Vienna Circle: Vienna’s Rowing Clubs

Rowing on the Danube | Photo: Wolfgang Voglhuber/WRV

On 7 April, all of Britain will be watching the annual Oxford Cambridge Boat Race, taking place for the 158th time on the Thames in South East London. To get a taste of the U.K. frenzy, drop by your local Irish pub, where most will be glad to tune in to the race.

In Vienna, too, the rowing season is about to kick off.

With Europe’s longest river running right through the city, it seems only natural that the Viennese have taken to rowing. And while the sport originated in Britain, rowing sculls have become a common sight on the Danube. Founded in 1863, Vienna’s oldest boat club is nearly as old as the famous Boat Race itself.

Although coursing along the Danube under one’s own power has its charms, rowing is, for the most part, a team sport. The standard for races is a crew of eight plus a “cox” (short for coxswain), who sets the pace and steers the boat by coordinating the rhythm of the rowers.

Vienna’s rowing clubs have crews of all ages, including boats for school students, but also “masters” (over 27). In the spring and summer months, they offer beginners’ classes (€70 – €120 for 5 – 6 classes). Rowers keen to go on more regular outings or even to participate in races should join a club. Annual membership ranges from about €300 for adults to €150 for under 18 years. Most clubs speak English and count English speakers among their rowers.

Yet, rowing is not all toil. Most clubs will take you on day outings further afield to Pöchlarn, Krems and other picturesque spots along the Danube. With spring approaching, rowing is the perfect way to get back into shape, all the while making the most of the weather.

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