ROWING, Technics of. Rowing is the method of propelling a boat by the use of oars. It consists of two parts — the stroke and the recovery, which are executed by a series of complex motions designed to apply a maximum of available motive energy in urging the boat through the water, and at the same time ensure the least amount of deviation from a straight course.
In preparing to row the oarsman sits on the Thwart, facing the stern and exactly opposite the handle of his oar, the shaft of which rests in the rowlock with the button on the inner side. To obtain the maximum effect from the power exerted he should sit about two inches from the after edge of the thwart, the body being held square and upright, the back straight and rigid, the feet pressed firmly against the opposite stretcher or foot board with the heels close together and the toes apart, so as to keep the knees separate. The handle of the oar should be held firmly by both hands which should be about three inches apart with the out side one close to the end of the handle, the fingers being above and the thumb underneath. The grasp should be a flexible hold with the fingers and not a clutch with the whole hand. The forearms should be kept below the level of the handle, with the elbows down, close to the sides of the body. The wrists should be relaxed and dropped, so that the blades of the oars will lie flat upon the surface of the water.
The stroke is characterized by four distinct phases — the catch, the drive, the pulling and the finish. The recovery which the shoot, the feather and the full reach. In taking the stroke, the body is clined forward, the backbone being kept straight and rigid, the shoulders thrown forward and held up as high as possible, while the men is kept well out and down between the legs. The arms should reach out perfectly straight from the shoulders to the wrists and the action of the shoulder joints and the hips should be perfectly free and easy. In reaching forward the oar handle is grasped firmly by the fingers, and the hands are shot out quickly straight from the body, and as soon as the oar has been passed over the knees, the wrists are raised so as to bring the blade at right angles to the surface of the water and preparatory to dipping it, at the beginning of the stroke when the arms reach the extreme limit of their for ward movement directly over the stretcher. At this instant, the hands are raised and the blade is dropped firmly into the water and buried un til it is covered up to the shoulder. The pull begins with the drive of the legs, a steady thrust of the feet strongly against the stretcher, the power being transmitted to the oars through the arms by the tense muscles of the rigid back. This leg action is the greatest power
utilized in rowing, and the most should be made of it. The pull with the arms supplements the leg drive as the body sways backward. The finish of the stroke is achieved by the arms alone, and as the boat is at the moment at its greatest speed the movement is the quickest de manded in the stroke; the wrists are raised and the oar turned so that the blade slips in stantly out of the water and into the position of feathering. During the entire stroke the arms should preserve, as nearly as may be, a right angle with.the line of, the oar, that posi tion giving the largest leverage. The recovery begins immediately after the blade of the oar slips out of the water at the finish of the stroke. The object is to get the oar back into its first position in readiness for another catch. This position is termed the full reach. Dur ing the recovery several things have to be taken care of. For one think the boat must be preserved upon an even keel; partly by 'the feathering of the oar along the surface of the water, but mainly and preferably by the grasp of the feet upon the toe-straps on the stretcher board. The movement is complicated in the case of the sliding seat. Assuming this to be in use, the leg-drive has thrust the scat back at the beginning of the stroke, before the arms begin to do their particular share. In the re covery the seat must be brought back to its first position. But, as the arms made the last movement in finishing the stroke, so in the recovery they make the first move in the shoot. This motion is very quick. The body neces sarily moves much slower, and it must swing over from the bend backward to the bend forward. During this swing of the body the sliding seat must be returned to its first posi tion. It is necessary that these two latter movements he made gently in order that the inertia of the moving boat be not checked by a jerking force in the contrary direction. By gently is not meant slowly: in fact the move ments must be made as swiftly as possible. When skilfully done the sensation to the rower is that he has simply permitted the boat to glide forward under him. The very last part of the recovery is the full reach, accom plished by thrusting both shoulders forward like the wings of a hinge, with the rigid back bone as the centre. The instant the full reach is attained the oar should go into the water for the next catch. It is a serious fault to gime' momentarily at the reach before taking the catch.