Open Water Rowing

No, ergs don't yet float, but some of us do, and here's where you get to discuss that other form of rowing.

Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby PaulG » December 6th, 2015, 10:32 pm

JKG3 wrote:Thanks,

Looking forward to that open water website. Do you happen to know of any folks on/near the North Shore who might be interested in doing some open water training rows next spring? I know I need to get into the rough stuff to learn how to handle it but I think it might be better (and safer) to get started in the company of others.

Jim


On December 5 I attended an organizational meeting of Row Open Water Northeast in Gloucester, Mass. They are trying to be a source of information and place to exchange ideas on open water rowing in the northeast US. Most importantly they will have a calendar of events where the times and places of races can be posted. They hope to be a site where ideas can be exchanged rather than some sort of governing body. Currently they are focused on rowing clubs as members but will likely have individual memberships. I strongly urged them to start a forum like this where individuals can discuss issues important to open water racing and rowing. I think they are headed in the right direction and probably will go to more meetings.
The website is: http://rowopenwaterne.com

One important item discussed was the future of the Blackburn Challenge. Last year in bad weather about 60 people did not finish. The Coast Guard was not pleased. The organizers will need more volunteers, especially people in chase boats if it is to be held again. If you think you can help please go to their website and contact the organizers.

http://blackburnchallenge.com
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby Schooner36 » April 7th, 2016, 9:01 am

I have always been interested the Adirondack 90 miler, a 3 day race through the Adirondacks. It is mostly for canoes and kayaks, but there is a rowing class. That class is for Adirondack Guideboats, usually a 16 foot double ended rowboat - sliding seats not allowed. The wood ones weigh about 75 #. It is on lakes and there are some portages between the lakes. Held in September, the website is
http://www.macscanoe.com/frequently-ask ... tions.html or google Adirondack 90 miler
And no, I am not going to enter - 150,000 meters is a lot--
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby PaulG » August 15th, 2017, 9:25 pm

When I started this thread a few years ago I said that if I ever achieved some competence my stories would be become less interesting. That’s one of the reasons I haven’t updated this thread lately. Well, in this year’s Essex River Race, sponsored by the Cape Ann Rowing Club, I achieved a podium finish (third) in the single touring division but it comes with a story. This year the start was at the Periwinkle Restaurant which has a marina and launching ramp nearby. Each division of the race had an assigned time to launch and the person directing launching was a little overzealous in enforcing the launch times so you couldn’t launch outside of your time even if no one was on the ramp. As a result I got to the start line later than I wanted.

It was a crystalline May day reminiscent of October with a brisk northwest wind. The wind was dropping (good) along with the tide (bad) as we were at the start. I was in the middle of the second row and the wind continued to push us all to the south bank as we waited for the start. The gun went off. It was very crowded and I glanced over my shoulder and saw an anchorage buoy coming up rapidly. I had to turn radically to starboard to avoid it. As a result I got tangled up in the outboard motors of boats moored in some marina slips. My activity tracker told me later that I lost 1:30 trying to get away from boats and back into the race.

As usual with this race I rounded the first bend in last place. However, I made up time as we crossed Essex Bay and headed for Cross Island. As we neared the narrows between Cross Island and the mainland I had my head on a swivel to avoid mooring buoys and a few ledges. This was the lowest tide I have seen this race conducted and I thought I had accounted for all the ledges. I need a better accountant. In full view of the person rowing in front of me I went right up on another ledge. Etiquette in these open water races calls for you to warn other people if they are approaching a hazard. Apparently the gentleman in front of me had not read that book. I lost another 30 seconds as I backed off the ledge and luckily there was no damage to my boat because I went right up on kelp.

As I rounded Cross Island and headed back across Essex Bay to the Essex River I had a navigation choice. I could stay in the channel or risk a more direct route crossing the flats with the falling tide. Feeling like the characters in the book “The Riddle of the Sands” (highly recommended) I struck across the flats hoping that I would not experience the hydrodynamic squat that can occur when you row across very shallow water. It turned out to be the right choice as I followed some darker and slightly deeper water across the flats and separated myself from the pack.

As I reentered the twisty Essex River I came around a bend and encountered a flock of Stand Up Paddlers scattered across the entire river. They were having a wonderful time talking and laughing but I could not get by them. What is it about SUPs that they remind me of snowboarders taking up the entire slope? I eased over to the north bank, scooted by, and came up on a power boat photographing the SUPs. I was caught in the exhaust and wash and with the falling tide I felt like I was rowing on a treadmill as the water shot under my hull. To complicate things, a double racing kayak came upon the scene, spotted the stern wake of the power boat and put on a sprint catch and surf the wake. Once they caught the wake they could rest and enjoy tea and crumpets as I was hemmed in by the power boat in front of me, and the kayak surfing the wake to my port while I rowed in dirty water. Looking astern I could see the fourth place open water shell coming up quickly and I was trapped. Eventually the double kayak fell off the wake and I had an opening to my port to get around the power boat and sprint for the finish. I took third by 30 seconds. As I have said several times, navigation is part of an open water race. This time I had some good and bad navigation, but I want to find that guy who watched me row up on the ledge.
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby Cyclist2 » August 15th, 2017, 10:08 pm

