> >> The novice four I'm (rather tentatively) coaching was short of a man
> >> last weekend so I jumped in, and tried to coach from the 2 seat: not
> >> ideal. But one thing I did notice that I wouldn't have seen from the
> >> bank was that one of the other rowers was leaning to his right. When I
> >> suggested that he didn't he said that he was only trying to correct what
> >> he saw as a consistent lean of the boat to his left (i.e. starboard/bow
> >> side).
> >> Of course I told him that leaning was not the way to correct the balance
> >> of the boat, and that it had all sorts of bad effects. I expect
> >> everyone here agrees with that.
> >> But when he questioned me more I found myself thinking about what does
> >> actually happen when an oarsman (or woman) leans.
> >> Statically, if the mass in the boat is assymetric then it will tend to
> >> make the boat tip towards the side where more mass is. Won't it?
> >> That's the effect that this rower was trying to exploit.
> >> But dynamically the act of leaning to port requires the rower to
> >> un-weight his or her right buttock, putting more weight on the other;
> >> that would tend to make the boat tip in the /opposite/ direction.
> >> Wouldn't it?
> > I'm not following this. If the rower is leaning to port, he has his
> > weight on his right ***cheek, not his left. (port= left
> > side of boat as facing to bow).
> And there's always a bit of self-kidology in the idea of transferring
> weight from one cheek to t'other. You can only do this if you
> correspondingly shift your own CofG towards that side. I think that
> implies a small, hard-to-see but real lean.
> Peter's right about what happens when someone leans, independent of the
> others. To start leaning needs the CofG to be moved to that side, which
> requires an initial impulse which will tip the boat against the
> direction of lean, after which the boat will indeed tip towards the lean
> as the body stops leaning further, & then stay that way.
> However, our blades are in the water for ~50% of the time at race pace.
> So we should for that part get the boat back to level, 30 to 40 times
> a minute - if we row equal hand heights. And then it should be easy to
> stay level for the brief period of the recovery - no?
> Well, rowers do funny things, which all tend to destabilise the boat:
> 1. They don't all row to equal depth, so the recovery starts on 1 ear.
> 2. Some wash out or finish early. They***it up for the rest of the
> crew, yet the reason is often that they know their side's going to be
> down so they do this to be sure they don't catch their own finishes!
> 3. Anyone who goes for a hard vertical tap-down is going to have to
> finish short (&/or get caught up - see previous discussions of the
> impossibility of a vertical tap-down) & will also tip the boat through
> the rotational couple they thus impose by adding so much
> vertically-directed angular momentum to their own oar.
> 4. Some sky before the catch, which has the same effect as 3 above. And
> then they miss their catches, which also doesn't help.
> 5. Some get to front-stops, leaning onto the rigger, then try to
> 'gather' or 'poise' - i.e. they stop. So the boat flops to their side
> as their upper body was moving somewhat diagonally up to that point.
> 6. Unduly brisk finishes result in still loaded oars vibrating as they
> unload themselves against only air resistance & their own very limited
> internal damping, so they vibrate & continue to do so as they are feathered.
> 7. Often hands don't move forwards at the same or at constant heights.
> I'm frequently surprised by the very basic faults in technique in many
> crews. Some of these come from trying to do too much. Some from fear
> (who ever thought is clever or rational to tell a rower he/she could get
> caught up at the finish if slow with the hands?). And all of them
> because it was thought more important to get the rate up than first to
> learn to row well & confidently together.
> If crews learn that long, deep finishes carry no hazards, then they can
> learn to finish together & level. And it will feel really good, too.
> If they are not harried to be quick away, they won't***up the start
> of the recovery. If their hand heights are monitored and gently nudged
> to a common standard, the boat will continue level. And if the crew are
> not allowed or encouraged to wait for something to happen at the catch,
> but to take the catch early (as it will first seem to them) & crisply,
> then they will not find the boat flopping over there either - & again
> the boat will fly.
> So I'm in favour of simplifying & demythologising what is an essential
> simple, low-skilled job & giving the rowers something correspondingly
> simple to do.
> Cheers -
> Carl Douglas Racing Shells -
> Fine Small-Boats/AeRoWing Low-drag Riggers/Advanced Accessories
> Write: Harris Boatyard, Laleham Reach, Chertsey KT16 8RP, UK
> Find: tinyurl.com/2tqujf
Each one has exercises designed to help the crew feel what it is like to get it right - for me roll ups and pause drills being the best of them, and the rower has to be educated that if he develops this habit then he will not be able to jump in another boat as he will not have learned how to work in a crew.
Any one of the issues that Carl highlights can cause this - but normally I find it is timing, getting the rock over together and moving forward, catching at the same time (with as much power as they are skilled enough to apply and no more), and releasing at the same time.
Roll ups emphasise hand heights and working together, and pause drills emphasise working together. Then I do pyramids to find a sweet spot at which the boat sits up well - often novice boats take too low a rate (18 and below) and 'stall' and fall over at each stroke - whereas at 20/22 they can suddenly become a stable platform.