FAQs

How are CRRC’s fees set?
What are the most effective ways to communicate with my rower’s coach?
Where should I drop off and pick up my rower?
What do I need to know about injuries?
I’m going to my kid’s regatta….now what?

 

Who keeps CRRC running smoothly?

CRRC has a Board of Directors overseeing the club, as well as a very active Junior Parent Committee which offers support to coaches and rowers. We are also grateful for CRRC’s sponsors.

How are CRRC’s fees set?

The Finance Committee Chair and members and the Board put a tremendous amount of work and thoughtful analysis into the effort to set fees.

The Board’s objective is to set program fees that insure the sustainable operation of the Club. The Finance Committee and Board review the Club’s past years’ expenses for each program and — making some assumptions that enable financially responsible predictions about upcoming expenses (e.g., anticipated number of rowers in a program, coaching hours, operating costs, etc.) — set program fees that ensure expenses will be covered.

First, the Finance Committee summarizes the overall General Operating Expenses for the Club. These operating costs include general administration (e.g. internet, website, marketing, etc.), boathouse operations (e.g., renovation costs, cleaning, storage unit rental, utilities, etc.), equipment maintenance (e.g., shells, launches, outboard motors, truck, trailer, etc.), insurance and boathouse manager payroll.

These general operating expenses are then allocated by program with consideration given to the number of participants and months of boathouse and equipment use specific to a particular program.

Next, the Finance Committee calculates the expenses that are unique to each program. For instance, the Junior program has expenses related to travel, food, lodging, coaches payroll, entry fees, regatta central and credit card fees, etc. These expenses are determined by reviewing past years’ expenditures along with expectations for upcoming costs.

The final step in the process of determining the Junior fees is to ask the coaches for their best projections on how many Junior rowers they expect in the upcoming season. With this information, individual fees for the Junior program are set. A similar methodology is used to set fees for the Club’s other programs.

What are the most effective ways to communicate with my rower’s coach?

Clear, consistent and respectful communication among members of an organization helps keep things running smoothly. CRRC is no exception. The most effective way to address concerns about CRRC’s rowing programs is to have your rower discuss their concerns with their coach. Part of developing your rower’s skills and abilities is having them learn how to communicate well with their coach. If a rower is afraid to discuss an issue with their coach, they should take their concerns to the CRRC Head Coach. Only after a rower discusses their concerns with a coach is it appropriate for parents to contact a coach. The following guidelines are intended to help CRRC parents and coaching staff build respectful relationships and communicate with each other as effectively as possible.

  • Introduce yourself. The individuals coaching the CRRC Junior Rowing Program are an interesting, accomplished and friendly group of people. Take the opportunity to make early contact and introduce yourself!
  • Recognize the commitment coaches make. Our coaches dedicate many, many hours for practices and regattas (often giving up weekends, or a whole week when it comes to the Spring Training trip). They put a great deal of additional time into planning and preparation, safety training, equipment maintenance, etc. And they aren’t doing it for the money.
  • Respect the coaches’ decision-making. In general, it is inappropriate to discuss boat line-ups, team strategy or to comment about other athletes with the coaching staff.
  • If you have a concern you would like discuss with your rower’s coach, refrain from approaching a coach at a regatta or during practice time.  It is best to contact a coach to discuss your concerns or arrange a meeting. If a satisfactory resolution is not reached talking to your rower’s coach, you may contact CRRC’s Head Coach.  As a last resort you may contact the Personnel & Recruitment Chair.
  • Praise the good. Take the time to compliment a coach when you see something positive happening. Coaching can be a tough job, and often coaches only hear from parents when something isn’t going well.
  • Be supportive & engaged. Support your rower and the entire team. Attend regattas. Volunteer. Use the links on our website to learn more about the sport of rowing. Appreciate that your rower is learning to set and work towards goals, be a part of a team, incorporate exercise into their life, and develop self-confidence.
  • Be informed about Club & coaching activities. Expect communication from your rower’s coach when it comes to their philosophy and expectations regarding participation, safety and conduct. The semiannual parent meeting is designed to be an important way to receive some of that information. Coaches may also occasionally share information via twitter or the CRRC newsletter, the OARacle, so be sure you are enrolled to receive updates via these venues.
  • Communicate medical or physical limitations. Parents should communicate to coaches any medical or physical limitations your rower may have, including swimming proficiency issues. Notify coaches of significant schedule conflicts. Discuss concerns you may have regarding treatment of your rower, mentally and physically. Ask for guidance on ways to help your rower improve.

