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Getting on the Stakes
  posted on: 1/24/2006

Positioning your shell at the stakeboat or starting dock is one of the more delicate maneuvers coxswains have to execute. It is also an opportunity to put your boat psychologically "up a length" by doing it well. In the midst of all the normal pre-start tension, calmly maneuvering into the stakeboat sends a subverbal message that "we’re already on top of this situation."

If the water where you practice is not the water where the races are actually held, you may have to improvise a way to simulate the start so you and your crew can practice. An anchored coach’s launch makes a good practice stakeboat, with the added benefit that your coach can instruct you on the technique of maneuvering into it.

The starts of sprint racing are usually either a set of anchored boats or rafts, or else a bridge with starting docks protruding from them. This column is intended most of all as a help to the novice coxswain who has been fed all kinds of terrible stories about how hard it is. It's really not, as long as you keep it simple, proceed gently, and turn it into a routine like any other. Here are routines which have been passed down since time immemorial in my program, and which have stood me and my fellow coxswains in good stead. Wind, current, etc. may require adjustments to them, but they’re a good guide to build from.

A major help is to watch how the boats in the races preceding yours maneuver, and to imitate them when it’s your turn.

If the start is from stakeboats, this usually means you can row up from behind them and then back in. If a bridge, then you cross in front, spin, and back in. In both cases, the sin to avoid is turning too far out in front and having to back the boat a long way. This not only delays the start (you can even be assessed a false start for it), but is also tiring for your stern four or stern pair.

Approach gently from behind (unless otherwise instructed) using only your stern 4 (if an 8+) or stern pair (if a 4+). By tacit agreement, coxswains usually row between the stakeboats on the stakeboats’ starboard side (i.e. leaving the one you intend to lock onto to your port). This doesn’t seem to be an explicit rule; it just seems to happen. Obviously, this reverses if one of the stakeboats is too close to the shore to allow passing on its starboard side. The key is not to try to bring two shells through on the same side.

As soon as your bow is even with the stakeboat, way enough, count to two, and have your starboard oars check the boat as you drift past. This will kick your stern towards the stakeboat, and should bring your boat to a stop 1/4 or 1/2 a length in front of the stakeboat, with your stern at an angle towards it. A few light back strokes by your stern pair (adjusting the pressure to steer as needed) should place your stern gently in the hands of the stakeboat holder. Way enough when your stern is about four feet from the stakeboat holder’s hands and let it drift slowly to them. (A fully-loaded collegiate 8+ weighs almost a ton; a 4+ is about two-thirds of a ton -- that’s a lot of weight for one person to try to stop on a dime.) You are now locked on, and can adjust your point. (Look for a future column on pointing techniques.)

Starting bridge or docks
In this situation, you must row across in front, spin, and back in. If there are marshals, they will often arrange you in lane order (or in reverse lane order, as appropriate) before sending you in to the starting docks. This makes it much, much easier for everyone to maneuver. If there are no marshals to do this, the coxswains may take it upon themselves to do this.

Using stern four (if an 8+) or stern pair (if a 4+), cross in front of the docks about three quarters to one length in front of them. (Unless there are boats already locked on, in which case, cross just in front of their bows.) Just before your bow enters your lane, way enough, check hard with your downcourse oars. (E.g. if you are crossing in front of the starting bridge with the starting bridge to starboard, then check with your port oars.) This should bring your boat to a stop at a 45-degree angle, pretty much in your lane, close to the starting platform intended for you. Have your one or two of your port oars back a stroke or two (if necessary) to straighten the boat a little, then back the rest of the way in with your stern pair. Way enough when your stern is still 4-6 feet away from the holder’s hands, and let it drift in gently.

Some regattas allow you to take warm-up starts in your lane prior to the start if there is time. This is usually a good idea because it gives your crew a feel for the start in the actual conditions. (Your coach will probably go over this possibility in your pre-race meeting when you go over the warm-up plan.)

Coxswains of bowloaders may want to sit up and turn around to direct the backing in, or they may leave the final backing entirely to their stern pair, with three seat giving the instructions.

Next column: Getting your point

back to row2k columns...

Gainesville Crew Classic Rescheduled
  posted on: 11/3/2005

The Gainesville Crew Classic has been rescheduled to March 18 to avoid a conflict with Miami's regatta on April 8. We will now have regattas several weeks in a row. Plan ahead....

