advice for a beginner?

advice for a beginner?

Post by jgc.. » Tue, 29 Jan 2013 03:16:13


Hello all,

I'm sitting here looking out my window at the snow, and trying to imagine the coming rowing season.  Two years ago I bought a used Maas Flyweight, and I have been rowing it with great pleasure (I'm 5'11", 150 lb)  on a big, often windy and rough lake.  I've done a couple of open water races with it-  the 20 mile Blackburn Challenge on the ocean in Mass. twice, and the 14 mile Lighthouse to Lighthouse (L2L) race on Long Island Sound three times.  I love the Blackburn, hate the L2L  (always seems to get ***, with wind against current in very shallow water).  

Last fall, I decided just for fun to see what a head race would be like, so I entered a small local race, the Head of the Mohawk in Schenectady, NY.   I rowed my Flyweight, and managed to get to the start on time, kept out of people's way, didn't hit anything, and even managed to come within 8 sec of the third place finisher in my class (veterans over 60) in the 4K race.   I enjoyed it tremendously- friendly people, beautiful place, the first time I had ever rowed on a narrow river; nice flat water, the trees on the banks zooming by....  I was admiring the boats the others were rowing there,  Van Dusen, Filippi, etc., even two gorgeous Carl Douglas shells.  

So, I'm hooked- I definitely want to do more of this, and I'm wondering whether to try to find a better boat for flat-water rowing.  I really love rowing my Maas Flyweight (24 ft, 12" waterline beam, 32 lb), but surely it must not be as fast on flat water as a real racing shell, even for an old, slow guy like me.  Can anyone give me an idea of how much difference there really is, both in speed and in feel?  Will a racing shell be a lot harder to set up, and less comfortable to row?  Would I actually go any faster, or at my slow pace would there not be any significant difference (for that 4K race I only did a 2:15/500m average speed)? And, most important, would it be even more fun, or not?  I'd enjoy any comments.

 
 
 

advice for a beginner?

Post by clarocreat.. » Tue, 29 Jan 2013 07:13:32

Quote:

> Hello all,

> I'm sitting here looking out my window at the snow, and trying to imagine the coming rowing season.  Two years ago I bought a used Maas Flyweight, and I have been rowing it with great pleasure (I'm 5'11", 150 lb)  on a big, often windy and rough lake.  I've done a couple of open water races with it-  the 20 mile Blackburn Challenge on the ocean in Mass. twice, and the 14 mile Lighthouse to Lighthouse (L2L) race on Long Island Sound three times.  I love the Blackburn, hate the L2L  (always seems to get ***, with wind against current in very shallow water).  

> Last fall, I decided just for fun to see what a head race would be like, so I entered a small local race, the Head of the Mohawk in Schenectady, NY.   I rowed my Flyweight, and managed to get to the start on time, kept out of people's way, didn't hit anything, and even managed to come within 8 sec of the third place finisher in my class (veterans over 60) in the 4K race.   I enjoyed it tremendously- friendly people, beautiful place, the first time I had ever rowed on a narrow river; nice flat water, the trees on the banks zooming by....  I was admiring the boats the others were rowing there,  Van Dusen, Filippi, etc., even two gorgeous Carl Douglas shells.  

> So, I'm hooked- I definitely want to do more of this, and I'm wondering whether to try to find a better boat for flat-water rowing.  I really love rowing my Maas Flyweight (24 ft, 12" waterline beam, 32 lb), but surely it must not be as fast on flat water as a real racing shell, even for an old, slow guy like me.  Can anyone give me an idea of how much difference there really is, both in speed and in feel?  Will a racing shell be a lot harder to set up, and less comfortable to row?  Would I actually go any faster, or at my slow pace would there not be any significant difference (for that 4K race I only did a 2:15/500m average speed)? And, most important, would it be even more fun, or not?  I'd enjoy any comments.

Hello:

Here are answers to some of your questions:

1. A proper racing shell will be much more rewarding than an open water boat on flat water.
2. No, they are not difficult to balance, you only think they will be
but once moving a good racing shell acquires stability (though not all
do it as well as Carl Douglas boats do).
3. A racing shell is definitely faster - it has a higher speed
capability whereas a shorter boat such as the Maas becomes speed limited
- it starts making more wash & wake rather than going faster.
4. You may feel you go slow now, but get the hang of a racing shell and
you soon see that is a much quicker way to scull.

