Monday, April 18, 2011

The Tradition of the Toss

            Every society and group has a set of traditions that are unique. These traditions help to define who they are as a group. The community of rowing is no different than any other group, they have many unique traditions that are the same across all teams. These traditions help to solidify the rowing community across different regions and even different countries.
            A lot of traditions have to do with winning, or the quest to win a race. The coxswain toss is the most universal and most humors practice done by rowing teams across the country and world. When a boat wins their race the toss their coxswain in the water in celebration. They often toss the coxswain from the awards dock as they are receiving their medals. It is also used a motivational joke in the rowing community to get crews to move faster. The crews will try to win so that they can toss their coxswain, and it is a joke because this clearly is not the main reason why the athletes are trying to win the race. This tradition is done in all levels of rowing from youth rowing to the Olympic games. 
           The beginning of this video shows toss of Mary Whipple, the coxswain of the Unites States women's 8+, at the 2010 World Rowing Championships in New Zealand. The U.S. women's 8+ placed first winning a gold medal at the 2010 championships, and so with tradition their coxswain was tossed in the water. This video shows that the coxswain toss happens even that the highest level of competition. 

         The coxswain toss is learned at a young age. When rowers first begin rowing they are taught how to do this crucial part of the sport. It is always exciting to explain to a boat of new rowers after their first win that they have to throw their coxswain into the water. Here is a video showing the first attempts of a high school crew to through their coxswain in. Their coach explains how to do it and clams the coxswain telling her the toss is a tradition, and so she must participate. 

      There are many other more serious traditions in the sport of rowing, but the coxswain toss is often the most humors. It is a tradition purely for fun. It allows for celebration and excitement, even for the coxswains. Many coxswains see it as a bragging right to walk around a race course soaking wet with a medal around their neck. It is a  humors but clear distinction of their team's success. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Boathouse

            Every sport has their training ground and arena for competition. I have discussed in pervious posts the basic description of what a 2k course looks like, but in this post I am going to discusses the details of boathouses.
            Boathouses are in a basic sense an elaborate storage area. A boathouse’s fundamental purpose is to store boats. It is important to store boats inside so that they are protected. Boats are very expensive, and so it is better to keep the inside away from the elements of nature. Boathouses have bays that are similar to very large garages. Each bay has a large opening in which boats can be carried inside through. Once inside boats are stored on racks from the floor to the ceiling.
This is a photo of Trinity College's boathouse. It shoes the entrances to the boat bays. The entrances look like garage doors. 
Inside each bay are racks of boats. This is the inside of one bay in Trinity's boathouse. 

Often each boat house has a repair bay. This is either a smaller bay or just a back area of a bay. This area is designated for repairing boats, and equipment for repairing boats and boat parts is stored in this area. 

Although the primary purpose of a boathouse is to store boats, boathouses are also used for both training areas and social areas. Most boathouses have erg rooms in which athletes use to train on land. Some boathouses also have weight rooms and other training tools. In addition to training tools boathouses also traditionally include social areas. These social areas are used by members of the boat club to have meetings, events and simply socialize. 
Some of the oldest boathouses in the United States are in Philadelphia, P.A. These boathouses have elaborate social areas with beautiful porches over looking the water. The boathouses of Philadelphia are called boathouse row and are located on the Schuylkill river. 
This is a photo of some of the boathouses on boathouse row in Philadelphia. 

In these boat houses the upper floors are used as training rooms and social areas. The social areas are important in order to develop community within the boathouse. Boathouses ultimately are much more than simply storage areas. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Daily Sunrise

It’s 4:30 am and the shrill of an alarm clock wakes you. It’s time for practice. This is the normal morning for most rowers. It is a norm across teams to practice very early in the morning. For most people who are unfamiliar with the sport this just seems ridiculous. Why would anyone willingly wake up so early to do any sort of physical activity; why not simply have practice in the afternoon or later in the morning. Some rowers take claim to their early morning practice times. They use it as a sort of bragging right to how dedicated they are to the sport. Most rowers however simply accept it as a part of the sport.
            In actuality, there are practical reasons for early morning practices. In the morning, just before sunrise bodies of water generally have the flattest water. What it means to have flat water is that there is no chop or what are tiny waves.  Wind speed tends to be very little or nonexistent in the early morning. Flat water and little wind are ideal conditions for rowing. Flat water is ideal for practices. It allows for easier balance in the boat. When balance is easy for rowers, it allows focus of practices to be on more minor technical parts of the stroke. When rowers make changes on technique of their stroke, it allows the boat to set up in the water better, and this ultimately leads to more speed. The need for flat water is crucial and agreed upon by coaches and this is ultimately why early morning practice happens most often.
            In my opinion, there are also several other factors that influence crews to have practice in the morning. If practice happens first thing in the morning athletes are less likely to be distracted by other events happening in their day. They are more focused on just the task of practice. They are also fresh from rest and often are at their strongest. Early mornings provide the ideal conditions to improve boat speed. In addition to all of the practical reasons, it’s always nice to see the sunrise on the water everyday. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rowers Rejoice

