By Graham West

lively-dragon-july-4-2009-794_800x536It’s 4:30 in the morning and you can’t see anything except what is right beside you. All you can hear is the blades churning the water as the boat slowly creeps it’s way closer and closer to the finish line. It’s -5 degrees out but you feel like a furnace as the calm but vicious motion of rushing up the slide and rowing gives you the warmth you need. Watching the sun rise over the Burlington bridge, rowing past families of swans, there’s nothing quite like rowing whether it’s fall, summer or spring and there’s no place to do it in Hamilton quite like Leander boat club.

Leander offers a range of programs from school rowing to recreational rowing to competitive rowing. It’s a great place to go for beginners or experienced rowers of all ages. With phenomenal exercising equipment to amazing boats, Leander is well equipped for anyone who might want to come and row.  It’s located right in the north end and is a great place to go if you’re interested in trying a new sport.  It backs onto the Hamilton harbour, a beautiful place for people to go on the water and try out rowing.

The Hamilton harbour might not be the cleanest place on Earth but we’ll be damned if it isn’t special.  There isn’t anything quite like launching the boats and that feeling you get when you finally break into the harbour. That distinct notion of a sort of freedom, where you are free to go anywhere you’d like, where you feel the jolting but refreshing feeling of the wind brushing across your face.

It’s on the harbour where you find some of the best athletes in Hamilton. You won’t find the amount of hard work and dedication that rowers have in many other places. Getting up at 5 am and rowing for two hours is not an easy task to ask of anyone, although there’s something about all these people coming together and working this hard to support the same cause. That cause is, regattas or races. The intensity and concentration that goes into the beginning of a race is all about the culmination of months of hard work all reaching this explosive pinnacle. The silence of dozens of rowers all in their own boats waiting for that starting bell, then the incredible sound of even more blades entering the water as the coxswain commands the boat — everyone rushing towards a common goal and finally one boat claiming that title of victor.