Gene Noble has a bad hip that forced him to give up running because it caused him too much aggravation.
He was immersed in a variety of sports all of his life, with running one of his favourite things to do. He hit the start line for 27 Tely 10 Road Races before his hip told him it was time to walk away.
Little did he know that something else would fill the void.
Noble, a 66-year-old Corner Brook native who has called St. John’s home since his early 20s, has discovered a love for rowing and will compete in his first Royal St. John’s Regatta on Wednesday as a member of the oldest team — the Nautilus Master Rowers — in the senior men’s division.
Noble works out at Nautilus Fitness Centre with a few of his buddies who are now his rowing teammates.
He was working out on an ergometer (stationery rowing machine) at Nautilus one day when his buddy Dennis Byrd asked him if was interested in giving rowing a shot because they had an empty seat in the boat.
Being the competitive soul he is, Noble decided to give it a whirl and he’s glad he took his friends up on the offer.
“I think it’s one of the greatest sports I’ve ever partaken in,” Noble said Tuesday from St. John’s.
He loves the camaraderie that comes with being in the boat with five guys and a coxswain. He has been impressed with the teamwork that is required when success depends on all hands having to do everything in perfect unison and said it was awesome having to learn how to find that cohesiveness.
“You have to learn to do that as a team and if one person is out of sync it fools it up for the rest of the team and slows the team down,” he said.
The crew will compete in the senior division.
Getting ready for the regatta ride was challenging at first, but Noble said he only needed a handful of spins around the pond to get comfortable with what he was doing.
“I don’t get much criticism from the other ones so I must be doing OK,” he said with a hearty chuckle.
He’s excited about making his rowing debut. It’s going to be one of the biggest regattas in the rich history of the event with Wednesday’s regatta a momentous occasion with the 200th anniversary.
“I hope I can sleep tonight,” he said. “Tomorow morning I expect I will be all butterflies come 11 o’clock, but then when we get in the boat we settle down and away we go.”