            “Stakeboats are in across the country, rowers rejoice.” Row2k posted on twitter early this past weekend. This past weekend marked the unofficial start of the regatta season.  I say it is the unofficial start because there is no rule or law prohibiting regattas before this date. It is simply the time when those who run the regattas feel bodies of water will no longer be frozen, and the weather will be fair enough to race. Rowers rejoice because for most athletes the beginning of regattas signals the end of winter training. It is the time for competition. It is the time put to the test the year long training athletes have gone through.
            This past weekend may have been the start of the regatta season, but regattas should not be confused with dual races. Dual races, or commonly just called races, are races between simply between a few schools. The number of schools can range, but generally it is only 2 or 3 teams against each other at a time. These type of races have been occurring for the past few weeks. As teams headed south for spring break training they have been racing each other in these small races. These races follow a much simpler format then regattas. Regattas are a gathering of many teams. There are regattas with hundreds of teams in attendance. Regattas often last at least a weekend, but some are as long as week. Boats race many times. The boats go through an elimination process to see who is the winner. The basic format for most regattas is to have heats, semi-finals, and finals. So for example, the qualifications for a  regatta might be the top two boats in heats progress to Semi-finals, and the top two boats from each semi-final progress to the grand final. It is a way of weeding out the slower boats. This is the only way to conduct a races with large number of entries. You can not feasibly align fifty boats across a body of water, and so for practical reasons most courses are restricted to six lanes.
            Regattas are used more for clubs, and junior rowing. For these teams this is the main way in which they compete. For college teams, they usually begin their seasons with a few dual races, and then progress to regatta races.  In college rowing all championships are regattas, and most races to qualify for championships are regattas. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Rowing Lingo

             In order to understand a culture you must first understand the people. Learning the language and expressions of the people help you to understand the culture. In order for you to better understand the rowing culture I will break down some of the common rowing terms.
There are many terms that a coxswain will use in order to communicate with their crew. Some of the terms coxswains use vary between the individual. Although the terms a coxswain uses are often important, I will only briefly address the terms that are consistent throughout the sport. I think it is more important to learn terms of the race and equipment in order to understand the sport as a spectator. These common rowing terms will allow you to converse with some knowledge of the sport.

First I will discuss the basic names associated with boats.
Shell: This is the physical boat without any equipment such as a riggers added to it.
Hull: This is the outside of the shell. The part of the boat that touches the water.
Rigger: Is bolted to the shell but is removed for travel. It holds the oar in place allowing the rower to move it on a more even plane.
Footstretcher: Located inside the boat and is where the rower places his feet (there are shoes attached to the foot stretcher in which the rower places his feet).
Seat: The part of the boat where the rower sits
Slide: The two tracks under the rower’s seat that allows them to move back and forth.
Next I will break down the basic movements of a stroke.
Catch: The part of the stroke where the blade enters the water.
Drive: This comes right after the catch. This is where power is applied to move the blade through the water and the boat forward.
Finish: This is the release of the stroke. This is when the blade exits the water. 
Recovery: This is where you move from the finish back up to the catch with the blade out of the water. You are moving your body back to the catch to take another stroke.

This is a video showing the basic movements of a stroke. 

