Self coaching drills

A coach’s eye on your blade keeps technical crabs at bay during a practice. But if you’re out
alone you need a way to self-coach. As a part of your daily warm-up choose a drill that gives you
clear feedback and sets the tone for your row.

Two essential drills

Here are a couple of suggestions.
Feet-out rowing focuses on a clean release of the blade using the support of the water to assist
the exit. The drill helps you row tall, preventing your weight from falling into the bow. Remove
your feet from the shoes and place them on top of the stretcher. During the drive hold steady
pressure against the foot stretcher and as you draw the oar handle. Tap down on the oar handle to
release the blade in sync with legs down; just before you lose the pressure on the blade. Keep
your weight over the handle as you then feather as the hands move away from your body. If the
release is late, your feet will come off the shoes, and going in the water is likely. If you nail it,
it’s crisp and feels easy. Practice rowing slowly for 10 minutes feet-out.

masters rowing NZ, single scull masters man,

Rowing with a pause at one-quarter slide helps you practice rowing with a quiet upper body on
the recovery. Transition smoothly from the drive to the follow-through position of arms-body
away. When your knees rise slightly at one-quarter slide, pause. Let the boat glide for a count of
one-one thousand, two-one thousand, then row on. Keep your upper body quiet and steady as
you compress on the slide. Let the knees come up to your chest versus the chest dropping to the
knees as you get ready to place the blade. Practice sets of 10 strokes.

If it helps you to focus, give yourself a score out of 10 for each set of the drill you do. Mark your
improvement. If you don’t get better, it may be time to head in to the pontoon and practice again
another time. Practicing rowing wrongly will not be helpful in the long term and a tired body and
mind finds challenging drills very hard to do successfully.

Come Row in Africa

The World Rowing Masters Regatta 2023 has been awarded to South Africa and will take place 21-24 September at Roodeplaat Dam in Tshwane (previously Pretoria). Our vision is to deliver a world-class regatta that is profoundly African and leaves a legacy for South African rowing and the local community. Start planning your trip today, and be part of the first World Rowing event in Africa!

Located in the southernmost region of Africa, is one of the most beautiful countries in the world – South Africa! Discover superb beaches, dramatic mountains, world-famous game reserves, and Cape Town – voted one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

The South African rand offers great value for money. You can afford to travel and treat yourself to luxurious food, and award-winning wines. Plan a trip along our coastline, visiting all the rowing locations from Durban to Cape Town.

There are a range of accommodation options close to the venue to suit your budget. Treat yourself to a luxury hotel or bush lodge, or go for backpacker accommodation. Enjoy camping under the beautiful African skies right next to the regatta course! Rent a camper van or trailer and use this to explore South Africa after the regatta.

Flight times vary depending on where you are coming from. Most flights are at night, so you climb on the plane, enjoy a book or a movie and before you know it, you wake up in beautiful South Africa. The flight is part of the fun! We will be offering a boat rental service. We expect several international boat manufacturers to bring fleets to the regatta, and we will also have local rowing fleets available for rental.

Come and Talk to Us

We will be at the National Masters Regatta at Lake Karapiro in September so please come and see us to have a chat about attending what is going to be a truly remarkable regatta.

Alternatively you can contact Dennis Howard at

Return to Rowing after Covid

covid return to rowing

With the covid infection rates ebbing and flowing across the country, the timing is good for this helpful infographic about “Return To Play” after having covid.

Even through we are not all “performance athletes” the guidance is clear – take 17+ days to come back fully and monitor yourself carefully.

Covid Symptoms

Current guidelines that RNZ athletes are following:
📌 no exercise when you are symptomatic or for first 5 days
📌 After 5 days can do very light exercise like a 15min walk
📌 If feeling good after 10days with no medical concerns can progress to 30mins very light exercises such as a light bike, walk or erg. Keep HR below 70% max.
📌 If that goes ok, after a few days can progress to 45mins of no more than 80% max HR
📌 Three weeks from start of covid can return to full training
📌 Need to be aware that they have not trained for 3 weeks so be careful of loading which could result in injury.
Symptoms after recovered from covid:
📌 Might find – short of breath, high HR, fatigue – ask your athletes about these things when they get over covid.
📌 Be aware of the ones that erg for 30mins and then sleep for 2hours.
📌Ease them back so we don’t get long covid or myocarditis.
📌Covid effects heart, lungs and brain.
📌 Loss of 30% of lung function after covid
📌 We don’t know yet how long that risk lasts for.
covid return to rowing
Recommended protocols for returning to full training after covid

Hurry Slowly

Early morning single Karapiro

At last you can start rowing on the water again. Your instincts tell you to seize your oars and row, rejoicing that erging is over once again. No doubt it feels good to go pump out a 15k, toss in some starts, and sweat. You’ll be euphoric; you’ll probably also have blisters, sore muscles, balance and bladework problems.

