Page 10 of 11

Re: Open Water Rowing

Posted: September 25th, 2018, 11:03 am
by Cyclist2
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.

Re: Open Water Rowing

Posted: September 27th, 2018, 9:48 am
by PaulG
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.

Re: Open Water Rowing

Posted: September 27th, 2018, 5:58 pm
by Cyclist2
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.

Re: Open Water Rowing

Posted: October 16th, 2018, 8:43 pm
by PaulG
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.

Re: Open Water Rowing

Posted: October 21st, 2018, 6:01 pm
by PaulG
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.

Re: Open Water Rowing

Posted: October 24th, 2018, 1:33 am
by Cyclist2
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!

Re: Open Water Rowing

Posted: May 24th, 2019, 9:13 am
by PaulG
I didn’t like the sound of the weather report. 10-15 mph with gusts to 25 mph out of the NW. The Essex River Race sponsored by the Cape Ann Rowing Club http://www.blackburnchallenge.com/default.asp was tomorrow and I didn’t have a lot of experience in rough water in my Peinert Zephyr, the Bluefish II. Regardless I would show up and see what it looked like.

The Essex River Race starts at the Riversbend Restaurant and Essex Marina in Essex Mass, goes out the tortuous Essex River and around three small islands (Cross, Corn, and Dilly) that appear as one large island interconnected by salt marsh and then back up the river. Take a look on Google Earth. Because the whole course is behind a barrier beach it was likely that the winds would not be as high as predicted and that was the case. After registration it appeared that the winds were dropping and it was going to be a beautiful May day in Massachusetts and we haven’t had many of them this year. Scanning the registration list it seemed that the likely competition would be another guy in a Zephyr as the other boats seemed to be slower designs, but you never know what a determined young rower can do in a slower boat. My goal was to finish in less than 1 hour and on the podium.

Launching was without drama and I took my preferred spot near the north bank of the river. Our class, <21 feet sliding seat, all went off at once and it was a fair start. Mr. Zephyr and I shot into the lead confirming my earlier estimation and then, of course, we shot into each other. As we disentangled the field caught up with us and we had to row through them. A few minutes late we repeated the process: entangle riggers and oars, the field catches up, disentangle, row through field.

By now we had left the river and were in the more open waters. Mr. Zephyr was slightly ahead to the south of me and I was trying to find the narrow channel between Conomo Point on the mainland and the islands. He had the more direct course and I thought I would try to catch him before we went through the channel. That didn’t happen and he entered the channel first. The channel is an area of tricky current and no place to try a tactical move. As I entered the channel I spotted and area of choppy water near the mainland side that in previous years was a signal of a back eddy of outgoing current while the rest of the channel was dominated by a strong incoming current. I shot through channel on the back eddy but he was still in front.

Now we were on the east side of the islands headed into the wind and I decided this is where I was going to pass him. Good, long, hard strokes and a line near the islands and slightly out of the wind had me gaining on him. But, an arm of salt marsh grass jutted out from the island and into my course and I had to make a large course correction to avoid running aground and he regained all that I had made up.

Now we had rounded the island and were headed home across open water before entering the river. The wind was still somewhat strong and we were in a manageable cross chop that was diminishing as we neared the entrance to the river. It was now or never as passing someone in the river was going to be difficult. Mr. Zephyr was slightly north of me on a converging course. As we neared each other I put the hammer down and rowed through him.

I’ve been passed in running track, had people blow by me in basketball, had balls spiked down my throat in volleyball and done the same to others but there is nothing in sport as demoralizing as being rowed through. It’s happened to me and will happen to anyone who competes in rowing. It just about ends your race. After I passed Mr. Zephyr I saw him stop to take a drink of water and adjust his seat pad. I knew the race was over.

Now there was just me and a smooth rowing guy in a Maas 24 entering the river. I was feeling pretty good and thought I could challenge the Maas or at least stay with him. The water got glassy and he looked over to me and said “this is great” and Mr. Smooth proceeded to row away from me so fast I’m not sure if he was ever there. I just tried to hold my pace and finish strong. I won my class, primarily because the guys who usually beat me didn’t race this year. My time was 1 hour 9 seconds for the 6 miles rowed as recorded on my GPS tracker. Call it an average speed of 6 mph. If we hadn’t had those two collisions and think we both would have broken 60 minutes. My GPS tracker showed that I rowed almost a perfectly straight line on the last leg from the island to the mouth of the river. I wish I had made a note of the compass bearing.