General terms of the rowing
Stroke Rate: The number of strokes taken per minute
Bow Seat: Refers to the person in the front of the boat, closest to the bow. All seats are numbered 1-8 starting from bow to stern. The term 1-seat is never used. 1-seat is simply referred to as bow seat.
Stroke seat- This is the person closest to the stern who faces the coxswain. This would be 8 seat, but in the same fashion as 1 seat, the term 8 seat is never used. This seat is called stroke.
Cox Box. – This is the basic tool a coxswain uses. It is an amplification device that allows their voice to be heard throughout the speakers in a boat. The coxbox also records time and reads stroke rates.
Catching a Crab:  When the blade of the oar gets stuck in the water at the finish. It causes the rower to loose control of the oar and to become stuck at the finish.
Ejector Crab:  A severe crab. This is when the oar becomes stuck and the force behind the stuck oar is so powerful that it causes the rower to be ejected out of the boat.
Weigh-Enough:  Is a phrase a coxswain will use to tell a crew to stop. In the boat it means stop rowing, It can also be used on land while carrying a boat to mean stop moving.
Set: A boat is set when it is lying centered and even in the water. When a boat is set it allows for maximum speed. A boat can be offset easily, by many factors. Some ways a boat can become offset is by rowers body weight not being evenly distributed, by not catching and finishing together, and by rowers having different handle heights. Many practices are focused on improving the set of a boat.
Digging: Is when a rower is pushing their oar to far down into the water. It causes the boat to move upward in the air out of the water rather than moving the boat forward.  This also effects the set of the boat.
Washing out: Is when a rower does not finish their stroke. This often causes them to be off time from the rest of the rowers, and also prevents them from being able to apply their full power to the stroke. This also effects the set of the boat.
Skying:  This is when a rower sticks their blade too high in the air during the recovery by dropping their hands at the catch. It off sets the boat and makes it difficult for them to catch at the same time as the other rowers in their boat. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Collegiate Rowing

            In the last post, I discussed the differences in age categories based on juniors, collegiate, and master’s rowing. Collegiate rowing is further broken down into different subcategories. Rowing, like any other sport, can be broken down by gender; however unlike other sports there are actually differences in how the sport is regulated based upon gender. Women’s rowing is a sport recognized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). What this means is that the NCAA governs and regulates the rules of the sport for member teams.  The NCAA also provides a national championship arena in which the best teams are selected to compete. Teams that are members of the NCAA are divided into Division I, Division II and Division III. The differences in funding and recruiting ability are the same in rowing as they are in any other NCAA sport. In rowing, the major difference between Divisions is the definition of what constitutes a “team”. In Division I a team is considered a first 8+ boat (rowing lingo reminder: the + designates that the boat has a coxswain), a second 8+ boat, and a 4+ boat. For Division II a team is a considered an 8+ and a 4+. A division III team is comprised of a first 8+ boat and a second 8+ boat.
            Some schools’ with rowing programs choose not to join the NCAA. These teams are considered club sports. A club rowing team receives little if any funding from their institutions. Theses teams are not allowed to participate in certain regattas such as the NCAA championships.
            Also in rowing, there are lightweight teams. For lightweight women’s rowing, athletes must weigh less than 130lbs and all the rowers in a boat must have an average body weight of 125lbs or under. Lightweight rowing is not recognized by the NCAA.
            Men’s rowing is not a sport recognized by the NCAA. Men’s rowing is only ever considered a club sport. Although they are considered a club sport, some division III institutions offer men’s rowing the same funding as the women’s division III team and consider the men’s rowing team an intercollegiate sport within their institution. Within men’s rowing there is also a lightweight category, participants must weigh-in under 160lbs with a boat average at or below 155lbs.
            It must be noted that participation of teams in the NCAA does have any influence on the teams strength or speed. In men’s rowing many teams have very strong alumni support which allows them to have the budget of an NCAA division I women’s team.  However, the various divisions verses club in women’s rowing does generally correlate to the strength and speed of a team. It is not always a given rule that a Division I team will be faster than a Division III team, and that a Division III team will be faster than a club team. As I previously said the Divisions and club status simply control the budget for coaches and equipment, the ability to recruit, and restrictions on the amount of time a team is allowed to practice. The determination to win and dedication to the sport is always up to the athletes of a team. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Never to Old to be a Novice

