Welcome to what has to be one of the most bizarre weather and rowing conditions of any summer in recent memory! Storms, flooding, debris, and coaching-polooza – OH MY!
Sorry I’ve missed the fun, and missed sending out a July Update – I got a little distracted. So now we are all, hopefully, back into the swing of things – that includes all rower’s oars and bodies now swinging together. (but not “swinging” that way)
So far this season, even though you may not have known from one minute to the next - whether you are rowing, where you are rowing, and who you may be rowing with - the one thing that remains constant is knowing how to care for our toys (i.e. equipment).
In previous Updates, we discussed how to carry the boats and oars, as well as all the practice setup and takedown routines under NVRC Equipment - Care and Maintenance Practices . (If you missed that exciting episode, you can find the in either your old emails dated June 9th, or you can go to our web page where we are keeping past Updates at: https://www.row4nvrc.com/news )
Because we have such a large group of new rowers that are now becoming experienced rowers – wahoo!, we want to give you some more information that all experienced rowers know.
In the Boat
Most seasoned rowers (aka – the cool kids) keep with them, a "coxswains tool" (in the picture with the red lanyard below) or something similar in order to tighten any loose bolts/nuts while on the water. It's called a coxswain's tool because most experienced coxswains keep tools like this with them, so their rowers can make fixes or adjustments while on the water. NVRC keeps a similar coxswain’s tool attached to each of our four coxboxes. But if we have more than four boats going out at any one time, there may be a chance your boat will not have one.
Make a habit of when you first get into the boat, and periodically during pauses in practice, to reach around you and check every nut within your arm’s (yes, both sides) reach - such as those on your foot stretchers, seat tracks, riggers and backstays. Even the screws holding your handle to the oar shaft. If any are at all loose, use your tool to tighten them immediately. Loose nuts and bolts can impact you in little ways, such as not having a stable and smooth stroke. And really large ways, such as damaging the boat or causing injury to you or team mates if the piece comes off during the row. A coxswain’s tool works for most standard boat nuts, wing nuts, and can also be used to help pry loose spacers in your oar locks. Be sure to wrap the lanyard around your wrist before reaching out of the boat, that way in the event the tool slips from your hand, it won't go sinking to the bottom of the river. Not cool.
In the boat: Consider keeping with you at all times, a coxswain's tool (red lanyard). A small Phillips-head screwdriver is a nice-to-have.
For Saturday (boat maintenance) Practices:
Every rower should have a 7/16th wrench that they bring to Saturday practices. A small crescent wrench for top-nuts or other odd-sized nuts is a nice-to-have, as is a small Phillips-head screwdriver. (Be sure to label or distinctively mark your tools so you can tell yours from all the others in case you become separated from them)
At the end of practice, when the boat is in slings and being cleaned, ALL nuts and bolts should be checked to ensure they are firmly tightened down, but not overly tightened (i.e. crack the fiberglass) before your boat is returned to the rack.
These wrenches are also essential for you to have with you when you go to “away regattas,” since all the boat’s riggers must be removed prior to putting the boat on the trailer. And having 8 rowers all trying to use just one wrench for rigging and derigging really sucks.
So where do you find these toys – uh, I mean tools?
The 7/16th and crescent wrenches can be found at any hardware store…or lying loose around your neighbors’ garages when they aren’t looking. You do not have to buy an entire set to get just the 7/16th anymore. Stores such as Lowes, now sell individual wrenches – yay! Bonus tip: The ratcheting wrenches make quick work of tightening and loosening without having to lift off the wrench after each turn.
The coxswain’s tool can be found either on-line or from some vendors who show up at some regattas. A quick search on the interweb of things for "coxswains tool" reveals the following.
50 Shades of …
While you’re on the computer perusing the internet, you may want to take a minute and watch the following video on the best ways to tie-down a boat to the rack.
And the Word for this Season is: Flexible
Since you all have learned to be amazingly flexible regarding when and where you are going to row, or not row ... I thought I'd pass on a video on how to now increase your flexibility physically :-) In particular, your hamstrings: https://www.decentrowing.com/hamstring-flexibility-how-to-fix-it-in-two-weeks.html
Well, I think I’ve more than made up for lost time, and probably lost your interest as well with this recent tome – so sorry! I’ll do better next time, I promise!
NVRC Update - August 2018
It was so nice to see all your smiling and friendly faces at last Saturday's kick-off to the 2018 season! And even though aspects of the morning row were challenging with debris-strewn waters and turtles - coaches, coxswains, and rowers all did an outstanding job!
Following the row, and then a lovely and touching tribute to the loss of our friend and teammate Liz Szentkiraly (thank you MK), it was really nice to share some (okay, alot) of yummy food and drink at the Novice Graduation (yay!) pot-luck. Thank you all!
And now, since you are all are a captive audience, sitting at home or sitting around the race course down in Richmond, probably watching the rain roll in - again, we thought you might want a little light reading material. Well ask and ye shall receive!
For those who missed the 2018 Season Kick-Off, as well as for those not paying attention (because your mind was busy wondering when these people will ever shut up and let us row), here is our handy-dandy NVRC Equipment Care & Maintenance Practices that we discussed ad nauseam. Feel free to read it now, and re-read again because it is just so darned fascinating and informative.