Great story, Paul! My open water experiences (in both flat water shells - not fun at all, and a Maas Aero) were all pretty similar. Except that I never made the podium. Good job!
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby jackarabit » August 16th, 2017, 9:11 am

Best argument I've seen for closed course racing. Guess you coasters like your "open" water thin and crowded.
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby lwtguy » August 17th, 2017, 9:19 am

jackarabit wrote:Best argument I've seen for closed course racing. Guess you coasters like your "open" water thin and crowded.


As a flat water rower, I can say that if any of those people were on the race course during my race I would be extremely pissed off. On the Schuylkill river in Philadelphia, there is a tendency for people in outrigger canoes to paddle up on the race course when it's supposed to be closed for racing and get in the way. Thankfully I've never had to encounter them but I would have a few words for them!

But I guess the obstacles just come with the territory for open water. Nice job finishing third despite all the craziness!
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PBs-- 500m 1:28.9-- 1K 3:08.9-- 2K 6:37.7-- 5K 17:27.6
6K 21:11.2-- 30' 8342m-- 10K 35:54-- 60' 16209m
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby Edward4492 » August 17th, 2017, 9:48 pm

Nice race Paul! Sounds like something of an Adventure Race. I may have missed it but what what was the approximate distance and what boat were you rowing?

Bill, I saw a couple of the pontoon/ canoeists at Quaker City who insisted on entering the race course (totally unnecessary, lots of room on the other side of the island).
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby PaulG » August 18th, 2017, 8:03 am

Edward4492 wrote:Nice race Paul! Sounds like something of an Adventure Race. I may have missed it but what what was the approximate distance and what boat were you rowing?


Ed, I'm in an 18 ft Echo Islander. The race course in about 5.5-6 miles (depending on the navigation) and I finished in 1:04. Usually I am right around 1 hour. It is a fun race, but only the start and finish are very congested. The SUPs were part of the race but they were all over the place. If you look back earlier in this thread you will see more of my adventures.
I will try to post some pictures soon. I see Photobucket has taken down many of my earlier photos because they want me to pay for third party sharing. Their site is now cluttered with ads and pop ups and I will be moving to Google.
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby lwtguy » August 18th, 2017, 8:54 am

While I believe that everyone should be able to enjoy that section of the river (minus power boaters of course), I'd like to think that the canoers and such could at least respect the people who regularly use the river during racing. Besides, they can even paddle around further up the river where it is too rocky for a rowing shell to navigate... We used to have issues with dragon boats ignoring all rules of the river and causing several near collisions with scullers but I guess enough people complained that they had to crack down on them. Maybe the canoes will be next.
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PBs-- 500m 1:28.9-- 1K 3:08.9-- 2K 6:37.7-- 5K 17:27.6
6K 21:11.2-- 30' 8342m-- 10K 35:54-- 60' 16209m
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby PaulG » October 30th, 2017, 9:56 pm

In addition to the HOCR, there were two open water regattas during the weekend of 21-22 October. If you saw any of the streaming video of HOCR you saw that that weekend had the best weather New England can offer in October. On 21 October the Hull Lifesaving Museum hosted the Head of the Weir starting on the Hingham-Hull line. I grew up in Hingham and is it always fun to see the restored colonial house from the 1700s and earlier, and the Greek revivals from the 1800s along Main Street. These houses were falling into disrepair in the 1970s when I last lived there.

I've competed in the Head of Weir several times now and it occurs on the Weir River estuary between Lands End in Hingham and the Hull Mass. f there is a prettier natural area closer to an urban center, I don't know where it is. After competing in these events for several years I can quickly size up the competition and estimate how I will place. This race lumps all single sliding seats and age groups together. I saw two younger guys in an Alden 18 and the FISA coastal boat in addition to Paul Pugliese, a multiple Blackburn Challenge and Essex River Race winner along with the guy who took second to my third in this year's Essex River Race. My quick estimation had me finishing...last in the class. Worse than that because I registered early I was first to start in the class and probably would have the privilege of watching people row through me. Never mind, at this stage you are always racing against your own expectations and because of the perfect conditions I wanted to have my fastest time.

