Head of the Ohio – Pacing guide with Landmarks

Here are the HotO Landmarks for pacing yourself at the Head of the Ohio. Every athlete loves to know where they are through out the race to make sure they exert the right amount of pressure without hitting there limit.

Start line is the first bridge near Heinz Field and fountain were the 3 rivers meet
1000m is before the 1st Rail Road bridge
2000m is after the 3 Yellow arches Bridge (halfway)
3000m is before boathouse island
(500m to go) is blue bridge connecting to the island,
Finish line is just passed the rail road bridge and should be a big mooring pylon that freightors use.

Attached is slide show map showing this:

Rowing Injury Prevention Resources

One of the most important thing coaches must do is ensure the safety and health of their rowers. Being able to identify when a rower needs to take some time off to recover is very important. Below are 3 great resources that I encourage you to read to have a better understanding of what common injuries rowers get and how we can instruct our rowers to strengthen certain areas or perform proper technique to help prevent injuries. There’s nothing worse then having a life-long injury that could of been prevented had the athlete or coach understood the onsets of an injury.

Great educational resources for preventing injury –

What is a Stake Boat Start? Learn to position, back and scull your boat









Its the spring season and the starts are done either in a floating start or with stake boats.  A floating start is where all the boats are floating in the water and the referee aligner is get all the boats positioned so that all the bows are together.  A stake boat start is where all the sterns of the boats racing are held by someone on a floating platform or boat called a “Stake Boat”.

Below is a video on how to position yourself into a stake boat and some images to help understand how the shell will move when certain people row/scull.


Ideal situation

Stake boat positioning Ideal Situation

Need to back and move towards Starboard to get inline with stake boat

Stake boat positioning 3 scull 2

Need to back and move towards port  to get inline with stake boat

Stake boat positioning 2 scull 1

After being attached to the stake boat you will command the rowers “2 scull 1”  to move your bow towards port, or “3 scull 2” to move your bow towards starboard.  Make sure the rower in front keeps a hold of their oar and takes the oars and moves it all the way out with the blade almost parallel with the shell and takes small little strokes to get your point down river.  The reason we scull the oar is to make the bow move left or right, but not much forward, so the stakeboat holder can hold the stern.

Sculling in a 8 to maintain point


Finding the right coaches for a club rowing program

Club Rowing is quite different from Varsity rowing program and its a concept that takes a coach awhile to understand. I’d like to talk about club rowing and concepts that club coaches should understand to successful run a program and I would define success as growth of the program in size, competitiveness, and financial funding.

Row the 8
It’s quite common in small Club rowing for a coach to prioritize smaller boats because they want to focus on their top athletes are winning a medal and that by winning medals the program will attract athletes and athletes will be happy that they won and didn’t finish last place, or middle of the pack. In the early days of CSU Rowing the program focused on eights from 2000-2004, around 2005-2006 our young program shifted focus on to a Men’s Lightweight 4 in 2005, 2006 and the boat won many medals and was very successful and everyone in that boat became coaches for the program. The team continued to focus on 4s which were primarily athletic people and also won many races. The problem was that by 2009 the program had 0 returning rowers, had no money, and had to revive the program with 1 new novice. After much effort by 1-3 rowers and a coach the team was able to scrounge up 8 rowers for the Fall 2009 season. I was Head Coach and I really wasn’t sure what I was doing with my time and if CSU Rowing was done for. No alumni wanted to or were able to help coach. No previous rowers wanted to help. From that point I knew we needed to focus on growth. Every season was focused on the successful growth of the program and the team grew to 16 in Fall 2011, 30 Fall 2012 and 46 by the Fall of 2013. I would contribute the successful recruitment of Fall 2012 to the fun spirit of the head coach and a strong supporting coaching staff. I’d say the successful recruitment of the Fall 2013 team was because of a rower who joined in the spring, rowed in a highly competitive 8, 2 strong captains, and myself who really motivated the women to focus on the team and the long term plan of being a successful program, in addition to fun head coach, and strong coaching support. The spring novice rower organized 10-12 recruiting events over the summer with the help of the large team being at the recruiting events. I think the rowers realizing that if we have enough people on the team everything would become easier and more fun. Fundraising at a NFL game where we worked concessions is must easier to split among 46 rowers than only 30.

The focus every year moved away from the 4 and we started focusing on the 8. In the Fall of 2013 we had WV8, WN8A, WN8B, MV4, MN8, MN4. I tried to get the MV4 to row a MV8 but there wasn’t much understanding of why they should row an 8 but I get that sometimes people don’t want to focus on the impact an eight will have on the long-term success of the program and just want to focus on smaller boat with more athletic ability.

