The Rule of Four

silhouette rowing eight held by 8 rowers in sunrise

You bag your warm up and jump straight to the hard strokes. Next you conveniently forget your post-row stretch. Cutting training corners may be tempting when you are in a rush but in the long run it won’t pay. Even if you are short on time, following the rule of four will give you good gains. 

4 components to training

Every training session needs four components: a warm up, a main task, a cool down, and a bit of stretching. 

Stretching and warming up have different roles. The warm up raises your body temperature and heart rate, gets blood flowing to your muscles, and brings your breathing rate up. It prepares your body for the job ahead of you. Your warm up should be dynamic and include easy rowing; light erging, jogging, or spinning if on land. Dedicate 10 to 15 minutes to warming up and break into a light sweat. Stretching involves the lengthening and relaxation of the muscles that you use in rowing. It helps to restore range of motion, improve posture, stimulate circulation, reduce soreness. The best time to improve your flexibility is right after exercise when your muscles are elastic.

How to fit it all in

To pack it all into your budgeted time slot, allow 20 minutes plus the time it takes for your main workout. Keep it simple. Incorporate a warm up period by rowing easy for 10 minutes. Include some drills too. Then, do your workout. Follow up with a 5-minute cool down period so your heart and breathing rates come down to normal. Row easy or walk for 5 minutes. After your cool down, toss in a few stretches before you hit the shower. Target the muscles that feel the tightest. Hold each stretch for about 30 seconds and repeat 3 times. Focus on your low back, hips, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles. 

Five minutes is enough, even a small dose is effective and you can always stretch later on when you have more time.

This article first appeared on 

The Hazard Point

five men in a rowing boat.

Stroking out of your comfort zone is a must to reach higher limits as an athlete and there is no better place to execute than on the race course. 

Until you have tried something beyond your competence or skill, you won’t know you can’t do it. And the converse could happen, you find that you CAN do it.

But to avoid flying and dying in a race or going out too easy you need to be able to judge your effort. There’s nothing more dispiriting for the racing athlete to sense the field moving away from you, meters ahead of your boat. 

Racing strategies to try

You can “even split” your race. This is where you hold a set pace through the four quarters of the race course. Or you can “negative split” where you start slow and build up speed until the finish. And a third way is to “positive split” when you start fast to claim a big lead and then slow down to save energy yet hold off other crews. 


Pace judgment is learned from repeated races. There are plenty of objective measures to rely on: stroke ratings, splits, or heart rate but one of the key measures is purely subjective – how you feel.

five men in a rowing boat.
Mens masters coxed four. Photo credit: Oliver Beadle

Learning Pacing

Consider pacing in part like your internal hazard score. You weigh what you are experiencing in the moment against the amount of the race still to be completed. If your calculation is too large you risk slowing down too early if the pace of the other crews increases – here your hazard score is high. 

The hazard point usually peaks in the middle of the race when there is some sense of relief that the event is more than half over. As the remaining distance decreases, stroke by stroke you can compare the advantage of increasing your pace versus fatiguing before the line. 

The risks go down as the race goes on. 

At the halfway point most rowers will tend to increase speed sensing the home stretch but to gauge your effort even better try using set distance markers or simply counting strokes in your race plan to give you feedback that pinpoints where you are each meter down the course and helps you fine-tune your output.

Remember without taking risks you’ll never know how fast you could go.

This article first appeared on

WRMR23 – Tshwane South Africa

people holding flags, rowing regatta

Gathered under African Skies, Athletes, Officials, Volunteers, and Support Staff from around the world, joined with the Local Organizers and workers for what has been an amazing event on Roodeplaat Dam.

The experience was almost lost when a freak wind and lighting storm hit the venue in the evening a day before the event. We were enjoying an amazing lightning show in the night sky many kilometers away when the storm turned and hit us at such speed and force that tents came down, seating and umbrellas plastic chairs and tables flew across the site and some into the Dam, Gazebos were shattered while powerboats broke their moorings. The lightening was fierce and all those present were gathered, accounted for and provided with cover until 1.30 am when all were back in their tents or homes as the storm had passed. At the end of the following day the venue was once again a sight to behold (restored) and the World Masters Regatta was ready to get underway.

See more of Ross’ photos.

