6'10" tall, want to get on the water.

No, ergs don't yet float, but some of us do, and here's where you get to discuss that other form of rowing.
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chuckzilla
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6'10" tall, want to get on the water.

Post by chuckzilla » June 8th, 2021, 5:03 pm

I am 6'10" tall, 60 year old male, 38" inseam.

I've had an erg for a little over a year (extended version) and I am interesting in trying it "for real", out on the water. I've put 1,500,000m on my erg.

I signed up for a "learn to row" session at a local club. For starters they use something the call a barge, essentially two 8 person sweeps attached side by side. The construction means I could barely slide back and forth, and could not extend my legs past about 75 degrees. I spent about 40 minutes waving the oar back and forth about a foot, banging it into my shins. Then I asked for a refund. A wholly unsatisfying experience. (The club appears to consist mainly of people not very tall) BTW, when I signed up, I told them my height, multiple times.

I am pretty sure it has to be better than this. I have done endurance sports in the past, I ran marathons when I was young and now do long distance backpacking.

What should I be asking for, as far as an initial experience? Should I just focus on learning to row a single scull? I told the local club I am very interested, asked if there are other options, but they have not gotten back to me. I am not the most gifted athlete, but I do train hard and will take coaching. Just looking for the right way to start. I am thinking since it will be hard to find many others my size, I should be aiming towards a single or double scull.

Chuck Fannin
San Jose, CA

jamesg
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Re: 6'10" tall, want to get on the water.

Post by jamesg » June 9th, 2021, 4:49 am

Basic how-to at rowing clubs is usually done afloat in 2-man tubs with sweeps, and with cox/coach, or in a tank ashore. Barges involve too many people and serve only to give coach a close-up view of style and technique. You can't have 16 people all rowing with different timing.

I'd start with a dinghy, i.e. a working boat, not a training boat. Or else kayak, at least you see where you're going. K2s are great fun and need very little water.

Fixed seats when pulling in a dinghy are a lot easier than slides. Safer and at least you can have the stretcher where you want it. Just avoid putting a foot in the bilge. Using two sculls can be described as two handfulls, and you can certainly learn a lot about what moves boats and how to handle the blades, before taking any risks in a single with slides.

I'd sculled in my dad's skiffs and dinghies for years before taking out a school boatclub rumtum for the first time on the Thames. It was low tide (the boatman knew all about it) so I walked ashore before trying again.
08-1940, 183cm, 84kg. Last seen MHR 158 in 2k = 220 - 77% of age.
2021-2: stroke 6 W-min. ½k 1:55.5; 1k 4:09.2; 2k 8:42.2; 5k 23:15; 30' 6247; 10k 49:36.

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pagomichaelh
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Re: 6'10" tall, want to get on the water.

Post by pagomichaelh » June 9th, 2021, 1:19 pm

There has to be someone better. In my internet travels, I came across these people, https://www.owrc.com, who aren't that far away.

For over 30 years, going to work involved a a boat, wood oars, a fixed seat and generally a bit of a load (groceries on the back haul).

Having now rowed a shell, there is very little that is transferable as far as technique from the one to the other. I'm actually having a hard time breaking perfectly good habits with wooden oars to learn the shell with hatchet blades, and then there's the balance issue.... :D

I think the OTW rowing is a blast, and much better than sitting on a machine (I can only get on the water maybe once/week, so my other work is on the machine).
5'7" 152# b. 1954

Cyclist2
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Re: 6'10" tall, want to get on the water.

Post by Cyclist2 » June 9th, 2021, 10:24 pm

pagomichaelh wrote:
June 9th, 2021, 1:19 pm
There has to be someone better. In my internet travels, I came across these people, https://www.owrc.com, who aren't that far away.
That place is where I learned to row! Without boring you, that was about 35 years ago when the "boathouse" was a container and the "dock" was a bunch of pallets on the beach. Anyway, they put me in a Maas Aero, gave me some verbal "instruction" and sent me out into Richardson Bay. There was a lot of naiveté and so off I went into the swells and traffic. I loved it, and got pretty good! By the time I left I was surfing the swells and looking up at the Golden Gate bridge.

I'm sure the protocols are a little more strict these days but I'll bet it is still a great place to learn to row. I heartily recommend you give them a call. They'll put you in an appropriate boat and get you started right. However, that is a long drive and you might try some other places on San Francisco Bay until you find a good fit. There ARE tall rowers out there.

Good luck!
Mark Underwood. Rower first, cyclist too.

jamesg
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Re: 6'10" tall, want to get on the water.

Post by jamesg » June 10th, 2021, 3:28 am

Just looking for the right way to start.
Some idea of what you do on the erg (Pace/Watts, Ratings, Distances) could help.

Learning to row, wet or dry, goes through some major phases:

UT2, style, low rate rhythm, initial endurance, target around 200W at 20, as to age and size;
UT1, as above but higher ratings, shorter distances;
AT, shorter sharper, but also some distance trials up to 5-6k according to available water;
2k tapering.
08-1940, 183cm, 84kg. Last seen MHR 158 in 2k = 220 - 77% of age.
2021-2: stroke 6 W-min. ½k 1:55.5; 1k 4:09.2; 2k 8:42.2; 5k 23:15; 30' 6247; 10k 49:36.

Tsnor
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Re: 6'10" tall, want to get on the water.

