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Sample race plan for a 2000m rowing race, typically held on a body of still water (like a lake or pond rather than a river) with six lanes of buoys for six boats, all gunning down the course at once. (This one was used by the men's varsity eight from Tufts University at the 2000 New England Rowing Championships.)

Gentlemen, all hands are down.... Etes vous pret? Partez!

Start to 500m
  • 3/4 - 1/2 - 3/4 - length - full
  • High 20 @ 42-46 (whatever is natural, no worries)
  • One stroke lengthen to race pace @ 35-37 (depending on conditions)
  • 10-15 strokes at race pace
  • Up two beats, commitment 15, we take the lead or lengthen our advantage.
  • One stroke lengthen to race pace, cross the 500m line in first place.
500m to 1000m

Clean and fast. Climb into ourselves here a bit. We ought to be in the lead, in control, so we concentrate on clean finishes and sync'ing the backs to bow. No moves will be called, but if a crew tries to punch through us here, we will answer stroke for stroke at our base cadence.

1000m to 1500m

Five strokes after the line, up two on the drive for a power ten.

  • If the race wasn't locked up in the first thousand, it is now.
  • Lengthen our lead, make everyone else fight for second place, first is ours.
  • Pay the physiology price for the strategic advantage of leading, and the psychology advantage of getting far enough in the lead that we are out of our opponents field of vision.

Coxswain won't call a lengthen back to race pace if we are going well; it'll come to a sustainable cadence naturally. Finishing the fifteen with a base cadence a beat up from where we started is a good idea at this point anyway, the finish line is close.

Ten strokes from the final 500, power fifteen to drive our opponents away. Clean finishes, strong sync'ed backs to bow. This takes us into the final stretch, the tenth or twelfth stroke has us crossing the 1500m line.

1500m to 2000m
The finishing strategy depends on where everyone else is on a six-lane course.

If someone is within four seats:
Coming off the last commitment, up two beats for ten, then up two every twenty. Sit up a little taller, pry the legs down. Whatever it takes to get to the line first.

If we are up by more than half a boat and are moving away:
Coming off the last commitment, 10-15 strokes at base cadence. Up two for twenty, then up two to the line.


In a word:

  • Fifteens at 350m, 1050m, and 1350m. The first two include bumping the rate two beats, the last move is just power. The two shifts back to base cadence are the most important 2x3 strokes in the race.
  • Very aggressive first half; get the lead and don't let nobody walk on you.
  • Technical concentration is on the finishes. Make them clean by keeping your weight against the handle all the way through, connected, and pinching the blade in towards coxswain, towards the stern of the shell, before releasing square.

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