This is my third major regatta in three different countries and South Africa turned on an event to be proud of and to a standard, the equal of others I have attended. Athletes from 46 countries have enjoyed good water, African food and culture, excellent facilities and the most accommodating team of officials and workers. The news from our rowers at home who were attending the Interprovincial Regatta at Ruataniwha Twizel and experiencing snow to the waters edge were in stark contrast to the 30 degree plus temperatures we were experiencing at Roodeplaat. We have also enjoyed the wildlife, sightings of Kudu, Impala, Water Buck and Zebra coming to the waters edge along the last 250 metres to watch the racing. It has made it an absolutely unique experience and one to cherish.

It has been nice to catch up with Kiwis who now live in South Africa and who were only too happy to offer assistance and hospitality. While there were only four from NZ, Simon Walker Umpiring, Carol and Dennis Howard plus myself working on the water and on the ground we have not been short of friends amongst the locals and for me it has been such a wonderful experience I would return again without hesitation. The exchange rate is certainly agreeable.

So there we have it. A most wonderful experience with great people participating in a great sport. As I head off into the Kruger national Park for phase two of my adventure I only hope I have as much fun on safari whether its for sighting magnificent animals or o the Wine safari tasting the local beverages while taking in the sights of this beautiful country.

From Tshwane South Africa

Ross Webb

zebra beside water
Zebra watching racing. Photo Credit: Ross Webb
Ross enjoying the hospitality. Photo Credit: Ross Webb
Flag bearers preparing for the opening ceremony. Photo Credit: Ross Webb
Wildlife beside the regatta course. Photo Credit: Ross Webb
The race course looking across to regatta head quarters. Photo Credit: Ross Webb

Masters National Championships 2023 photos

Conrad Blind – Picture Show took these lovely images.

Masters rowing national championships, eights rowing on Lake Ruataniwha, masters men rowers
Photo credit. Conrad Blind – Picture Show
Cure Boating Club mens masters rowing quadruple scull, rowing in New Zealand Masters Championships 2023 at Lake Ruataniwha
Photo credit. Conrad Blind – Picture Show
Smiling man in a single scull rowing at Lake Ruataniwha New Zealand in the master rowing championships 2023
Photo credit. Conrad Blind – Picture Show
Masters mens eights racing at Lake Ruataniwha New Zealand, St George Rowing Club in the foreground.
Photo credit. Conrad Blind – Picture Show
Four women wearing green jackets at the Masters Rowing National Championships of New Zealand 2023.
Photo credit. Conrad Blind – Picture Show


Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting occurred on Sunday 27th August. Here are some highlights from the meeting…

The new committee elected at this AGM are:

  • President: Sue Wright
  • Past President: Lesley Milne
  • Secretary: Paula Storey
  • Treasurer: Roger Watts
  • Rebecca Caroe
  • Trish Fenton
  • Allan Vester
  • Kevin Horan
  • Stuart Wade


Regattas – Trish, Lesley, Paula, Kevin

Awards – Allan, Lesley, Paula

New Events – Sue, Rebecca, Stuart

Advocacy – Rebecca, Stuart, Sue

We would like to acknowledge our Past President, Brian Parr. He is no longer on the committee, but has offered continuing support as needed.

Also, we would like to acknowledge Keith Hibberd who has resigned. He was involved in setting up the first Masters Regatta on the Tamaki River in 1984 and has been supporting the Legion for the past 39.5 years, particularly helping with regatta conditions and regatta events format.

The New Zealand Under 19 Junior Rowers received awards totalling $10,000 from the Legion of Rowers. This funding was much needed as the cost for each rower was $14,000 to attend the regatta in Paris. The recipients shared their experiences of competing in Paris for the Under 19 – see the separate article.

Past rowers provide invaluable support at the Legion regattas, the Legion tent will provide a base at future regattas where they can connect with each other.

The guest speaker was Steven Mayo-Smith, he spoke on “Past history of rowing and into the future”. The presentation provided an insightful, humorous review of rowing as an evolving sport. He also challenged the audience to consider some significant shifts that are currently in play for our sport.

Continue reading “AGM”

U19 report from Paris

The New Zealand under 19 rowing team travelled tot he World Junior Rowing Championships 2023 partially funded by the Legion of Rowers.

The slideshow below is their report about the regatta, Paris and some fine photos.