As there has been so much written on rowing and sculling technique that one can draw on, I have consolidated the guiding principals that I follow.
Connection ‘catch’ timing is key to maintaining boat speed because poor timing can slow boat speed. Move the hands and body towards the catch at the speed of the water. The blade should enter/catch the water smoothly at the speed of the boat. One must pay attention to the feeling in the hands and the feet at the point of connection and maintain feeling without forcing pressure against the foot stretcher.
Note, at the start of a race, one may connect and hit the catch harder to get the boat moving with an exaggerated push on the feet to whip the boat forward, thus providing rapid acceleration for about 20 strokes. This does, however, come at a physiological cost and suboptimal movement of mass in the boat.
Suspend the arms with the body on the drive progressively driving harder with the legs. Power should develop through to 100% at the release, continuously maintaining the same feeling of pressure in the hands and feet through to the release. This requires a build in force through the second half of the stroke as the speed of the boat increases. Remember to push, press and hold the load in the hands and feet together. Move the boat further in the drive phase, relaxing during the recovery in order to let the boat ‘glide’ thus working for you during the recovery.
Understand the feeling in the hands and feet at the release ‘finish’ and maintain this feeling without forcing it. Take time as the blade releases and be deliberate with the hand flow down and away, using the velocity and centre of mass acceleration at the finish to really send the boat. Sit tall and tap the hands down and away with the speed of the boat, allowing maximum glide and run of the boat with the handle moving in a continuous flow and with a soft knee break, sit tall to allow the boat to accelerate underneath you as feel the glide up to the catch in one movement, ready to connect with the water at the speed of the boat.
Rhythm & Flow
To keep the boat moving fast, it is critical to manage boat speed movement as carefully as possible. How the boat accelerates and decelerates is greatly influenced by your body’s movements, including sequencing, rhythm, power application and momentum.
Sequencing is a key factor of boat velocity. The legs start the movement, the trunk continues, and accelerates the movement. The arms finalise the movement. This sequence is mirrored during recovery. This sequence is supported by data models developed by Dr Valery Kleshnev, Biomechanist and Rowing Science Consultant.
In a crew boat, agree on a meeting point at the finish, move together the hands down and away, break the knees softly, and sit tall, thus allowing the boat to accelerate underneath you. Feel the glide up to the catch in one movement, ready to catch the water at the speed of the boat.
As boat speed increases, your rate and handle speed should increase. The speed of the boat should match the speed of the puddles in the water. Find the flow with the water, without forcing the pressure against the foot stretcher.