Tag: charles river

HOCR: Weeks, Lowell House, and “The Turning Tree”

Coxing Racing

HOCR: Weeks, Lowell House, and “The Turning Tree”

Previously: Getting to the starting line || Steering through the bridges || Landmarks along the course || Steering around the turns || Race plans || My general race plan || Yaz Farooq’s coxswain clinic || Race plan “hacks” || The course in meters

You can’t talk about Weeks without talking about the Powerhouse Stretch or Lowell House because how you’re positioned relative to both will have a pretty big impact on how efficient your turn through the bridge is.

Related: HOCR: Steering around the turns

If you’re unfamiliar with Harvard’s campus, Lowell House is an undergrad dorm that is frequently used as an HOCR landmark due it’s tall steeple and bright blue dome that stands out above the tree line along the Cambridge shore. When someone says “point at the blue dome”, this is what they’re talking about. In the picture below they are just to the right of center.

As you come up the Powerhouse Stretch, ideally you’ll be coming through the center arches of the River St. and Western Ave. bridges. You can use the Cambridge arches (the ones on the far right) but the center arches are “standard procedure”. Going through the Powerhouse your point is going to be on the center of the center arches (again, ideally) but as you come out of Western the next big landmark you should be aiming for is Lowell. (There is a “mini”-landmark that you can check yourself on immediately out of the bridge and that’s your position relative to the buoy line – you want to be pointed at the outermost buoy as it begins to turn around Weeks. This should take half a second to spot-check before you shift your focus to Lowell.) If you’re in a good spot then you won’t really need to adjust your point much but if you come out pointing at something else (the bridge, the Cambridge shore, etc.) you’ll have to do a little steering to set yourself up for Weeks.

As you get closer to the bridge you’ll start to see the dome disappear behind the horizon. This is normal and is supposed to happen. Too many coxswains freak out because they lose sight of Lowell, which I don’t really get because … what else did you think was going to happen? As it goes behind the trees, your focus should shift to “the turning tree”. If you go to Yaz’s clinic then you’ll probably hear her talk about this.

Related: Yaz Farooq’s HOCR Clinic

The turning tree is in the photo up above (in the center of the picture on the very far right hand side), although because the leaves haven’t changed yet it still blends in with the shoreline. Usually by HOCR it’s the only tree along that whole stretch of shore that has changed colors (usually to a bright yellow) so it’s pretty easily identifiable. It’s not hard to pick out regardless of what color it is though just because it sticks out over the water a bit, as you can see in the picture.

As you’re rowing towards Lowell you want to stay straight until you get even with the tree and then begin your turn to port to go through Weeks. Some coxswains go when their bow is even with the tree, some go when they are even the tree. I’ve personally found my turns to be more effective when I wait until I’m even with the tree but I think a large part of that has to do with how well your boat responds to the rudder. The start of the turn is pretty easy (AKA it should all be done on the rudder) so you shouldn’t be using pressure from the rowers quite yet but if you wait too long to turn (like until you’re past the tree) then you’ll need to use a lot more pressure from your starboard side to get you through cleanly.

Below is some video I took during practice last week of our two coxswains going around the turn during our most recent “5k Friday” piece. Both did a pretty good job steering through here so this should give you a good idea of how the turn should look.

Image via // @nathanaelleomusic
HOCR: The course in meters

Coxing Racing

HOCR: The course in meters

Previously: Getting to the starting line || Steering through the bridges || Landmarks along the course || Steering around the turns || Race plans || My general race plan || Yaz Farooq’s coxswain clinic || Race plan “hacks”

Over the last week I’ve gotten a few questions about whether anything exists that tells the distance that each of the landmarks are from the starting line or from one another and since I wasn’t aware of anything and those of you that asked weren’t able to find anything, I figured I’d just make something.

