Can’t get our Pair (2-) to run – Coordination and Boat Movement in your Pair

Why can’t we get our pair to run?

The pair is considered one of the most difficult boat type in rowing.. This type of boat creates high demands on coordination and boat movement. Why is it so difficult to row a pair? Many sports scientists have been involved in this topic over the last 20 years. Much has been investigated and Rowperfect summarizes the result of a study done in Germany. There are two main reasons that make the boat’s mastery so difficult.

The coordination and boat movement your pair, 2-.

Boat movement:

The pair has an asymmetric placement of the riggers  which creates (two) different torques. If only one would be rowing, the boat would turn in circles. An unsynchronized catch would mean: The boat turns and spins around its own axis and does not want to go straight ahead. But the two oarsmen can manage. It is up to them to move the boat in a straight line. They need to exert an identical and simultaneous force to reduce this sideways movement of the boat.

If one rower misses the catch, the boat will be steered in one direction – albeit only for a split second. Consider what that means on a 2000 m race course: With 220 strokes the slight deviation increases the water resistance every time. They will drive small minimum detours. The rowers also consume energy for keeping the boat straight.

The best for a long time: Kiwi Pair in Rio. Photo Credit: US Today, Worldrowing

Coordination of the crew:

This is called the interpersonal coordination: The rowing crew, stroke and bow feel every crew member’s stroke differently. Each crew member picks up the movement impulses of the boat differently. Consequence: When a stroke ends, you prepare yourself for the next stroke with regard to the experience of the previous stroke. Both rowers do that. Already ten years ago a biodynamic analysis1) of the rowing strokes for the DRV (German Rowing Association) has shown that there are no identical rowing strokes. Neither stroke nor bow can repeat exactly the same stroke. Successful teams, however, are better able than others to minimize the variances between the rowing stroke and interpersonal coordination.

Of course, these variants are also dependent on the stroke rate. The traditional opinion that the the person on stroke is more consistency and his stroke is stronger than his bowman was refuted at that time already.

Delight: coordination and boat movement

Take a look at the video of the Kiwi Pair. What a great pair:

Credentials: see video on youtube


For examination:

1) Fahrig, Witte,Uni Magdeburg

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One thought on “Can’t get our Pair (2-) to run – Coordination and Boat Movement in your Pair

  1. David Harralson says:

    “They need to exert an identical and simultaneous force to reduce this sideways movement of the boat”. Not true, that makes for a slow boat.

    A decade ago, BIOROW showed this assertion to be incorrect. The stroke and bow have to row with different force profiles.

    With my first pair partner, I rowed bow. When I stroked, the boat wake showed an “S” shape during the drive, not good. We wound up with my rigger one hole to the bow, a 1/2 cm different spread, and using different number of clams. But, at age 73 and as a lightweight, we turned a split time of 1:42 for close to 1K and got down to a 1:31 in the start.

    With my current pair partner, I stroke. We are 5 sec split time faster that way. And, we have had to adjust different details of our rowing style to work effectively together. Still more improvement to be made, although we are faster than WRMR gold medal split time.

    With all my other pair partners, we have been visually OK, but slow.

    I think the best pair partners are born, and optimized by good coaching and training.

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