing?
I came [to the clubhouse] for the first time in February 1964, as a freshman at Brown University. I played football and was trying to find an alternate way to stay in shape. Every tall guy (Moser is 6’ 5”) got a letter from the crew coach; the letter piqued my interest. I’m the only person who rowed and played football all four years; today, you have to focus on one sport to do well.
You talked about rowing being addictive. What makes it so?
It’s the power; it’s a sense of being out there and having to work with the wind and the water and yourself... controlling the boat yourself and moving it along with other people. It’s got beauty and it mixes strength and endurance and skill.
What’s a great day on the
river for you?
There’s flat water, and all the boats are rowing parallel to each other. Everyone is really pushing really hard and gets to complete their personal goals for their workout... that excites me.
Tell us why you love the Seekonk River.
Many club members have accumulated more than 30,000 miles of rowing, most of them on the Seekonk River. Many people don’t give the river the credit it deserves; it’s a beautiful place. I think as a society we look at urban rivers and automatically feel they’re polluted. In the summer, you’ll see cord grasses that grow along the river that weren’t there in the mid ‘60s and an incredible number of birds and wildlife.
Do people have misperceptions about rowing?
As soon as people see a crew, they say, “Stroke, stroke, stroke,” thinking that’s what the coxswain (pronounced ‘kahk-sun’) is saying. In fact, the coxswain simply says, ‘row.’ It’s a real quiet activity unless you’re rowing alongside a motorboat.
Everyone thinks it takes upper body strength to row well. That helps, but it’s coordinating the big muscles – in the legs and back – to propel a boat. It’s a full-body exercise that is both aerobic and anaerobic.
Narragansett Boat Club
2 River Road, Providence, at 272-1838
Nancy Kirsch is an award-winning freelance writer in Providence. Contact her: firstname.lastname@example.org.