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Finesse [rowing]

Run-on poem.

"Finesse" is the term used to describe rowing that is smoothly and skillfully executed, with the blades catching the water just-so (a light "chock!" sound), without disrupting the run of the boat, with the start of the drive smoothly engaging with the legs to push the boat forward, followed by the swing of the back, the draw-through of the arms to the *correct* release position allowing the oars to slip smoothly out of the water and feather, hands-away, feeling connection to the boat with the heels while the toes are light and lifted up, swinging the body forward to follow the hands, then drawing up the slide again, a gentle flick to square the blades, then catching again before the weight on the feet transfers back from the heels to the balls of the feet for the next drive.

I had a few good strokes this morning. Most of the strokes just made me think back to one memorable row with Interlochen at the Pocock Center, where we were in an 8+ and testing out a new coach, who might have been Dutch. The Interlochen master's women were all old enough to be my mother. After we had rowed for a bit, he had us weigh enough, and then he went down the boat, starting from the stern, providing every rower with a blunt personal critique. When he reached me, he said, "Three seat, you row like a teenager. You're all over the place," and he was probably correct, referring to me squirming around to try and help out the boat's set. [After that, he said, "Bow pair - have you ever considered playing golf?" ...He wound up not jiving with the team dynamics, plus the commute to coach was too arduous.].

Last Thursday, Iz made me remember that balance in the single comes from keeping the heels down at the release, generating some tension between the heels and seat in order to have a stable platform for the arms as they come in to the correct release height (just below the boobs). If I'm doing it correctly I can feel it in my hip flexors.

Things will come together with time and conscious practice. I was grateful this morning for the glassy water, which meant I couldn't use wind or chop as an excuse for sloppiness. I just have to keep building on those good strokes until they become the new normal.

Berkeley Paddling and Rowing Club

Berkeley Paddling and Rowing Club



( 3 remarks — Remark )
Jan. 27th, 2016 03:03 am (UTC)
A barn full of racing shells always looks like a secret glimpse into an alien armory or something.
Jan. 27th, 2016 06:17 am (UTC)
Looks tight in there...

And I can only imagine what that coach would say when it's not a try-out. "Have you considered playing golf" - wow, that is cold.

Inexperienced coaches are always deceived by my stroke- somehow I have managed to look pretty while I row but I'm not really moving the boat that well. Nice posture & reach, nice catch, poor sequencing through the drive and my release has always been somewhat disastrous. The one thing I got out of Craftsbury was to focus on being more fluid & controlled at the release, less robotic and frantic (the effect of too many coaches shrieking "quick hands!" at me, my hands are super quick but not in a good way). What I'm going for now is like a somewhat controlled noodle- a lot less muscle, but just enough to keep my arms from flopping around at the release.
Jan. 27th, 2016 05:05 pm (UTC)
I think the coach's style was very Dutch - pull no punches. The whole thing was secretly hilarious if you knew the personalities of the women in the boat, heh.

Iz was REALLY GOOD at the positive feedback aspect of getting me to make changes to my stroke. I can usually manage a decent combination of power and good technique, but I suspect she's a perfectionist, which feeds my own perfectionist tendencies. I kept thinking of that George Pocock quote about how, when you're rowing well, you reach a feeling that touches the divine. It's that element that's addicting.
( 3 remarks — Remark )

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