Previously: Getting to the starting line || Steering through the bridges || Landmarks along the course || Steering around the turns || Race plans || My general race plan || Yaz Farooq’s coxswain clinic || Race plan “hacks” || The course in meters || Weeks, Lowell House, and “the turning tree”
Two years ago Pete Cipollone was on the Rowing Illustrated podcast talking about how to take the Weeks turn. I’ve talked about Weeks before in a previous post but if you’re looking for some last minute tips, here’s a few from the guy who’s won HOCR seven times and whose course record still stands (13:58.9, set in 1997 if you’re curious).
Related: Pete Cipollone’s 1997 HOCR Recording
Setting yourself for the turn is easier than you think, provided you give yourself plenty of room to execute it and position yourself in the middle of the course coming down the Powerhouse stretch. Despite what you’ve probably heard from your coach about staying tight to the buoys, this is one spot (of many, tbh) where you don’t want or need to do that. If you’re confident in your rudder system and the strength of your bow and 3-seat then you can hug them a little tighter but the “ideal” position is about a full boat length off the buoys.
Related: Taking the Weeks turn with a new/better fin on the Empacher
There are two ways to know if you’ve nailed the turn – the first is if you’re done steering before you hit the bridge. If you’re going through the bridge at an angle and you’re pretty much completely off the rudder already, you nailed it. The other visual cue is if your port side’s blades miss the abutment by a foot or less. I’ve talked about this before but for me personally, I know that when I have the momentary feeling of “oh shit I’m gonna hit the bridge”, that’s how I know we’re right where we need to be.
The last part of managing the turn is thinking ahead to Anderson, which you should be doing before you even enter Weeks. Coming out of the turn, provided you started it early enough and are done steering before you go through the bridge, you want to be pointed straight ahead at the outside abutment of Anderson Bridge (the one between the Boston arch that contains the traveling lane and the center racing arch).
Related: Steering through the bridges
A lot of coxswains, particularly those who are racing at HOCR for the first time, have a tendency to wait too long to start their turns which then throws them super wide coming through Weeks, which then means they’ve gotta do an S-curve to get back into position to be lined up for Anderson. You can save yourself a lot of stress and steering by thinking a bridge or two ahead so that you’ve got plenty of time to get set up and make adjustments to your course if necessary if there’s other crews in your way.