deleted stuff about breaking wrists vs rolling fingers.
>This is a perpetual question here in Seattle where a multitude of styles
>are preached and vehemently defended. For the most part, scullers are
>coached to have little to no break in the wrists at the release.
>Personally I find it difficult to release squarely and cleanly and then
>feather the blade without at least some break. Frank Cunningham and many
>of his standard bearers say this is exactly the problem with "American
>Orthodox" rowing. He recommends that scullers (and sweepers) simply push
>the hands down and away rapidly at the finish, allowing the force of the
>water to release and feather the blade. In this situation the wrists
>remain above the handles and show no break whatsoever.
I do believe in a rapid downward movement, and a DEFINITE break in
the wrists. When teaching it, it is clumsy and mechanical at first
but later on it is very steady and relaxed...
>I think the danger in encouraging wrist motion lies with rowers who grip
>the oars tightly in their palms and thus have to wrench the feather. I
A tight grip is ALWAYS deadly to rowing comfortably and cleanly.
>was trained to carry the handle lightly in my fingers. Slight motion of
>the fingers and wrists at the finish allow the oarlock to feather the
>blade at the release. On the recovery I keep the handle out in my
>fingers with my wrists nearly parallel with the water,
>with only slight break. The catch is basically a finger motion
>(closeing the fingers in toward but not into the palm) combined with the
>lift of the hands. Throughout the stroke the handle remains out into my
>I am presently being coached to let the water feather the blade and to keep
>my hands high. I am a bit skeptical about this style. Although I
>realize that we all combine the release and feather to a certain extent,
>I would think that "letting the water do the work" to feather the blade
>would act to slow the boat at the release.
The so called 'scullers release' is where you pull through excessive
to the effective drive and allow the sculls to slip out- as you say
let the water feather for you. The last sculler I remember seeing
who sculled like this was Chris Alsopp who had a beautiful move with
his boat and swept down the course at 30. I had a wonderful
opportunity to workout with Sy Cromwell a few years before he died,
and he too sculled like this - it was most effective and I make no
criticism of it.
I'm not a fan of denigrating another technique to espouse my
personal favorite, and have generally made a fool of myself trying
as I watch a boat of what i might consider 'hammers' leave a two
inch wake for my supposed 'model crew'.
Instead I'll give the positive reasons why the 'shorter' pull
through and the wrist break, and some more little 'tricks'.
THE most important things about the finish and release I suggest is
1: to keep the blade buried and moving the boat, and
2: to establish a comfortable platform for relaxing on the recovery.
I re-emphasize that every style tries to encourage relaxed hands.
When you have a whole blade covered, you need to move your hands a
greater distance and more quickly to extract it from the water than
only half a blade. If you look at most of the people who scull, by
the time they are taking their oar out of the water, it is already
You also want to have simultaneous movement of the sculls out of the
water, and feathering flat at exactly the same time. This REALLY
helps the balance at the release, so that you are only relaxing on
the recovery, and not adjusting and Betty Booping up the slide - I
just made that up to suggest the wiggle. This is why I would
emphasize the quick snap of the wrists when learning. Actually,
when watching scullers who have learned to scull well this way,
the snap is more relaxed and less quick looking as the timing
becomes exact with the depth of water and speed of boat. The best
scullers I've seen scull this way were Sean Drea and Bill Belden.
I was and am the worst.
An aspect of the finish - important, but my own sculling does not
accomplish even closely is to lock the toes UP into the footboard,
the legs flat, heels down. This again is the platform you push off
of with the last inch of swing and the definite quick release.
I remember a few strokes of this once where the boat really flew,
but I regained my senses and slogged through the rest of the pieces
I'm trying my best just to describe and let the merits of the
technique stand on its' own or die, but I do want to give credit
that it was Jim Barker at Undine who convinced me of this sculling
long long after I'd tried to learn it. It's impossible to write
out, ah, but good exersize anyway.