The Yarmouth Rowing Club novice crews spent three hours at the Brewster Academy Rowing tanks in Wolfeboro, NH on Saturday, April 8 in preparation for our on-the-water practices.
The Brewster rowing tanks are set up with eight seats on a platform between 2 large tanks of water. Each station has a rigger on both the port side and the starboard side to allow for flexible training on all port, all starboard, an standard eight, or eight people sculling (sculling is rowing with 2 oars per person).
This transitional training day enables the novice rowers to learn how to row using a sweep oar (one oar used with two hands) in water. The set up allowed us to train them all on the port side and then switch to the starboard side for clear and consistent instruction per side.
The seating in the tank is set up like a rowing shell so the rowers can try each side – port and starboard – and try different seats in the boat such as bow, 2-seat, stroke, etc. to get a sense of how it feels to lead and follow.
Rowing tank training is a great tool to teach novice rowers how to apply the rowing stroke they learn on the ergs to an oar without the distractions of being in a tippy boat on a cold river. Initially, we had the Crew Captains and a few veteran volunteers assist us by demonstrating proper form, setting the pace and calling coxing commands.
In addition to the basic stroke positions – catch, drive, finish and recovery, the novices learned feathering and squaring the blade (with the inside hand), hanging on the oar while keeping outward pressure on the handle so the oar stays securely against the oarlock (with the outside hand), all while rolling up to the catch on a sliding seat and staying in sync with the stroke seat. LOTS of moving parts!!
Our novice coxswain, Riley, shadowed veteran cox and Captain Maddy (below). He also spent some time in the tank learning the stroke along with his fellow rowers so he can understand how challenging it can be to row correctly. By the end of the session, we had him coxing the novice crew.
The novices quickly learned that there is a great deal to think about when rowing and, as soon as one’s attention wavers – even just a bit – the stroke rapidly falls apart. Focus and attention to technique while rowing is just as critical as endurance and fitness.
By the end of the 3-hour training session, we had them rowing all eight – without any veterans – and at pressure! Apologies to coach Scott and Coach Liz for the big spray during the final power 10!
(The photos above were taken toward the end of the session when all novices were rowing as a single crew.)
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