Where should I drop off and pick up my rower?

Dropping off and picking up your rower requires a bit of patience. There is a parking lot just east of the building which we share with others but it is small. Because our boathouse is located on a major and busy thoroughfare, it’s very important that we be considerate of the drivers on North Shore Drive and the bike path traffic when queuing up to pick up our rowers. Please make use of available parking spots upon arrival for pick up. When queuing up to wait for rowers, do not block traffic in the lot but pull to the left-hand curb. Pull as far forward as possible to prevent the queue from spilling out over the bike path and onto North Shore Drive.

  • Consider making carpool arrangements to minimize the volume of traffic in the lot.
  • Consider picking up or dropping off your rower somewhere farther along the bike path (such as in the Brittingham neighborhood, just west on the bike path).
  • Consider biking to/from the boathouse.
  • Consider commuting by bus.

What do I need to know about injuries?

Rowing causes blisters. It’s very important for rowers to properly care for their hands to prevent infection and allow you to continue rowing and working out. The video Wound Care & Infection Prevention was prepared in 2013 for CRRC by the UW Physical Therapy Graduate Program.

I’m going to my kid’s regatta….now what?

Welcome to the world of not knowing what your rower is talking about…shell, rigging, coxswain, catching a “crab”, feathering, “power 10”… And don’t forget the regatta itself: what am I supposed to be watching for? And where? And how do I know if they won? Or not? Where are they?

We’ve all been there, and we’re all still learning. To help parents just starting out, we’ve pulled together some information about rowing and regatta basics. You can also find great information at the US Rowing website.

First, a little history.
The first reference to a “regata” appeared in 1274, in some documents from Venice. The first known ‘modern’ rowing races began from competition among the professional watermen that provided ferry and taxi service on the River Thames in London, drawing increasingly larger crowds of spectators. The sport grew steadily, spreading throughout Europe, and eventually into the larger port cities of North America. Though initially a male-dominated sport, women’s rowing can be traced back to the 19th century. An image of a women’s double scull race made the cover of Harper’s Weekly in 1870. In 1892, four young women from San Diego, CA started ZLAC Row Club, the oldest all women’s rowing club in the world.

Sculling and Sweep Rowing
Athletes with two oars — one in each hand — are scullers. There are three sculling events: the single: 1x (one person), the double 2x (two) and the quad 4x (four). Athletes with only one oar are sweep rowers. This is the type of rowing most Camp Randall rowers will participate in. Sweep boats carry a coxswain (pronounced cox-n) to steer and be the on-the-water coach. At Camp Randall, sweep rowers row in boats of four, with a coxswain (4+), and eight (8+), with a coxswain. The eight is the fastest boat on the water. A world-level men’s eight is capable of moving almost 14 miles per hour. Our rowers don’t quite achieve that speed, but they do move fast.

Although the coxswain is almost always facing the rowers in an eight, in fours the coxswain may be facing the rowers in the stern or looking down the course, lying down in the bow, where he or she is difficult to see. Coxswains are the smallest and lightest members of a crew team. You can recognize them because of the wide elastic band they wear on their heads and the round metal device they carry called a “cox box”. It consists of a microphone and speakers that amplify the cox’s voice throughout the boat.

Athletes are identified by their seat in the boat. The athlete in bow (the front; rhymes with “wow”) is seat No. 1. That’s the person who crosses the finish line first (which makes it easy to remember – first across the line is No. 1 seat). The person in front of the bow is No. 2, then No. 3, No. 4, No. 5, No. 6, No. 7 and No. 8, a.k.a. the stroke. The stroke of the boat must be a strong rower with excellent technique, since the stroke sets the rhythm and number of strokes per minute the rest of the crew must follow (with the coxswain’s gentle advice, of course).