Related: HOCR: Landmarks along the course

I used RowDistance, a site made by Andrew Campbell, so the numbers aren’t exact but they should be fairly close. You could also do this using Google Earth. I did this three different times and where I found the biggest discrepancy in meters is from the start of the Eliot turn all the way to the finish. My numbers were about 100m different from each other depending on how I laid out that part of the course, which just goes to show how much things can vary depending on what line you set yourself up for.

I also rounded everything up to the nearest -00 or -50 just for the sake of simplicity (although during the race I’d probably just round up to the next closest 100m because otherwise it becomes way too much effort). The first row is the only one that you should ideally know, the rest are just there because I figured “why not…”.

You can either click to enlarge the image above or check out this spreadsheet to see everything.

Image via // @dosdesignsltd

Navigating the Charles River (Boston, MA)


Navigating the Charles River (Boston, MA)

Below are a few maps that I found very helpful when I first started coaching on the Charles last spring. If you’re racing here in the spring, are around in the fall for HOCR, or just starting rowing here, check them out and familiarize yourself with the bridge arches, which ones you can use, which ones you can’t, etc.

Related: (Head of the Charles) Getting to the starting line || Steering through the bridges || Landmarks along the course || Steering around the turns || Race plans || My general race plan

CHARLES RIVER TRAFFIC PATTERNS (You can download a copy of the map in PDF form here.)

CHARLES RIVER BASIN 2K COURSE (You can download a copy of the map in PDF form here.)
Pay particular attention to the arches that are available to use on the Mass Ave. bridge – you’ll see there are upstream lanes on the far right Cambridge side and on the far left Boston side (the Union lanes). The Union upstream lanes are typically only used when the basin is horrific because of wind or there are races happening.

In terms of the 2k course, note where the starting line, finish line, and each 500m marker is. To see them more closely, download the PDF and zoom in. The starting line is at the end of the Memorial Drive ramp just off the Longfellow Bridge, 500m is just before the MIT sailing center, Mass Ave. is 1000m, MIT’s boathouse is 1500m, and the finish line is right before the Hyatt Regency Hotel. There’s a white pole in the ground on shore that marks the finish line and obviously, there will also be a race official with a flag to let you know when you’ve crossed. At the end of the course and across from BU are some large neon markers that give you your points to aim for.

In addition to all of that you’ll see the small blue arrows in the water that denote the traffic pattern on race days (and most other days too). Pay close attention to those and make sure you follow them.

To read up on how to navigate the river during HOCR, check out the posts linked at the top of the post and follow the “Head of the Charles” tag to stay up to date on all future HOCR posts.

Image via // @dosdesignsltd
HOCR: Steering around the turns

Coxing Racing

HOCR: Steering around the turns

Previously: Getting to the starting line || Steering through the bridges || Landmarks along the course

Taking the turns on the HOCR course is all about setting yourself up right. If you position yourself properly as you enter the turn you’ll all but guarantee a smooth exit, thus taking a load of pressure off of you and ensuring your crew has it’s best possible shot at the next part of the course.

Alongside each photo (aka Google Maps screenshot) I’ve included a difficulty rating ranging from 1-5 based on my experience with the turns, which 1 being the easiest and 5 being the hardest. As of writing this post I’ve been coaching and coxing on the Charles for about six months so while I anticipate these turns becoming easier to steer over time, this is how I’m rating them given the limited amount of time I’ve spent on the river thus far. If HOCR is your first time on the Charles or you don’t row here on a regular basis, this should give you a good idea for what to expect.

Keep in mind too that the lines drawn below are not 100% accurate – they’re just there to give you a rough idea of where the buoy lines are vs. what your ideal course around the turns should like look. Buoy lines are marked by thin green or orange lines and the course line is a thick purple line.

Magazine Beach // Difficulty: 1

Coming around the turn through Magazine Beach there will be buoys marking the shallow areas along shore, as well as the area where the singles and doubles will launch from (SADL). This is a fairly wide turn, even if you hug the buoys, so you should be able to get around on the rudder with no trouble. If you take it TOO wide, then you might need to have the starboards power down and let your ports drive you around for 1-2 strokes.