Just to reveal my bias - I am a partner in CD3 LLC, the new US distributor for Carl Douglas products. We are currently shipping three Carl Douglas demonstration singles from Carl's shop to our base in Akron, Ohio, and we will be offering free opportunities to try one out on our power boat-free lake. Our website is carldouglasusa.com - 2013 US pricing will be posted by February 1st.

I might add that, if you own one of our boats it may well outlast you
and, as you indicate, it is a gorgeous beast which will be admired by
all, yet at the same time a very durable and fast boat.


All the best to you in your search for an enhanced sculling experience!

 
 
 

advice for a beginner?

Post by Henry La » Tue, 29 Jan 2013 17:40:29


Quote:
> Hello all,

Well, JG (can we have a name, please?  We're a friendly lot here ...),
I'm not the one to advise you: there are lots who can and they'll be
along shortly.  I just wanted to welcome you, to say how much I enjoyed
reading your post, and that I'm looking forward to the replies.

--

Henry Law            Manchester, England

 
 
 

advice for a beginner?

Post by A. Duma » Tue, 29 Jan 2013 19:59:37

Quote:

> 1. A proper racing shell will be much more rewarding than an open
> water boat on flat water.

Meh.
 
 
 

advice for a beginner?

Post by John Greenl » Wed, 30 Jan 2013 01:45:08

Hello,

Thanks very much for your kind welcome!  My name is John Greenly.  I just figured out how to put it on my post.  I live in the Finger Lakes region of New York state- row mostly on Cayuga Lake (about 40 miles long and 1-4 miles wide).  I ran across your group when I was trying to find something about sculling- don't remember what now-  and discovered many fascinating discussions about technique, hydrodynamics, and other things that interest me as a physicist and sculler.  

This question I put up is really a stupid one, I know that a flat water boat is faster,  but I am still curious how much difference there really will be for me, and even more curious, as I said, about what will it feel like- more satisfying, more fun???  I've been told, variously, that a flat water boat wouldn't be significantly different from the Maas Flyweight for my speed ability, or that I would have been a minute faster over that 4K race I did last October.  So,  stuck indoors and able only to speculate, I'm wondering....

--John Greenly  Ithaca, NY

Quote:

> Well, JG (can we have a name, please?  We're a friendly lot here ...),

> I'm not the one to advise you: there are lots who can and they'll be

> along shortly.  I just wanted to welcome you, to say how much I enjoyed

> reading your post, and that I'm looking forward to the replies.

> --

> Henry Law            Manchester, England

 
 
 

advice for a beginner?

Post by Henry La » Wed, 30 Jan 2013 02:14:16


Quote:
> Hello,

I live in the Finger Lakes region of New York state- row mostly on
Cayuga Lake (about 40 miles long and 1-4 miles wide).

Well, as I say, people who can give you good advice should be along
shortly.  But in the mean time, as a Cayuga oarsman, have you read
"Rowing Against the Current" by Barry Strauss?
http://www.amazon.com/ROWING-AGAINST-THE-CURRENT-Learning/dp/0684863308

--

Henry Law            Manchester, England

 
 
 

advice for a beginner?

Post by John Greenl » Wed, 30 Jan 2013 04:59:27

as a Cayuga oarsman, have you read "Rowing Against the Current" by Barry Strauss?

--Actually I haven't, and I'm glad you reminded me because I've been meaning to.

Thanks!

--John Greenly  

 
 
 

advice for a beginner?

Post by sull » Wed, 30 Jan 2013 07:41:25


Quote:
> Hello all,

> I'm sitting here looking out my window at the snow, and trying to imagine the coming rowing season. ?Two years ago I bought a used Maas Flyweight, and I have been rowing it with great pleasure (I'm 5'11", 150 lb) ?on a big, often windy and rough lake. ?I've done a couple of open water races with it- ?the 20 mile Blackburn Challenge on the ocean in Mass. twice, and the 14 mile Lighthouse to Lighthouse (L2L) race on Long Island Sound three times. ?I love the Blackburn, hate the L2L ?(always seems to get ***, with wind against current in very shallow water).