Moving the Boat: The Stroke
The whole body is involved in moving a shell through the water. Although rowing tends to look like an upper body sport, the strength of the rowing stroke comes from the legs.

The stroke is made up of four parts: catch, drive, finish, and recovery. As the stroke begins, the rower is coiled forward on the sliding seat, with knees bent and arms outstretched. At the catch, the athlete drops the oarblade vertically into the water.

At the beginning of the drive, the body position doesn’t change – all the work is done by the legs. As the upper body begins to uncoil, the arms begin their work, drawing the oarblades through the water. Continuing the drive, the rowers move their hands quickly into the body, which by this time is in a slight “layback” position, requiring strong abdominal muscles.

During the finish, the oar handle is moved down, drawing the oarblade out of the water. At the same time, the rower “feathers” the oar — turning the oar handle — so that the oarblade changes from a vertical position to a horizontal one. The oar remains out of the water as the rower begins recovery, moving the hands away from the body and past the knees. The body follows the hands and the sliding seat moves forward, until, knees bent, the rower is ready for the next catch.

diagram of rowing stroke

The Equipment

Oars
Oars move the boat through the water and act as balancers. Sweep oars are longer than sculler’s oars and have wooden handles instead of rubber grips. The shaft of the oar is made of extremely lightweight carbon fiber instead of the heavier wood used years ago. The popular “hatchet” blade — named because of its cleaver-like shape — is about 20 percent larger than previous blades. Its larger surface area has made it the almost-universal choice among world-level rowers. Every rowing club chooses a particular color or combination of colors for their oar blades. Camp Randall’s oars are solid Columbia blue. Identifying the oars on a boat is one way to determine which boats are racing for Camp Randall as they make their way down the race course.

The Boats – Sculls and Shells
All rowing boats can be called shells. Rowing boats with scullers in them (each person having two oars) are called sculls, e.g., single scull, double scull, quadruple scull. So, all sculls are shells but not vice versa! Originally made of wood (and many beautifully crafted wooden boats are made today), newer boats — especially those used in competition — are made of honeycombed carbon fiber. They are light and appear fragile but are crafted to be strong and stiff in the water. The smallest boat, the single scull, is approximately 27 feet long and as narrow as 10 inches across. At 58 feet, the eight is the longest boat on the water. The oars are attached to the boat with riggers, which provide a fulcrum for the levering action of rowing. Generally, sweep rowers sit in configurations that have the oars alternating from side to side along the boat. When it comes to identifying the sides and ends of boats, the terms “right”, “left”, “back” and “front” are not used. Instead, “bow” is used to describe the front, “stern” the back, “starboard” the right side, and “port” the left. (Just remember…”port” and “left” each have four letters.) You may find that, with time, your rower tends to settle into rowing one side of the boat; others may be comfortable continuing to row either port or starboard.

diagram of shell

Racing Events

Head Races
Head races are typically held in the fall and tend to be on rivers. In this form of racing, rowers race against the clock. The crew completing the course in the shortest time in their age, ability and boat-class category is deemed the winner. Head races are typically 5K (or 3 miles) long, with some variability based on the site. Rowers will row up the side of the race course, turn around at the starting line, and are allowed to begin racing back down the race course at 10-15 second intervals. The boats will have bow markers attached, which look like small white plastic flags with a number on them. You can use this number to identify which boats belong to our club; we will have a whiteboard at our campsite that lists what our bow numbers are for the day. Camp Randall will typically enter boats in Junior Women’s and Junior Men’s events. (In rowing, Junior refers to high school aged rowers.) Within those events, we will have novice and varsity crews, racing 4+s and 8+s.

