Head of the Charles Live Webcam Info

Off to Boston for the Head of the Charles tomorrow!  For anyone interested, the live webcam from Cambridge Boat Club is at this link:  Webcam.  This is a great webcam location because it’s right before the Eliot Bridge where all the crashes happen!

I will be racing in the Men’s Masters Eights at 2:41 PM, boat #8, Ever Green Boat Club, with some other Dartmouth alumni.  I will be rowing 7-seat on starboard (2nd rower from the stern).

Good luck to all competitors, and may the wind be kinder than last year!


Head of the Charles – Freezing, Fast, and Fun!

Well it was a blast racing in the Head of the Charles for the first time in 10 years.  It was also literally a blast of freezing, howling, headwind.  I’m glad I wasn’t racing a single!  I got slotted into 6 seat in a Dartmouth alumni boat entered as Ever Green Boat Club in the Masters 8+ on Saturday.  Great to see some familiar faces that I haven’t seen in years.

We ended up coming in 9th out of 23 boats, which is not too shabby with all of the national team reunion boats in that event.  We passed 3 boats, had to stop to avoid a crash at Eliot Bridge, and got passed by 2 stacked boats – Wide Load, with the Olympic Champion Danish lightweight straight four in it, started right behind us, and Kennebecasis, a Canadian national team reunion boat, just got us at Eliot although we tried our hardest to hold them off.

It was a ton of fun racing in a well-manned sweep boat.  The horsepower was amazing – at 6’3”, 190 I was one of the smallest guys in the boat.  As predicted, from a fitness standpoint the race was no problem, and the technique came together pretty well too.  I really noticed an ability to have a long, powerful finish, absolutely required in the headwind and with so many taller guys behind me.  Those kettlebell swings have made a big difference in my ability to finish long and strong.

I think we made the cut for a guaranteed entry next year, so bring it on!

Link to photo at Row2k:  yes the flame hat kept me warm and made us fast 🙂


Great video of us passing a French crew on the inside of the final turn – our coxswain really nailed it !


Shoulder flexibility, kettlebell arm bars, and overall rowing mobility

So I landed a spot in a Dartmouth alumni eight at the Head of the Charles in Boston at the end of October, which is the largest regatta in the world.  It’s been 10 years since I raced to a middle-of-the pack finish in the Championship Single there.  It’s also been a year plus since I’ve been in a sweep rowing boat, and I will most likely need to row starboard as one of the universal truths of rowing is that there is always a shortage of starboards!  I can row both sides, but have greater flexibility and elasticity on port because that is what I rowed when I first started in college, and, frankly, my left shoulder girdle got stretched out and I have a couple of inches more reach at full extension.

In doing turkish get-ups, I have more stability in my right shoulder for overhead work – my left is loose and gets “jacked up” more easily, even though I favor it for carrying or pulling heavy loads.

So I asked Steve Macioci, my coach at Crossfit Ignite, for suggestions on how to improve flexibility and reach in my right shoulder, and he suggested arm bar work with a kettlebell.  This arm bar video shows basically what an arm bar is about.  This is the first time I’ve asked for a specific prescription to solve a problem, and I’m excited that Crossfit has a specific prescription.  To date, I’ve viewed Crossfit as a means to improve strength and conditioning for rowing.  I have not really explored the mobility issue, and I think this will be a major area of learning and development for me over the next 6 months.

I have weaknesses in:

Overhead work – just shoot me

Shoulder girdle – I’ve never heard a rowing coach use this term in 25 years even though we regularly put 1000 newtons of force through it ???

Midline stabilization – I am intrigued by this concept – I watched Kelly Starrett’s video on Executive Stretching in which he used a rowing example, and remembered reading a Rowing Biomechanics Newsletter on thoracic curvature in elite scullers.  I am still trying to wrap my mind around this issue but am intrigued by what Crossfit has to offer on this subject.  I tend to row with a more upright “Undine” or “California” posture, which gives me a strong connection through the finish but may also result in more vertical motion in the boat.  Stay tuned on this one – I sense some upcoming work with mirrors and video on the erg this winter.

Hip and ankle flexibility – this has always been a limitation for me, which has caused me to adopt a more upright posture in the boat.  Maybe I can finally start to address this with something other than static stretching?

Knee joints – the barefoot running has helped tremendously here.  I can say that no Crossfit exercise has caused me knee pain except when I accidentally jammed my elbow behind my kneecap doing heavy thrusters – ouch.  The knee pain I sometimes got after 20K rows in the boat is no longer there, because I don’t do 20K rows anymore 🙂

Anyway, if practicing arm bars can get me a more flexible right shoulder in 6 weeks, it will be a major revelation for me.  Stay tuned.