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 Yankeerunner » December 16th, 2017, 11:59 am

Thanks for clarifying. :mrgreen:

Next year, Jim and I will practice first! Maybe. :lol:
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby ThomasSalt » March 31st, 2018, 12:48 pm

Hi there,
Sorry to gate crash this group, but I stumbled across the forum and i think we're working on something that one or two of you might be interested in. A group of us have setup an Offshore rowing series in the English Channel which starts this summer between Mid July and early September. It is made up of six legs, with each leg lasting up to a week. The boats are identical and ones that you live aboard in crews of 6 people. If anyone is interested in taking part, then please do get in touch. The website to find out more is
Many thanks,
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby PaulG » April 3rd, 2018, 12:28 pm

The open water competition in the northeast US is starting. See for a schedule. The first competition is the Essex River Race in Essex MA on May 12.
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby PaulG » May 28th, 2018, 8:22 pm

I’ve read that you can’t step into the same river twice. It’s always flowing and always changing. That was certainly the case in the 2018 Essex River Race hosted by the Cape Ann Rowing Club and Riverview Restaurant and Marina in Essex Mass. The day was cold and a little drizzly but not much wind. With last year’s third place finish in the sliding seat touring division, I was hoping to repeat on the podium. Looking at the start list it was clear that my race was for third place. Ben Booth, the US open water champion was in the race along with a guy who has regularly beaten me. It looked my competition for third place would be a guy in an Echo Classic and I was in my Echo Islander, the Bluefish.

Launching was easy this time and I got to the start line in plenty of time. I hovered near the north side of the start line and got a good start, not running into any fellow competitors, sea shrubbery, or outboard motors (as opposed to last year). Ben and the guy who beats me took off into the mist leaving me and Mr. Classic with other competitors behind. The race is out the river, around Corn Island and then back in. If you look on Google Earth for you will see several salt marsh islands as the Essex River widens out west of Corn Island. This year they were gone. There were several strong Northeasters (I refuse to call them Nor’easters, that’s a word made up by out of town TV weathertalkers) in March that may have eroded them, or maybe it was an exceptionally high tide. After several years of participating in the race I use them for navigation and they weren’t there.

It’s hard to explain how disorienting it is to navigate in limited visibility on a low relief coast surrounded by salt marsh. Everywhere you look you see the marsh, including the channel you need to find to get around the south side of Corn Island. The salt marsh to the east of the channel seems to make it look like a dead end. This obviously confused Mr. Classic as he was ahead of me and well to the north of where he should be and then just stopped. He called for help and I was about 400 m to the south and responded “over to me!” He returned the favor by taking an intercept course and entering the channel around the island in front of me. Once around the island we rowed north in a cross chop and he lengthened his lead. Finally we completed the circumnavigation and headed back up river. Again, the visibility was limited, relief was lacking, and it looked we were completely surrounded by saltmarsh. It was hard to find the mouth of the river. Mr. Classic drifted to the south this time, spotted me and intercepted my course as the bay narrowed before we entered the river.

Then I found the islands I missed on the way out. I ran aground on them as the tide dropped. Twice. It seems they had eroded but not completely disappeared. The second time I had to put a foot overboard and push off the mud to get going again. My race for third place was over so I tried to finish strong with a little dignity.
Mr. Classic thanked me profusely after the race saying without my help he might still be out there. I finished in fourth with my fastest time despite the close encounters with saltmarsh islands. Talking to people after the race enjoying PBR and pizza provided by Riverview, I heard many people say that they also ran aground in places they did not expect to. You can’t row the same river twice. They are always changing.
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby Edward4492 » May 29th, 2018, 10:11 pm

Nice write-up Paul and nice display of sportsmanship. I'll be racing in two weeks and will dutifully file a report, although mine will be a relatively mundane 1000m sprint in the Schuylkill in a mixed 2x. Not too adventurous, but fun.
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby PaulG » June 18th, 2018, 11:39 am

I have a soft spot for old New England mill towns. Some, like Manchester NH, Lowell, MA, Newburyport MA have done quite well in recent years and have undergone a renaissance. Even smaller towns like Amesbury, MA have rebounded well since the 1970s. Others have not fared as well. With that in mind I traveled down to New Bedford MA for the Buzzards Bay Open Water Challenge hosted by the Buzzards Bay Rowing Club. As I traveled by the old mills I could see that many had been renovated with new businesses inside. Later I found out the unemployment rate was 5%, a far cry from the near 20% in the late 1970s when I was a student at nearby UMass Dartmouth (then Southeastern Massachusetts

The event was held at Fort Taber Park, a city park at the south end of the city. The park was in very good condition with good facilities. As I pulled into the parking lot I wondered who would be the competition. As soon as I shut off the engine a car with a Maas 24 pulled in next to me and I correctly figured him to be the eventual winner. The race was about 3 miles long (may activity tracker had it at 3.2 miles rowed) in absolutely flat, oily conditions that favored the Maas 24 and portended a thunderstorm. Mr. 24 and I took off together and he quickly took a lead and finished about 2 minutes ahead of me, although it should have been more because he headed for the wrong pier at the finish. My time was 30 minutes which gives me an average speed of about 6.4 mph or a pace of about 2:55/500 m. I feel that is as fast as I can push that boat for any length of time, although I occasionally see speeds of 7 mph on my activity tracker which would be a 2:40/500 pace. It's interesting to compare times between flat water and open water boats such as Ed's in a recent post.

It was a fun, well-organized race with a lunch afterwards interrupted by a short thunderstorm. New Bedford is worth a trip to visit the historic downtown where you can trace Ishmael of Moby Dick's steps. If you are a fan of Brutalist mid century architecture (like I am) visit UMass Dartmouth and Battleship Cove in nearby Fall River has the Battleship Massachusetts that my mother helped build during WW2 in the Quincy Fore River Shipyard. The mill towns are coming back.
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Postby Cyclist2 » June 18th, 2018, 3:34 pm

Nice writeup, Paul. I'd like to get back into it and maybe even race again.

What boat do you have? I've been looking for used Maas boats, but they are more rare than hen's teeth around here and any I've seen on Craigslist or row2k are gone before I can call. May just splurge on a new one.
Mark Underwood. Rower first, cyclist too.
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