I welcome all Corporate Challenge Regatta entrants to our 2013 programme and wish you fun times and great experiences as you seek to master this grand sport of rowing in time for your ultimate performance on Saturday 28th September.

You should know that your entry into our regatta plays a major part in our club’s fund raising each year. For without your entry, we would not be able to buy new equipment or cover the cost of our operations. So I thank you for entering and trust that you have a valuable experience over the next few weeks. For those crews returning, be nice to the handicapper and for those entered for the first time, you too should be nice to the handicapper.

Your coaches and all Leichhardt Members are praying for good weather every morning for you, but of course training must go on whether wet or windy if you are to reach your best performance. I look forward to meeting many of you and hearing of your experiences over the next few weeks and I hope you have great fun during your time with us!

Charlie Bartlett Charles Bartlett, President, Leichhardt Rowing Club

Captured on camera

2013 Corporate 2This week we’re featuring the first three of our corporate crews. We’ll be taking a look at some more of the contenders next week. Take a look at some photos taken during the week.

2013 Corporate 3

One of our long-term Corporate Rowing supporters, Transport for NSW, has three crews on the water this year from Transport Projects Division (TPD). Welcome back to any experienced corporate rowers and a big welcome to the many novices who are trying rowing for the first time.

TPD’s Suzie’s Slaves, coached by Jane Hutchison and coxed by Suzie Frederickson, are seen here on Friday morning from two different angles “just perfecting awesome”, according to their coach. With only three novice rowers, this is the most experienced TPD crew so are sure to be looking good – no pressure guys!

2013 Corporate 4Meanwhile, on another part of Iron Cove, another TPD crew, Virginia’s Vikings, with six novices, stalwart Leone Norman, super sub David Ross, cox Tim McGrath and coach Virginia van Ewyk, show off their boat balancing skills and make their first attempt at 60 perfect (and winning) strokes rowing all eight, almost all together. And on only their second outing – great work!

2013 Corporate 5

We also welcome back Consep to the LRC Corporate Challenge – and with two crews this year. Experienced and successful corporates coach and champion rower, Sandy Rourke, is this year taking on the Consep Innovatoars, who have five novice rowers “dipping a toe into rowing the waters of Iron Cove” under the skilful guidance of cox Doreen Borg. Looking pretty slick already as they “toss” the boat and moving smoothly under the Iron Cove Bridge. Might be the crew to beat!

2013 Corporate 6

2013 Corporate 7

Do what?

Not only are our novice Corporate rowers learning a new skill in a new environment, they’re also discovering a whole new vocabulary that goes with it! If you’re not sure if you’re tapping, catching, squaring or feathering and what side of the boat you’re on, then here’s a few pointers as to the meaning of some of the phrases you’ll be hearing over the next 4 weeks.

Seat Numbers: every boat numbers from the bow (front end) to the stern (where the cox sits). So seat 1 is bow and the seats number consecutively up to seat 8, which is stroke. Remember what seat number you are – it makes it easier to follow the cox’s calls!
Sides: Odd numbers (1/bow, 3, 5, 7) are on the Bow side, which means their right hand is on the end of the oar handle and their oar sits on the water to their left. Even numbers (2, 4, 6, 8/stroke) are Stroke side rowers with their left hands on the end of the oar and the oar in the water to their right. Most commonly used when turning the boat i.e. “tapping on bow side, checking on stroke side”. If the cox just calls “bow” rather than “bow side”, it means bow seat only.
Ends: The Bow end of the boat is numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 – the four rowers furthest away from the cox. The Stern end is numbers 5, 6, 7, 8 – the four rowers closest to the cox. Most commonly used as “bow 4 only rowing” or might be expanded to “stern 6 only rowing”. Count from bow or stern accordingly.

Phew, now you know where you are in the boat, it’s time to demystify some instructions!

Back Chocks/The Finish: Sitting with your legs flat down, shoulders behind the hips, outside elbow back and oar handle into the body

Tapping: Taking small, quick strokes out to the hands away position. This is achieved by “tapping” your oar handle down to raise the blade out of the water, pushing your hands away, letting the blade drop back into the water and pulling back on the blade. Tapping is usually done with square blades and is mainly used for maneuvering the boat. It can also be used at the start of the warm-up.