Sprint Races
Sprint races are typically held in the spring, and tend to be on lakes. In this form of racing, boats are lined up at the starting line in groups of 2-6. The boats begin rowing from a stationary position at the same time, usually down a 1.5 – 2K course. The winner is the crew that crosses the finish line first. Sometimes the race course has buoyed lanes that the boats must remain in, other times not. As above, Camp Randall will have entries in Junior Women’s and Junior Men’s categories, novice and varsity, in both 4+s and 8+s.

Regattas
Race competitions are commonly known as regattas, and they are all-day events. They start early and typically last until about 4pm. There is a Coaches/Coxswains Meeting, usually around 7:30 am, at which the race officials review the course and share any other important information. Then the racing begins! There is a schedule of events that is essentially a framework for the order of racing, but it is often impossible to know exactly what time an individual race will occur. So bring a lawn chair, binoculars, perhaps a book, and be prepared to enjoy some “down time” in the great outdoors! Depending on the size of the regatta, you may see Junior (high-school aged), Collegiate, or Masters (age 27 and older) rowers in boats with anywhere from one to eight rowers in them. At every regatta, Camp Randall will have a campsite, somewhere among all the other tents belonging to the other clubs, typically near the finish line. We erect tents (one of ours has Camp Randall Rowing Club printed on it so we’re easy to find), giving the kids a place to rest, hang out with their fellow rowers, play cards, finish homework, etc. And we feed them. If you haven’t already noticed, rowers eat a lot! We bring a grill, coolers full of food and drink, and tables. Then we work together to cook and serve breakfast and lunch (in addition to snack foods for almost constant grazing). Helping feed the rowers is a great opportunity to meet other parents, in addition to lots of kids. You can finally put some faces with the names you’ve been hearing at home. Guaranteed, you’ll have the rowers’ complete attention as you’re setting out that plate of bacon, so chatting happens effortlessly. Finally, no parent is expected to help with anything while their rower is racing…go watch!

Race Watching

  • The crew that’s making it look easy is most likely the one doing the best job. While you’re watching, look for – continuous, fluid motion of the rowers. The rowing motion shouldn’t have a discernible end or beginning.
  • Synchronization. Rowers strive for perfect synchronization in the boat.
  • Clean catches of the oarblade. If you see a lot of splash, the oarblades aren’t entering the water correctly. The catch should happen at the end of the recovery, when the hands are as far ahead of the rower as possible. Rowers who uncoil before they drop the oarblades are sacrificing speed and not getting a complete drive.
  • Even oarblade feathering. When the blades are brought out of the water, they should all move horizontally close to the water and at the same height. It’s not easy, especially if the water is rough.
  • The most consistent speed. Shells don’t move like a car – they’re slowest at the catch, quickest at the release. The good crews time the catch at just the right moment to maintain the speed of the shell.
  • Rowing looks graceful, elegant and sometimes effortless when it’s done well. Don’t be fooled. Rowers haven’t been called the world’s most physically-fit athletes for nothing. A 2,000-meter rowing race demands virtually everything a human being can physically bring to an athletic competition – aerobic ability, technical talent, exceptional mental discipline, ability to utilize oxygen efficiently and in huge amounts, balance, pain tolerance, and the ability to continue to work when the body is demanding that you stop.

More Race-Watching Tips

  • Race times can vary considerably depending upon the course and weather conditions. Tailwinds will improve times, while headwinds and crosswinds will hamper them.
  • If a crew “catches a crab,” it means the oarblade has entered the water at an angle instead of perpendicularly. The oarblade gets caught under the surface and will slow or even stop a shell.
  • A “Power 10” is a call by the coxswain for 10 of the crew’s best, most powerful strokes. Good coxswains read the course to know how many strokes remain for their crew to count down to the finish.
  • It doesn’t matter whether you win an Olympic medal or don’t make the finals – each crew still carries their boat back to the rack.
  • Coxswains from first-place boats worldwide are thrown into the water by their crews.
  • Coxswains don’t now and probably never did yell “stroke! stroke!” Similar to a jockey, their job is to implement the coach’s strategy during the race, in addition to steering and letting the rowers know where they stand in the race and what they need to do to win.