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.
Cyclist2
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by Cyclist2 » September 25th, 2018, 11:03 am

Nice job, Paul! That sounds like some pretty serious open water. You got that box checked. I'm pretty sure I'd pass on most of the races you describe competing in!

I've been rowing my new Aero on the Hood Canal (Puget Sound), but I pick my days carefully. I have signed up for a head race in October, just to get the feeling of the crowds, other boats around, and the atmosphere that I haven't experienced in over 20 years. I don't really expect much, just get the feel back. I'll post a race report.
Mark Underwood. Rower first, cyclist too.

PaulG
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by PaulG » September 27th, 2018, 9:48 am

Cyclist2 wrote:
September 25th, 2018, 11:03 am
Nice job, Paul! That sounds like some pretty serious open water. You got that box checked. I'm pretty sure I'd pass on most of the races you describe competing in!

I've been rowing my new Aero on the Hood Canal (Puget Sound), but I pick my days carefully. I have signed up for a head race in October, just to get the feeling of the crowds, other boats around, and the atmosphere that I haven't experienced in over 20 years. I don't really expect much, just get the feel back. I'll post a race report.
Mark: I'd look forward to hearing your trip report. I may be taking some artistic license on some of my trip reports, but not on my first attempt at the Minots Light Roundabout. That was hairy. The second time was much better.

I recommend that all OTW rowers practice flipping and more importantly getting back in. The Aero is a great stable boat but if it has both front and back stays it could be more difficult to get back into. Practice will increase confidence.

Cyclist2
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by Cyclist2 » September 27th, 2018, 5:58 pm

PaulG wrote:
September 27th, 2018, 9:48 am
I recommend that all OTW rowers practice flipping and more importantly getting back in. The Aero is a great stable boat but if it has both front and back stays it could be more difficult to get back into. Practice will increase confidence.
I went to my upcoming race venue yesterday and rowed the course. It was pretty choppy; a lot more than I usually choose to row in, plus some big power boat wakes. I caught a few crabs and took a little water over the gunwales, but nothing too scary. However, I had read your post, and after that row I decided I really needed to practice getting back in under more controlled conditions, so today I did.

Our little lake here is perfect for that, and it was a warm day, so into the drink I went. Twice, once from each side. No real problem getting back in, the Aero is a big wide platform, but I did discover a few small things that I have to modify (my feet didn't come out of the clogs very well). I can see how in really cold water, you'd have to force yourself to relax and breathe, slow it down a little so that your first effort is successful. Spend less time in the water overall.

Thanks for your post, Paul. It prompted me to do something I knew I should but never had. Until now.
Mark Underwood. Rower first, cyclist too.

PaulG
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by PaulG » October 16th, 2018, 8:43 pm

Last Saturday I traveled all of 5 miles down to the Lowell Boat Shop in Amesbury MA for the Mighty Merrimack Race. Lowell Boat Shop has been making dories since 1793 and continues to host boat building classes and build wooden boats. Take a look here: http://lowellsboatshop.com/ .
This is a very interesting place.

I've been in this race several times and it is usually just a fun row with a bunch of like minded folks and you tour the boat shop afterwards eating hamburgers and drinking craft beer. The weather was a little dismal but it is a short race. At the pre race meeting we were informed that it will be two laps this year and then the race director described the course. I asked a question and was told the course is the same as last year. OK fine. But then things went a little astray. When I looked at the handout provided and the race chart it was different from last year and different from what the director described. It really isn't hard to get these things right. The confusion was partly straightened out at the start line but at least one boat went much farther than necessary.

I was the only sliding seat boat, got and early lead, and finished first overall. After I glided across the finish line I was told I had another lap to go. No I didn't, I can accurately count to 2. Ok not a big deal. Finally at the awards ceremony they forgot to announce the overall winner (me!). I had to find the director afterwards to get my Lowell Boat Shop beer glass. Then I found her bullhorn and announced myself as the winner as my brother and two dorymen (Jeff and Rich), the only three people left outside, applauded. Ok not a big deal and we were laughing pretty hard afterwards. But really, it isn't hard to get these things right and it is nice to receive the acknowledgments of fellow rowers.

I still like this race and encourage others to participate next year. Maybe I take it too seriously but it isn't hard to get some of this stuff right.

This Saturday will be the Head of the Weir in Hull Mass and I understand there is also another race going on somewhere in Boston on the Charles River.

