Help and Advice

Help & Advice on Selections & General Rowing

This is a good start-point if you haven’t been rowing long or a good reminder if you have – it’s not the last word on gig rowing. It’s up to you to choose what suits you and makes the experience enjoyable. It inevitably has a competitive slant to it as that is the nature of the sport and the origins of commercial gig rowing, but you can make use of this whether you are out to beat last years World Champs record or simply getting involved a more laid back way.
– Can you execute and effective stroke consistently over the average race distance?
– Ask your cox for the Fixed Seat Rowing Technique hand-out produced by British Rowing, CPGA & CRA that has diagrams and advice on posture, grip, stretchers, phases of the stroke, etc. There may be more of these workshops in the coming season.
– Learn how to feather in the off-season – you will be glad of it in windy conditions
– Mix with experienced crews. Experienced rowers can learn from mixing it with newer people too. Don’t get stuck in one position in a crew in the off-season
– Ask your cox and crew for feedback – ask them to help with your bad habits. Different coxes will have different drills so work with whoever is coxing at the time.
– Slow rowing is very effective in training. When the cox takes the stroke rate up, a crew should aim to do so without dropping their shape, style, explosive catch, powerful drive or weakening their posture.
– Fast rate rowing can help you row with more composure at an easier rate and make you realise that it is possible.
– Practice controlled aggression as a crew without losing focus.
Power & Stamina
Strength & conditioning is proven to work in every sport. It will make it much easier for you to execute the technical points above and can be improved by:
– Weight training (building explosive power with deadlifts, kettle bells, resistance training, cycling, rowing machine – seek advice from your cox or gym coach.
– Core strength can be improved. Look for abdominal workout programs – plank, Pilates, etc. Work on your gluteus
– Conditioning through specific stretching exercises, swimming, spin classes
– Find out how fast you can do a 2km on a rowing machine and chart progress
(a good general target starting somewhere sub 8 minutes and aiming for sub 7mins). This is one of the best all-round exercises you can do to improve your gig rowing.
– Circuit Training – these are usually great all-round strength & conditioning classes.
– Running & Cycling – Hill training and sprints – anything that involves explosive or “fast-twitch” muscle work.
– Balanced diet – Try to eat healthily (and it does help to not over-indulge on the alcoholic refreshments). If you are aiming for the more competitive end and are “bulking-up”, then you might need to seek more specific dietary advice on protein and carbohydrate intake and the like.
– Recovery – Make sure you give your body (and mind) time to recover from training/racing.
NB – Seek competent advice exercises, diet and equipment and always try to do a proper warm up before and after training, in or out of the boat.
Everyone can and should try to improve on where they are now. Set markers for yourself. If you start working early you will improve your chances of selection.
Mental and physical fortitude. ‘Sports do not build character, they reveal it’. You will need to push yourself to find out if you’ve got grit. No one can teach you this.
Everything counts. The best crews on the circuit pay attention to every detail right up until they have put the boats to bed. This includes: Being on time. Manoeuvring and stowing the boats and equipment in training or at races. Ability & eagerness to learn and a hunger to improve on and off the water are really important. Discipline in the warm-up & warm-down. Work with cox and crew to get the job done. Then enjoy the rewards afterward.
Medical conditions
If you need it, seek medical advice early on so you can train with confidence. Be honest with your cox and crew. They need to know where you/they stand.

Consistency is vital, can you commit? It is a definite advantage to train as a crew out of the boat as well as in it if possible. Be honest about what you can do then be consistent.
Attendance to races
Without a shadow of a doubt the best preparation for racing is to race. The more the merrier! Get your name down for as many as you can.
Effort in and out of the boat
It’s up to each individual to pull his or her weight. Crews will vary but a good minimum would be rowing three times a week prior to Scilly and for the more competitive crews this should involve an additional 3-6 hours of land training per week. It’s down to each crew to decide. Can you sign up to an agreed minimum and stick to it?
Good spirit in the boat
An essential part of what makes a successful crew. Try not to be too serious. Have fun with it and make sure you give each other a break. Be friendly and respectful of other crews and water-users.
Adaptability & willingness to learn
Discuss how things are going with your cox and crew if required after a session. Listen to experience. Be prepared to train under different coxes.
Boat handling
Your primary responsibility is the safety of your crew and vessel when afloat.
– Be safe
– Listen to your cox and be ready to act.
– Be respectful of all boats and club equipment when using or stowing them.
– Be methodical on and off the water – slow and steady gets the job done quicker.
– Boats have to be tied-up or “moored” to piers, pontoons, to other boats in all kinds of conditions – learn the ropes and ask how to tie the correct knots. Learn the maritime “Rules of the Road” and know who has right-of-way on the water.
– Stick around if there’s work to be done.
Being part of the gig club means having the opportunity to share the workload in all aspects of club life.
– Support the committee & co-ordinators who put in the extra work to keep the club running for you.
– Help the Boatswain (Bosun) – it’s a never-ending job and much easier when everyone chips-in.
– Thank your coxswains & towing volunteers – they are giving up their own personal time to help you so let them know you appreciate it. Pay your towing dues on time.
– Help other people to learn gig rowing
– Support your Bristol crews! It’s always great to here Bristol crews supporting each other.

If you have any questions on the covered here ask your coxes, selectors or more experienced rowers and they will point you in the right direction. It takes lots of boat-time to gain the skills for competitive racing but there are many other brilliant events to go to besides – just ask your crew co-ordinator or any anyone else on the Rowing Committee.
Good luck and enjoy the upcoming rowing season.
Selection Panel.


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