Remember, as you finish the turn and come into the Powerhouse Stretch you want to be aiming for the center arches of River St. and Western Ave. Set yourself up for Magazine Beach so that when you come out, you can look directly through both of those arches.

Weeks Footbridge // Difficulty: 4

The trouble I’ve had with Weeks isn’t getting a good line or coming out right; it’s been knowing when to start turning. As you come out of Western Ave. you’ll want to start aiming for the blue tower of Lowell House.

You should be parallel-ish to the buoy line coming down the last part of the straightaway (you can be next to it but there’s no need to be right on top of it) and then as you pass “the turning tree”, that’s when you want to start going hard to port. Have your ports power down and tell the starboards to really lay into it. It should take anywhere from 3-7 strokes, depending on the strength of your crew. The goal is to be about 90% finished with your turn as you come under the bridge.

If you have a port stroked boat, your 2-seat’s oar should be THISCLOSE to the left abutment of the center arch at the end of the turn if you’ve executed it properly. When I’m steering the turn and think “OH SHIT, I’m gonna hit the bridge…”, that usually means I’ve done it right. If you experience that momentary second of panic, congrats, you just nailed Weeks (figuratively speaking … literally hitting it would be bad).

Anderson Bridge // Difficulty: 2

As long as you come out of Weeks with a point on the left abutment of the middle arch of Anderson this turn will be a piece of cake. 90% of this turn happens under the bridge and it should only take maybe 2-3 hard strokes from ports to swing your bow around before you even back out.

One thing that coxswains get fixated on is this idea that they have to take the inside of every single turn without giving any consideration as to how that’s going to effect their next turn. Anderson is one such turn where you want to be on the outside of it – if you split the center arch in half and designated the left side as the Boston side and the right side as the Cambridge side, you’d want to go under on the Boston side of the center arch. That’s going to give you an easier line to the inside of the turn around Eliot, whereas if you go through on the inside (the Cambridge side) you’re more likely to get pushed to the outside in front of Newell and it’ll take that much more work and steering to get over to the buoy line before the start of the Eliot turn.

As you come out of Anderson, be aware of where the buoys are – they will pull you off the straightest course so do not follow them as you come past Newell. The boathouse is set back into a little bay of it’s own and the buoys follow that bow in the river. Don’t let this fool you. Coming out of the turn you’ll want to pick up a point on the tall white apartment building at the start of the Eliot turn.

Eliot Bridge // Difficulty: 3-5

Eliot is a half-mile long turn whose difficulty is wholly dependent on how close you were able to get to the buoy line, your speed, and whether you’re coxing an eight or a four. In a four I’ve always been able to do the entire turn completely on the rudder but in an eight I always need to call on the rowers to adjust their pressure once we hit the apex of the turn. (On the map that would roughly be about where the Route 3 sign is on the Cambridge shore.)

Having the ports power down and the starboards hit it hard is key to making it around here – you cannot do it with extra starboard pressure while ports continue to row full pressure. I typically have the ports back off to about 3/4 pressure and the starboards take no more than five hard strokes as we come around the first part of the turn, even pressure for one or two, and then one or two more hard strokes to finish it off.  This may vary depending on your speed and position relative to the buoy line but there’s no need or reason why you should have your starboards pulling you around the entire turn.

Think of this turn like an exit ramp off the highway. The faster you’re going coming into it, the harder you have to break to get around the turn without flipping your car. If you coast into a 25mph exit at 30mph, you’ll be fine coming around with minimal braking. If you take it at 45mph though, you’re going to have to hit the brakes before you make the big turn. Analyze your crew’s speed ahead of time to see what you need to do and if you have the opportunity, practice practice practice how you plan to take this turn.