So, if your goal this season is to move your boat more meters per second, should you really just go tear up the waterways?  Paying attention to details, while easing back into your boat will pay out dividends later in the season. Avoiding a madcap approach might also mean a little more indoor rowing and a careful transition.

You need to allow yourself a tuning period of a few weeks when getting back on the water. Give your hands time to adjust to a different handle size or texture. Check that your grips are in good shape and replace them if you need to. Remember that you haven’t feathered an oar for a long time so you will have to be aware of correct hand placement and handle manipulation from the start. Sweep rowers again need to isolate the functions of their hands so the inside hand feathers and the outside hand controls the height. Scullers should keep the thumbs at the handle’s end and resist palming the narrow handles. Attending to flat wrists and keeping the forearms level with the water is important to minimise extra motion.

The boat is a reactive environment, so many of your smaller trunk muscles that have not been used during the down time will fatigue before your larger power muscles will. Your initial sessions are, in effect, limited by the endurance capacity of your stabilising muscles. When you start to fatigue and catch yourself balancing the boat by swaying your knees-you need to go in. During early season rowing, care needs to be taken to row well and prevent any type of overuse syndrome that will linger into the season. Keep in mind that a muscle strain typically can take six to eight weeks to heal. 

Scandinavian cross-country skiers have a training motto that says, “Hurry slowly”. When you get back in your boat this season, put technical emphasis on balance and blade work. This requires patient kilometers of low stroke rate work between 16 to 20 strokes per minute and exercises for the entry and release such as pausing at half-slide, one-quarter slide rowing, or legs-only. Groove in good movement patterns, but be aware that you also can’t afford to lose fitness. This is where the erg comes in. The initial transition to the water requires lower power applications until you are comfortable, so putting in some work on the erg can be key to keeping your fitness level up during the transition time. Row your workouts that are above steady state intensity on the erg so you can work at a high enough aerobic level. Gradually, build the pressure up on the water until you can maintain technique under more stress. Being diligent about taking the time to practice good blade work which will give you more boat speed once you start ramping up the cadences later in the season.

Next time you get ready to push off from the pontoon for your distance row, remember another rowing proverb,  “If you can’t do it slow, you can’t do it fast”.

Article supplied by Faster Masters Rowing.

Regatta report Masters Nationals

2021 Masters National Rowing Championships

By Deb Hymers-Ross, The Union Rowing Club

And the Gold Medal goes to…..South Island Rowing’s organisers and volunteers for the self sacrifice and organisation to pull the Masters Nationals and Aoraki 1000 off under level 2 restrictions. It was a great weekend of flat water (till Sunday anyway) warm air, friendly competition , team building and fun.

How did they pull this off one asks, although a lot more would have gone on behind the scenes what I can tell you is

  1. Safety briefing on zoom the Tuesday prior.
  2. Covid contact sheet with name, number, address in Twizel, contact tracing app, number of vaccinations and symptoms 24 to 48 hours prior to the event.
  3. Lanyards were allocated to all those entered in Rowit, coaches, rowers and coxswains only. These were given to the Covid Manager of each Club prior to opening the gates to trailers and rowers. As the rest of the Club members arrived the Club Covid Manager met them at the gate and gave out the lanyards. The also collected them at the conclusion of the regatta for return to SIR.
  4. Logan Keys and Alex Meates, pretty much single handedly put their bodies on the line sitting in a truck at the entrance checking that everyone coming in had said lanyard and scanned in with the QR code as they entered.  This is the human sacrifice I referred to earlier! 
  5. Signs directed you to your zone where there was no greater than 80 people allocated, a toilet, a water faucet, and a box with bow numbers. These zones had their own QR code to scan in to, soap and hand sanitiser and this was home for the next 3 days. You drove in(vehicles only) and you drove out. There was enough room to erect a tent and park cars. Some had racking for boats others, you needed to use your trailer and dumps.
  6. Conduct outside the rowing compound was discussed and the upmost importance to the organisers, mask wearing, scanning, social distancing all reiterated.