> Last fall, I decided just for fun to see what a head race would be like, so I entered a small local race, the Head of the Mohawk in Schenectady, NY. ? I rowed my Flyweight, and managed to get to the start on time, kept out of people's way, didn't hit anything, and even managed to come within 8 sec of the third place finisher in my class (veterans over 60) in the 4K race. ? I enjoyed it tremendously- friendly people, beautiful place, the first time I had ever rowed on a narrow river; nice flat water, the trees on the banks zooming by.... ?I was admiring the boats the others were rowing there, ?Van Dusen, Filippi, etc., even two gorgeous Carl Douglas shells.

> So, I'm hooked- I definitely want to do more of this, and I'm wondering whether to try to find a better boat for flat-water rowing. ?I really love rowing my Maas Flyweight (24 ft, 12" waterline beam, 32 lb), but surely it must not be as fast on flat water as a real racing shell, even for an old, slow guy like me. ?Can anyone give me an idea of how much difference there really is, both in speed and in feel? ?Will a racing shell be a lot harder to set up, and less comfortable to row? ?Would I actually go any faster, or at my slow pace would there not be any significant difference (for that 4K race I only did a 2:15/500m average speed)? And, most important, would it be even more fun, or not? ?I'd enjoy any comments.

Interestingly,  for some ppl, a competitive racing single is actually
SLOWER for some ppl than their
open water boat, like say a "24" or an aero.

They end up too tentative, not relaxed enough, as the struggle to
control the boat impedes the ability
to row hard and relaxed.

Much depends upon how much time/effort you invest in improving.

Without good coaching,  a competitive single isn't always helpful for
improving, either,  I've noted a lot of scullers become simply
defensive and short,  (and frustrated!).  In a more comfortable boat,
coaching helps a lot as well, but at least you can relax and row, and
at least you can row hard!

When you row, are you able to row with your sculls mostly off the
water, or do you tend to drag them a  lot?

 
 
 

advice for a beginner?

Post by John Greenl » Wed, 30 Jan 2013 07:56:31

Quote:

> Interestingly, for some ppl, a competitive racing single is actually SLOWER for some ppl than their open water boat, like say a "24" or an aero. They end up too tentative, not relaxed enough, as the struggle to control the boat impedes the ability to row hard and relaxed. Much depends upon how much time/effort you invest in improving. Without good coaching, a competitive single isn't always helpful for improving, either, I've noted a lot of scullers become simply defensive and short, (and frustrated!). In a more comfortable boat, coaching helps a lot as well, but at least you can relax and row, and at least you can row hard! When you row, are you able to row with your sculls mostly off the water, or do you tend to drag them a lot?

Hi, many thanks for your comment!  This is exactly the kind of thing I am wondering about.
On easy water I don't drag my blades.  I've been working on it, and now I can go down to a rating of 10 or so, with a long, slow recovery and not touch the blades to the water. On rough open water sometimes I get defensive and bounce the blades off the tops of the waves a lot, a bad habit that slows me down.  
 
 
 

advice for a beginner?

Post by sull » Wed, 30 Jan 2013 09:38:08


Quote:

> > Interestingly, for some ppl, a competitive racing single is actually SLOWER for some ppl than their open water boat, like say a "24" or an aero. They end up too tentative, not relaxed enough, as the struggle to control the boat impedes the ability to row hard and relaxed. Much depends upon how much time/effort you invest in improving. Without good coaching, a competitive single isn't always helpful for improving, either, I've noted a lot of scullers become simply defensive and short, (and frustrated!). In a more comfortable boat, coaching helps a lot as well, but at least you can relax and row, and at least you can row hard! When you row, are you able to row with your sculls mostly off the water, or do you tend to drag them a lot?

> Hi, many thanks for your comment! ?This is exactly the kind of thing I am wondering about.
> On easy water I don't drag my blades. ?I've been working on it, and now I can go down to a rating of 10 or so, with a long, slow recovery and not touch the blades to the water. On rough open water sometimes I get defensive and bounce the blades off the tops of the waves a lot, a bad habit that slows me down.

sounds like you're doing fine.   The fly is not an absolutely stable
boat,  so if you're able to relax in the fly and recover well,  you'll
likely be able to do it in a single.

We all bounce a bit in rough water, some more than others.

The obvious answer to me is to find a club where you can try singles
out for a few days, see how it goes.    Rowing camps can be good for
that as well, plus you'll get some coaching as a bonus.