After the race we had a great picnic and PBR hosted by Riversbend Restaurant and Mr. Zephyr and I helped each other load up our boats and we laughed and talked about rowing and boats. It was a great day.

Re: Open Water Rowing

Posted: May 24th, 2019, 9:27 am
by gregsmith01748
Paul,

Great story! I know what you mean about rowing through people and being overtaken. It's the best/worst part of head racing.

I'm curious about how you would compare the Zephyr and Maas Aero?

The Zephyr is a couple feet shorter and a bit wider, so I imagine that its a bit better in chop, but slower on flat water. Have you rowed both?

Thanks
Greg

Re: Open Water Rowing

Posted: May 26th, 2019, 4:46 pm
by PaulG
Greg:

You accurately described the differences between the boats. I've rowed both and the Aero is faster in flatter water, but I bet a skilled sculler can make it go as fast as a Zephyr in reasonably rough water. They race Aeros a lot on the west coast in open water. A major difference is that the Aero is just a beautiful looking boat while the Zephyr is more prosaic.

I chose the Zephyr because most of the competition on the east coast is in the under 21 ft class which includes Alden 18s and Echoes. The Aero would be in with even faster boats such as the Peinert Dolphin and the Maas 24 and some of the longer Alden boats.

Re: Open Water Rowing

Posted: November 1st, 2019, 8:47 am
by PaulG
After several years of open water races I’ve finally figured out how to win. Enter races where there is no other competition. That’s what I did a few weeks ago at the Mighty Merrimack Race hosted by Lowell’s Boat Shop where they have made wooden dories and boats by hand for the last 225 years (http://lowellsboatshop.com/). It’s a few miles downstream from my house and this year with a new race director it was well organized with no confusion about the route and a safe separation of the start between the big and small boats (see last year’s description a few pages back). It was a beautiful day and I had a great time rowing the relatively short course, talking with other rowers afterwards, and collecting my Lowell Boat Shop glass as the overall winner. Everyone else in a sliding seat must have been at the HOCR, which was also held that day.

Last weekend I was at the Head of the Weir hosted by the Hull Lifesaving Museum (http://www.lifesavingmuseum.org/). If possible, it was even a better day than the Merrimack Race. This time I persuaded Yankee Runner (Rick Bayko) from this forum to participate. Rick has been training with CRI on the Charles River and participated in the HOCR in a veteran’s 8, as well as rowing with me in a rickety Alden 16 on the Merrimack.
For some reason I was really concerned about transporting the boats and four oars on the roof of my station wagon. I’ve had up to three kayaks up there and two shells should not have been a problem but it took a while to figure out that I had to take both riggers off and put the boats on “J” type kayak carriers with the oars in between bungee corded to the cross bars. In doing so, I found out exactly how rickety that Alden was. The president of our rowing club bought the boat for $50 and he might have overpaid. It had numerous pieces of duct tape fixed to the gunnels and I thought that was to just cover some scratches or rough spots in fiberglass. No, they were covering up cracks. Once I got it up on the car roof, I saw how little lateral rigidity it had when I cinched down the carrying straps. I was afraid to pull them too tight so I put a bow line from the Alden to the front of my car. The Alden didn’t have a splash guard at the front of cockpit so we “borrowed” a splash guard from another dust covered Alden in the boathouse that looked like it hadn’t been rowed for a few years. It was put back after the race before anyone noticed. Don’t tell anyone. With both boats on the roof my wife remarked that it looked like I had two baby belugas up there. Please, those are sleek open water racing shells.

At this point I was fairly apprehensive about putting Rick in a rickety boat for an open water race, but he was game. He also didn’t know what he was in for. However, the weather looked very good with winds less than 10 mph from the north. So, early Saturday morning I picked up Rick and our technical support team (my brother) and we headed down to the Hull-Hingham line for the starting point. When we got there the weather was about as good as New England can offer in October: fair skies, light winds, and warm temperatures. The boats were rerigged without any offerings to the river gods (dropped and lost bolts) and we dragged them out to the marsh and awaited the start. This time it was an exceptionally high tide and the entire marsh was covered with ankle to shin deep water. But this made it easier to launch as there was no steep drop from the marsh into the river.

