I know that, in general, having 8 seat back or having bow row (or having 7 seat back or having 2 seat row) do roughly the same thing, but I’ve found that there’s a subtle difference between stern backing and bow rowing, and it’s hard to determine which to use in some situations since they can have very different outcomes. Can you explain the differences and give some examples of when to use which?
Unless I have someone who is 100% inexperienced in bow, I rarely have the stern back or row when I’m trying to get a point. The bow of the boat is lighter and narrower than the stern and the bowman doesn’t have to worry about moving an extra 100lbs like the stroke does (the 100lbs being the coxswain), which makes it a little more effective and takes less time/effort. Plus, if you’re getting a point you’re not gonna rotate your back end of the boat, you’re gonna rotate the front … that should be the most obvious reason why you’d use bow pair.
The only time I really use stern pair to help me get my point is if we’re in between drills or pieces and our coach is talking to bow pair. I’d rather have 7-seat or stroke back it (and then I can finish adjusting when we start rowing) than risk distracting bow or 2-seat when they’re trying to listen to what our coach is saying.
Regarding stake boats, when backing, you always start with stern pair and work your way up the boat depending on how much power you need (stern pair, stern four, stern six, etc.). When you get close to the stake boat and can see what adjustments need to be made, then you can have your stern pair take really light arms only strokes to help you out. Once you’re locked on, resume using bow pair to get your point since using stern pair will make it too difficult for the person holding the boat to keep a good grip on it.
99.98% of the time, you should be using bow pair. It’s just one of those unwritten rules of coxing that you get weird looks for if you don’t follow it.