Tory Hanlan Dies - November 1, 2005
  posted on: 11/3/2005

Osprey Oars is very sad to learn that Victoria “Tory” Hanlan, long time supporter of our program, passed away November 1, 2005. Tory, a Sarasota resident, was the granddaughter of Ned Hanlan, one of Canada's most successful champions of the 19th Century. For more on Ned Hanlan, log on to Ned Hanlan was awarded a magnificent silver tureen in recognition of his rowing accomplishments in the world of rowing. Tory in turn passed the tureen on to the Osprey Oars to be awarded by the Osprey Oars to a former rower who has distinguished himself or herself in the field. The winner of the inaugural presentation in 2004 was Bill Plifka, 1999 World Champion in the Lightweight Eight. The 2005 recipient was Chris Liwski, gold medalist in the Eight at the 2003 Pan Am Games and the Eight at the 2002 Nations Cup. Chris was chosen to be an alternate on the US Olympic Eight in Athens in 2004. Tory was very proud of these young men as well as of our entire program. We shall miss her greatly. Our deepest sympathies go out to her entire family.
For more on the inaugural presentation of the tropy, log on to ...

News from Matt Swick
  posted on: 10/4/2005

Matt Swick, M.D., Riverview High ’93, two time member of the state champion men’s eight and on the ’93 boat that went to Henley reports, “I just thought I would let everyone know what I was up to. I am in Atlanta in my forth year (of five) in residency in orthopedic surgery. I'm working hard but doubt I could come close to my old 2500 erg score.” Matt was in Sarasota for a visit several weeks ago where we met for breakfast and he looks like he could still spin a good wheel on the erg. Nice to hear from you, Matt....

News from Kirby Gallie
  posted on: 9/30/2005

Kirby Gallie is currently a senior at the University of Wisconsin, majoring in English and reports that her rowing highlights on the Badger Crew include winning Big Tens and Eastern Sprints in her freshman year in the Novice Women’s 2nd 8. She stroked the Varsity 4+ as a sophomore and placed either 1st or 2nd in every race! Kirby is pleased to add, “We also qualified as a team for the NCAA Women's Rowing Championships in Sacramento, CA, for the first time since 1999, so this was a huge step for us.” Kirby’s Four won the petite final, coming in 7th overall. Last year as a junior was also spent in the V4 where once again her Four never placed lower than 2nd place. “We qualified again as a team to go to NCAA's in CA, where our 4 was able to beat out some pretty heavy competition- Ohio State, Yale, Harvard...and we made it to the Grand Final where we took 5th place - the highest WI finish in any boat at the NCAA Championships in the 6 years that it has been held. This year we hope to be even more successful than the past few. I'll keep you up to date, or check and see what we're up to.”...

News from David Wyant
  posted on: 9/29/2005

David, who coxed our State Championship 4+ that went on to place 4th at Cincinnati in the Youth Invitationals in 2001 writes that he has just graduated from Wesleyan with a B.A. in English, having been a four
year letterman and the varsity coxswain since his enrollment. "We won the
New England Championship last year, which was the first in his
fifteen-or-so years for my coach Phil Carney."

His plans include being the next Head Coach of the University of Miami Men's Rowing Club. He is concerned about the challenge he faces since there are very few rowers returning and little money to support the club, "but it should be fun." David also plans to attend graduate school, likely for journalism.

It is always good to hear from our former rowers who are all doing something interesting. We wish David the best in his efforts as a coach.

News form Kevin Biegel
  posted on: 9/23/2005

Kevin Biegel, Captain of the ’93 crew and a member of the first Riverview High School Men’s 8+ to win a Florida State Championship and then went on to row at Henley where he was in the winning Men’s Senior Coxed Four at Readingtown and also competed in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup reports as follows: “I'm a big shot writer and I'm still in decent shape. By that, I mean I'm the lowest level writer on staff at Scrubs and I have a flabby butt.” Only Kevin could express it so well. I imagine he is in excellent shape and could probably pull a good oar. If any of you saw “Something About Mary”, that was also some of Kevin’s work. We all wish him continued success. His photo with his ’93 eight has a prominent place in our club house....

News from Mackenzie Mudgett
  posted on: 9/17/2005

Quick update – I’m rowing at Riverside Boat Club in Cambridge, MA. I started in April this year…after a 4 year break since my 2001 graduation….and I stroked the women’s 8+ and women’s 4-at the Canadian Henley in August. We won 2 gold medals – one for the women’s senior 8+ and another for the women’s dash. It was really incredible!!
Hope you and the team are doing well!

Osprey Oars sends its congratulations and thanks for the update.

Roster Update
  posted on: 8/12/2005

Our roster is filled beyond capacity so competition for boatings this year is going to be hot, hot, hot. We also have a nascent girls' crew and they are looking strong. We welcome to our team Madeline Jackson, youngest sister of one of our former rowers, Krista, who is now stroking the women's varsity at Penn. All new rowers, please provide Peter with your roster profiles so that oour supporters can keep current on our program....

  posted on: 7/9/2005

New rowers on the roster are asked to have their bio data in to Peter as soon as possible so that our web site can be current. You may mail your bio to Thank you....