Background: NVRC Coaches, Coxswains, and Rowers: NVRC has initiated an improved (hopefully) safety & equipment maintenance program for the 2018 season to help ensure the safety of every rower, coxswain and coach, as well as to try to prevent/minimize damage to equipment during any and all rowing activities.
This includes guidance on the movement and storage of shells and oars, equipment checks, the setting up of launches, and regular inspection and maintenance practices. We realize that this may seem like a lot of stuff to do - and it is - but all of these pieces of equipment are VERY expensive to repair and replace, with no one to take care of them except all of us. Our toys - our responsibility. Once we get in the habit of doing these things, it will take very little time. Honest! And if you have any questions at all about these practices, please ask!
NVRC Equipment - Care and Maintenance Practices
Each coach, coxswain, and rower is expected to familiarize themselves and undertake these steps:
- Ensure you have indicated/updated your attendance on Availability spreadsheet at least 24 hours beforehand.
Beginning of each practice:
Set up coach’s launch(es):
For each launch: 2 bundles of life vests (1 white pack + 1 orange pack), 1 paddle, 2 seat cushions, 1 extra life vest, 1 megaphone.
Note: If you were unable to help with setup, please ensure you help with breakdown – especially the launch.
Get fuel for launches: Take down launch gas tank to NVRC coach’s launch (fill tank if needed). Novice and Open Row days (Mon, Wed, Sat) will require more than one coach's launch. On those days, a South County launch will also be used in addition to the NVRC launch.
-- NVRC gas can - Locker #7. Middle shelf. Only one gas can is labelled “NVRC”.
-- South County (SOCO) - Locker #2. Middle and bottom shelves. (The #6 launch with the black motor requires the large gas can with the gray hose.)
-- Please alert Board member if refill gas can is running low on fuel.
Bail launch (if necessary): If there is water in the launch, bail it out. Every launch has a makeshift bailer (usually a detergent bottle with a hole cut into it). Sit on one side of the boat and scoop out the water
Take down oars:
- From storage room to dock(s) – hang in the nearby oar trees, handles up. If no oar trees are available, stack oars on the fence near the dock with the blades on the ground. NOTE: Carry oars two at a time, with the blades in front of you.
End of each practice - coxswains & stern pair are responsible to ensure the following for each boat:
- Hang oars on oar trees until boat is racked and tied down. If you are the only boat on the river, you can stack the oars on the dock
- Ensure boat is strapped to boat rack as tightly as possible (strong winds have blown our boats off the racks before)
- Return oars to storage shed - oar blades go into the shed in the opposite direction of the oar blades on the racks immediately above or below the ones being returned.
- Break down coach’s launch – remove any trash, return fuel tank to appropriate fuel locker, and return life vests, cushions, paddle, and megaphone to storage shed.
End of every Saturday practice:
- Get bucket, rags/towels/sponges, and soap from shed
- Wash oar handles with soap & water, rinsing thoroughly.
- Wash down all boat hulls with soap & water, rinsing thoroughly. (Besides helping the boat last longer, clean boats go faster)
- After washing boat, move to slings in the bone yard or other open area out of the way of boat-moving traffic.
- Guts down, inspect hull for any damage, scrapes, or deep scratches. Notify stern pair of damage.
- Flip boat over (guts up) Wipe down inside compartments, tracks, and riggers.
- Inspect all components for damage, loose nuts/bolts, or missing components. (7/16th wrench and/or adjustable wrench and phillips-head screwdriver are the tools to have handy)
- Notify your boat Stern Pair of any damage or anything needing to be fixed or repaired.
- Stern pair will document on the shed dry erase board any damage or repairs required for that boat. Please also note if cleaning supplies are running short.
- Return boat to rack and secure with straps as tightly as possible.
- Return all cleaning supplies, tools, and slings to designated locations.
Coxswains: Please ensure the coxboxes are plugged back into the chargers when returned to the storage room. White lines are painted on each plug and receiver to help you align the plugs quickly.
All rowers, coaches, and coxswains: Following the completion of all chores, proceed to the Lorton Starbucks to boast and/or commiserate with teammates.
Sidebar: A few hints to make handling all this big and bulky equipment a little easier:
When carrying oars:
* Carry with the blades in front of you. That will help ensure you don’t blindly hit something (or someone) with those large, sharp blades. It will also help protect the blades.
When carrying the boat:
* To more evenly distribute the weight, rowers of similar height should be grouped together. In an 8+ for example, the 4 taller rowers all go to the stern end and the 4 shorter rowers go to the bow end – regardless of what end of the boat you will sit in (or sat in) for the row.
* It also helps to have rowers of like height paired together, side-by-side when carrying so that the boat is not tipped to one side, to again more evenly distribute the weight.
* Walking smoothly, and in unison while the boat is on your shoulders will eliminate that evil, and very painful bouncing while carrying it.
Note: The boats are very bulky and heavy to manage on land. An average 4+ is about 44’ long and weighs about 120 pounds. An average 8+ is around 60’ long and weighs up to 250 pounds. That means that each rower carries, and lifts overhead, approximately 30 pounds. For women especially: if you’re not already doing some type of weight training in addition to rowing practice, this will give you some idea of how much weight you need to be able to press over your head.
Good luck to the NVRC men and women who are racing today down in Richmond at the Virginia Boat Club Sprints Masters Regatta!