In club rowing you’re most likely will compete against Varsity programs, Large club programs, and small Club programs and you have to set your sights accordingly. Varsity programs will have rowers with experience (1-4 years of HS rowing, and 1-4 years of College Rowing, and multiple boats), Large Club programs will have a mix of HS rowers but mostly athletes brand new to the sport, and small club program will be mostly walk-ons. I think because of these facts a coach that cares about competitiveness and doesn’t care about growth & retention will take the top 4/2/1 athletes and put them in a smaller boat they can win. I’m against this thinking and I think you want to race an 8 and long terms you’ll continue to grow the program’s athletic base until you have 8 strong women, 8 medium, 8 rec rowers. If you want to be a competitive coach that doesn’t need to focus on growth or financial support than you should be coaching a Varsity program, where the school has allocated the funds for the program, and a paid coach has time to recruit the rowers he needs and the rowers are coming in because they want a scholarship. Re-read that and you’ll know what type of program you should be coaching.

Be organized and have a daily practice plan
Don’t blame the rowers for not showing up if you haven’t shared a plan for the next day of practice. By having a daily plan sent out it allows the rowers to understand they are needed to be at practice the next day or their boat won’t be able to row. It also shows that the coach has identified something that should be worked on at the next practice, be it cardio, technique, a new drill

Internal Competition drives competitiveness of program
Your Varsity boat is going to want to be faster than you Novice A boat, your Novice A is going to want to beat the varsity and be faster than the B boat, and the B Boat is going to want to be faster than your A boat.

4 year boat plan
By focusing on the long term success and growing the # of eights you have you’ll continue to grow the competitiveness of the program. Think about a 4 year span with a retention rate of 50%:

1st year: 2 WN8 (brand new rowers)
2nd year: 2 WN8 (brand new rowers), 1 WV8A (100% 1st year varsity rowers)
3rd Year: 2 WN8 (brand new rowers), 1 WV8A (50% 1st year varsity rowers 50% 2nd year varsity rowers), 1 WV4A (50% 1st year varsity)
4th year: 2 WN8 (brand new rowers), 1 WV8A (25% 1st year varsity rowers 50% 2nd year varsity rowers 25% 3rd year varsity rowers), 1 WV8B (75% 1st year varsity, 25% Novice) – MOST COMPETITIVE SEASON!

What happens when we focus on the 4?
1st year: 1 WN8 (brand new rowers, Statistically you can only recruit double the size of your existing rowers)
2nd year: 1 WN8 (brand new rowers), 1 WV4A (4 1st year varsity rowers)
3rd Year: 1 WN8 (brand new rowers), 1 WV4A (2 1st year varsity rowers, 2 2nd year varsity rowers), WV2 (2 1st year varsity)
4th year: 1 WN8 (brand new rowers), 1 WV4A (1 1st year varsity rowers, 2 2nd year varsity rowers, 1 3rd year varsity rowers), WV4B (3 1st year varsity)

Consider a co-ed program with mens and womens, do you want 64 Athletes or 32 athletes after 4 years? Who’s going to have better equipment that was fund-raised by the rowers, who’s going to lead the student organization?, who’s going to have more alumni?, Alumni fund and continue coaching the program, who’s going to have more athletes to choose from to be competitive?

Varsity Rowers allow you to focus on coaching
When you build up a strong base of varsity rowers you can just focus on coaching and let the rowers work on logistics, administrative work, fundraising.

Row the smaller boats after college
There won’t be many people to row with anymore and the competitiveness level will be hard to find again. Welcome to adult and masters rowing where we have jobs, kids and wives and rowing can longer be our main focus in life.

The secret to winning in rowing – Drive distance, drive speed, slow recovery, and 8 people timing up.

The secret to winning in rowing – Drive distance, drive speed, slow recovery, and 8 people timing up.

Lets focus on backsplash, getting the blades in & loaded and ready for our explosive leg press (w/ upper bodys locked). The 1st diagram shows the distance traveled if you catch the water as your body stops at the catch, and the 2nd diagram shows the distance your oar travels if you don’t put your blade in quickly. Times that by 500-600 strokes in a race and you’ll start to realize why this is so important.

 Check out this Video and watch the WV8 @ 1:00 and then the WV8 @ 2:00 to see the differencehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=028x2XxFc6E

Rowing catch timing and recovery timing explained

Early catch timing 

You want to be looking at 8 (stroke seats) blade and matching when her blade enters and leaves the water. You need to slow down on the recovery so that you match up with 8. seat’s catch and enter the water at the same time. I understand its difficult because your blade is 10 feet away from you and stroke seat is also far away so its not something you can see easily.

