In Rowing, steering in the straight 4 must be done only when the oars are in the water or the boat will flap from side to side. In the straight four, steering is a little more difficult because you use your foot which you torque to the right or left pivoting on the ball of your foot, in addition to looking around. In a straight four, my foot was almost always cranked in one direction during the stroke to keep the boat straight. A strong bowman needs to compensate, i.e. adjust power to keep the boat straight.

Rigging in general is fairly technical depending on the style. My coach wanted the oars closer to the water, and the length of the oars (from the oarlock to the blade) was adjusted based on whether you were in an eight (longer) or a four (a little shorter).

Your technique also will vary with head, tail or crosswinds. In a head wind you want to feather at the last minute and let the wind push your blade into the water. Early feathering increases drag and reduces catch speed. In a tail wind, earlier feathering helps move the oar with less effort and energy so feathering a little early is less of an issue and makes the catches snappier.

The old wooden oars had a certain way of flexing, a stiffness, where the newer carbon fiber oars from Concept 2 helped that flex work to your advantage by adding a little whip action at the finish of the stroke. The new “blade” oars are even more carefully designed for maximum water movement and placement.

My old coach said he chose guys who picked up the wrong end of the oar: ergo, they saw the world differently from the conventional. The sport of rowing looks simple and rather easy, but like the market, there are many technical aspects, techniques and measurements that make everything from the oar, to the rigging length, angle and pitch (which was often accomplished with tape and Popsicle sticks) to the order in which various guys are seated, to hand speed and oar handling that all fit together to win races. This comes from experience and experimentation.

In the market headwinds today, traders must adjust their timing, hand speed and wait to feather later in order to catch the trade at the right moment. Trying new things is difficult in stormy conditions, but careful oar work and a controlled slide offer balance and control. Experience, patience and strategy are key.

If you don’t finish the race, you have no chance of winning…


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