Easy Oar!: Stop rowing, feather your oar (turn the blade flat to the water) and let the boat glide. The cox will then call “drop” and you can let your blade drop onto the water

Check!: Put your oar into the water with the blade square (hold on to it) to stop the boat quickly, or to assist in turning the boat e.g. “tap it on bow side, check it on stroke side” “Check it Hard!!!” means act quickly to stop the boat.

The elements of the stroke


2013 Corporate 8

All of our corporate crews had at least a short session on the ergometers this week. Many of you will already have worked out on ergos at the gym, but you may have found these sessions a bit different. As a novice rower, ergos allow you to work on perfecting the elements of the stroke (hands away, body rock, slide control), without the distractions of following the person in front of you, wrestling with the oar or coping with an unlevel boat.

Rowers use ergs for training purposes if the water is not rowable, for fitness testing and to continue to work on achieving the perfect stroke. This document details the sequencing of working out on an erg and also some of the more common mistakes – and how to fix them. Some of the common mistakes may seem familiar to you either from your erging session or in the boat.

A reminder of the elements of the stroke, as perfected on the erg and applied in the boat!

The Finish
Lean back slightly, legs flat, handle drawn to the body. Forearms are horizontal with elbows out and back.

Recovery – this is the part of the stroke when you literally recover and breathe in, ready for the next drive. It should have a relaxed feel but remember to keep your oar parallel to the boat’s gunwale or the boat can rock around as you move up the slide.

Arms Away—arms extend fully with body still in the finish position (shoulders behind hips – 1 o’clock on a clockface). Legs flat.

Body Rock—arms are relaxed and extended. The body rocks forward from the hips. Legs still flat. Keeping the chest up and leading with the breastbone or chin.

The Slide – Let your legs bend to allow your seat to slide forward. You can also think of this as letting the boat slide beneath you so your feet come up to your seat. Maintain arm and body position through quarter (just break the knees), half, three-quarter to full slide. Think about bringing your knees up to your chest and your feet towards you, not dropping your chest to your knees. At full slide, your shins are vertical with the body close to the legs (or the knees up to the body). On the water, this is when you take the catch: your oars enter the water and lock in ready for the drive

THE DRIVE – this is the part of the stroke that moves the boat

At full slide with the oar blade locked into the water (you should feel the weight of the water on the blade), the legs push down and the body begins to lever back. The legs continue to push as the body levers back, with the arms remaining straight, until approximately the point when the oar handle has passed your knees. The arms then bend to draw the oar handle past the knees and then strongly to the body, returning to the Finish position. The elbow of the arm on the end of the oar will be behind the body. The legs, body and arms should all finish their movements at the same time.

Finish Position: lean back slightly, legs flat, handle drawn to the body, forearms horizontal. Now you’re ready to take the next stroke


Square Blade: Rowing with the blade of the oar perpendicular (at a right angle) to the water. Square blade rowing is used in warm-up exercises and also to assist with hand heights. We often start novice rowers with square blade rowing to focus on what the oar, body, hands and legs are doing in the stroke, without adding in the extra element of changing hand positions.

Feathering: Feathering the oar means turning the blade 90 degrees so that it is parallel to the water as it’s carried up the slide. We will cover more about squaring and feathering in a future newsletter, but this video from 5-times Olympian Anthony Edwards gives some helpful insights into holding the oar and what your hands should be doing – together and separately – while square blading and feathering.

Be inspired!

I’m sure you’re all already inspired by the Corporate rowing experience, beautiful sunrises, glasslike water, exceptional coaching and fabulous crew mates. But if you’re looking for a bit more inspiration – and a goal as to how you’ll be rowing after 4 weeks of training – or 40 years, as my coach tells me – here are the two best sweep rowers in the world. Eric Murray and Hamish Bond just won the 2013 World Championships in the men’s pair – easily. This is their 16th consecutive win in this boat, setting a new record. Notice how relaxed they look, even when stroking at up to 36 strokes per minute, the perfect separation, the balance. Absolutely sensational.

We hope you’ve enjoyed your first week of Corporate Rowing. Please feel free to email with any questions, topics you’d liked covered, tips or stories about crew mates, or to submit your own photos to virginia@vanewyk.com.au. More photos will also be appearing on the website.
Have a great weekend and see you on the water next week.


(Coach of the extraordinarily awesome Virginia’s Vikings and Corporates Newsletter editor)