My Passion With Bryan Unkles

Bryan Unkles, managing director of Sheffield-based Fairtrade coffee importer Cafeology, on his passion for rowing.

I have only been rowing for around three years but it has definitely developed from hobby to passion in that relatively short space of time.

Following the death of my father in 2007, I inherited a boat, which I have kept located near Newark Rowing Club for a few years. The boat is a great place to spend time at weekends and the perfect antidote to the frantic working week. I started rowing as an extension of this because I wanted to combine the desire to keep fit with the chance to spend more time out on the water.

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I was involved in the set-up of a Masters rowing team at Newark Rowing Club and now I regularly compete in 8+ races for over 35-year-olds. As a team we try to attend as many regattas and heads as possible and it has given us the opportunity to row together all over the country. We have a great tradition of rowing in Great Britain with the Oxford-Cambridge race and the fantastic success of our Olympians such as Sir Steve Redgrave, a great Fairtrade advocate.

Those guys are great inspirations to rowers of all levels and ages and I am sure they have done a huge amount for the popularity of the sport.

I am in awe of the dedication it takes to be a successful rower and of how punishing it is to the body at that level. Lots of people will have witnessed the physicality of rowing for the first time during the recent Olympic Games and it was incredible to see our athletes pushing themselves to the absolute limits in order to represent their country.

I get a real buzz from the physical exertion and working as a team. We couldn’t row if we didn’t all work together to pull in the same direction!

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I am sure I am more alert and can see the parallels with teamwork in sport and within the workplace. We run a lean business at Cafeology and we all need to do our own jobs and be flexible about supporting and working together for the benefit of the business.

Rowing is a sport that demands disciplined training at any skill level and I make sure I do two or three sessions per week on the static rowing machines at Abbeydale gym.

It doesn’t matter what kind of day I have had in the office, I always feel 100 per cent better after a rowing session and it helps me clear my head.

It is a similar story on race day thanks to the fantastic sense of escapism you feel out on the open water. Some of the races we take part in are intense 1-2 km sprints and when you need to focus on rowing for that short period of time it completely focuses your mind and clears it of any other thoughts that you might have carried over from the working week to your weekend.

I’m sure I will continue rowing for as long as physically possible and I would definitely recommend people give it a go.

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