Visually impaired rower takes to water

  • Sherman Thompson

Gig rowing is a sport for all ages and all abilities.

No one proves that better than 65-year-old Sherman Thompson, who stepped into a pilot gig for the first time from Spanish Point yesterday morning and set off to sea with his team of five rowers.

But what makes Mr Thompson’s venture into watersport even more remarkable is that he is visually impaired.

He is the first visually impaired rower to take to the water with the Bermuda Pilot Gig Club, and the club hope that other men and women will follow his lead.

“I had heard about gig rowing before,” Mr Thompson said. “I thought it sounded like something I should try.

“I have not done much sailing before; I did Antigua to Bermuda on a tall ship seven years ago but that is about it and I have been on the Spirit of Bermuda a couple of times.

“But this was something completely different, and very enjoyable too.

“Once you get the rhythm of the rowing it gets easier. I had a good time and I’m looking forward to doing it again soon. It’s a great way to get out on the water.”

The Bermuda Pilot Gig Club has gone from strength to strength since it launched in the summer of 2015, attracting a wide variety of members. The club now has a total of six wooden gigs dotted around the island at various sailing clubs.

Club boatswain Maurice Johnson said: “We know people in the south of England who row for visually impaired clubs; it’s quite commonplace.

“It’s new for us here, but we hope that more visually impaired people will get involved in the sport. There is no reason why visually impaired individuals cannot take part in gig rowing.

“In many ways, it is the perfect sport because it is all about rhythm and using your ears so everyone is in sync with each other. Sherman was a natural and mastered the technique very quickly indeed.”