The zones made for good team building as you all stayed together, made it easy to find crew members when it was race time, I liked getting and returning my own bow numbers as there were no queues. Unisex toilets, fine as cubicles rather like you were on an episode of suits.

Our thoughts were with our North Island Competition who could not travel, we missed you! Most races had good competition but there were events where you might have been the only crew entered, the organisers put you in another race where feasible so the row over felt a little more like racing.

Long distance race

A novel “long distance race” of 3 km was added at 8 am Sunday morning, rowing from the Salmon farm to the finish line. Entries for this had to be in Saturday noon. The water was choppy but the race came off with out a hitch for some….Our crew heard start at various times it appeared, or perhaps did not hear the start at all but once we got it together we were able to finish ahead of Canterbury in the 8 and the quads were all out ahead of the two eights.

The racing blocks worked well with the exception of Saturday morning where D to F events were too close together 93 96 and 106, feasibly someone could enter all 3 of these events and be on the water non stop for an hour especially when one of these events has a final.

Aoraki it was the men’s open category which was too close together the double and the single only a half hour apart.

Combining Events

Being able to run these two events together, shows what can be done, especially with all the discussions that have taken place about running the NZ Nationals and NZ Masters Nationals within the same week. It works so well having your Juniors in with the masters and vice versa, the entire club cheering for each other and supporting each other on and off the water.

Union was particularly proud of its showing over the weekend, Our little squad of 21 competed in 34 events and won back the trophy for the most club points earned over the regatta. This trophy was constructed by our Patron Jim Little and encourages competing for your club, proudly wearing your club colours. 5 points for gold, 3 for silver and 1 for bronze. From our Novice double wining gold to our most experienced athletes winning multiple medals. Union had 6 entries in the D to F Mixed Double and were delighted to see the blue and white finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

Our heartfelt thanks, goes to the organisers.

Link to photos

2021 Masters Nationals, Masters rowing NZ, 2021 Masters Nationals, masters rowing NZ,

NZ Masters Champs 2021

Ruataniwha put on a great show for the New Zealand Masters Rowing Championships 2021. With a rain and cool first day on Friday followed by two stunning days with great flat water for the side by side racing and Sunday brought some wind with the sunshine for the long distance race.

Reports from competitors emphasised that the racing was “as good as ever” despite many people missing the competition due to the Waikato and Auckland provincial lockdowns meaning few clubs were present from north of Taupo.

The mood on the bank was positive nonetheless and the covid safe arrangements worked well. All competitors had lanyards identifying which part of the bank was their “zone”. In the zone you could get on the water and hang out with other athletes – but no mixing between zones was allowed.

On the lake Lane 1 was used for launching and passing and the racing lanes were moved over from Lane 2 out to Lane 9. Peter Midgeley and the team from South Island Rowing did a fantastic job to set up and run the regatta and there were many congratulations heard from participants on this score. South Island Rowing really “pulled the stops out” to make the regatta work aided by competitors and supporters who were really compliant.

A few photos from the long distance race.

Peer to peer coaching clinics

The Legion of Rowers hosted two coaching clinics during July 2021 for masters rowers who are not coaches. There are not enough coaches available for masters groups to get regular coaching. One way to get effective coaching for masters is to enable self-coaching and group feedback. This has never been tried before. 

During 2020 we surveyed masters rowers via the New Zealand Masters Rowers Facebook page asking what would improve rowing for masters.

5 key areas were identified

  1. To speak with one voice nationally
  2. Grow membership and participation
  3. Have more regattas and with new race formats (coastal and flat water)
  4. More social events
  5. Access to effective coaching

Legion of Rowers and Rowing New Zealand agreed to organise two peer to peer clinics during June 2021 in Auckland and Karapiro led by Duncan Holland and Raf Wyatt.

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Erg coaching on the rowing model
Masters Coaching, Peer to peer coaching, masters rowing New Zealand
Raf Wyatt explains the stroke cycle
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Planning an outing using peer-to-peer principles

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