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.
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PaulG
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by PaulG » October 7th, 2015, 8:57 am

gregsmith01748 wrote: From the pictures, it looks like we had rougher water for the US Masters Nationals and the Textile Regatta up in Lowell last weekend. It seems a shame that the only time rowing makes the TV news is when a 4 and 8 get swamped and need rescuing.

Here's a video of the last 10 minutes or so of my race. There are a couple of places where my stern mounted camera is submerged and it's a good 6 inches above the deck. It was a strange race. I wasn't able to really push as hard as I normally would because I was concentrating so hard on avoiding wave induced crabs.

Greg:

You definitely had the worse day for rowing, especially in a skinny boat. I was going to head up to Lowell to view the race but the weather got so cold and windy I decided to stay home and warm. It looks like things got a little dicey from about 3:30 on in your video. There was heavy rain in the previous days and you were rowing with the current into a stiff east wind which set up the waves.

It was a beautiful October day on the Slocum River when I was racing and there were several racing shells competing. You would have been a contender for the course record in your class. This coming weekend I am going to the Mass Bay Open Water Challenge held on Plymouth Bay. (If its held on Plymouth Bay why do they call it the Mass Bay Challenge?) You can register on site if anyone is interested.

http://www.mbowr.org/mass-bay-open-wate ... enge-2015/

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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by PaulG » October 12th, 2015, 8:56 pm

Sometimes interesting things happen even when you don’t row. I drove down to Plymouth Massachusetts with my wife for the Massachusetts Bay Open Water Race. As we pulled into the parking lot at Nelson’s Beach at 08:30, I could see that Plymouth Bay was covered with white caps, but seemed rowable. By the time of the skippers meeting at 10:00 the wind had continued to rise and I was wondering again why I couldn’t just golf. Just before we launched at about 10:30 the race director said the wind was a steady 15 knots with gusts to 30 kts offshore. The big boats (whaleboats, pilot gigs, dories) would be OK but I had to seriously think about safety conditions before I decided to launch my 18 ft sliding seat open water shell. There was only one other person in a single sliding seat boat. My thought processes in deciding whether or not to row were as follows:

1. I had trained for the race, gotten up at 05:00, drove 1.5 hours and there were friends and family there to watch the race. I quickly decided that the social capital was irrelevant and the decision to go had to be made on conditions at the time.

2. I could start the race and then decide after the first mark to abandon the race if conditions further offshore were too difficult. No, that did not make sense either because if an activity is unsafe for your ability or equipment you shouldn’t even start it.

3. The winds were averaging 15k kts and with gusts to 30. I could handle 15 kts, but an average meant that 50% of the time the winds were higher than 15 kts. Furthermore, I could not handle 30 kt winds and the extremes are the ones that get you in trouble. A 30 kt gust at the wrong time could put me in water temperatures in the 50s F. The average wind and wave conditions are irrelevant. The extremes are the ones that get you in trouble.

4. Finally, the fact that I was even doubting my ability and equipment to safely complete the race indicated that I should not go.

That was it; I found the race director and withdrew. I was the only one to do so, and quietly dragged my boat up off the beach. I went back down to the beach to help a fellow rower launch through the surf. He had one of the new FISA open water sliding seat boats that was longer, wider, and heavier than my boat and more seaworthy. This was a “yole” style boat with an open stern that allows water that might come over the bow to slosh right out. I held the stern while Mr. Yole launched through the surf, but he slipped and got soaked getting in.

