FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What Types of Boats are Used?
The boats (or shells) are basically of two types and reflect the two forms of rowing---sweep rowing and sculling.
In sweep rowing each rower handles a single oar (about 12.5 ft or 3.9 m long), in sculling a rower uses two oars, or sculls, (each about 9.5 ft or 3 m long). The word shell is often used in reference to the boats used because the hull is only about 1/8" to 1/4" thick to make it as light as possible. These shells are also rather long and racing shells are as narrow as possible while recreational ones can be rather wide.
Each rower has his back to the direction the shell is moving and power is generated using a blended sequence of the rower's legs, back and arms. The rower sits on a sliding seat with wheels on a track called the slide.
Each oar is held in a U-shaped swivel (oarlock) mounted on a metal pin at the end of a rigger. The rigger is an assembly of tubes that is tightly bolted to the body of the shell. The subtypes of rowing shells are classified according to the number of rowers in the shell.
When Is Rowing Season?
We are usually able to get the docks in the water during the last week of March or the first week of April. Many competitive and masters’ crews will start their training immediately and other crews will join in as the weather warms up.
Racing season is primarily July and August for Sprint races (1000 - 2000 m) and Head Race season (4000 m +) is in the fall. In August, the club hosts the Hogtown Heats Regatta.
Depending upon the weather, training can continue through to the end of October, beginning of November. We finish our season by hosting the annual Frostbite Sprints (first Saturday in November and it does get chilly!).
How Do I Join The Club?
All new rowers need to take a Learn-to-Row course. Our courses usually start at the beginning of May and you would attend 8 sessions (twice weekly) with a regatta and BBQ to finish off. The LTR schedule is posted on our website in late February and classes fill up early so get your application in as soon as possible.
Once you have finished your learn to row, you would then decide if you want to join the club as a full member. If you have taken learn to row at another rowing club, you do not need to take the session again but would have to provide confirmation of completion. All of our different programs will be explained during your LTR sessions but generally, novice rowers go into our Recreational program initially to get some further boat experience.
After this, you could try out for our competitive or masters programs if you wished, or you can continue to develop your skills within the recreational program.
Our recreational rowers generally row 3 times per week and our competitive rowers are generally out 6 – 7 times per week. Although some rowing clubs will limit how often you can row, our members are able to row more frequently, provided there is a boat allocation available.
Do I Need Any Equipment?
You do not need to have any specific equipment. We provide access to our club boats and oars. You will need comfortable clothing (not loose fitting as this can get caught in the sliding seat of the boat). Generally the boats have in-built shoes, though with some you need to wear your runners. Bring extra socks - that is about the only thing that gets wet.
Limited storage space is available for members who wish to store a personal single. Storage can include inside rack, outside rack or an unrowable rack (for storage purposes). Currently we have a waiting list for ALL rack space. If you would like to be added to the waiting list, please drop off your request in writing to the club main office. Please include your contact information so that your continued interest can be confirmed on an annual basis.
Equipment being stored that has not been paid for may be removed from its rack and that rack may be allotted to the next on the waiting list. To maintain a rowable rack, you must be a fully paid member and are required to use your equipment regularly each season. It should be noted that sublets of any club rack are handled by the singles storage committee.
How do I find a crew?
There are a number of ways to create a crew and you may find yourself using all or none of these suggestions. As the club is member-run, Argo members are equally responsible for the effort needed to form and maintain their own crews.
If you are interested in finding or forming a crew, contact the rowing committee contact for your program (i.e. Recreational, Masters, Competitive). Your rowing committee rep will assist you in obtaining a boat allocation and may be able to help you to find sufficient crewmembers.
Another way to find a crew is to put your name on the spares list, as this will enable you to meet other crews who may ultimately require a full time crewmember. A copy of the spares list is available online within the Members Only Locker room on our website.
In addition to the spares list, the website bulletin board also has forums for each program (i.e. recreational, juniors, competitive, masters). If you are looking for a crew, please post your crew preferences there and keep an eye out for other members who you may be able to recruit to form your own crew.
There are many factors in creating a crew so don’t be discouraged if this process takes time. Everyone has different time schedules, requirements, and rowing styles so you may find that your crew evolves over time.
