men's cycle road race had flown through. There was a moment of communal togetherness that broke barriers and I got talking to the two people standing next to me.
Cees and Lenneke were from The Netherlands and here for the Olympics but also on business. It turned out that Cees (van Bladel, above) was also a sailor, and a good one at that, having competed in the Tornado class at the 1988 Olympics.
We had a good chat about Ben and sailing to the Arctic and I asked him what he was doing now - was it still sailing?
It turned out he and Lenneke had started a company to develop a radical new rowing skiff, the Volans2, and they were planning on demonstrating it to the Putney Rowing clubs the following weekend. Would I be interested in a trial? Of course!
So the following weekend I met them and had a go. Now the important to thing to note is I've never been in a racing rowing boat or skiff of any sort, but the unique design (and their patient tuition) meant I was able to get a least a few proper strokes in after only a few minutes and never once went for a swim.
The design is radically different in that rather than the rower's seat moving on sliders instead the rig arms move back and forward. The benefit is without the rower's body moving the hull remains flatter on the water and there is less instability even for an absolute beginner like me.
This design makes it much faster than standard rigs - so much so that it has been banned from racing against them after Germany's Peter Michael Kolbe used it gain success at the World Sculling Championship.
But that doesn't mean it can't be used by rowers out for their own enjoyment - or the basis of an entirely new class.
More information can be found on their web site here.