The dories and Mr. Yole made it out to the starting line and headed out to the first mark in a cross chop. Then they turned directly into the wind and I could see Mr. Yole was not making much headway. After a while, he turned back to shore accompanied by the crash boat. However, they weren’t headed back to the starting line; they were headed for the nearest land, a small protected pocket beach on the other side of a point of land southeast of the start. The Plymouth Harbormaster remained on station in the middle of the race course, but was not actively shadowing the racers. Several heats were on the water at the same time. Mr. Yole, a very experienced rower, was rowing slowly to shore with lots of glide between strokes. They disappeared around the point and then I saw the crash boat head back to the race. I walked back to the beach and involuntarily started into a trot. Once on the beach I started running in my neoprene booties, splash pants, and two polarfleece shirts. I made it to the point, clambered up over the riprap, ran across some expensive backyards, and down to the pocket beach.
Mr. Yole was standing there staring at his boat, oars, riprap, and parking lot above the riprap.

“You OK there? ”

“Oh hi, I came in.”

“You want my fleece?”

“Yes I do. I need to get back to my truck. Now. Let’s start running.”

I expected him to refuse my shirt but he was cold. Very cold. He stripped off his wet shirts and put my stuff on. On the way back my wife met up with us and she had another fleece pullover and a down quilt. Mr. Yole gladly put on the second fleece and covered his head with the quilt. Once we made it to the truck and heat came on everything was OK and we drove back to pick up the boat. Mr. Yole probably wasn’t hypothermic but he was headed that way.

I learned that if you are doubting your ability and equipment, don’t go out.

If you are in a crash boat you should stay with the people who headed to shore or radio back to the race organizer that you left someone alone on the shore.

So, it was another adventure even though I didn’t row. Mr. Yole sent me a nice email thanking me.

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gregsmith01748
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by gregsmith01748 » October 12th, 2015, 9:20 pm

Good call withdrawing! I'm afraid I wouldn't have your wisdom and it could get me killed.
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jackarabit
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by jackarabit » October 13th, 2015, 6:55 pm

Cautionary tales indeed! You bow your boat beautifully in that condition, Greg. Very impressive. I saw you wash out and stop one stroke to port and pry a stick out once to starbd but it didn't strike me that you were outmatched. The Fluid is at home in the fluid!
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gregsmith01748
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by gregsmith01748 » October 14th, 2015, 6:02 am

jackarabit wrote:Cautionary tales indeed! You bow your boat beautifully in that condition, Greg. Very impressive. I saw you wash out and stop one stroke to port and pry a stick out once to starbd but it didn't strike me that you were outmatched. The Fluid is at home in the fluid!
I had a few crabs through this section, but it didn't feel like the conditions were dangerous, more just annoying. With the water in that state, you need to grip the oars very tightly on recovery and be very deliberate when you place the blades, essentially waiting to feel that you have a good catch before you really drive. These combine to slow down the rate and prevented me from pushing the pace as hard as I liked.

I also need to start to change my rigging for days like that to get more clearance for my blades above the waves. That will help a little.

The boat did as well as I could have hoped a skinny boat would do in the chop. I really love this boat.
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PaulG
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by PaulG » October 25th, 2015, 8:01 pm

This time I won. Not my age group, not my boat class, not my weight class, the whole damn thing. The Mighty Merrimack Race was held on Oct 18 and hosted by Lowell Boat Shop in Amesbury Mass. where they still make wooden rowing boats and dories.

In my race there were two doubles and a couple of other sliding seats and dory type boats. I figured the two doubles would take first and second, but only one of them was a sliding seat. Even though it was a wherry type boat, I thought four oars in a sliding seat would be faster than two oars in my boat. It looked that way at the start as they shot to a lead and rounded the first mark in first place with me in second. However, in heading for the second mark they made a serious navigation error and overshot the mark and had to turn back. Even though they could see me in second place headed on a different course they never checked over their shoulder to see what I found so interesting on a 90 degree S heading. I made the turn, headed upriver and stuck close to land to stay out of the wind and had a healthy lead after the first lap. However, on the second lap they were gaining on me. But, they did the same thing again and overshot the second mark. After that I put the hammer down and won going away. Navigation is part of the race.

After the race someone told me about another race that was happening on a river in Boston the same day that might have taken away some potential participants from the Merrimack race as either spectators or competitors in Boston. I don't care. I like winning.

