Why do rowers use gadgets?
The ultimate reason is to speed up their boat. When measurement gear is used correctly it gives the rower a competitive advantage. This blog is about our recent experiment to use Quiske Rowing App to add speed by working on the correct timing of applying power during the stroke.
Maybe you are familiar with the "Hang and Bang" concept coined by rower Robbie Manson?:
You want to put the blade in the water at the catch, relax and hang off it with as little tension as possible. Then you want to swing through the middle. You want to produce your power through the middle of the stroke, not at the catch. - Robbie Manson
The below photo is a slide from the British Rowing Technique slide deck that we found via Rowperfect. It also shows the Hanging concept quite well: hang from the handle before swinging through (with a bang): Hang and Bang, don't just Bang.
More speed with Hang and Bang?
This is what we have been working on: We have tried switching our rowing technique to the above Hang and Bang style and have measured it using the Quiske Rowing App.
As a first example our Kristina is a typical bang kind of rower (no hang at all) and this is visible as the boat acceleration graph containing a clearly two-peaked drive with a deep valley in between the two. The first peak is even bigger than the second one. Basically it means there is a bad connection between the legs and back we think. Here's an example of Kristina's typical rowing at 20SPM:
Anyway, last week Kristina tried Hanging before Banging (red graph), and it seems to work: the valley between the two acceleration peaks is less pronounced and there is a higher second peak, and most importantly, the boat is faster! The below shows her normal bang type of rowing in blue and her hang and bang trials in red (both at 20SPM):
Most importantly, the hang and bang style makes Kristina's boat faster. However, it will take lots of strokes for Kristina to make this new technique of rowing come natural. Also strength training is needed. The ultimate goal would be to produce one solid mountain shaped drive region rather than two separate peaks ;-)
It is easy to analyze the acceleration graphs of different technique in the Quiske portal. You can row a session with varying technique and then choose the different areas and overlay them to compare them in the portal. Here's another example on comparing two different techniques within one session. This is Pentti rowing a coastal C1X and trying Bang kind of rowing first (blue) before switching to Hang and Bang style (green).
Pentti is able to increase the speed of the boat by hanging before banging and is also able to increase his stroke angle (there was a pod measuring the oar) by many degrees:
It seems the boat is faster if explosive power is applied through the middle of the stroke. By relaxing and hanging off the oar handle at catch you can focus on applying max power when it best propels the boat forwards. Does this make sense to you? We'd love to hear your of your experiments and all comments are welcome.
The boat acceleration is a kind of signature of each rower: it is unique and is determined not only by rowing technique but also by the physical dimensions and the strength of the rower. It takes a lot of work and repetition before a rower can change the shape of their typical boat acceleration graph, this is something we've noticed through our years of measuring our own rowing... we just keep at it, stroke after stroke :-)