            Rowing differs from many sports because it allows athletes to learn the sport at a competitive level late in life. In most sports, in order to be successful in the most competitive arenas, training begins at a very young age. Children in the United States are introduced to the classic sports such as soccer, football, baseball, softball, and basketball through peewee leagues. Children are as young as five when they begin to play these sports competitively on teams. In terms of age of entry, rowing differs greatly from the classic sports.
            In rowing, the youngest athletes are high school aged children. High school aged athletes are referred to as juniors. The governing body of rowing in the United States, USRowing, defines Juniors as anyone under the age of 19. Juniors row both for boat clubs and for their high schools, if the school has a team. The standard sprint race for rowing is a 2k course, but for juniors their sprint races are often abbreviated to a 1.5k course.
            Although some athletes begin rowing in high school, many rowers do not join the sport until college. Rowing is a unique in the world of sports because it allows rowers to join at the collegiate level without prior training in the sport.
            What allows rowers to be successful at the sport so quickly in the competitive arenas of both juniors and collegiate rowing is unique status of Novice. In both juniors and collegiate rowing the first year of participation in the sport athletes are allowed novice status. There are races at regattas sanctioned as novice races. These races allow for competition between inexperienced rowers, but still in a competitive field. The novice year is extremely important in allowing athletes to join the sport at the collegiate level.  Fielding a novice team is the standard in college rowing. The novice teams are a sub grouping of the overall team. The novice team is comprised of athletes who are in the first year of collegiate rowing. This includes athletes who have never rowed before, and athletes who have only rowed in high school. The novice year allows athletes to learn about the sport and time for them to hone their skills and speed. The coaches of the novice team work with athletes to teach them the basics of the stroke, and within a year, the coaches have the athletes on the same level as the experienced varsity team. The novice team does not contribute to rankings of the overall team, or contribute to qualifications for championships.
            It is important to note that athletes are not required for the first year to be categorized as a novice rower. If a coach feels a first year athlete can contribute to the varsity program the athlete can be moved up out of the novice team.
            Adults in the rowing world are referred to as Masters. Athletes classified as masters are generally past the age at which they could enter as a member of the national team or compete at the most elite races. The type of athlete ranges greatly in the master’s category. Some athletes choose to be very competitive, while other athletes choose to use the sport as more of a social activity. Even at the masters level many people pick up the sport for the first time. It is never to late to learn the sport of rowing. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Erg

          In honor of CRASH B. Sprints, which occurred this past Sunday, I am going to dedicate this post to discussing erging and winter training. First I’ll begin by explaining that CRASH Bs is the world indoor rowing championship. It occurs each year in February. Since 2008, the event has been held at Boston University’s Agganis Arena in Boston, Ma.  The event originated in 1980 with the invention of the Concept 2 Model A rowing ergometer. In the winter of 1980 some Olympic and National team rowers got together to hold an event to try and break up the monotony of winter training. That first event in 1980 had very few people who participated at Harvard University’s Newell Boathouse on the Charles River in Cambridge, Ma. Over time the event expanded to become the indoor rowing championship.
            The event is open to any competitor who would like to enter. There are no qualifying times to participate. CRASH Bs does not have qualifying times because it wants to give all athletes the opportunity to enjoy competition and to break up the routine of winter training. Competitors are broken up into age categories. There is a junior’s category, which is ages 14-18, and there is an Under 23 category in which competitors are ages 18-22.  After age 19 competitors can enter open events in which ages are grouped by 10 years. So, ages 19-29 are one category, and 30-39 is a category, 40-49 is a category and so on covering the oldest entry. Although there are no qualifying times to enter a partner of the CRASH Bs event, Concept 2, provides airfare to the event to participants who meet their qualifying times. Concept 2 wants to ensure that the fastest athletes in the world are able to participate in the event.
            The participants in the event race on ergometer, which are commonly called ergs, for 2,000 meters. 2,000 meters is the distance of a spring sprint race, and sprint racing is what athletes have been preparing for all winter. The athlete with the fastest time in their age category is the winner of that category. The winner of each category receives a golden hammer as their trophy, which is simply a unique tradition of CRASH Bs. The golden hammer is recognized distinctly as a trophy of CRASH Bs in the rowing community.

This is a video from CRASH Bs 2010. This is a video of Felix Bach, who won the Junior Men's category. In this video he is rowing with the junior women because there were technical problems with his erg in his event, so he was allowed a re-do in the women's event. This video is helpful simply to see what erging is. 
            In order to fully understand what CRASH Bs is you must understand what an erg is and what erging is all about. Erging is what rower’s call the activity of using an erg. An erg is an indoor rowing machine that allows rowers to train on land. 
This is the most current model of an erg.

