Thursday, 10 January 2013

Going Coxless

It is surprisingly difficult to change how you row. Recently, one of Langstone Cutters' Teifi skiffs was provided with a couple of pairs of carbon blades and people are only just getting used to them. This is mainly because of the considerable overlap compared with our wooden oars.
Yesterday I took the boat out with Damian, the guy in the picture with the monster tanker in the last post. He started to adapt to the very different style of the carbons, and we both had to learn another skill - rowing coxless.
I have lots of practice sculling on my own and with a cox, but almost none in a double without a cox. What makes it really difficult is the way a breeze weathercocks the boat, bringing it to lie abaft of the wind. This behaviour is particularly marked in the Teifis which have a strong sheer with high bow and stern.
The normal system for coxless rowing is for stroke to set the stroke and bow to steer, because bow has a better view forward. Unfortunately, in a cross-breeze this means that bow has to row like fury with one oar to keep the thing even approximately on course.
Eventually we worked out that the secret is cooperation. Damian in the bow would get is pointing in the right direction and then choose a landmark behind the transom. Then we would both steer to the mark.
Suddenly steering became much easier. Because we were both aiming for the same mark, we were working together and not steering against each other. Easy peasy.
I bet all coxless pairs are taught this on their first row out but it was a revelation to me.


doryman said...

Then, when you have your bearings and really get into your pull, you hit something, like an old piling. At least that's what happens to Mary and I.

Chris Partridge said...

That was bow's responsibility. Seated at stroke, I just did what I was told.

Unknown said...

Only ever tried this once and as you say it was like starting all over again. Thankfully the bowman & i trust each others ability.

It's been a while but i do remember the knuckle skids from the over lapped oars.

Long & Strong Chris.

Unknown said...

Some boats are affected by the wind in this way far more than others, i have an old Hamble river skiff & with a breeze behind you she tries to turn up into the wind something chronic. The whitehall i used to row was far better running like it was on rails.
As for overlap on the oars i like it!

Unknown said...

With my Acorn 15 its about weight 2 with no cox takes the bow down, the stern then picks up the wind and she starts to vere into it. Lighter man in the bow essential. Winter rowing is great! Cheers Mark

Brian said...

Wondering if you rowed without the rudder in place or with it?

Thinking perhaps the stoker could sit on the rudder lines in order to correct any wind or tidal effects?

Our Teifi Skiff is ready to go now. Refurbishing the oars took longer than the boat. So looking forward to trying her out, and hence very interested in your post.

The previous owner mentioned that when rowing with no cox, he placed a bag of sand in the stern to keep the trim correct.

Chris Partridge said...

Brian, we also have a 'passenger' called Mr Sandy who sits in the stern when there is no cox, but his effect is a bit limited. He helps but choosing a mark and both steering to it is also necessary. We did not have the rudder in, it only gets in the way.

Rob said...

Most Carbon Oars these days do have a method of adjusting the loom, so perhaps you can adjust the overlap...
Also, as you get more used to it, despite the "rule" that left *has to be over right, blah blah blah, for easy rowing it can becomes quite automatic to have the left or right lead a few inches, one in front of the other, and thus the overlap does not jam up.
For hard pulling, Yeah, then you have to have it down regimental solid.

Chris Partridge said...

Hi Rob,
These oars are rather old and had no adjustment on the looms so I had to hack them about. Luckily, the length seems to be about right or I would have to do more surgery.

Rob said...

Chris, I can see your dilemma, and your gunwales would not be the same spread as having outriggers like a fine boat or a slide seat boat might.
I looked at the earlier post, and saw the acrobatics and bodging you had to do to the oars! The goo that they use for assembly is *usually some sort of seriously high-temperature 'Hot-Glue.' Although if your acquisitions are truly hoary, and had a few repairs, who knows what you had to scrape out of them?
Good Fortune and I hope you get a pile of Carbon Fibre ones, so that you can show up those other crews who are getting lazy with the lighter weight oars !!

Robbie Wightman said...

We took our Teifi (thanks Brian) out coxless for the first time today. Despite bow rower being a skinny blonde the trim was poor. I need to find a Mr Sandy to come with us next time, as when the skiff started to turn herself it was bloomin' hard to change her will! Lovely to have the chance for a sneaky pre-work row though.