Sunday 27 February 2011

From Itchenor

I went out as early as I could this morning because the neap tides mean high water was 0636 or 1939, both very antisocial times. I have been rowing with Langstone Cutters rather a lot recently and had forgotten just how beautiful Itchenor is early in the morning.
The picture was taken with the 5 megapixel camera in the Motorola Defy phone I am playing with. Far superior to the 3 megapixel camera in the Nokia E71, but the Defy's Android OS means I have to use the Endomondo GPS tracking software which is OK but won't tag pictures with the workout. Sports Tracker on Nokia is far better. Not only does it position your photos on the track, it links the track with the speed graph, so if you place the cursor on any point on the track you get the speed. Very cool. Unfortunately only available on Nokia phones.

Friday 25 February 2011

Rowing in New Zealand

The horror of the Christchurch earthquake makes one worry about friends in New Zealand, however far they live from the area, so it was good to hear from Owen Sinclair, who writes:
Hi Chris,
I'm trying to distract myself from thoughts about the earthquake in Christchurch. I'm OK, being 250 miles away, but I lived in Christchurch for about 25 years and still haven't heard from some friends and family there.
Anyway; some photos from a day trip from Totaranui in Abel Tasman National Park into the Awaroa Estuary and up the Awaroa River, last weekend.
The entrance to the estuary is less than a one hour row along the coast; I went in with the tide and back out on the ebb. Saw numerous native birds and some stingrays.
Part of a great weekend away, which left me feeling great until news of the earthquake.

Sunday 20 February 2011

The River Itchen

 I tend to bang on rather about how lovely it is round here on the south coast of England, with Chichester Harbour, the River Hamble and the Isle of Wight and everything, so yesterday was a total change.
Langstone Cutters took Gladys to meet a bunch of people from Hamble River Rowing to row up the River Itchen.
Now, for most of its length the Itchen is indeed very lovely. It is a noted trout stream burbling gently through chalk downland. But when it reaches Southampton it gets very urban and gritty.
Someone said something about how horrible it all is, and Steve riposted: "How can you say that, with this wonderful view of the allotments?" Then he looked over his shoulder and spotted the vast piles of rusting garbage at a scrap metal quay. "Just when I thought it couldn't get better....," he muttered.
The main picture, supplied by Hamble River Rowing stalwart Andy Cunningham, captures the ambience. That's Gladys at the extreme right.
And here she is again, moving away from the slipway after lunch. Lunch was a surprise. We went to the Junction Inn on the recommendation of Port na Storm blogger Graham Neil, expecting not much from a pub stuck between the railway and the river. But it was great - a superb selection of real ales and a home cooked menu at very reasonable prices.
The prize for most attractive boat on the river goes to Myfanwy, a Swallowboats Osprey owned by Glyn Ffoulkes.

Thursday 17 February 2011

Rowing for Charity

Neil Calore, a captain in the Philadelphia Fire Department, is planning an epic row up the east coast of the US to raise awareness for children and families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. He will be starting in April in Washington DC and rowing 425 miles to New York, stopping at fire boat stations along the way.
One in every 110 American children (one in 70 boys) is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined. Yet, for the vast majority of cases of autism, the cause is unknown. Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism science and advocacy organization, provides more information about this devastating disease. My goal is to raise $25,000 through my donations site.
My boat "SPRAY" is a 17’ Chesapeake Light Craft "Northeaster Dory" built from kit, with a balance lugsail rig.
I will be launching from Washington, D.C.’s Fire Boat Station and rowing down the Potomac to Chesapeake Bay, up to Baltimore, along the canal to Delaware Bay and Philadelphia and up to Trenton NJ where I will have to pull out and trailer the boat to six miles to the Delaware and Raritan Canal.
I will pass five decommissioned locks (now basically dams) - I have plenty of support to help me portage the boat around the "locks". Then I row from Raritan Bay to Newark Bay and up the Hudson to the New York City Fire Boat Station in Manhattan.
I'll be beach camping, sleeping on the boat and taking advantage of offers from Yacht Clubs between Fire Boat Stations. As every good boater knows, Mother Nature will ultimately dictate my progress!
The Philadelphia Fire Department's Fire Prevention Division is currently developing a City wide campaign targeting families affected by ASD's, which should be ready for release in conjunction with the trip. I am still finalizing the details with the other Fire Departments, but expect full cooperation and hopefully a coordinated Fire Prevention campaign.
A SPOT Satellite Tracker will interface with Google Maps to report my position, with Facebook, Twitter, and the News Media also following my progress. With John & Gina Monaghan of Wayne, PA as my rowing/fitness coaches, I just might make it! They've graciously donated their time, expertise and Concept 2 Rower to help me prepare for the long haul. Many thanks to Tom Murphy of the Barnegat Bay Rowing Club for taking on the mantle of Jersey Shore Fund Raising Captain. My biggest inspiration comes from the heartbreaking challenges that these families endure and those who selflessly help where they can - specifically Jim & Gerry Bonner of Philadelphia; Brie Van Reed of Bridge Valley Elementary School, Furlong, PA and Michelle Stecchini, Special Ed. Coordinator, Avon Elementary School, Avon, NJ. Their patience is certainly a virtue