As you’re coming around the turn, you want to set yourself up so that as you look through the bridge you’re pointed diagonally towards the far corner of the Winsor-Belmont Hill dock along the Cambridge shore. Note that if and when possible, the ideal course through this bridge is to enter it on the left side of the center arch and exit it on the right side. 

Final turn // Difficulty: 1.5

As just mentioned, coming out of Eliot you’ll want to be pointed at the far corner of the Winsor-Belmont Hill dock. Grabbing the inside of this turn is key to saving 8-10 seconds (at least) on your final time. It’s recommended to get your riggers over the buoys if you can or at the very least, your oars (but not your hull because that’ll be a 10 second penalty). Depending on how many crews are around you, it might beneficial (and safer) if you hold off for a stroke or two before shooting for that line. Once it’s open, take it.

This final turn is to starboard and can easily be done on the rudder with no additional pressure from the ports. There are no buoys on the inside after that last turn so you can get as close to shore as you want. Be careful of debris and low hanging trees though. When you start to see the river bowing to starboard, do not follow the shoreline – you want to hold a straight course and aim for the two yellow buoys that mark the finish line. It’s going to feel like you’re coming out towards the middle but you’re not so don’t let this throw you off. Once you’ve got your point set on the finish the only thing left to do is haul ass across the line.

Next up: Head of the Charles race plans

Image via // @outside_the_cavern
HOCR: Landmarks along the course

Coxing Racing

HOCR: Landmarks along the course

Previously: Getting to the starting line || Steering through the bridges

When I’m coxing, I like to look for distinctive landmarks along the course that will remind me how far in we are or serve as good spots to take some power strokes. They’re also important to know so that you can tell your crew where you are. This saves them from having to look out of the boat to see where you’re at but also gives you something beneficial to say in between everything else you’re saying. Head of the Charles is 3.2 miles long, which means anywhere from 15 to 22 minutes of nonstop talking from you, the coxswain. Instead of repeating the same stuff over and over,  you can give them geographical information based on the landmarks along the course.

When you don’t know what to say, default to telling the crew where they are. Distance, rate, and time are the three things you should tell them on a consistent basis but when you’re doing a head race, location relative to the various landmarks can/should be added to that list.

Here’s the list of landmarks on the Charles in the order you’ll pass them.

Next up: Steering around the turns

Coxing Racing

HOCR: Steering through the bridges

Previously: Getting to the starting line

For those of you that row on the Charles you should already know most, if not all of this. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the river and it’s many twists and turns, pay attention. With the exception of this video you won’t hear much about the bridges, penalties, etc. since there’s no official coaches-and-coxswains meeting. Knowing what arches to go through, what penalties can be awarded, etc. is crucial to your crew’s overall time and experience at HOCR. I’ll discuss steering the course in another post – for right now I’m just going to talk about the bridges and penalties.

First, the penalties. Penalties can be issued for any of the following:

Safety violation – time at the discretion of the jury
Hull on the wrong side of the buoys – 10 seconds per buoy
Right hand arch of Anderson – 60 seconds
Failure to yield – 1st infraction, 60 seconds; 2nd infraction, 120 seconds; 3rd infraction, DQ
Severe collisions – 60 seconds if your crew causes the collision, plus additional safety violation penalties
Unsportsmanlike conduct – time at the discretion of the jury up to 60 seconds

On to the bridges – fast forward to 9:15, which is where we’ll begin.

Once you are staged and in the chute, the starting marshal will begin bringing you to the starting line. You should paddle up and try and maintain an equal distance between you and the crews in front of and behind you. As you near the start line, the official will tell you to build it up to full pressure. You want to be at full pressure BEFORE you row across the starting line. When your bow gets close in line with the BU launches at the top of the dock, you should begin your build. The middle of the dock is where the starting line is located, so you want to have already begun your start sequence by the time you get there. When you’ve crossed the starting line you’ll hear the announcer say “XYZ, you are on the course!” Sometimes they’ll say something nice, like “have a good row” or “welcome to Boston!” if you’re from out of town. They’re very friendly up there.

