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Capsize drill – how to get back in a rowing boat after flipping

Today we are going to look at several different videos teaching how to get back into a rowing … read more

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Today we are going to look at several different videos teaching how to get back into a rowing boat after having fallen in.

British Rowing official capsize drill

  • The first minute shows a capsize using a camera on the boat
  • Note the athlete is fully submerged and then pulls her feet out of the shoes under water
  • There’s good advice about ‘simulating’ capsize in a swimming pool – remove backstays
  • At 1:15 she gets back onto the stern canvas and using her arms only paddles the boat towards shore.  A good technique if you aren’t strong enough to get in over the side
  • The video explains clearly how a coach can teach capsize drills

Daniel Gorriaran from Narangasett Boat Club

This has good instruction from the bank – worth copying

  • Feather your oars on the surface of the water before trying to get back in
  • Getting in from both sides – worth practicing
  • Recommends swimming underneath to get the far oar lined up perpendicular to the boat
  • Note if you are over 50 years old you have “3 tries” to get back in the boat and then you are likely too tired to succeed

Calm Waters Rowing

  • Elbow on top of the oars as you line them up parallel to the boat
  • Bounce in the water three times before getting hips onto the top of the boat
  • Once you have tummy across the boat, then twist around to a sitting position

This one shows a beginner (not a coach)

It is instructional because you can see what she does right and wrong

  • She tips out of the boat easily and the boat stays upright because she was relaxed as she fell and had let go of the oars
  • When getting back in, she stays lying on her tummy
  • And then instead of attempting to sit up, she straddles the boat cockpit with her legs dangling in the water – one on each side
  • From there, she succeeds in sitting up.  Note she keeps the oar handles low in the boat while doing this, which doesn’t help stability
  • Once sitting she moves the handles upwards so each spoon is resting on the water and the boat is level
  • Then the athlete makes a rookie error and lets go of one of the oars…. and falls in again


This last video shows a large number of beginner adult / masters scullers doing the capsize and recovery drill

  • Note the widely differing ways of falling in
  • At 2:25 a lady fails to raise her hands after getting back onto the boat and tips over again
  • And notice how quickly athletes get tired after being in the water – they rapidly lose strength to lift themselves out of the water

Now over to you – got any other capsize lesson videos or instruction sheets we can share?

About Rebecca Caroe
Rebecca is the host of RowingChat podcast and is a masters athlete and coach. Passionate about helping others enjoy the sport as much as she does. View all posts from Rebecca Caroe

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