night paddling on the allegheny river


i did not dragon boat much this summer / but tonight i joined pittsburgh paddlefish \ downriver, the pittsburgh pirates was playing the san francisco giants in the national league wild card game / pittsburgh is also home to the steelers & the penguins \ and this saturday is the head of the ohio regatta! / what a great sports town!

the race start sequence

race starts 18may14

the race start sequence is an exercise that both my rowing & dragon boat teams practice well before a racing event / our first sprint race is on june 7 & the start was what we did today for our indoor practice in the tank & on the erg <we were indoors because the waterflow on the allegheny river was 66 kcfs + there was a lot of debris, seen & unseen, on the river that can do serious damage to the boats> \ googling the topic, i found that there are a number of variations that rowing coaches favor such as:  3/4, 1/2, 1/2, 3/4, full;   3/4, 1/2, 3/4, full;   1/2, 1/2, 3/4, full;    3/4, 1/2, 3/4, 3/4, full; and … is this a joke?  full, half, 5/8, 6/8, 7/8, full <apparently not, this was reported by a lightweight rower> \ based on their experience, coaches select the sequence that provides the quickest start

starts are powerful strokes <high spm> that jumpstarts the shell or dragon boat \ it typically consists of 5 strokes followed by power 10s or 20s until the cox or db steerer calls to “settle” or “lengthen” / a good start cannot win a race but a bad start can lose a race \ probably more important is the “settle” which is getting into race pace after the start sequence / this is the sustainable speed & ratio that the boat carries through most of the race punctuated only by the cox or steerer’s call for “power” or “focus” 10s & 20s <in my db team, also called “heroic measures” 🙂 > and finally the “finish” or the really heroic sprint to the finish line

though the finish of the race may look like the most exciting part for rowers, paddlers & spectators, i think there is a greater benefit in mastering a good start than a good finish \ first, there is a great psychological boost when a boat has a successful start <in dragon boat, our coach tells us how much distance a good (or bad start) covers; take that as a fraction of the entire race distance (500 meters for dragon boat sprints) puts the value of a start in context> / second, the start sequence gets everyone in synch quickly before race pace | i personally find it easier to be in time with short strokes and so by the time we are about to “lengthen,” i am mentally prepared to do so \ a strong start & race pace on a good ratio both set up for a strong finish / thanks, coach, for a wonderful rowing practice today!


TDMM’s race start sequence is as follows:  

1) 5 strokes:      3/4 ,   1/2,    3/4,   90%,  full slide but not total body swing

2) 20 strokes still at high spm & full slide but not total body swing

3)  in prep for race pace or settling which is at full slide & total body swing, cox says “1, 2”;  recovery on “2”

4)  settle or race pace


let it run!

imagethe culmination of our week-long dragon boat camp was a 2k race among nine crews / great opportunity for us to apply what we learned \ we had 17 out of a typical full boat of 20 paddlers & was heavily gender unbalanced <not true race conditions> / don’t know our final time yet but coach said we likely broke our goal of 11:30

day 4 | dragon boat camp


by the afternoon of our first day on the water, my paddling had already improved / that is how effective coach albert is to me as an individual & i think for the team as well \ i can certainly abide by “relax during recovery” / and agree that there is tremendous power with the heel-core connection in paddling \ as a rower, i understand the power of the legs-core-back / one thing new to me is the function of the back bench in a dragon boat \ just as my position in the rowing shell is as one of bow pair, on the dragon boat i am one of bench 10 pair < in both sports, small people are the best fit at the back > in dragon boating, the back benches <back 4 or back 6> are used if the coach|steerer wants an extra push or surge such as in a race or here at camp when we had side-by-side drills with another boat <we’re not competitive 🙂 >

today was another great day <beautiful weather-wise as well> | we covered about 10k with very short breaks between 1 to 4 minute stretches on the dragon boat \ then a few of us went to the channel on the OC2 <2-person outrigger canoe> \ this is how dragon boaters can practice on their own or with a partner / much like 1- or 2-person sculling in rowing \ paddling on an OC is much easier than on a dragon boat / because the paddle blade is wider & angled, i found the effort to make a good stroke so much easier | no need to stretch as much because the blade is already angled to give momentum \ it is also less straining because paddlers change sides by calling “hut-hoe” / after a few missteps, my partner & i learned to turn the OC2 effectively 🙂

tomorrow, again we get videotaped, reviewed, and provided with individual help \ the camp ends on saturday with a 2k race | definitely looking forward to that!

pittsburgh paddlefish videos from camp!

dragon boat camp

imagetoday is the first day of pittsburgh paddlefish’s week-long dragon boat camp in indian harbor beach, florida / we have a very strategic coach who’s also a good motivator \ that’s a great combination & works well with me \ “paddle like a poet, not like a lumberjack” <coach albert>


pittsburgh paddlefish | first on-the-water practice!

dragon boat5

tonight was my dragon boat team’s first practice on the allegheny river \ the water was cold but the good thing was it did not rain / i did not train in the winter & so i counted on memory to get through tonight \ my timing was off but coach said i did better in the second half \ we did 250 yard sprints! / and we’re off to dragon boat camp in florida in two weeks