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gregsmith01748
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by gregsmith01748 » October 25th, 2015, 8:55 pm

Congratulations ! Not the best weather for a race today. I decided to hit the erg instead of rowing in the rain.
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JKG3
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by JKG3 » October 26th, 2015, 9:37 pm

Hi,

I'm just jumping into this thread to ask how you folks get information about the various open water races happening around New England. I live in Rockport and am familiar with the Essex and Blackburn races, but I haven't found a website with information about the other races. Also, I'm curious what you find to be the best way to train for longer open water races...I get about an hour a day in my Peinert Dolphin on a local lake but I'd imagine that being successful with open water conditions means practicing in those conditions. Basically, how best would I build up from doing an hour on flat water to being able to handle 3-4 hours in open water (for the Blackburn) next July?

Thanks,

Jim

PaulG
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by PaulG » October 27th, 2015, 9:45 am

I am aware that a few people are working on an open water rowing website that will contain a calendar for open water events in New England. As soon as it is up I will post the URL here. The season is pretty much over for this year and I hope the site will be up over the winter. One more race is the Merrimack Chase in early November. Look on Regatta Central for more information.

I can't speak much to training for the Blackburn other than the conditions of the day are extremely important. I've never done it because I never feel that I have got enough training in by July. Some years it is just a very long row and some years like this year (as I have said before) it is like running a marathon with a chance of drowning. My understanding is that pace is extremely important. Start slow and you will finish if the conditions are reasonable. I would think you would need to have at least one very long row each week in addition to your daily rows and you should get experience in rough water. The Peinert Dolphin is a very capable boat and can handle the Blackburn most years.

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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by JKG3 » October 28th, 2015, 9:30 am

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

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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by PaulG » October 29th, 2015, 8:44 am

Send me a PM in the spring and maybe we can get together. Take a look at Little Harbor Boathouse in Marblehead MA and click on Coastal Rowing. They run guided tours but are pricey.

http://littleharborboathouse.com/

PaulG
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by PaulG » November 1st, 2015, 3:04 pm

The Head of the Weir race was on a gray October 24th. The weather was calm for this beautiful race. Not much new to report that I have not said earlier, except I am pretty sure I would have won the under 19 ft class if they had it. All single sliding seat boats were lumped into one class which put me up against a couple of Peinert Dolphins. I also made a strategic error that put me too close to shore in an effort to stay out of the fairly light winds. It didn't help me much and I should have just rowed a straight course across Hull Bay. Regardless it was great fun. Now I will try to post some pictures. Sometimes that is more difficult than the race.

The staging area

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My boat, The Bluefish

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The new FISA yole style double coastal scull
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PaulG
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by PaulG » November 1st, 2015, 3:10 pm

More from the Head of the Weir. It's good to remember sometimes where all this erging stuff started.

The Jimmy D.

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Selkie and Belle Fast
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The Kittery at the end of the race.
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gregsmith01748
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by gregsmith01748 » November 1st, 2015, 4:19 pm

That's a long race! 5 1/2 miles. Was it at least on an ebbing tide? I managed to find west corner on google maps. There sure are a lot of twists and turns to get from there to the outlet by bumkin island. Was the finish in Hull Gut, or a line set up before you got to the gut?

I used to sail out of allerton harbor with my dad when I was a kid. It brings back a lot of happy memories.

I like the pictures a lot. It looks like a lot of fun. Congratulations on the strong finish.
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Re: Open Water Rowing

Post by PaulG » November 2nd, 2015, 1:40 pm

I neglected to mention that the Head of the Weir is hosted by the Hull Lifesaving Museum :
http://www.lifesavingmuseum.org/

The race started close to high slack so there was a slight ebb tide during the race, but wind is usually the most important environmental factor affecting the race. It certainly was a little twisty and turny at the start but once you clear World's End it if a fairly straight shot to the finish line at the old Coast Guard Station just inside of Hull Gut by Hull High School.

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