This is an exceptionally well organized race and we waited our turn and went off at 30 second intervals. Rick was behind me in the starting order, but once I got my start I figured he was on his own. The water was very smooth as we went out the Weir River between Worlds End in Hingham and Hull. Apparently I was gaining on the person in front of me, or so he said after the race, but once we got into open water after Sunset Point in Hull and Bumpkin Island, he pulled away. I have rowed this race several times and it seems the shortest course is to head slightly NW after you round Sunset Point and head for the wind turbine at Hull Gut (you can find all these landmarks on Google Earth). Most people head a little too far west towards Bumpkin Island and then have a curved course to the finish line. I broke away from the crowd and my GPS tracker indicated indeed I rowed a shorter course. I had the Hull Harbormaster following me because I was the only person who took that line. I passed several of the larger boats that started before me but never caught any of the other sliding seat boats. Several people commented on how “squirrelly” the water felt in Hull Bay and that might have been because the wind and tide were opposing. I finished within a few minutes of my best time and might have been faster if I had been rowing in a crowd of boats that could have caused me to go faster. It’s hard to pull hard when you are all by yourself.
Well, Rick finished safely and we came in second to last, and last place in our division. My time was 53:36 for the about 5.5 mile course and Rick came in at 1:00:05 and I don’t know if he will ever do this again. But it was a great day to be on the water and we enjoyed the chowder, chili, and camaraderie afterwards while we watched the ebb tide going out through Hull Gut and two intrepid kayakers battling the current coming through the Gut. Good thing my brother was there because I started to get leg cramps on the way home and that would not have been good while driving. Rick went rowing on the Charles the next day. I limped around the house.

Re: Open Water Rowing

Posted: November 1st, 2019, 9:01 am
by PaulG
Now I try to post some pictures. Always an adventure. This is me finishing the Mighty Merrimack Race.
Image

Re: Open Water Rowing

Posted: November 1st, 2019, 9:04 am
by PaulG
Jeff and Rick, the two best dorymen in New England finishing the Mighty Merrimack Race. Notice the symmetry in their stroke. That's important even in big boats.

Image

Re: Open Water Rowing

Posted: November 1st, 2019, 9:08 am
by PaulG
I have some good pictures from the Head of the Weir but I need help in resizing them so they are less than 1025 pixels wide. They are hosted on Google Photos. Any suggestions?
Paul

Re: Open Water Rowing

Posted: November 1st, 2019, 2:18 pm
by Yankeerunner
It was quite the.....um.....experience, I must say. As if it weren't bad enough that when a wave hit the bow my stern would sometimes be nearly underwater, or that when the waves came in from starboard I was sometimes driving from the catch with one oar in the crest of the wave while the other was airborne in the trough, or when at the finish one oar came out nicely while the other remained stuck in the crest. No, that wasn't the worst part. The worst was hearing the comments from the regulars that this was best rowing conditions ever at this race! What? It gets WORSE? I can't say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, but then again I can't say that I won't be back to try again next year. Especially since Anne Hird (Rhode Island rower and erger) has thrown down a challenge.

Highlight of the day was when I put on a borrowed life jacket and commented that I thought chicks might like the look. Immediately a slender, attractive, physically fit woman looked and exclaimed, "Oh, you are so HOT!" It made my day. Then she went out and beat me by some 13 minutes in the race. She was pretty darn hot herself.

Re: Open Water Rowing

Posted: November 1st, 2019, 7:06 pm
by Cyclist2
Yankeerunner wrote:
November 1st, 2019, 2:18 pm
I can't say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, but then again I can't say that I won't be back to try again next year.
Hey Rick; You forgot to mention the best part (of the race, not the scenery): Staying upright! Good job! Glad it was more fun than torture and that you'll be back.

I raced in a mixed double this year, and that was one of our primary goals, staying upright. It was definitely a challenge in a couple of races.