The Argonaut Rowing Club representatives will assist you with forming a crew but the success of this effort will also be determined by your own flexibilities. Rowers who are restricted in their time schedules, their preference of port v. starboard, or other limitations will have a more difficult time finding others to form a crew.
We recommend that a crew contain more than enough members to allow for sharing of coxie duties, vacation coverage, etc. Crews should work out a schedule that provides sufficient water time for all crewmembers.
Those members who would like to be considered for the open-competitive or masters-competitive programs are directed to contact the respective program reps for information on seat-racing, time commitments, development crews, training schedules, etc.How Do I
Get a Boat Allocation?
Once you have a crew (see: How do I find a crew?), you would request a boat allocation from your program representatives. This can be a factor in how your crew forms so you should contact your program rep during this process to ensure that there is still boat availability for that period. Allocations will not be given until a full crew complement has been reached.
It is recommended that you assign a crew captain to look after scheduling and to act as a point of contact for club purposes. Once you have been provided with an allocation, the responsibility of boat care and maintenance fall to those crews that share the allocation. It is important that your crew take the time to fully review the boat each outing to ensure that all bolts are tightened, all equipment is safe, and that general repairs are made in a timely manner.
Should equipment need repair after usage, it is your responsibility to notify the club captains and the program representatives directly, and to follow-up to make sure the problem has been resolved. Crews are encouraged to participate in all maintenance and repair. Please ensure that your boat is washed on a regular basis and dried off with a towel after each row.
Boat allocations generally conform to the following schedule:
Days During the Week:
Other days available by request
Times During the Day:
- AM: Shift 1 - 5:30 am - 7:00 am
- AM: Shift 2 - 7:00 am - 8:30 am
- PM: Shift 1 - 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
- PM: Shift 2 - 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Although we will try to accommodate allocation requests, boat configurations (i.e. Fours vs. eights) and times are assigned by our program coordinators to maximize our boating capacity. Crews that are flexible in their requirements will have greater success in securing a boat allocation.
NOTE: Because of high levels of boat damage, crews of all boats in avoidable accidents may be assessed a fine of up to $100 per rower (depending on level of damage) as determined by Captain and/or Head Coach. Such a fine can also be levied when other boats (i.e.: moored sailboats) are damaged by an ARC crew.
Coxie (Coxswain) Duties
Crews that require a coxswain (i.e. sweep 4+ and 8+) will need to address the assignment of this role.
In most cases, a crew will share responsibility for this role by rotating the position between crewmembers. Other crews have been fortunate enough to recruit a dedicated coxswain. This can be done by checking with your non-rowing friends or acquaintances or accosting small statured people on the street or at bars. It is amazing the results that you can get when you promise they will not have to sweat and will be able to hang out with hot people in spandex. Always treat your coxswain well, bribes are encouraged.
Regardless of the assignment of this position, it is important to be aware of the basic roles and responsibilities of a coxie before going out on the water. The club hosts Coxie Clinics throughout the rowing season and ALL crewmembers are encouraged to attend.
The Function of the Cox
As a cox you are in control of the boat both on and off the water. You are responsible for your own safety, the safety of your crew and of other water users and the equipment, much of which is extremely expensive to repair or replace. Therefore you need to be awake and aware of what is going on around you at all times.
Within the boundaries of safety and working as a team with the rest of the club, your job is to make sure that your crew get the most out of every outing, and win races. To do this you need to encourage your crew and when necessary push them to the limits of their concentration and physical endurance; coxing can be seen as a psychological sport. A good cox rarely does anything noteworthy, unfortunately it’s the bad ones that get all the attention. An ability to accept criticism with good humour and improve your skills for the benefit of your crew is essential.
Every outing is different and you can always do things in a better way than before. The crew will only follow orders from you, not their coach or anyone else. Each crew has a crew captain and hopefully a coach. Work with them to decide on an outing plan of warm-up, exercises, firm pieces, etc.
- To make life easier for your crew, commands should be given in time with their rowing, this is very confusing when explained on paper so please ask your coach or an experienced member to explain.
- Before starting any piece of rowing (inc. spinning) ask ‘are you ready’, and then WAIT for a second to give your crew a chance to answer. Relations can be strained if you ask the crew to row when they have tops over their heads!
- Rowers have a great insulating effect on sound (particularly when tired). Whilst people on the bank half a mile a way may hear you perfectly, bow pair may not.