 Recovery timing
From the finish to the catch our bodies have to move together. Our arms extend, then our shoulders swing forward, and then our legs compress. When we compress our legs before the person in front of us we create “Check” (momentum that throws off the rhythm of stroke seat, created by someone moving forward on the slide before stroke seat).
The idea of looking at the person in front of you it to make sure that your Recovery timing is correct. You look at their elbows and make sure your elbows are moving in sync with them, and then their shoulders, and then the slide.
Here’s a picture of what was happening. Stroke seat’s blade is out of the water, 2 has rushed the stroke, 6 is also rushing, 4 is slightly rushing.
Go to 2minutes into this video and you can see it in motion. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVkG4So5xj0&list=UUmzLbb5lEODKxZkWRlpneEQ
You can also see that bow also rushed the stroke – probably because 2 rushed the stroke.
Conclusion: Catch together, Finish together, move your body together with  the person in front of you.

Rowing safety on the Cuyahoga River

Safety on the Cuyahoga River is great concern with huge freighters that use the river.  Its very important that you know and understand all the laws and regulations in place to operate a boat safely and safely coach a rowing crew.
The ODNR boating license will give you a good understand of general boating and the Cleveland Rowing Foundation Safety Manual has many specifics to the Cuyahoga river.

ODNR Boaters Study Guide – http://www.boat-ed.com/ohio/studyGuide/10103601
Cleveland Rowing Foundation Safety Manual – http://www.westernreserverowing.com/live/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/SAFETY-MANUAL-2012-10-4-12-w-table-contents.pdf

Below are additional safety tips that if followed will help keep you and your rowers out of danger.

1) Listen to your radio for freighter calls and bridge openings at all times.
2a) Don’t try to rush back to the dock to avoid a freighter keeping you out on the water longer than you wanted.
2b) If you know a freightor is in the river channel and coming towards you, know their position and think about where they could be. Request their location on Channel 16 if you think they might be close to you and you haven’t heard them on the radio recently.
3) Make a call to a freighter if you’re wondering where they are. “CSU to Sam Laud, what’s your location and direction”
4) If you’re coming around a blind turn make a call a minute before you get to that land mark. “CSU downbound approaching Old River/Nautica Turn/ Columbus Rd/ Collision Bend/ I90/ Marathon/ I490”.
5) Position your Launch ahead of the boat your coaching and at the outside of the turn so you can see around the corner.
6) In a quick-spin situation, keep the middle pair stabilizing the boat.
7) Be brief and clear with your radio call. The freighters are listening to a lot. “CSU Rowing, an 8 man shell and launch down-bound approaching Collision Bend”. If another coach has already made a call and you’re nearby and going the same direction theirs no need to make another call.

Safety Equipment
1) Marine Radio
2) Bright lights on your launch and shell
3) Megaphone that amplifies your voice and your rowers can clearly hear you. It won’t be good if your rowers can’t understand what you’re saying in an emergency situation.
4) Life jackets for all your rowers
5) Orange Safety Box w/ Emergency Blankets for all your rowers and other safety equipment

Controlling the slide and not rushing the stroke – Analogy

Novices remember to control your slide.  “Think that there’s a small little puppy between your seat and your feet and you have to come up the slide slowly or you’ll crush the puppy…. ” – Joe W.

When you rush the slide and come up to the catch before Stern pair your body’s momentum stops and goes into the footstretcher and into the boat, which sends the boat towards the stern.  The Stern pair will feel like they are being thrown out of the boat and will lose their rhythm and will not be able to have a consistent stroke to follow.  Follow the person’s body motions in front of you.

More reading on slide control: http://lunghu.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/ratio-shift/


Hazards on the Cuyahoga River – Wooden Posts

Below are areas that boats should avoid getting to close to the shore because they might hit submerged wooden posts.  Coxswains watch out.
1) In front of Cargill Salt Mine, in an area that looks like a sandy beach
2) Near shooters/Christies on the north part close to the NS1 railroad bridge.  Its on the starboard side as you go into the old river bed.
3) Near Columbus road bridge on the southern end

Erini Coxswain Guide

“I have been a coxswain for one year now and the Head of the Ohio was my first regatta in which I rowed a race and coxed a race. It’s a lot of fun!

My tips for coxswaining are simple!

Know the course!
Be at the Coaches and Coxswain meeting at the designated time before each race. These are usually very early, so know the time.
Always wear a watch.
Know the warm up, race pace (rate) and how many power tens your coach wants for your specific race. They are all different.
Have knowledge and always be aware of your surroundings…. Is your boat rigged? Are your rowers warmed up?

It’s very important to wear a coxswain bag and have it filled with appropriate tools.
— because we de-rig and rig the boats when we travel, parts of the boat may be loose and may cause a race to end short if things are not tightened.
It’s your job to make sure the rowers check their boat before and during the warm up.