I advise scullers learning to row in singles to keep a sturdier, more
stable boat on hand to use frequently.
You might even row the single for a while, then race the fly again.

When you find you can row as hard in your single as you can in your
stable boat,  then you can move more permanently to the single.   You
need not be as consistent, of course, but as long as you can let it
hang out in the single, row really hard, and still relax, the
consistency will come with practice.

 
 
 

advice for a beginner?

Post by John Greenl » Wed, 30 Jan 2013 10:40:05

Sully--

Thanks, this is encouraging!  Yes, that's the thing-  I love rowing hard and not worrying about anything (except maybe steering).  I'm definitely going to find some singles to try out as soon as the water begins to warm up here.

 
 
 

advice for a beginner?

Post by johnflo.. » Wed, 30 Jan 2013 11:59:11

(a) Stay off the Lake (in a 1x) unless conditions are fairly calm.  I believe there is a sheltered flood channel (?) inside the harbor area where you can practice (I grew up in Ithaca).  In choppy conditions, use your Maas if you want to venture out onto Cayuga.  Sculling a 1x in the heavy wind chop that kicks up on a lake that size just isn't much fun.
(b) Try to find an experienced sculler to row with in a 2x sometimes.  You stroke, they steer.  It's a quick way to grow into a narrower boat because the 2x is more stable than a 1x, and you can work together on setting the boat.  A racing 2x can generally handle rougher conditions than a fine 1x but even so isn't much fun in heavy chop.
 
 
 

advice for a beginner?

Post by Henry La » Wed, 30 Jan 2013 17:02:45


Quote:
> The obvious answer to me is to find a club where you can try singles
> out for a few days, see how it goes.

http://www.cascadillaboatclub.org/ maybe?  They row on Fall Creek and
Cayuga Inlet as well as on the lake.  I think those two bodies of water
are the ones that John Flory writes about.  Strauss describes having to
battle round a point (exposed to the lake weather) before entering a
quieter stretch where the workout starts.  Cayuga Inlet, I deduce.

--

Henry Law            Manchester, England

 
 
 

advice for a beginner?

Post by johnflo.. » Wed, 30 Jan 2013 22:20:30

In "*** on Lake Casitas" Brad Lewis describes a place there which was the best 500m speed course he had ever seen.  Perfectly sheltered, room for 3-4 boats across.  Sounds like a perfect place to work on sculling technique too.  He called it a flood channel or storm channel I think (sorry, I don't have the book at hand).

My family moved away from Ithaca when I was a child so I never rowed there, but because we sailed I was quite familiar with the wind and chop on Cayuga Lake.

 
 
 

advice for a beginner?

Post by John Greenl » Thu, 31 Jan 2013 04:07:29

Quote:

> In "*** on Lake Casitas" Brad Lewis describes a place there which was the best 500m speed course he had ever seen. Perfectly sheltered, room for 3-4 boats across. Sounds like a perfect place to work on sculling technique too. He called it a flood channel or storm channel I think (sorry, I don't have the book at hand). My family moved away from Ithaca when I was a child so I never rowed there, but because we sailed I was quite familiar with the wind and chop on Cayuga Lake.

Aye, there's the rub.  That is indeed where the college crews and the Cascadilla boat club people row (great book, by the way).  I've never rowed there, mainly because I love the wide-open, effectively boundless miles of the lake.  Also, I live very near a town park with a nice sheltered shore for launching- it's about 6 miles up the lake from the inlet end.  It would be a real disappointment for me to have to row in that 500m channel with a lot of traffic.  That channel goes along behind a lot of big stores, industrial buildings and parking lots....  Contrast that with this little video from out on the lake (I also put this up on the sport cam topic)and maybe you'll see why I'd much rather stay out there:

http://SportToday.org/

By the way, I've sailed for most of my life, still do, but nowadays I sail only when it's blowing hard, otherwise rowing has captured me completely!

So, I guess my daydreams about that head race on a beautiful river are not realizable for me very often in practice.  What I was imagining was that I could use a racing 1x out on the lake when it is flat, which does happen, and continue to row my fly otherwise. I suppose I could stay within a mile or two of home in a 1x, since calm conditions can disappear quickly.  I don't know, maybe it isn't really practical.  If rowing a 1x in light chop is as hard work as rowing the Maas in 2ft short breaking seas, then I probably wouldn't end up using it much.