Rowperfect Newsletter, December 2005


Dear Rowperfect community

Christmas has crept up on us with scary speed and theres lots going on. We are working with CRC Sculling Camps to sell the new FISA Sculling DVD called Strokes to Success.

Lots of people have been contacting us about Rowperfect and the computer software. We have reproduced a fairly typical question and answer email exchange which I hope will encourage more of you to start using the software.

And lastly, the Scottish Amateur Rowing Association hosted a conference last weekend and kindly invited me to speak about how my club set up a juniors section for 10 14 year olds. If anyone is interested in receiving the slides, send an email.

Please note our new postal address at the bottom of the page.
Happy reading and, Rowperfectly!

Rebecca Caroe and Grant Craies, Rowperfect UK

Market research

Rowperfect UK would like to know your views. If we offered a Rowperfect with the new MKIV monitor for hire would your club be interested?
Prices would be from 70 90 per month depending on the hire term.
Let us know by email

Sculling DVD

Effective Sculling Technique brings top international rowing stars into your home. Featuring Athens Olympic Champions Olaf Tufte, Katrin Rutschow-Stomporowski and others, the DVD shows the technique that makes these athletes highly effective scullers.

The DVD breaks down the sculling stroke into different components and provides commentary and graphics to help understand the mechanics behind each segment of the stroke. Using different camera angles and position, freeze frame, slow motion and graphics, the viewer will enjoy a comprehensive overview of the stroke.

Buy online at search for Books in the online store.

And a nice story about it from the USA

The DVD arrived in Monday afternoons mail. I didnt get home until about 10:00 that evening and only had a very brief look at the video, not more than 10 minutes.

Tuesday morning in San Francisco was glorious. Conditions were perfect for sculling: no wind, blue sky, cool air, and the flattest water I have ever seen on the Bay. My choices were go sculling or look at a video of sculling. I neednt tell you what I chose.

But I brought the video with me to the boathouse. It was no sooner in the DVD player than we had six people watching it. I stood with the group for few minutes. All seemed entranced.

One person stood in front of the video and said over and over, But thats what we tell everyone. She is a coach and a fine sculler.
Two others stood in front of it and criticized technique. Oh, did you see him. Isnt he opening his back too early? Or, Did you see how early shes using her hands? Or, Do you see how rounded his back is at the Catch.
Others stood and watched quietly. Their eyes never left the television.
My point is that the video engaged everyone from Novice to Master. Ordinary scullers found something in it, as did the coaches.
Agreement was unanimous: it was the best technique video anyone had seen on sculling.

When I got back off the water I had two messages expressing thanks for having shared the video. One fairly competent rough water sculler had watched it twice. Several other people who were still around came up and thanked me.

I am not going to get an opportunity to watch it for days, so I just donated it to Club and ordered another one when I came home.
Odd thing is that I still havent seen more than about 20 minutes of it.
But I thought you might enjoy the story. Cordially,

Rowperfect Questions.and answers

  • What is the ideal curve we should be trying to achieve for a sculler? Is it wide and flat or with a peak in it? I guess it should be a smooth curve whatever it is? You want a smooth curve, yes. A sculler or a rower in a small boat (1x, 2-) wants a symmetrical curve which is wide and fat with a small peak personally I dont like a flat top. Look at the curve Searle for a good example he did this while in the single and coached by Harry Mahon. Scale it back using the stroker programme on the disc to make it appropriate for yourself. For faster boats (4x, 4-, 8o) the peak needs to be before the half way stage so the curve is asymmetric and slightly front end loaded. This reflects the fact that the boat is moving faster and you need to pick up the water quicker.
  • Is it normal for the curve to become less smooth as the rate goes up? Yes, if you are not very skilled. This indicates that you are losing efficiency as you take the rate up. A skilled athlete can keep a similar shaped curve which is smooth at all rates (even when sprinting at the end of a 2k). This is hard to do.
  • What does a kink on the upward side of the curve generally mean? It means you are kicking the catch too hard. This is symptomatic of people who have trained on fixed head ergos. In order to change direction at the catch you have to push hard with your legs because the slide is uphill and you have to alter the momentum of your body mass by 180 degrees. It is the equivalent of pushing your legs before your blade is fully covered in the water. To cure this, try a couple of exercises in the boat and on the RP. The first is to make your knees and calves very loose as you come up the slide. They have to be fully relaxed. Then when you start the leg drive start it slowly and gently then accelerate from quarter slide onwards to the finish. The second exercise is to pause at the catch waiting for the blade to fully cover before driving with the legs. Try this in the boat as well as on RP and you should improve your connection. BUT the legs must remain very loose and relaxed in order to engage with the water and not kick the catch. See the list of Exercises for British Rowing Technique on the website support page (downloads).
  • What does a kink (or double kink) on the downward side of the curve mean? This shows that the athlete is not making the transition from back to arms smoothly. Power is being lost at the end of the back swing and the arms are coming in and increasing the power making the bulge. Try the sequence of exercises legs only rowing for 10, legs and backs for 10 and legs back and arms (normal rowing) for 10. Be very clear that the athlete for the purposes of this exercise should complete each body part before bringing in the next one i.e. legs should go straight before starting the back swing. This is an exaggeration and not what you actually do in practice but it helps to illustrate the exercise and as the athlete gets toward the end of the 10 you find they will have blended the two or three body parts appropriately. Look carefully at the curves on legs only. When you move to legs and back the stroke curve should still be a nice inverted U but longer and probably with a higher peak. When the arms come in is usually where you see the kinks coming in so try getting the athlete to do the last part in two steps half an arm draw and then a full arm draw and see what happens to the curve. I recommend doing this exercise at least two or three times in a session with maybe five to ten minutes rowing in between.
  • Whats an average stroke length for a lightweight and heavyweight woman? I can give you examples from my own experience. I am 70 kgs and 176 cm tall. I can row 145 cms long in UT2 and around 140- 142 at UT1 and higher rates. My pairs partner, Kate is 6 foot tall and 68 kgs and she can comfortably do 148 cms at UT2. Most of the club women (senior 3 standard) are about 130 cms +/- and the tall ones are nearer Kates score. The lightweights are all over 127 cms. The length of stroke is a function both of your height and your skill at picking up the fly wheel at the catch. Try quarter slide push and see if after you do the exercise you can connect earlier and so get a longer stroke.

If any readers would like to receive the template curves made by Harry Mahon and those by Mahe Drysdale (World Champion M1x) and Sarah Winkless (World Champion W4x) just ask!

Dreher has a new spoon shape out

This is the REX announcement from Dreher USA.

This is a blade shape enhancement that is made from an existing RX blade. This is done here at the factory or can be done by the customer, so that you do not have to purchase a new set of sculls. Dreher are only offering the design change on new Apex-RX sculls at the present time, because we do not have dedicated tooling.

The Dreher Club Racing Team USA has been testing and racing with them all summer and autumn with good success. It was even used at the World Rowing Championships in 2005 and was used by several top finishers in races at the 2005 Head of the Charles Regatta including at least one winning single that we know of. We feel that for the correct rowing style, this change appears to be beneficial. We will soon be putting a procedure on the web site for you to make your own modifications.


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