- Cox boxes are a little temperamental and suffer from loose wiring that occasionally needs jiggling. Microphones cannot be shouted at – they can’t cope and distort your voice, so enunciate and speak clearly.
- The tone of voice that you choose is very important. Screaming ‘relax’ at the top of your voice will usually have the opposite effect.
- Keep words to a minimum and your commands simple. Using the same basic ones every outing makes life much easier.
Always say whom you’re talking to before giving a command, not afterwards. This applies particularly when you’ve got different people doing different tasks.
- If the crew don’t do what you say don’t scream at them, they may not have heard you! Especially in a tight situation just repeat yourself (into microphone) or shout louder (without one). If the cox box dies and you can’t shout, get 4 or 5 to relay to the bow of the boat.
- Try to phrase any comments or coaching as positively as possible. It is easier to think about doing something than not doing something.
- Try to keep your crew’s focus in the boat; anything else is your problem.
Post outing ‘crew meeting’
This is where you need a bit of motivational skill and tact. Always try to have a meeting, it gives a point to the outing, and rowers (& you) can talk if they’re not happy with the outing. The coach will lead the meeting or if there isn’t one you/the crew captain can do it, usually asking each rower to say something about the outing.
Try to set some targets for the next outing so that your crew (& you) keep improving. Try to keep things positive whilst encouraging constructive criticism. There’s only so much people can take when they’re tired, wet and cold. If things need sorting out or there are problems, pass them on to your program contact (coach or representative) ASAP.
Coxswain Calls - How to get the boat in and out of the boathouse
Managing to get a 220 lb. fragile and expensive shell from the boathouse to the dock can be intimidating. The key to success, like so many other rowing functions, is listening to the commands of the coxswain, and when required, doing it as a crew...in unison. Depending on the exact location of the shell in the boathouse, (i.e. on the first, second, or third rack, or on the fourth) the object is to remove the shell and carry it to the dock and successfully place it in the water.
To take the boat out of the boathouse, have the crew stand next to the boat beside their assigned riggers. All of the boats are stored on racks that slide out to allow the crew to alternate on each side (half on port, half on starboard). The crew should rest the boat gunnels (edge) on their shoulder, though crew members will have to adjust for different heights – if crew members are very tall or very short, they will have to carry the boat below or above their shoulder level to ensure that the load is fairly distributed.
Boats are stored in the boat house stern first (stern towards the back of the boat bay) except for the fours that are in the first boat bay – those are put in bow first.
Coxswain calls for taking the boat out of the boathouse:
- Hands on the boat and the slide… ready to slide…slide.
- Split opposite your riggers
- Ready to lift an inch… lift
- Walk it out, away from the rack
- Ready to lift to the shoulders... and lift
- Ready to walk it out…go (Remember to call “Heads up on the dock” and to watch for obstructions on the dock)
- Let it run. (When the bow crewperson reaches the end of the dock)
- Ready to swing the Bow to the Humber, Stern to Ontario Place…. and Swing
- Let it run. (When the boat is parallel to the edge of the dock)
- Toes to the edge.
- Ready to lift up over the heads… and lift.
- Inside grip
- Ready to roll to the waist… and roll.
- Push it out… lower to the water. (Coxie must watch the fin to ensure it is not damaged).
To take the boat back into the boathouse, you would essentially reverse these calls:
- Ready to lift to the waist…and lift.
- Up over the head…and up
- Ready to split, opposite your riggers…and split
- To the shoulders
- Ready to swing the stern to the boat house…swing
- Let it run (once the boat is in position to go into the correct boat bay – stern first)
- Walk it in, nice a slow
- Let it run (once you are opposite the rack)
- Ready to side step it in…go
- Outside - continuing holding the boat, inside – come out. (Do not let crew on the outside of the boat let go at this point as the boat is too heavy to rest on the extended slides without bracing)
- Ready to slide…and slide
Boats cannot be launched until the full crew is at the dock and ready to row, and boats landing have priority over boats going out.
Put in and take out all boats with bows facing towards the Humber River (i.e.: west).
All gear and equipment must be removed from the docks as quickly as possible. Shoes and other equipment left on the dock constitute a hazard to other crews using the dock, and should be stored off the dock or taken in the boat.