All rowing races were cancelled in Finland in the early summer 2020. The reason of course was the Corona virus and the guidelines for social distancing to prevent its spread. Finland is a sparsely populated country and Finns were never forced to stay in lock down in their homes but could continue spending time outside in the nature, as long as distances to other people were kept. There were restrictions on rowers, and no training was allowed in big crew boats. Rowers could row in singles and doubles but races were cancelled. The urge to compete did not disappear and it didn't take long until someone came up with the idea of going virtual with rowing races.
The Quiske Rowing App
The Quiske Rowing App focuses on measuring rowing technique and does so by measuring the acceleration of the boat during individual rowing strokes and combining that data with data from an external sensor pod placed on the oar or on the seat. However, the Quiske Rowing App can be used also without a sensor, to measure standard rowing metrics, such as SPM, distance, and speed, and many rowers use the free App only for that:
By swiping left the App also shows the boat acceleration graph for each stroke. The boat acceleration gives a lot of insight into rowing technique, such as the quality of the catch or the application of power during the drive. The real-time acceleration graph is free, but to analyze it in more detail online, a subscription to the Quiske portal is needed.
Virtual racing with the Quiske App
Last year the Finnish traditional wooden boat community thought of using the Quiske Rowing App for comparing the traits of different kinds of customized boats with each other. The idea was to row equal distances at maximum speed in downwind and headwind and the to add these times together to get an idea of which boat is best for racing in any weather condition. The Quiske Rowing App was great for this purpose since it supports time-based intervals and had a suitable 6 minutes setting. Additionally, an important benefit with the Quiske Rowing App was of course that it is free ;-).
The time-based intervals rowed in head and tail wind proved a decent way of ranking boats by performance. Then came the revelation that since this way of ranking boats is pretty independent of time and place (rowing in headwind balances out rowing in tailwind), the method could be used to organize also virtual rowing races: offering a new kind of racing when traditional events were all cancelled.
The Quiske 6min Challenge
In Finland the "Quiske 6min" Challenge was running throughout June 2020. The rules were simple:
- Set Interval to "6 minutes" in the Quiske Rowing Settings
- Attach the phone running the App rigidly by the foot stretcher and off you go
- Row 2.5min-3min, make a U-turn and row back to the starting point
- Multiple trials allowed, also in different boats and crews
- Participation by sharing a screenshot with the distance rowed
- Uploading the session to the Quiske Portal allows having the U-shape verified
The U-shaped route takes away any advantages or disadvantages with wind or stream conditions and indeed many rowers participated in the race many times to try to improve their distance rowed. The Quiske portal shows the route rowed and also allows for further analysis and comparison of e.g. the boat acceleration of different rowers if wanted.
The Quiske 6min challenge proved a popular race with over forty sessions uploaded from many different boat classes (traditional wooden boats, coastal boats, singles, doubles) and the results are below:
The next virtual challenge, the "Quiske 30 min" challenge has already started and is running
throughout July amongst rowing Finns. The Quiske 30 challenge also requires rowing a U-shaped route, with the turning point about midway, and returning close to the starting point. The Quiske Rowing App does not support a 30 minute interval so this race is done with the "Unlimited" interval setting and requires the rower to stop the recording after 30 minutes is up. The result is therefore judged not by distance but by average speed (meaning that it doesn't matter if you row more than 30 minutes).
The Quiske Virtual Challenge motivates rowers to improve their performance by allowing competing many times also in different types of boats and different crews. It is interesting to try different approaches to making the U-turn (a quick turn or a more smooth one-> which keeps the average speed higher?).
The Quiske 6min race energized my rowing this summer and allowed competing against myself and others- Tarita Vähä-Vahe
Tarita Vähä-Vahe competed in the Quiske 6min race multiple times and found it beneficial to race in different boats and crews.
Below a screenshot of what the Quiske 6min race looks like in the Quiske portal.
It is great to get to race even when most traditional races are cancelled and we think the new race format is here to stay since it allows more people to participate.
Hope that you and your rowing community can have a go at arranging some Virtual Races and why don't you give the Quiske Rowing App a go?
Happy Virtual Racing,
The Quiske Team
PS. below a clip of our team during one of their Quiske 6min trials in their C2X: