Whatever the rights or wrongs of selecting a rowing crew with seat races – if your coach is into it – you must learn how to handle it.
Making sure you do as well as you can is all about looking out for yourself. Here are some things you need to watch out for (other than rowing and pulling hard).
#1 Never Hold Back
Most seat racing in rowing is blind – you never know when you are going to be switched and tested. For that reason you need to make sure you give it everything in each race. And because you are giving it everything you need to…
#2 Insist on Honesty and Fairness
If you smell a rat (that a rowing rival is trying to screw you) then you need to speak up. Let your coach know. If it’s a crew fairness issue – tell the rowers that the seat racing is not fair. Let people know you are not happy.
Let them know you are angry.
This is a competitive situation and months (or maybe even years) of hard training and sacrifice are on the line.
For that reason everyone needs to play by the rules. Including:
- Same rating (whether it’s capped or open)
- Same start sequence (if its power 20 and settle to 38 – then it has to happen in every seat race)
- Same finish sequence. Say you are doing 1000 meter seat races. You are switched into a boat and you break free with clear water up with 200 to go. Make sure your boat finishes off the finishing stroke sequence**
**If the crew you get switched into were cranking the rate up to 42 for the last 25 strokes – insist that it does the exact same in your seat race. Just because you are winning by a lot of water and rowing well, it should never be a reason to ‘save’ some energy for the next seat trial.
Because you must make as much time as possible in every race.
#3 This point is crucial.
The same applies to your crew if you are behind. Some crews give up towards the end of a race (especially towards the end of a set of seat races when everyone is tired). Insist that your crew finishes the race like all the other races.
Remember if your coach is using a seat racing matrix – every second counts towards your aggregate score. So even when you’re boat is losing you can still gain total time.
Police this yourself. Don’t expect your coach to spot these things. S/he will be busy taking times and watching how well everyone is rowing. So its up to you to ensure that your crew rows as hard (and sticks to the same rating) as all the other seat races you are involved in.
Even half a stroke less per minute for 10 strokes can make a big difference in a short seat race. So the bottom line is to be Vigilant. And if things are not being done fairly – Make it known. To EVERYBODY
#4 Watch out for Mental Weakness
You can mentally prepare for extremely hard rowing races using methods you might not have considered. And while seat racing is like real racing – from a mental point of view, you still need to watch out for mental weakness and tiredness.
Embrace The Fear
It’s ok to wake up with your heart pounding in your chest. Seat races and rowers make for a potent mix of adrenalin and fear.
You can use this to your advantage as long as it doesn’t consume you so much that you can’t even pull the oar.
While it goes without saying that you should try to instantly gel with the crew you have been switched into – you need to mentally blend also.
Let the crew you join know you are psyched and ready for a fight – Ready to win.
If someone comes into your crew invite them into the fold. Let them know they are welcome and that you are on their side. This is very important for:
- You own needs (you want to win)
Even a few simple reassuring words can make a big difference. Get rowing immediately and tell them that it’s GOOD. Small reassuring gestures like telling them the boat is going well and that it feels like you are going to have a great race can be reassuring for both you the newcomer (not to mention the positive impact it can have on the entire crew).
Make sure you brief (and re-brief) the crew on what the plan is. If it’s a set race plan from your coach - repeat it. Just so you and the rest of the crew know exactly what’s happening.
Also try to fix something the crew did not do well in the last seat race. Talk it through quickly and sharply. If it’s making the first 10 strokes better – make them better (but stay within your coaches instructions).