Wednesday 16 February 2011

Rowing the Atlantic 2011

It's the season for transatlantic madness again. A procession of boats is struggling from Africa to America, driven by oars, willpower and the Trade Winds.
Recently, Team Hallin (right, celebrating on arrival) crossed the pond in a world record time of just under 32 days, an average speed of 3.4mph.
They had just enough time for some reviving champagne and for crew member Chris Covey to propose to his waiting girlfriend Susie Easton, surprising her with a ring he had carried with him for the whole voyage. Then rival Sara G arrived, having rowed a slightly longer course but at an average of 3.9mph, so setting a new world record not 12 hours later (that's photographer Fiann Paul in Sara G in the dramatic photo).
Technical details on the truly dreadful website of the Ocean Rowing Society. Team Hallin raised money for the armed forces charity Combat Stress.

Saturday 5 February 2011

A novel oar

Ullapool Coastal Rowing are an inventive bunch, experimenting with steerboards and such. Now Topher Dawson and John Mackintyre are developing what may be a totally new type of oar.
The prototype has an adjustable blade that can be swept forward or back. The aim is to prove once and for all if it really is better to have the blade angled forward as is conventional, or if a backward-angled blade might be better.
The edge of the blade has a curious stepped shape that is intended to throw off vortices and stop the blade stalling.
Topher explains:
Hi Chris,
What is the most efficient oar? Since hydrodynamic lift is a big part of the stroke (I have lots of references) we want to delay the stall of our flat blades as long as possible. Pointed blades appear in many native paddles and some old Viking oars, and John and I think they delay stall in the same manner as delta wings and Rogallo hang gliders.
The additional points we think do the same, and are a copy of the edges of tree leaves which are basically gas exchange membranes and John tells me that a professor of his acquaintance told him that the points on leaves are vortex stimulators to encourage gas exchange. We want the vortices to energise the flow over the back of the blade and prevent or delay separation.
Anyway it'll freak out the opposition.
Cant angle is measured with positive cant having the tip further forward than the line of the shaft. My original idea was to have negative cant, i.e. make the flat blade more like a spoon by bending the tip aft. However some researchers think that positive cant is the way to go so now I have no idea and we will have to try both. The adjustable bolt thing is just to try it with different angles of cant till we think we know what we want, then they will all be made fixed at that angle.
In theory the blade is in lift mode as it travels out from the boat in the first part of the stroke. The flow is from the tip of the blade towards the root. Then the flow stalls and the blade is operating as a shovel, i.e. in drag mode. Finally as the blade comes towards the boat in the last part of the stroke, flow starts from the root to the tip and lift is re-established. Fiddling with the cant angle makes the transitions between the stages earlier or later.
Watch this space!
Cheers, Topher.
Topher wants to know more about Greenland paddles and currach oars, which are very slender. Does anybody know how these oars compare with more conventional oars such as Macons?

Tuesday 1 February 2011

A remarkable coxswain

This could be the scene at any rowing club. A crew of giants carries the boat off the pontoon, accompanied by a featherweight cox. But this cox is extraordinary.
He is 14 year old Matthew Erlandson from Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. He is just 4ft 9in tall and weighs in at 60 pounds, the result of neuroblastoma, a particularly agressive type of cancer that affects only children - Matthew was diagnosed when he was just 16 months old. He has been in remission for 11 years now, but the effect on his physical growth is permanent.
When his elder brother Kyle, now 17, joined Egg Harbor Township High School’s rowing squad, Matthew wanted to join too - and found he has a great talent as a cox. He steers, sets tactics and motivates the crew.
Every year, both Matthew and Kyle shave their heads at their local St. Baldrick’s Foundation fundraising event.
This year Matt will continue to guide Egg Harbor Township’s team to victory and Kyle has earned a full tuition scholarship for Men's Crew at Northeastern University in Boston.
More about neuroblastoma at the Neuroblastoma Society.