BU Bridge

Preferred arch:Left arch (second from the right), the one with “DEFY THE ODDS” written on it

Although the video here says that the right hand arch can be used with caution, the rule book states that you will incur a 60 second penalty if you go through here. Unless you are in an unavoidable situation (which is practically impossible to get into 200m from the starting line), there is no reason for you to need to go through this arch. Stick to the left hand arch and you’ll be good.

Passing is allowed prior to the bridge IF it can be done safely. If you try and overtake a crew and force them into one of the bridge piers, you will be the lucky recipient of a safety penalty. Safety penalties are mandated by the HOCR jury and can vary in length depending on the severity of the penalty. Disqualifications for unsafe maneuvers are not unheard of. Be smart. If you can see that your crew is going to overtake another crew, just wait until you get through the bridge. Don’t risk it and think you’ll be able to make it to the bridge first. That is a race you will never win. Have your crew back off and then as soon as the other crew is through the bridge, hammer it through and walk by them.

Post-BU Bridge

Once you’ve passed the BU Bridge, you’ll see the orange buoys on your port side and the green buoys on your starboard side. The first turn is a turn to starboard, so you’ll want to hug that buoy line as closely as you can during this straightaway. Doing so will save you a lot of time in the end. Remember, your oars can go over the buoys but at no point can the hull itself cross over. If it does you’ll receive a 10 second penalty for every buoy you’re over. For a single or double, this isn’t a big deal, but in an eight or four you will surely go over at least three or four buoys before you can make it back onto the course. The buoys are there for safety purposes – it’s extremely shallow right there and there may be tree limbs or rocks under the surface that could take your fin off if you get to far to starboard. Respect the buoys..

Magazine Beach

I’m just going to go ahead and call this area “Clusterfuck Central”. As you begin coming around this turn, you’ll see the Singles and Doubles Launch Area on the beach. There will be a course marshal here directing them across the course into the travel lane so that they don’t interfere with anyone’s race, but as most scullers are apt to do, there will be those few that don’t listen and DO get in the way. Despite it clearly being their fault, they’ll probably yell at you and tell you you’re an idiot. They’ll be disqualified, but that doesn’t do much for your time. Stay composed coming through here but be alert to your surroundings. Know where the scullers are and be ready to steer off course if necessary.

Powerhouse Stretch

Hopefully you’ve made it through the stretch without incurring any loss of sanity due to erratic scullers. The Powerhouse stretch is a straight 1200ish meter-long stretch of course so this is a good spot to shave seconds off your time. If you end up being passed though, make sure you yield to the overtaking crew. If you do not yield, a) that’s just poor sportsmanship and b) you’ll be given a 60 second penalty. Make sure you’re still watching the buoy line and keeping an eye out for any crews launching or returning to the Riverside boathouse.

River Street Bridge

Preferred arch: Center arch

As you come fully around the turn and past Riverside, you should be able to see straight down the stretch if you’ve set yourself up properly. You want to begin aiming for the center arch on the River Street bridge. The right hand arch is open as well but you shouldn’t take this arch unless you are trying to avoid a collision or a cluster of boats.

There’s a lot of debate over the center arch vs. right hand arch line, so it will be up to you and your coach to determine what line to take coming through the stretch. Be aware though that that plan could change during the race. Some coaches think that you should take the right hand arches because it sets you up wider for Weeks and limits the amount of swing coming out of Magazine Beach while other coaches think that you should stick to the middle. The middle is the “true” course, so ideally that is the course you should take. Officially though, if you steered a perfect course then going through the right hand arches would only add one extra meter to your course according to HOCR officials.

Western Avenue Bridge

Preferred Arch: Center

Western Avenue is exactly the same as River Street – both the center and right hand arches are open, but the center arch is the preferred course.

