Tag: race course

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

Coxswain Recordings, pt. 11

College Coxing Racing Recordings

Coxswain Recordings, pt. 11

George Washington University vs. Navy

At the start, make sure you remind everyone to bury their blades. 7-seat was only about 3/4 of the way in during the countdown. You can really see it at 2:17 how everyone’s blades are just under the surface but his is peeking out a bit. You can also see it on his first puddle, there’s a lot of whitewater compared to everyone else’s deep, dark ones.

Similarly to the previous GW recordings I posted, the tone, annunciation, etc. of the calls are spot on. A couple examples here include the “jump and send” at 3:13, the intensity at 5:32 when he says “I’m on bowball”, and the actual calmness in his voice when he says “first 500m move, nice and calm” at 3:42. If you’re calm when you tell them to be calm or aggressive when you want to see/feel the aggression, you’re going to see and feel that response on the next stroke.

I was paying more attention to the coxing than the actual rowing but I noticed that it looked pretty unset at times, like they were on a different side every stroke for multiple strokes at a time. You’ve gotta remind them not to settle for that. Small adjustments, get it right at the finish coming around the corner, stabilize it coming into the catch, lock on, send; stabilize, lock, send. Also, compared to the rest of the piece the slingshot 10 at 5:48 looked sluggish. For a move like that, make sure you’re preceding it with calls to stay light on the seats, stay up tall, keep the catches quick and the finishes tight, etc.

George Washington University 2013 IRA Freshman 8+ Petite Finals

One of my favorite things about Connor’s coxing is that he has managed to find that perfect balance between being calm and aggressive. Coxswains that can find and perfect that balance are the kind of coxswains I would give everything for as a rower. Another thing I like is everything that happens after the race is over. He tells them exactly where they were on the other crews when they crossed, congratulated them on a great race and season, and really just made it evident that he loved coxing this boat regardless of the outcome of the race. You don’t say “that was fun as fuck” unless you mean it, trust me. You can also hear one of the guys say “we gave ’em a run for their money” in reference to Princeton (“fucking Princeton”, to quote that person) and they did – they finished 0.8 seconds behind them.

Between 2:58 and 3:03, listen to how he calls their position on Princeton. “Holding our margin … even with Princeton … one seat up on Princeton.” In five seconds he told them their location on another crew three times with minimal effort. All it takes is one quick glance over to see where you’re at. I also like how he calls their position on Wisco a little earlier at 2:26 – he just says “up Wisco”, which is a quick and easy way to say you’re up on a crew while in the middle of making more important calls.

At 4:18 he says “we gotta move, we can’t sit” which is a good call as long as you follow it up with an actual move. Not doing that just kinda leaves the crew hanging and you can lose a bit of that motivational momentum that comes with a call like this.

Again with the tone of voice, the 20 seconds between 4:39 and 5:00 is another good example of how to build intensity with your voice and evoke a response from  your crew.

Other calls I liked:

“Get ready to fuck them in two, that’s one, and two, fuck the lightweights!

You can find and listen to more recordings by checking out the “Coxswain Recordings” page.

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

Q&A Racing

Question of the Day

Do all spring races have a marked lane/course?

Not all of them do. Duels smaller regattas tend to be on open lanes, meaning there are no buoys marking the course. At larger regattas there are almost always buoyed lanes and markers every 500m, which smaller regattas may or may not have.

If you know the races you’re going to, do some research online to see what the course looks like. Social media is a good place to search because there’s tons of photos that’ll give you an idea of how things are set up. If you can’t find anything that way, talk to your coach or some of the varsity coxswains on your team and see what they say.

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