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.