VHV Learns to Row – 2

| July 1, 2002 | 0 Comments

The long and the short of it is the Learn to Row class was great!

Because of the gap in time between my attending the Open House and the first day of the Learn to Row lesson, the anticipation grew and I indulged myself in the fantasy of rowing down the Hudson River in perfect harmony with the water, boat, oars and my teammates. In total synchronization we sailed down the river.

Well, fast forward to reality. On the first day of class, the first thing we learned was what to do in case the boat capsizes. Yep, scary thought (especially when you’re in the Hudson River), but it does happen.

The Rowing Pre-Work

Then we learned the parts of the boat and the lingo that goes with it(I’m still getting that port/starboard thing down pat). Within the boat there are 8 tiny little seats which glide back and forth and there is (so I’m told) a graceful motion of pushing and pulling the oar in and out of the water while pushing and pulling your legs in the movable seat while reaching forward to extend your arms as far as you can and coming back (not too far) and keeping your wrists in the correct position without your knees getting in your way. However, before we were able to test our our spastic ability, we trained on an ergometer to simulate the rowing motion. It does simulate the motion, but it pales in comparison to being on the water.Hudson River Rowers

All of that being done, we finally get closer to getting on the water. Before we got there, however, we had to lift and carry our boat to the dock and place it the water. Easy enough for 10 or so people carrying a 250 pound shell. We walked it down the dock and placed it in the water. Now this is when the fun/torment begins.

The Rowing Experience

All 8 of us (9 including the coxswain) managed to get into the boat (in unison lest the boat tips) and finagle the oars to move the shell from the dock to moving down the Hudson. We were cooking with gas for approximately 5 seconds until we caught our first crab. I’m not talking about the multi-legged crustacean, I’m talking about the condition whereby the oar is buried too deeply into the water which causes the pressure of the water to snatch the oar right out of your hands causing the handle to swing and aim directly for you (that is if you’re not quick enough to duck). We all managed to catch enough crabs to sponsor our own crab buffet dinner.

One of the other challenges as a member of the 8-person team is to keep the boat balanced. If we are not in unison, the boat will teeter/totter from port to starboard making it difficult at times to pull your oar out of the water to start your next stroke.

In spite of the lack of coordination, the crab catching and the teeter tottering of the boat, the majority of us loved it and kept coming back. I am now a proud member of the Mid Hudson Rowing Association. I must say that the members, both seasoned and novice rowers, are a friendly, patient and encouraging group of people.

If you missed the Learn to Row class this year, mark your calendars so that you can take it next year. It’s a great experience and a very enjoyable exercise.

Rowing Terms

* Coxswain – The person who steers the shell and is the on-the-water coach for the crew (pronounced cox’n).

* Ergometer – A rowing machine that closely approximates the actual rowing motion.

* Oar – Used to drive the boat forward; rowers do not use paddles.

* Port – The left side of the boat, while facing forward.

* Shell – Can be used interchangeable as a term for boat.

* Starboard – The right side of the boat while facing forward.

Definitions were taken from literature distributed at the MHRA Open House, July, 2002

Related Articles:

Learning How to Row

The Rowing Stroke: What is Feathering and How to Get Better at It

Is Rowing Really All Upper Body Strength?

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Category: Fun Things to Do, Reviews, Rowing

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