Weeks Footbridge

Preferred arch: Center

You want to be aiming for the middle of the center arch coming into Weeks. The right hand arch is available but should only be used as a last ditch effort if you’re trying to avoid a collision. It swings you incredibly wide and will add many additional meters and seconds to your overall time. Keep in mind that coming out of Weeks you have a 90 degree turn to port, so you want to already be turning by the time you get to the bridge. If you wait until you get there, it will swing you around wide and make it hard to get a good line coming into Anderson.

Anderson Memorial Bridge

Preferred arch: Center

Coming out of Weeks, you want to line yourself up with the abutment between the left and center arch . The only available arch through this bridge is the center one. Going through the right hand arch will tack on 60 seconds to your final time, so be sure that you have a good line coming into the center arch.

Post-Anderson Bridge

Once you’ve come through the bridge, look ahead for the white apartment tower . Instead of following the buoy line, which pulls you into the Newell “cove”, aim instead for those apartments. This will be another semi-high traffic area due to traffic coming and going from Newell, but since there is no need for anyone to cross over, you shouldn’t have to worry about anyone getting in your way.

Eliot Bridge

Preferred Arch: Center

This is it – the big one. In order to execute this turn properly, safely, cleanly, and quickly, you need to correctly set yourself up for it well before you go into it. How you execute this turn will ultimately be dictated to you by the race – how many crews are around you being the most obvious detriment to getting a good line. The far arch is available but shouldn’t be used unless you’re trying to avoid a collision. This is the only TRULY likely spot where it is conceivable for you to need to use the non-preferred arch and that’s only because of how tricky this bridge is to navigate.

Once you’re through Eliot, you can rest easy knowing that you’ve conquered all the bridges. All that’s left is the final turn to starboard and you’re in the home stretch.

Next up: Landmarks along the course

HOCR: Getting to the starting line

Coxing Racing

HOCR: Getting to the starting line

This will be my first time racing at HOCR so lately I’ve been spending some time doing research on the course and trying to find out as much information as possible. Over the next week I’ll do a series of posts tackling all the different parts of the regatta, how to handle the course, what my race plan will be, etc.

Related: Hey, I row in NZ and I see everyone talking about the Head of the Charles and I was wondering what exactly is it? And why is it such a big deal?

At FALS (Finish Area Launching Site)

Listen to the dock master. If he/she tells you to jump, you say how high – whatever they say goes. In large races like this safety is paramount so don’t take it personally if they snap at you or seem angry. They’re just trying to keep things moving and the crews safe. Make sure you know your event and bow number, as they will more than likely ask you for that information when you get down to the dock so that they know who has arrived and who they’re still waiting on.

Heading towards Eliot Bridge

Stay inside the orange buoys.These buoys indicate the travel lane and are the only place you’re allowed to be when making your way to the starting line.

Pay attention at Eliot. This turn is TIGHT so you need to be rowing continuously through the bridge so as to not impede other crews. No drilling, no stopping. Just like the dock master, the marshals may yell at you to keep moving – just do what they say and don’t take their irritated tones personally. As you come through the arch, have your starboards take it down to zero pressure so your ports can drive it around. Trust me on this – zero pressure from the starboards. Once you’ve got a straight line you can even it back up.

If you sense that you might hit another crew or it’s just getting to close for comfort in one spot, add in a pause at hands away until you’re clear of any situations. This should only be done in certain cases – you should not be doing pause drills or anything else. This is only to keep your crew out of harm’s way. Use your judgment to determine if adding one in is necessary. Tell your crew WHY you’re adding the pause – “Guys, it’s getting a little hectic up here, let’s add in a pause at hands away to let it clear out before we pick it up again.”

Newell Boathouse

Coming out of the Eliot turn and heading towards Anderson is a good spot to throw in a power 20 if you have room to do so. Be mindful of other crews, especially ones launching from Newell. If there’s room to do a 10 or 20 and you’re a little close to other crews, yell over to their coxswain and alert them that you’re about to do a short burst. As long as you communicate they should give you space. Make sure you do the same for anyone who is also trying to get in some hard strokes while warming up.