I helped organize everyone in a line in their starting order and started first. The start of this race is through a twisty estuary and then it opens up into Hull Bay. I was hitting the apex of each curve perfectly and was rowing a good race. Soon the younger guys in the Alden and the FISA boat passed me but I continued to row my own race. As the river opened up, my friend from the Essex River Race passed me and I could see Paul P in the distance along with a woman in a Maas Flyweight. My goal was to not let them pass me. The calm conditions allowed me to cross Hull Bay north of Bumpkin Island with little trouble. There were no navigation errors. I just held the fastest pace I could for as long as I could while checking the compass bearing and watching out for kayaks and other multi person gigs, dories, and liveries that started earlier. I started to hear the horn for the finish line as each boat finished and tried to put on a reasonable sprint at the end. A quick 15 second check of my heart rate at the finish had me at about 158 bpm and that's within 10 beats of my max. Regardless of the finish order I knew I rowed a smart tactical race and gave it a maximum effort. You can't ask for more. My wife helped me move my boat farther up the beach to make room for more incoming boats and I had to take knee after that while be HR dropped to 100 BPM. There was nothing left. I ended up second to last but had a PR for the course and my activity tracker showed an average speed of 6.2 mph for for the 5.5 mile race. More importantly we all finished within about 10-15% of each other so it was a close race. I look forward to next year.

The next day was the Mighty Merrimack Race hosted by the Lowell Boat Shop in Amesbury, Mass. This is a much smaller race and after a quick look around at the start line it seemed like I could win this one similar to a few years ago. The race is only a few miles from my house, and despite the fatigue from the previous day, it's hard to turn down. If I ever do skip it, it will be because the race director insists on starting the small boats in one direction and the larger boats a few minutes later in the opposite direction and the courses cross. We were warned that the small boats should give way to the large boats at the cross but the whole idea is stupid. Remember the Figure 8 car racing from Islip NY on the old Wide World of Sports? That's what they are setting up. Anyone involved with safety knows that first you avoid dangerous conditions, then you mitigate, then you warn. Dumb.

I started with the small boats and rounded the first mark in first with two former Blackburn Challenge winners teamed up in a dory. Heading across the river to the second mark I made a serious navigation error and did not account enough for the strong flood tide. It swept me upriver of the second mark and I had to make almost a 90 degree correction as the dory caught up with me. Then I had to give way while they rounded the mark and I made a 180 degree turn to round the mark. By the time I got my rhythm back they were are least 50 yards ahead of me. At that time i decided that there was no way I was going to lose to two guys in a fixed seat dory even if they were the two best dorymen in New England. I put the hammer down and practiced ergometry with the flood tide and blew past them. At the third mark I had a comfortable lead and continued to row at full pressure back into the current to the end of the circular race course. I never did see the larger boats as they passed through our course. Afterwards we enjoyed victuals and grog at the boathouse and looked at the antique boats on display and the new boats they are building. I collected my winning commemorative Lowell Boat Shop glass and rowed slowly upriver with the dorymen to the launch ramp in the rising sea breeze, falling temperatures, and setting sun, and then we helped each other load our boats. After those two races the rum tasted good that night.
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby Edward4492 » October 30th, 2017, 10:08 pm

Nice write up Paul and good work. Makes my navigational concerns on flat water, closed courses seem rather petty. Of curse the difference is a matter of scale. I'm looking at a few seconds here and there, it's much more precise than what you're doing. Looks like a lot of fun!
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby Cyclist2 » October 31st, 2017, 12:48 am

Great write up, and some excellent racing, Paul! Sounds like you and Ed needed to swap boats, given the weather conditions at each race a week apart.
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby PaulG » October 31st, 2017, 8:55 am

Cyclist2 wrote:Great write up, and some excellent racing, Paul! Sounds like you and Ed needed to swap boats, given the weather conditions at each race a week apart.


I thought of that as I was reading Ed's account. There were places in a straightaway where my activity tracker had me a 7.5 MPH. You could have run a 2000 m course in lanes during parts of the Head of the Weir. Not so much during the Mighty Merrimack Race because the current was too strong. What a beautiful weekend OTW.
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby Yankeerunner » December 12th, 2017, 5:10 pm

PaulG wrote:

The next day was the Mighty Merrimack Race hosted by the Lowell Boat Shop in Amesbury, Mass.


I debuted OTW in that race and did NOT finish last! Although......it may be because my captain and I might have gone off course a wee bit to take advantage of the current and may have missed one of the buoys. I'm not saying that we definitely did, but I'm not sure that we didn't. I don't think that we were disqualified. :mrgreen:
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby PaulG » December 14th, 2017, 3:18 pm

Yankeerunner wrote:
PaulG wrote:
I debuted OTW in that race and did NOT finish last!

Correct. :D

Although......it may be because my captain and I might have gone off course a wee bit to take advantage of the current and may have missed one of the buoys. I'm not saying that we definitely did, but I'm not sure that we didn't.

Yes, you did. B)

I don't think that we were disqualified.

No you weren't. :shock:



The point of all races is to finish and have fun and yes you did. :D
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