Who we are (and what we're about)
Mark Campbell and Jim Battersby first met in December 1977 when they were selected to row together in a New South Wales Rowing Association "Youth" (under 19) Eight. They had both rowed with some success at school, Jim in Perth, Western Australia and Mark in Sydney. That youth crew wasn't too successful at the 1978 Australian Championships, but we went on to row at Sydney University for the next eighteen months together, culminating in selection in another NSW crew, the "Colts" (under 23 I think?) Eight which toured to New Zealand in October 1979. That crew did have some success – we actually beat the Kiwis in a race, a first for an Australian colts crew at the time. Harry Mahon, who became such a world famous coach over the next two decades with New Zealand, Cambridge and Great Britain, was the coach of the New Zealand crew. We faced off in the third and deciding race on a very cold Lake Karapiro and actually (according to Harry) broke the existing World Record for an under 23 Men's Eight (both crews did 5min 38 seconds point-something, Harry believed at the time that was the first time U23 crews had gone below 5.40 - remember, this was timber boat and timber oars). Sadly we were 0.1 seconds behind the Kiwis at the time..Well, we've never seen the photo, but we trust them; it was a great race anyway and gave us both a taste for rowing as a true test of every muscle and nerve in a man's body.
Jim completed his electrical engineering degree and went on to become a super-star of Australian and world rowing, competing and medalling in the Men's Eight at the '83 World Championships and '84 Los Angeles and winning numerous Australian Championships in fours, eights, and even the Single Scull. Mark went back to finalise his studies in veterinary science, continuing to row for University and restricted financially - self-supporting student - and probably physiologically! From continuing at the top level. We kept in touch and continued to row, occasionally together. We both married rowers: Jim is married to Justine, who won a silver medal at World Championships in a Lightweight Coxless Four - they have three daughters, all of whom are rowers. Mark married Gill, who competed at the Barcelona Olympics in the Women's Double Scull - they have three daughters and twin sons (yes, beware that "fourth child" idea); the eldest two have begun rowing too.
So the rowing pedigree is pretty long, and we obviously enjoy the sport.
So - why Rowperfect, and what does it mean to us?
The journey to produce the Indoor Sculler started when Mark chanced to meet Casper Rekers at a demonstration of Cas' new rowing machine organised by Howard Croker, a well-known oar-maker and one of Mark's former coaches at school level. Casper, who had rowed at university in The Netherlands and returned to the sport when one of his daughters commenced to do likewise, had realised that the problem with all rowing machines was their failure to mimic the dynamic physical system of a boat floating on water - instead they mimicked a boat bolted to the floor. The machine so impressed Mark that he hurried home to inform Gill that a revolutionary new rowing machine was available and it would forever change the sport. That was in 1998 - it has taken 12 years to get to this point, where Casper's great machine has been refined aesthetically and functionally (by the addition of an LCD alphanumeric screen) to the point where we believe it is ready to introduce real, flowing, dynamic rowing to a wider audience beyond the sport of rowing.
Real rowing - dynamic rowing in a lightweight shell - is one of the most enjoyable, satisfying and challenging exercises a human can do. The physical and mental demands are certainly high, but the rhythm and dynamic interaction are also mesmeric, and many rowers will tell you that good rowing is enjoyable in and of itself. The social and emotional benefits of rowing in a crew situation we and many of our friends have found to be simply outstanding. But it's a hard sport to learn in terms of both time and equipment costs - or it has been until now.
There are four steps in learning to row:
- Learning to centre the body mass in a dynamic situation
- Learning to interact with a dynamic mass of around 17kg, while using nearly all the muscles in your entire body
- Learning to do the above in time with 1, 3 or 7 others
- Mastering the fine motor skills involved with handling an oar or pair of sculls, with the added distractions of wind and waves.
Rowing on an Indoor Sculler allows you to master the first three steps, in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost required to learn in a true racing shell.
Our hope, and our aim, is that in f uture many more people will get to enjoy the special feeling that comes when you actually master the art of rowing - whether in a single scull or in a crew boat with your mates. We really think that learning to row should be as commonplace as learning to ride a bicycle.
Best wishes, Mark and Jim
Pymble, Australian Schoolgirl VIII
Champions 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005
Runners up 1998, 2001, 2002
Third place 1997, 1999
Trained and selected on Rowperfect since 1998