Monday, August 24, 2015

Lake Sunapee Rowing Club 2015 Flag Pole Race

The Lake Sunapee Rowing Club (LSRC) email announced their annual Flag Pole rowing race would be Sunday, August 23rd at Georges Mills from 6 am to 8 am. The boat categories would be singles, doubles, quads and eights.  After the races there will be a pot luck breakfast at the beach. 

This was an interesting email for competitive LSRC members, but there was no way I could consider any type of crewing competition.  Certainly three weeks of rowing lessons was not supposed to make me a competitor. 
After our weekly lesson on Tuesday, KC approached me and asked, “Steve, would you be my doubles partner in the Flag Pole race on Sunday?”  Never say, “I wish I had …” crossed my mind, and I said “Yes, thanks for asking.”

I did give KC an out option by saying, “If you can find a partner with more rowing experience please do so and I will completely understand.”

To ease my restless nights before the race I was assured by KC, “Steve, it is really a very causal, friendly, and low-key competition."

Enough said.  Enjoy the below four minute video of Steve’s participation in the Lake Sunapee Rowing Club Flag Pole Race.

Other Rowing Blog Posts by OutdoorSteve

You can contact the Lake Sunapee Rowing Club at


"Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

Steve’s latest book, Outdoor Play "Fun 4 4 Seasons" is available as an e-Book at Kindle ($3.99) and hard copy at ($11.95)

Monday, August 10, 2015

ROWING through the eyes of a Beginner.

Rowing Lessons with the Lake Sunapee Rowing Club (LSRC)

“Never say I wish I had …” is an expression that has always motivated me.  All summer I passed a road sign announcing, “Rowing Lessons Lake Sunapee Rowing Club. Next class starts August 3.”   I had watched snippets of racing shells on the Merrimack River, TV, and in summer Olympics.  I decided this was my time to say, “Never say I wish I had rowed a shell”.

I spoke to a friend who I knew was taking rowing lessons with the LSRC – and she sent me the web site with a note of encouragement to join.

I registered for the Novice classes – three weeks of classes – three times a week – two hours each class.  The LSRC provides the boats (also known as shells).  Rowing is often referred to as crewing.

Our coach, Brenda, is just an amazing instructor with knowledge, skills, and a lot of patience.  Brenda makes the classes fun with personal instruction for each student, and a wealth of education on learning the language and techniques of rowing. 

Enjoy the below video of this novice student and my classmates as we team and row together to never have to say, “I wish I had learned to row.”

Bedford Community Television (BCTV) has accepted a 30 minute video (see below) detailing Steve's novice rowing experience.  All community TV stations are welcome to use this video by contacting BCTV or by communicating directly with Steve. 

I share the below references for each reader's intense research to the fascinating sport of rowing.

Distinction from other watercraft
“The distinction between rowing and other forms of water transport, such as canoeing and kayaking, is that in rowing the oars are held in place at a pivot point that is in a fixed position relative to the boat, this point is the load point for the oar to act as a second class lever (the blade fixed in the water is the fulcrum). In flatwater rowing, the boat (also called a shell) is narrow to avoid drag, and the oars are attached to oarlocks at the end of outriggers extending from the sides of the boat.   Racing boats also have sliding seats to allow the use of the legs in addition to the body to apply power to the oar. Racing shells are inherently unstable, much like racing kayaks or canoes.” 

Two types of rowing
  • In sweep or sweep-oar rowing, each rower has one oar, held with both hands. This is generally done in pairs, fours, and eights. In some regions of the world, each rower in a sweep boat is referred to either as port or starboard, depending on which side of the boat the rower's oar extends to. In other regions, the port side is referred to as stroke side, and the starboard side as bow side; this applies even if the stroke oarsman is rowing on bow side and/or the bow oarsman on stroke side.
  • In sculling each rower has two oars (or sculls), one in each hand. Sculling is usually done without a coxswain in quadsdoubles or singles. The oar in the sculler's right hand extends to port side, and the oar in the left hand extends to starboard side.

My first boat was a quad scull.  quad scull is a rowing boat  designed for four persons who propel the boat by sculling with two oars, one in each hand.  This four seater quad was 45 feet with a weight of 200 lbs. Its cockpit width is 20 inches.  Our two oars were 9' each.
My second boat was single scull one seater 24 feet in length, 75 lbs., and a 20 inches wide cockpit designed for a single person who propels the boat with two 9’ oars, one in each hand.
My third boat was a double scull two seater, somewhat similar to a single scull but has two rowers.
My fourth boat was an Eight (8+), A 60 foot shell with 8 rowers and a coxswain.  We did what is called sweep or sweep-oar rowing where each rower has one 12 foot oar held with both hands. As each rower has only one oar, the rowers have to be paired so that there is an oar on each side of the boat. Sweeping is in contrast to sculling with my quad and single boats where a rower has two oars, one in each hand.

Some special attire is needed for rowing. Snug fitting shorts and shirts are best as loose fitting clothing could get caught in the oars and seat tracks. Compression type shorts are ideal. Dry socks is also a must. Socks should be synthetic or wool to help ensure that feet stay warm while wet and will help prevent blistering from the hull’s shoes.

Personal Insights of a Novice Still Learning to Scull and Sweep
  • As I was canoeing this week it hit me why canoe instructors always say, "Keep your paddle in the water during rough conditions." As sculling and sweeping oar blades in the water stabilized the boat, so does the canoe paddle blade!
  • In canoeing and kayaking the paddlers face the bow.  In sculling and sweeping rowers face the stern.  Thus the rower in the bow in the quad, double, and single need to frequently turn around to see where they are going.  The bow person not only has to row, BUT has to make sure we are heading in the right direction and away from obstacles. 
  • In learning to row the instructor does not usually have everyone row at the same time.  Initially I thought this was to give me a rest.  Later I realize while not rowing I still had a critical task keeping my blades on the water to stabilize the boat for the other rowers
  • In the eight, quad and double if I made a mistake, the rowers stabilized the boat for me.  In the single this was my responsibility - otherwise I would capsize.
The Bedford Community Television (BCTV) 30 minute video detailing Steve's novice rowing experience is below.  All community TV stations are welcome to use this video by contacting BCTV or by communicating directly with Steve. 

You can contact the Lake Sunapee Rowing Club at

Other Rowing Blog Posts by OutdoorSteve

Click this link to SUBSCRIBE to OutdoorSteve's YouTube Channel

Below are references to some of the terms used in the video.


Lake Sunapee Rowing Club

Bedford Community TV: Rowing through the eyes of a beginner

How to position hands on oars

Rowing technique with diagrams on the rower

Getting into a capsized single and double

Recovery to Catch: How to Position Your Hands and Hold Your Oars

Head of Charles Regatta

"Everyone must do something.  I believe I will go outdoors with family and friends"

Steve’s latest book, Outdoor Play "Fun 4 4 Seasons" is available as an e-Book at Kindle ($3.99) and hard copy at ($11.95)