 The erg allows an athlete to see many features about their stroke. It allows the power of the athlete to be measured. This can be measure through recording watts, or more commonly by looking at meters pulled or the predicted split of a rower over a distance of 500 meters. The split over meters is difficult to understand at first, but it is essentially explain how long it would take the rower to travel a 500-meter distance. This is a similar feature to what most treadmills have. Treadmills predict for you how long it would take you to travel a mile at a certain pace; the erg does the same thing but over 500 meters rather than a mile. Ergs are used as a way to judge how fast an individual athlete can be during a race. In order to determine this rowers are tested on 2,000-meter and 6,000-meter tests. These are the distances of a sprint race and a headrace.
            In the winter it is often too cold to row on the water, and bodies of water are often frozen. These conditions force rowers to move indoors for training. The erg allows for indoor training. Erging is just part of what most athletes do for their winter training. Like any other sport many forms of strength and condition exercises are used to strengthen the athlete.
    Even though erging is a core part of winter training, it is not restricted to just the winter. Most athletes erg year round. Training on the erg is an integral part of a rowers training because it creates a solid cardio basis for rowing, allows for practicing of the stroke, and develops essential muscles used by athletes. Most rowers feel the erg is a necessary evil. Rowers often complain about erging because it pushes you to your limits. You see every stroke how hard you are pulling. It is both a mental and a physical test to complete a 2k or a 6k test. As the CRASH B’s website says, “This ergometer has become serious business, threatening to replace fun with pain, unless you can equate the two.”

All information about CRASH Bs was found on their website:

Monday, February 14, 2011


In the sport of rowing, there are many different types of boats. Knowledge of the different types of boats is important not only for understanding the basics of the sport but also to be able to understand racing.

The types of boats can be separated into to main categories. These categories are sweep rowing boats and sculling boats.  In sweep rowing each rower only has one oar. In sculling each rower has two oars. The stroke varies slightly in between sculling and sweep rowing. 

This is a photo of sweep rowing. It shows how each rower only has one oar. 

This is a photo of a sculling boat. The each person in the boat would have two oars.

The categories of sculling and sweep can be further broken down by the number  of people in the boat  Sweep boats are referred to simply by the number of rowers in the boat. If there are eight rowers the boat is called an eight, if there are four rowers it is called a four, if there are two rowers it is called a pair. Sculling boats are referred to in terms of multiples. If there are eight rowers it is called an octuple, if there are four rowers it is called a quad, if there are two rowers it is called a double, and if there is one rower it is called a single.

Boats are also defined as to weither or not they have a coxswain. Coxswains are an additional person in the boat besides the rowers. The coxswain does not have an oar to help power the boat, but rather their job is to steer the boat and motivate the rowers. They are essentially the brain of the boat. Coxswains are often referred to as Cox. Boats will out coxswains are called coxless or straight boats.  All boats with eight people have coxswains. All singles do not have a coxswain. Fours, quads, doubles, and pairs can either have a coxswain or not. 

Boat names are often abbreviated to simply numbers and symbols. For example a four with a coxswain would be abbreviated to 4+. The 4 refers to the number of rowers in the boat. The + refers to the fact that there is a coxswain. If there was not a coxswain it would be a 4- . Sculling boats have the additional symbol of x. If a boat was a quad it would be referred to as 4x. It is especially helpful to know these abbreviations if you are trying to look at a race schedule or results of a race. 

Here are some photos of boats to help you better identify the many different types. 

Single (1x)

Double (2x)

Coxless Pair (2-)

Coxed Pair (2+)
The coxed pair is not often seen at races. It is not recognized as an event at races hosted by FISA (the governing body of world rowing). These are events such as Olympics and the World Rowing Championships

Coxed Quad (4x)

In this type of boat the coxswain is in the back of the boat. 

Coxless (straight) Quad (4x)

Coxed Four (4+)

Uncoxed (straight) 4-

Eight (8+) 

Octuple (8x)
The Octuple is not often raced in the United States. It is mainly for exhibition. It is not recognized as an event at races hosted by FISA (the governing body of world rowing). These are events such as Olympics and the World Rowing Championships

As you can see there are many different types of boats. Most rowers can row in all types of boats, but they do generally have the favorite types. It is important to understand the different types of boats in order to understand racing. 
The most common types of boats that  youth and collegiate rowers race are the 4+ and the 8+. In both collegiate and youth rowing the pairs, doubles, and singles are used primarily for training purposes. These boats allow for more individual work and technical lessons that can be applied to rowing in the larger boats. For master's rowing, which is the name used for adult rowers, the focus  falls more on small boats such as single, pair, and double. This happens because master's rowing tends to be more of an individual sport rather than a team sport.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Competition: The Basis of Sport

Jessica Pryor
February 7, 2011

            The sport of Rowing is often viewed as an elite prep-school sport.  Although it is true that the origins of rowing in the United States trace back to the Ivy leagues and private prep schools, today it is no longer a sport of the elite. Even though the sport of rowing is growing in popularity, it often seems inaccessible to people, usually because they simply do not understand the sport. Like any other sport, rowing has it’s own language of terminology, culture of norms, and traditions. In this blog, I will break down the sport of rowing so that those who are unfamiliar to it have a chance to understand it.
            It is difficult to prioritize what topic of the sport is most important for new rowers and spectators to understand. I will start though by explaining the different types of races. When most people think of a sport, they view the competitive arena, and so I will start by breaking this down.