PaulG
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by PaulG » October 21st, 2018, 6:01 pm

The last voyage of the Bluefish

The Head of Weir is held on the beautiful Weir River estuary between Hingham and Hull Massachusetts. I’ve participated in it for several years and it is always well run. The night before the race I received an email that they shortened the course for the 2018 Head of the Weir due to small craft warnings. Since there are few crafts smaller than an ocean shell, this was a good idea. Once I arrived on site it was clear that it was a very good idea as it was blowing 15-20 MPH out of the W and NW. The race director explained the new course clearly and an accurate map was distributed at registration. The regular course is from the Hull DPW garage out the Weir River and across Hull Bay to the old Coast Guard Station near the High School. The shortened course went out the river but there was a jog into a cove along the Worlds End peninsula that forms the west bank of the river, and then out to buoy 6 for the turnaround and then back up the river to Steamboat Wharf for the finish. If you are interested I think you can find all these landmarks on Google Earth.

This race lumps all sliding seat boats into one class which often puts people in ocean shells at a disadvantage. This year there were four entries in the sliding seat division and they were all Echoes, similar to my boat! I’ve never seen this before and all my excuses about other people having faster boats were out the window. The competition was a women and her daughter from Ohio who drove out specifically for this event. I hope they did other things while they were here. (BTW someone could make a good rowing vacation this time of year in Massachusetts between the Mighty Merrimack Race, the Head of the Weir and the Head of the Charles.) They said they had never raced before and only rowed on lakes. Well, some of the lakes in Ohio are fairly Great so they might have been sandbagging me. The other competitor was a young guy with a lot of rowing experience and even coached for a while. I figured Coach would win and I had a good chance of finishing ahead of the Ohio women. One of these assumptions turned out to be true and the other not.

This is a head race and the clock starts when you are supposed to cross the start line. The starter does not wait. Even though Coach was starting one place before me, he helped me get my boat in the water even though I said he should go first. I heard the numbers being called down to our division but Coach was nowhere in sight. They repeatedly called his number and I caught a glimpse of him frantically adjusting his foot stretcher way behind me. He missed his start and I was ready to go when my number was called.

I know this course well and hit the apices of most the curves at the start. After that I rowed as close as possible to the west bank of the river to stay out of the wind. The course took a sharp curve to the west to round a buoy in a cove that is between the two drumlins that form the Worlds End peninsula. After that is was straight shot to buoy 6 for the turnaround. I left the lee of the peninsula and headed out to the channel to buoy 6 and things started to get rough. Two foot waves with white caps on top were approaching from my port side. That was uncomfortable. Then I had to round the buoy and head back upriver surfing the waves. I don’t like surfing waves. Sometimes the boat got a little sideways and slewed into the trough and it was hard to get it back on track. But, with each stroke I was getting back into the lee of the peninsula and the waves and wind were diminishing.

Then we entered the narrow channel that led to Steamboat Wharf. Because this was a shortened course, the same number of boats was entered, and the slow boats started first, things started to get very crowded near the finish line. I tried to keep a course parallel to a person behind me in a surf ski because he could see where he was going. However, I drifted a little too far away and got behind two big multi person fixed seat boats with another coming up fast behind me. I just held my place in the parade as I crossed the line even though I could have rowed faster. I never saw Coach or the Ohio women so I figured I won my division and I did for the first time in this race. My time was 40:40 for the about 4 mile shortened course.

After that it was load the boat and out to the old Coast Guard Station for chili, chowder, coffee and post-race talk. I met the Ohio women again but never found Coach. He did finish the race and I feel bad about getting in the water before him but he would not take no for an answer.

So why is this the last voyage of the Bluefish? I am going to put it up for sale and continue to row in my new (to me) blue Peinert Zephyr, the Bluefish II. The Zephyr is a lighter boat and much easier to handle around the boatshed and loading on to the car. Maybe the old Bluefish knew this was the last race and carried me safely through the chop around the turnaround buoy and surfed on to victory.

Cyclist2
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by Cyclist2 » October 24th, 2018, 1:33 am

Nice, Paul! Both races!

Retiring a boat is sometimes hard. I completely restored an older Pocock wooden racing shell, then sold it. I bought an Aero, then sold it. Both bad decisions. My kids will decide what to do with my current Aero (and any other boat I may buy) after my demise.

Re; Cartopping. I built a wooden cradle that sits on top of my truck that has skateboard wheels at the back so I can easily roll the boat up onto the roof without having to lift it. That plus a PVC pipe dolly I built so I can roll the boat down to the water make transporting it much easier. I have photos if you might be interested in something similar.

Enjoy your new Zephyr, and keep the race reports coming!
Mark Underwood. Rower first, cyclist too.

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