> Is rowing more natural ability or is it all training? (Ie. I'm
> 5'10 and fairly strong - do I have a large advantage over more
> petite rowers?)
Rowing is definitely not natural. I think the motion is counterintuitive
to most beginners. Being tall does help though. The longer your stroke
is, the more total power you can get out of your stroke. Strength is key
too, for obvious reasons. Technique, however, is also a key element to
rowing. I know plenty of guys who can pull very *** the erg, but
weaker people can move a boat better than they can due to better
technique. So, don't be afraid to perfect your technique. It's worth it.
> > Which is more important for rowers -- weight training or
> cardiovascular activity?
This partly depends on what kind of rowing you are going to be doing, i.e.
sprint pieces, head races. I would say, however, that you need to do
both. Rowing is a demanding sport in that it requires great strength and
endurance, so don't give up on either one.
> I want to train during the winter -- should I buy a good
> ergometer or should I just keep weight training and doing cardio?
> Will an ergometer cause me to have bad form when I take up rowing
> again in the Spring?
The thing that makes a boat go fast is how fast you can move your blade
through the water. As this is very task specific, the best way to train
for rowing is primarily by rowing, but secondly by erging. For variation,
running is good too and weights every now and then couldn't hurt. You
will only have bad form in the spring if you start with bad form. If you
develop bad habits and continue them, they are harder to get rid of, so
get your technique ironed out from the beginning. An erg is about as
close as you can get to a boat though, so it shouldn't give you any worse
technique than you have before you start erging.
> What should I look for when joining a rowing club?
If you want to work hard, look for a program that works hard...or at least
gives you that option. If you want to just have fun, look for a program
that does that. It's just whatever you want to do. Also, it's good to
find a stable program with a good number of boats. You are more likely to
find a good, consistent coach there. You are lucky if you have a lot of
choice between programs though.
> What goals should I be placing for myself? (When is it
> realistic for me to want to compete at provincial and then
> national levels, for example?)
If you want to work that hard, there's no reason not to start training
for the national team right now. It takes a lot of time to get to that
level, but if you get a good coach and a workout program that is right
for you, you can go anywhere. There are people who are shorter than you,
who are on the national team, so you can do whatever you put your heart
into. To keep from getting discouraged though, compete at your level.. If
you are a novice this year, race against other novices. If you get a
good program, they will help you figure it all out. Good Luck and row
UW Crew, Seattle, WA