I returned to rowing after a 16 year absence and found myself in a Masters “C” eight that was just not competitive. We had the physical size of the other crews and we seemed to have the same fitness, easily out-rating them in the last 250 metres, but in comparison our boat speed just was not there.
Crew debriefs became a series of “It felt like”, “I think” or “We should have” statements as every crew member including the coxswain and coach gave their best guess as to what we needed to do differently. It became very obvious that with a lack of any useful measurement we had no way of really knowing why, let alone what we needed to do, to improve our boat speed.
Winning races is not about counting every stroke, it’s about making every stroke count.
If we simplify things for a moment, just consider this:
Say there are 200 strokes in a race. If we can make our catch a little more efficient and get the power on properly, not too early, not too late, we could probably find and extra 2 to 3 cm (an inch) of run. Given that on a typical stroke the boat may travel 10 meters 2 to 3 cm is not much at all.
Now consider the drive phase. Don’t over drive the legs (yes we know it makes impressive puddles) and keep the drive on through the arms as long as you can. We will assume you are already pretty good at the drive phase and we may only find another 2 to 3 cm.
Now the finish. We want the oar out cleanly and not checking the boat as the oar is extracted, and again we may find 2 to 3 cm.
For now we will leave the recovery out of our equation and assume the boat is level and the oars are not dragging on the water. Do the maths, (3cm + 3cm + 3cm) x 200strokes = 1,800cm. That’s 18 meters, or a boat length if you are in an eight.
Being in a crew that was not as competitive as it should have be is frustrating. Frustration can drive you crazy and often I think I must have been. I left my well paid job at a large software company and started my own company to develop performance measurement technology for competitive rowing. Crazy!
13 years later and an investment that I don’t want to calculate as it would make me cry, I have a last have achieved what set out to do. We hope you can join us in assisting us make this a reality and fulfil the dream I envisioned all those years ago.
– Des Jacobsen, Founder