There are some interesting responses to this question. After reading
Carl's explanation, the reasoning for the preferred method (Carl's item
3, rotating the blade slightly towards a backing position, letting the
blade take its depth naturally) makes sense to me from strictly a
Looking at it from a kinesthetic perspective leads me to some doubts.
The command to immediately stop a boat ostensibly comes suddenly, and
often in an atmosphere of panic and surprise. In such situations the
basic, most practiced motor programs of individuals typically
previal--think of these motor programs as relfex actions. In this
context I can easily see where the method of squaring the blade with a
normal squaring motor program, which is by far more practiced and
ingrained in the rower, would produce an acceptable result. Bear with
me, I'm trying to justify why so many people in North America teach
Also worth considering is the design of the boat, and specifically the
rigging, for accepting loads contrary to the rowing motion. If the
sudden stop of the boat places stress on the rigger or pin contrary to
its normal designed loading, does this discount the effectiveness of
that method? Would one rather have that load borne by the boat or the
athlete, or a mix of both? Looking at the preferred method (Carl's
item 3), I wonder about the increased load at the pin. But if Carl's
method 1 is employed (much like it is at my club), most of the load is
borne directly by the athlete--perhaps not the best outcome in an
I'll have to practice this myself, but in the meantime I should ask: in
method 3, where does the handle typically travel? Higher, towards the
head during the stopping motion? What if method 3 is not deftly
executed, or employed by an unpracticed rower, in a sudden stop
situation, yet the blade goes too deep, perhaps traveling too quickly
towards the head... you can see where I'm going with this. I joke
about the handle becoming "the 'ol tooth chipper" if one digs the face
of the blade too deep with inertia on the boat, but does one method
make this more likely than another? Avoidance of all injury, to person
or boat, is best, but which one would you prefer over another--injured
athlete or injured boat (some should not answer that question). In
arguing for method 1, the simple squaring motion keeps the oar at the
ready above water and employs the simplest teaching methods. Gee, I
hope I'm not stereotyping the learning curve of some North Americans
(even if they are rowers) with this analysis (the author is born and
raised in North America).
I'm going to give method 3 a good try on my boats this week and see how
it works out. My club has always used method 1 with success. To say
that method 3 is the only method which should be taught is akin to
saying, "never say never" and I hope at least some see the rationale
for method 1 I have tried to convey in the explanations above.
> > Can those who did the IA more recently than I give any indication as to
> > when the prescribed method for holding up a boat became the recommended
> > procedure. I swear it wasn't part of the IA that I did, but that was
> > about 7 years ago.
> > I'd also be interested in whether other coaches think this is the best
> > & safest method of stopping a boat quickly and whether a standard
> > hold-it-up/ take-the-run-off should be different from a hold-it-hard.
> This, unfortunately, is another of those issues in which alternatives
> are taught which are less than best :(
> The alternatives in common use are:
> 1. Rotate the blade partly onto the square & skid it along the water.
> This is the least effective, so cannot constitute an emergency stop or
> "hold it hard".
> 2. Rotate the blade face square towards the bow & stick it in.
> This is dangerous. It can cause a crab, instability due to
> incomplete/unequal rotation, or human ejection as the forces come on
> 3. Rotate the blade just enough towards the bow, a few degrees, to cause
> it to move downwards into the water.
> This does require practice, but is extremely effective & pretty safe -
> far safer than failing to stop in time. Do _not_ force the blade down.
> Let it descend freely to cover ~1/2 of the shaft, controlling depth by
> slight adjustments to the rotation. The way comes off so rapidly that
> there's no risk of the blade going over-deep, & the force you must
> resist for the same rate of deceleration is less than for the other
> methods because the centre of drag is well up the shaft & much closer to
> the pin. Similarly, the turning moment on the boat is much less if
> anyone in a crew fails to hold-up properly so stopping in a straight
> line is easier.
> Method 3 is the only method which should be taught - the KISS principle
> being crucial to safety - but it needs to be taught well.
> Cheers -
> Carl Douglas Racing Shells -
> Fine Small-Boats/AeRoWing low-drag Riggers/Advanced Accessories
> Write: The Boathouse, Timsway, Chertsey Lane, Staines TW18 3JY, UK
> URLs: www.carldouglas.co.uk (boats) & www.aerowing.co.uk (riggers)