Book review of Definitive Guide to Rowing Seat Racing – a collaboration between myself, Keith and my daughter Jasmine. Jasmine has been a school rower for the past 5 years and has fallen victim to the unfairness of one form of seat boat racing.
Overall it is a well versed and a well thought out description of seat-boat racing. In particular I found Frank Biller’s approach to selection extremely interesting, and oddly enough agree with his approach. It makes sense to extend the selection process to continued performance and focus on the mentality of the crew as a whole, rather than the fastest time wins. I have often seen that if the crew doesn’t enjoy the atmosphere within the boat be it the cox or the stroke the boat does not perform at peak.
However, I disagree with seat-boat racing being used solely to compare skill or performance at the beginning of a racing season. Often coaches will know their athletes’ strengths and weaknesses, should the coach know that an athlete performs faster on water than an ergo trial they may use a seat-boat racing system to “level-out” the playing field, allowing each athlete the best possible chance for the seat in the boat. I also believe that =if the racing is done a coxed boat both coxswains needs to be equally skilled and weighted. I think that often crew races are considered a “cox’s race” because simple things such as poor steering can alter results disproportionately.
Through my own experiences in seat-boat trialling I find it hard to force a crew to maintain a fixed rate in “race conditions” as most trialling done in this way seeks to show performance under these conditions. Therefore a free rate and a proper racing start has been used in the past, it seems a bit bias to set a rate at 34 if the other boat crew’s stroke maximum rate is between 28-30 or the whole crew performs their best at a low rate. It should ultimately be down to who is able to race well together- noting all results and discrepancies’.
But as a side note I believe that Biller’s approach should be the preferred method because some athletes know who they want in their boats and can often fix results. Continuous monitoring eliminates this bias. It also allows coaches to know who meshes well together and who is willing to work for other athletes, it allows coaches to see athletes who are motivated and persistent.
Overall its a good explanation and simple guide to the idea of seat-racing, criticism about the method and ways in which to go about practicing it accurately.