While your stern pair/four is warming up with their pick drill, make sure bow pair/four are checking their equipment and the other way around.
Also, be aware of what they need to check for. Ask coxswains or a coach for this answer and we will show you!

For the race:
Know the course!
Confidence is key.
If there is a slight question in your voice, you are not trusting yourself, therefore there is no reason your rowers will trust you.
Always talk.
You are not only steering the boat, you are motivating your rowers to stay strong and finish their race from beginning to end with full pressure and confidence.


When steering, you never pull the string or push the lever more than an inch. Pressure should be given by specified rowers, starboards or ports to turn a boat. Please keep this in mind.

What should you say?
Well, what would you want to hear? Also, ask your rowers what fires them up. It’s important to create relationships with them because they will trust you and you will learn what helps them as a rower.

Say things that are encouraging and helpful.

Avoid words like, “DONT and STOP.” What comes out of your mouth should sound positive and nothing nasty or negative.
If the set needs to be fixed, tell your rowers. If you feel the boat is leaning port side or starboard side, know what to say!!

Port lean = Ports raise your handle heights, starboards lower them.
Starboard lean = Starboards raise your handle heights, ports lower them.

Pressure in the boat.

Does the boat feel like it’s moving? What is your rate at? If the boat feels slow, and your rowers are going through the motions, you need to bring the pressure up! This is when you say, “in two, power ten. 1 – 2, power ten here!” You should say each number according to the stroke. In between, make strong comments encouraging the power throughout 1-10. Please ask if you have any questions.

Youtube is great for researching what other coxswains say and I recommend doing so. I am not adding links because these are just my personal suggestions.

I suggest a small notebook that can be carried in your own coxswain bag. Here you can have race details, words of encouragement written to remind you new things to say, and always have them with you in the boat.

A few things I say

I remind my rowers of posture. “Tall backs, chins up.”
I remind my rowers of the set. “Lean in to your riggers.”

It’s great to speak in rhythm with the boat. “Drive” “Catch” Push” are words I say at the exact second their oar catches water. It encourages them to push through it.

I know the women like to hear descriptive things like, “blast off with your heels.”

Coaches strive on rowers getting their hands away quickly. “fast hands” or “quick hands” or “fast hands away” are some things I add to remind the rowers to keep it up.

Motivating words have to come from within you.

I will say things to remind rowers of the hard work they have put in, the mornings they have sacrificed, the time and the energy they have endured. They should be in pain and giving it everything. We are rowing for CSU. We are a team, we row as one. One catch, one click with the oar lock. One splash. Keep the blades off of the water.

Know how to recover when a rower catches a crab. Have the pair weigh-enough and you may have to have four weigh-enough. You want the boat to keep moving while the rower pulls in their oar and gets readjusted. If the boat must come to a complete stop, have the boat build up in five strokes to the appropriate stroke rate. They are building up, so tell them where they are. ” In five we bulid to a ’28’ – 1 (we’re at an 18) 2 (we’re at 22) 3 -(24 keep buidling) 4 (we’re at a 26, get to a 28) – 5 (we’re at a 28, keep the rate here!)”


Since you know the course like the back of your hand, you know where half-way is and you know where the last 500, and 200 meters are. Tell your rowers. I know the thing I need to work on the most is visuals. Rowers are not allowed to turn their head whatsoever. When a rower moves their heads, the boat leans! “heads in the boat” “look forward”
It is your job as the coxswain to give your rowers the heads up where you are at in the race. It helps them stay strong and gives them a picture of what is left.

When there are boats nearby, your rowers should know. “We have a shell two boat lengths away! Let’s close the gap!” Tell you rowers a game plan. “In two, let’s gain some ground, and catch em’ – 1 – 2 Close the gap! give me some pressure. We’re on their 6 seat, we’re on their 3 seat, I want their bow ball now!” After you pass the shell, make sure you break away, you don’t want your rowers to lose that high pressure just yet. Keep them at that rate until you break away and keep it there. Tell your boat how tired or weak the other team is, and how strong we are!!!

After the race

Once that power ten or twenty has been pushed through at the finish, an air horn will blow and make sure it is your boat that has crossed the finished line. Bring the boat to a paddle. Your rowers are tired. Congratulate your rowers, and keep it positive. Once you have docked and put the boat in slings or on the trailer, make sure you meet with the coach for a team meeting. All of your rowers should be present and you will discuss the event with your coach.

Last but not least, have fun! We’re competitive, but we have fun too. There is a lot of competition out there and we work just as hard to cross that finish line! Cheer on your team mates in the other races! ”

-Erini Anthopoulos