Jan 312013

Week 1: Module 1: Date 1/31/13

How does one exactly row an ocean rowboat? I mean you just stick the oar in the water and push, right? or is it pull? Why am I facing backward? Help! I can’t see where I am going!!
Pat at the oars one hour ...

Pat demonstrating how to row!

Lets check out a description from the boat on rowing in swells.

Our big 1500 kg rowboat dances.  Not so much in the beam seas we have been experiencing but a few of the right waves came our way today.  Aft is perfect, but even at 65 and seventy degrees can start the rhythm.  The swell rises and we slide down the face and the boat slows then surges through us and pulls the boat forward as it runs ahead of us.  The load lightens, enough that we have to time our strokes on the slow parts of the waves to keep up and then pausing, slowly moving up the slide waiting for the next wave.  The feeling that something so big is now acting so nimbly with minimal effort is joyful, especially after several days of slogging.   

A gold star and a place on the site for the best illustration from a student that depicts what is happening in the narrative!

The science of rowing is really quite an in-depth field and has many subtleties. For a very comprehensive and scientific look at rowing check out this site.


For a slightly less scientific explanation let’s look at a few images.

lever figure 1_3oarlever

These images demonstrate how the oars are one of the most basic machines, a lever. All levers have three things, effort,a fulcrum and resistance. There are three types of levers, 1st, 2nd and 3rd class. These levers differ by the location of three parts. An oar is an example of a 1st class lever (or 2nd class, depending on your perspective). Can anyone give an example of the other two levers? Here is an image depicting the three types of levers to give you a hint.


When we examine this drawing we can see the basic parts of the rowing stroke and see why they sit backwards. We will look at this more in-depth during Module 4 on the body in a few weeks.




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  6 Responses to “Daily Education Update 1.3 Rowing”

  1. I am totally digging this daily education update – excellent fun!

  2. do you need a coxswain ….. i think hillary would be willing to parachute in …….love to all of you …..

  3. Adam,
    I hope you guys are doing well out there and enjoying the row. Stay warm, stay dry, stay happy and don’t eat all the other guys’ rations (unless they’re asleep)
    I’m having fun following your journey,
    Sidney, BC

  4. Nice CBC interview today, Adam!

    Wilson Middle School in Lethbridge is doing a special assembly next Tuesday for you and the crew! The students are going to gauge your voyage with a big thermometer. As well as do some physical, environmental and nutrition activities. A duct tape boat in their classroom! Lots of local media coverage, too.

    Best to you and the crew!
    Darcy at the University of Lethbridge Faculty of Education

  5. FISA, the international rowing federation actually describes rowing as using a Class 2 Lever as shown in your second illustration where the blade portion of the oar is the fulcrum (against the water,) the boat is the load (against the oarlock pin) and the effort of course is the rower (on the oar handle).

    I’m afraid that the debate over whether an oar is a Class 1 or 2 Lever is simply a matter of perspective.

  6. Hi Rick – Perspective, indeed! The link above touches on the very point that Class 1 vs. Class 2 lever is completely perspective based. FISA is calculating Class 2 from the perspective of the outside observer, whereas the rower within the shell will observe Class 1. Either way the math all comes out in the wash. Thanks for your comment! I’ll update the post with a notation in that paragraph. -Greg

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