This is another good spot to take a 10 if you’re able and there’s no one coming down the course. Remember the turn out of Weeks is an abrupt 90 degree turn to starboard so you’ll need to properly set yourself up for that coming out of Anderson. Be aware of the orange buoys and make sure you don’t drift over them.


Have your starboards power down and ports power up to get you around the turn. Don’t rush it – take your time and be mindful of other crews who have slightly spastic coxswains. Inevitably there will be some out there with you. Always have an eye on what other boats are doing so that you can avoid dangerous situations.

Powerhouse stretch

This is another good spot to get some hard strokes in if it’s clear. Keep an eye out for traffic.

Riverside/SADL (Singles and Doubles Launch)

Scullers are awful and nowhere is that more apparent than right here. I blame it on the fact that they don’t have a coxswain to tell them they’re idiots, thus they are oblivious to the fact that they’re rowing right in your way half the time.

“But they’re looking RIGHT at me, surely I don’t need to tell them to look out or move since they are STARING at my boat?”

Wrong. So wrong. Scullers will be launching from SADL and, with the assistance of a course marshal, will be crossing over the course and into the far travel lane. Sure, if they simply look to their right they will see you coming towards them, but that NEVER happens. Now is not the time to be doing any bursts or power strokes. You need to navigate this area as quickly, calmly, and safely as possible. Be aware that there will be that ONE sculler that doesn’t pay attention, cuts you off, and then yells at you for it like it’s your fault. Ignore them and don’t let it rattle you.

BU Bridge

As you come down to the BU bridge, make sure you don’t go through the arch closest to shore. There’s a bike path that juts out over the water and makes that arch too narrow to travel through. Stick to the middle and left-most downstream arches. Coming down towards the bridge there is PLENTY of room to sort out where to go so set yourself up for it early.

Warm-up Area (Charles River Basin)

As you come into the basin, stick close to the Boston side of the river. Eventually you will see giant yellow buoys that are right in line with MIT’s boathouse. Row past them until just before you get to the Mass Ave. bridge, at which point you can turn to port, row it across, and come back down the other side. If you have time to continue the warmup, proceed around the buoys again before making your way back down towards the queuing area.

When you’re up here, you will be in a fairly large pack of boats. Keep your eyes and ears open – listen for other coxswains or marshals and keep an eye on what’s going on. Be aware of other crews that might not know or be following the traffic patterns.

Queuing Zone

Know what time your race begins and what time you need to enter the staging area. You have to get in numerical order by your bow numbers, so find the people before and after you and squeeze in near them. Try and stick close to them while you’re waiting to get called up. You must be lined up 5 minutes prior to the start of your race. Make sure you are aware of the time and when you should be moving. Do. Not. Be. Late.

Your bow number will indicate where you should begin lining up. Odd numbered crews should line up on the left side between the red and yellow buoys. Even numbered crews should line up on the right side between the yellow and green buoys.

From here, it’s a simple, painless process. The starting marshals will bring the crews up in groups of 10. As you come into the chute, you’ll need to alternate who goes so that you stay in numerical order.

Starting Line

As you come up to the starting line, begin to build into full pressure. If you take five to build, a good spot to begin your build is right before the start of the docks, that way when you row through the starting line, you’ll be at full pressure and already a few strokes into your starting sequence. Remember, you want to be at your fastest coming across the line, not still building into it. You’ll hear the announcers in the BU boathouse say “You’re ON” when you cross the starting line.

As you approach the line, make sure you’re paying attention to the crews in front of you and to what the marshal is saying. If you get to close or too far away from the crew ahead of you, they’ll tell you to either power up or power down. This is done to keep the spacing between crews as steady as possible coming across the line.

If you don’t hear the race announce say you’re on the course, just look for the giant yellow buoys.

Next up: Steering through the bridges, covering what bridge arches to use and the various penalties you can be assessed.

Image via // Boston Magazine