Coxing Drills Rowing Technique

Top 20 Terms Coxswains Should Know: Quarter Feather

Previously: Rush(ing) || Body angle || Pick drill || Suspension || Skying the blade

What part of the stroke/stroke cycle does it refer to?

The recovery.

What does it mean/refer to?

Rowing on the quarter-feather is a drill, similar to square-blade rowing. Instead of the blades being fully feathered on the recovery, the rowers are just barely rotating the handles so that they’re just a few degrees past perpendicular to the water before squaring them back up at their usual spot before the catch.

Relevant calls

There aren’t many specific calls to be made here outside of reminding the rowers to not cheat and rotate the handle past the quarter-feather position. Most of the calls you’d make would be the same ones you’d make if you were rowing on the square or feather … clean finishes, even and consistent handle heights, etc. Understanding the purpose of the drill and the effects it has on the boat (discussed down below) will help you tailor your calls accordingly.

A coach I worked with last summer told the rowers to match the quarter-feather to their layback (in terms of degrees past perpendicular) and this helped everyone (mostly younger rowers) figure out where exactly “quarter” feather is, so if your crew is having similar issues you might make a similar call if you see some blades more or less feathered than others. Try not to get too caught up in the aesthetics though, it’s not that big of a deal.

What to look for

Watch the two videos down below to see what the blades should look like. The first is a compilation video of the junior national team four (I think), one of Princeton’s women’s eights, and the US men’s four. The second video is a quick clip of Cornell’s heavyweight eight from a few years ago.

Effect(s) on the boat

This is mentioned a bit in the first video up above so watch and listen to it, particularly the beginning when Nick D’Antoni is talking.. Quarter-feather rowing is about blade control – as it says in the video, it improves the finish by slowing down the feather, similarly to the delayed-feather drill where the focus is on clean extraction of the blade before the handle is rotated. Having the blade come out square reduces the likelihood of feathering it under the water, which can lead to catching a crab, throwing a lot of water towards the stern at the finish, etc.

Like rowing on the square, it can also help the crew to figure out their handle heights on the recovery without having to worry about the blades smacking the water if the boat goes even a millimeter off set. Stability isn’t always perfect on the quarter-feather (you can kinda see this in the Cornell video) but it does make it a little easier to work on consistent handle heights in the boat, particularly when the conditions aren’t favorable (i.e. wind).

Related posts/questions

Quarter-feather is such a basic thing that I haven’t talked about it on the blog before and couldn’t find much on the internet that talked about it any sort of detail. If you come across something though feel free to leave a link in the comments!

To see all the posts in this series, check out the “top 20 terms” tag.

Image via // @juhi._._

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