Summer Camp
  posted on: 7/6/2005

Summer camp has been very successful and our roster is filled beyond capacity. Those of you who are planning on returning to the team in the fall need to be ready and in condition to retain your seats as there are several very strong novices who are in contention. A word to the wise - be prepared....

Head of the Hooch
  posted on: 7/6/2005

We have reservations for 10 rooms for the Head of the Hooch for the evenings of November 4 and 5 at the Clarion Chattanooga, (423)752-6977. All but two are now filled so if you think you might want a room for the regatta, let Peter know immediately or plan on making your own reservations. We will be taking the entire team....

Team Photo
  posted on: 4/27/2005

We try again! Bring your polo shirts and khaki shorts or slacks. Team photo 04.28.05....

Team photo tomorrow
  posted on: 4/26/2005

All athletes must be present tomorrow, 4.27.05, for the team photo wearing the polo shirt. If anyone is missing the photo will not be taken and we will schedule it again for the next day....

Team photo tomorrow
  posted on: 4/26/2005

All athletes must be present tomorrow, 4.27.05, for the team photo wearing the polo shirt. If anyone is missing the photo will not be taken and we will schedule it again for the next day....

Change in posting race results
  posted on: 4/25/2005

We now report two different forms of newsletters - (a) Race Reports for race results and (B) newsletters for other items of general interest, i.e. Dick Yochum's recent visit, etc. Check it out....

Correction on Camp Fee
  posted on: 4/25/2005

Fees for camp have been revamped. (A) First time rowers will receive a free introductory week and will the be charged $150 a week for each of the next two weeks; (B) Experienced rowers who are not members of Osprey Oars will be charged $200 per wek for each of the three weeks; (C) Osprey Oars members will be charged $150 per week for each of the three weeks....

Dick Yochum News Report Posted
  posted on: 4/25/2005

Dick Yochum`s visit to the Osprey Oars has been reported in a newsletter and is now posted along with photos....

Three new athletes join Osprey Oars
  posted on: 4/19/2005

We are delighted to have Talia Samelian and Parker Lawler, both Pine View Freshmen, and Sean Greaves, Lakewood Ranch Junior, join our crew. Talia is a coxswain and has already had her first race. See the newsletter report on the Miami International Regatta. Sean is brand new to rowing and Parker has come to us from another program. Their photos and bios will appear on the Roster in the near future....

Summer Camp
  posted on: 4/6/2005

Tryout Camp dates are Tues. June 21 - Sat. July 9, 2005, and will run from 8:30 a.m. until 12:00 noon, sometimes letting out around 11:30 depending upon weather and activities of that day. First week is free for first time rowers. First time rowers who are invited to participate and who choose to particpate in the last two weeks will be charged the weekly fee of $250. All others will be charged a fee of $250 per week for each of the three weeks. Enrollment is limited to 16 participants....

Chris Liwski rows in Oxford`s winning boat
  posted on: 3/28/2005

Chris Liwski, Riverview `98,pulled for Oxford in the 5 seat as Oxford won the 2005 Boat Race by two lengths in 16:42. They came home six seconds ahead of Cambridge in the third fastest time ever.
The Dark Blues made a strong start and whilst Cambridge drew back into The Race, Oxford made the decisive move as they approached Chiswick Steps.
The Oxford victory - their third in four years - narrows down Cambridge`s overall series lead to 78-72 in an event which dates back to 1829.


Spring Camp
  posted on: 3/26/2005

Schedule for Spring Camp: Mon, Tues, Thurs and Fri afternoon at 4:30 - Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri and Sat morning ar 7:30. Wednesday afternoon is off. Breakfast party after Saturday morning practice. Let's get ready for the last half of the season!!...

Practice Schedule Revised
  posted on: 2/22/2005

Starting Monday, 02.28.05, weekday practices will commence at 4:15 and we will try very hard to be out by 7:00. This depends upon the athletes cleaning up in time after a minimum of 1.5 hours to a maximum of 1.75 hours water time between 4:45 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday morning practices will commence at 7:00 and run until 10:00. ...

Chris Liwski
  posted on: 2/22/2005

Chris Liwski, Riverview '98, has made the Oxford boat and will be competing against Cambridge in the 151st running of The Boat Race on Easter Sunday....

Miami Beach Sprints
  posted on: 1/31/2005

Note: An important date change for this regatta. It is no longer scheduled for February 27. It is now set for Sunday, March 6. ...

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