            In the United States there are two main types of races: head racing and sprint racing.

Head Race
            Head racing occurs in the fall and is considered the non-traditional season of rowing. The results of head races do not count for rankings, points, or determination qualification for championship races.
            Head racing is generally covers 6 kilometer course.  The course in a head race follows the curvature of the river or body of water. There are turns in the course, which provide a challenge for teams. Head racing is set up in the format of a time trial. Each boat starts the race at lapsed times. These lapsed times are referred to as centers. An example of how someone would use this term is, “ ok team there are 5 second centers today.” So for example of how this would work is, boat 1 would start the race and then boat 2 would start the race 5 seconds after boat 1, and boat 3 would wait and start 5 seconds after boat 2. It would continue this with  5 second centers between the start time of each boat.  The boats are essentially playing a game of chase down the course. In order to win a boat has to clock the fastest time down the course.  A boat does not have to pass a boat in order to win; they must simply have the fastest time down the course.  Even though passing a boat is not essential to winning the race, it is exciting to the athlete and the fan if a boat passes another boat is a good indication that they will finish with a faster time. It is difficult for spectators at head races, because they cannot see the entire race from one point.  In addition, for results of the race, both spectators and athletes must always wait in order to determine who has won the race due to the centered starts. To add to you rowing knowledge the largest and most well known head race in the United States is the Head of the Charles in Boston, Ma. This head race includes competitors from all over the world. There are many races that divide compotators by age and level of experience. It lasts an entire weekend due to the vast number of events. The Head of the Charles is usually in October. In 2011, the race will be October 22 and 23.

This is a video of the youth boys race from the Head of the Charles in 2010. This video shows good images of boats trying to pass each other. Also in this video, it is easy to see how the boats are following the curves of the river. 

Sprint Race
            Sprint races consitute the traditional season of rowing sports. Spring racing occurs in both the spring and the summer.  For both youth and collegiate rowers this is the main season that counts for records and points. Sprint races are what qualify teams to compete at championships.
            Sprint races are 2 kilometers in length. They are generally referred to simply as 2Ks.  2Ks are done on a straight buoyed course. There are 6 or 8 lanes on a course. The course is laid out similar to a race track because each competitor has their own marked lane. However, the lanes in rowing are a straight line instead of a curved racetrack. The starts of 2ks differ greatly from head racing. In a 2k, all the boats line up in their lanes at the starting line. They often must back into starting platforms. At both steak boats and starting platforms, there is a person to hold each boat in place. This assures that they do not drift and allows for an even start of all boats. 
Click for next photo
Photo of starting platforms at NCAA 2010 championships

            After the start, the course is often broken down in terms of 500-meter segments. The start of the race crews generally take short strokes in order to get their boats moving quickly off the starting line. In the first 500 meters of the race, the boat will settle into its racing pace. In the two middle 500s, the crews will make moves. They will work to catch up if they are behind or stay ahead if they are winning. The last 500 meters includes the sprint. The sprint is the last part of the race. It is when crews exert the last of the energy. They generally shorten their strokes and bring up their speed.  In a 2k the winner is simply whoever crossed the finish line first. Sprint races are exciting to race because you can see who wins.
            Many important races occur in the sprint season. Some examples of these races are Stotesbury Cup, IRA championships, NCAA championship, Youth Nationals, Club Nationals, and the Canadian Henley.

This is a video from the 2010 NCAA championships. The video shows clearly how each boat is in their own lane following a straight course. In this race Yale passes other boats in order to win the race. The way in which they quickly pass through the other boats shows the excitement that can be found in sprint races. Also, at the end of the race Yale can clearly be seen as the winner which adds the excitement of sprint racing. 

            Head races and sprint races are very different types of racing. It is important to know that unlike other sports, all rowers do both sprint and distance racing. It is sometimes difficult to understand the races, but the easiest way to understand is to see a race. If you are sitting in the grandstands, do not be afraid to ask someone questions in between races. Most people will gladly help you understand what is going on. Sprint season is coming, so get out there and watch a race.