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Planning a Rowing Challenge


Posted on 20th January 2020

Surprise Tips for Planning a Rowing Challenge

Challenges push people to their limits and out of their comfort zone; Rowing challenges are physically demanding and are a true individual and team effort – they make the ideal challenge!

I won’t list the obvious ones (like take the right gear and get expert advice!) but here’s our surprise top tips for the ideal rowing challenge:

  • Fit people may struggle: Unless you’re rowing long and often, even super-fit people struggle with longer rows which demand repetitive use of muscle groups they don’t use in their daily lives.
  • The big one and the big risky one: Rowing over distance along a Loch or river can be much more physically demanding than rowing the English Channel – but is more predictable. Consider doing something demanding but safe before you go risky.
  • Weather and Tide: If you’re rowing the coast or open water, the weather and tides will dictate what you can achieve – regardless of which days you booked off work! Build slack into your planning.
  • Sea Sickness. Again, if you’re rowing in open water, sea sickness can be a problem and significantly affects what you can do – you’d be surprised how often challenges get canned because several of the squad are sea-sick once they get off the ergs and into open water.
  • Role play: Consider (Carefully) the roles of Skipper, Cox and Stroke. The Skipper (or Boat Captain) has overall control including making go-no-go decisions. The Cox steers and controls the boat, and the Stroke sets the rate and length of the stroke following instructions from the Cox. Avoid debate!
  • It’s a water sport: Unlike rowing machines, a boat will rock, you will get wet even if it’s not raining and you will have to step into or out of the boat from the water. Makes sure your crew are ok with all these things.
  • Risk assessment or what-if: Assess the risks and plan to mitigate them. Think about ‘what-if’ [insert bad thing that could happen] happened NOW!
  • Training to get the group together: Get some training with your team before you do too much planning or commit to much – it always helps to gel the group and for yourselves and partners to make an honest assessment of what is achievable (we’re always happy to help with this!)
  • Finally: Don’t organise yourselves into a corner – where you may make bad or unsafe decisions. Open water is unforgiving, and you need to be able to back out.



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