Pro tip: Maintaining the set while you’re on the rudder

Previously: Advice from a former novice

When you’re steering around a turn and have to be (hard) on the rudder for two, three, four, five strokes, what does that do to the set of the boat (i.e. which direction does it fall) and how do you have the rowers compensate for it?

I’ve had to remind our coxswains about how this works a few times this year, in addition to getting questions about it via email, so I wanted to lay it out here to clear up any confusion.

You basically need to remember two very simple things: The boat is going to fall to the side that you’re steering towards and to compensate the rowers on that side need to lift their hands. This means that…

If you’re steering towards port the boat is going to fall to port. To compensate, the port rowers need to lift their hands for the duration of the time that you are on the rudder.

If you’re steering towards starboard the boat is going to fall to starboard. To compensate, the starboard rowers need to lift their hands for the duration of the time that you are on the rudder.

Once you’ve got your point and are off the rudder then you need to call the crew back to even handle heights. Don’t forget to do this or assume that the rowers will know when you’re off the rudder and do it themselves – they won’t.

Related: So my coach (who rowed but was a coxswain for a short bit of time) has been telling me to only steer when the rower’s blades are in the water… I’m kind of confused by this and I’ve never heard of only steering when the blades are in. Any help please? Thank you so much.

The way I usually call it going into the turn is “on the rudder to port so ports let’s lift the hands for three strokes…” and then when I’m out of the turn I’ll say “OK, off the rudder, back to even hands on this next finish…”. I always specify how many strokes I plan to be on the rudder and I always specify when I want them to go back to even handle heights, that way everyone does it at the same time and at the same point in the stroke cycle.

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One thought on “Pro tip: Maintaining the set while you’re on the rudder

  1. Mark says:

    I so wish more coxes would do this and call the rudder usage in turns, it is hard to guess while facing backwards and the whole crew to respond together.

Thoughts?

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