Post by Tsnor » June 10th, 2021, 10:53 am

Given your club has the barge, they must expect a lot of new rowers. Contact the head coach. Ask them how to proceed, for example 2-3 private lesions then move into a boat. Clubs WANT to get you happily rowing. Drop the refund discussion, that won't help. If you and the head coach cannot build a new plan then find a local college with a rowing program and ask their coach for advice on which clubs are available and how to get started. OTW rowing is a small community, everyone knows everyone. They will help.

I personally would *NOT* get on that barge again and do forced short strokes hitting knees. etc. ".. barely slide back and forth, and could not extend my legs past about 75 degrees. I spent about 40 minutes waving the oar back and forth about a foot, banging it into my shins. .." will not teach you to row.

When you get in a shell you will fit in a shell that is sized for large men. You will not fit in a juniors or women's boat. Ask the club if they have equipment. The SHOES used in the shell might be more of a problem. Some shoes have velco on the heels -- they get very large. Some are just fixed size. For our boats people with US size 14/15 shoes will fit in most boats, anything larger needs the velcros or bring your own shoes. Buying/bringing your own shows is not a problem, just takes an extra few minutes to install and remove them each workout. At 6'10" your feet likely aren't small.

Our club uses rowing tanks for the first week and for bad water days. The tanks have adjustable foot stretchers, you would fit. But we're pretty far from California.

chuckzilla
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Re: 6'10" tall, want to get on the water.

Post by chuckzilla » June 10th, 2021, 5:26 pm

Thank you. (Actually, thanks to all of you) You are all giving really good advice.

Too late on the refund, I asked for and received that immediately. (Actually, what I asked was "please give me a refund if we can't find a solution", but they immediately issued the refund) I was really angry, but did not show it, because I had repeatedly told them my height, told them I did not fit a standard erg, etc, and they completely ignored me. Asking for a refund kept me from losing my temper. You don't want to a see a 6'10" guy lose his temper. Been in too many situations like this in my 60 years to let it slide anymore. Most describe me as a "gentle giant", but we all have limits.

All the rest of the advice is great. I am going to ask them about getting individual coaching.

I have size 18 feet, so they are a bit high on the Concept2. I can see where it would not be difficult to customize my own shoes.

You don't have to worry, there is no way I will ever step into the barge again. In retrospect, I should have got out immediately after getting in, as it was at least obvious to me that it would not work at all.

They apparently have one shell that will fit me, and they do offer coaching.

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Re: 6'10" tall, want to get on the water.

Post by Dino » June 10th, 2021, 6:32 pm

I had never even heard of one of these 'barges' until I read "Boys in the boat"!
In the UK you typically get put in something like a quad scull on a learn to row course - some like a swift racing touring shell to get some experience in rowing together. Then maybe a session or two on a single with floats, e.g. an EDON TS515 Training Scull depending on the club.
Whilst singles are good, a quad is a great place to start as you typically have the coach as a cox, although they may also be in a launch alongside.
Getting matched with the similar heights can be an issue though and you might find your self cutting your stroke to match - or just be in the stroke seat then everyone has to keep time to you :D Being in a coxed boat also gives you time to learn without worrying about steering at the same time especially if on a river.
It will be a while getting up to speed in a single scull before you can put in the same sort of effort exercise-wise as on the erg.
If you have more than one club in your area, it maybe another club might suit you better too, so try a couple out if you have that opportunity.
I have been out tonight in a single and it was a gorgeous sunny evening and flat water - the club I go to is mostly a juniors club with a small adult section - only 8 of us out tonight in a quad and four singles... all of us the wrong side of 50!
Good luck with your OTW journey.
53M HWT 18/19, 19/20, 20/21 - Team: 50Plus - Zwift Rowing
1m 326m, 500m 1:38,7, 1k 3:31.6, 2k 7:16.8, 5k 19:06.6, 6k 23:26.0, 30m 7730m, 10k 39:26.1, 60m 15025m, HM 1:25:04.7, FM 2:59:26.0, 50k 3:49:17.3

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pagomichaelh
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Re: 6'10" tall, want to get on the water.

Post by pagomichaelh » June 12th, 2021, 1:02 pm

chuckzilla wrote:
June 10th, 2021, 5:26 pm
...
They apparently have one shell that will fit me, and they do offer coaching.
Let us know how things work out - you've got my curiosity peaked! I have an ex-BIL who was 7-3, I never understood the torment large people have until I met him.
5'7" 152# b. 1954

Tsnor
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Re: 6'10" tall, want to get on the water.

Post by Tsnor » June 13th, 2021, 11:38 pm

chuckzilla wrote:
June 10th, 2021, 5:26 pm
.. I have size 18 feet, so they are a bit high on the Concept2. I can see where it would not be difficult to customize my own shoes. ... They apparently have one shell that will fit me, and they do offer coaching.
Glad you have a path forward. Hope it works out.

Yes, you are going to need to do something about shoes. Your coach can help. If you create DIY rowing shoes MAKE SURE that that you can PULL OUT of them if needed. This is a safety thing. Rowing shoes are tied down at the heel so when an excited person pulls hard up on their foot their heel comes up and out of the shoe. The shoes themselves are screwed into the boat, they don't come out when you do. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KH3_9l6LXWg shows typical shoes and how they attach to the foot stretchers which in turn attach to the shell.

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