Rowing with a Partner - Doubles and Pairs

We now have the riggers to set up the Wintech for either doubles (sculling) or pairs (sweeping).  Anyone who is checked out to use the double is cleared to rig it for pairs.  The riggers are installed exactly the same way as those for doubles.  The convention is to rig bow on starboard so that we develop skills consistently.  Use the really long oars.

Helpful hints and tips for rowing together


Bow seat should be the shorter of the two rowers.  They usually are the lighter of the two as well.  The reason is that the shorter person has a shorter stroke and can keep out of the way of the taller longer stroke of the stern seat.  If you are rowing with a guest however, they must be in #2 seat so that you can take full responsibility for safety and damage prevention.


Bow seat should do all the launching and docking.  This will keep the boat moving at a slow pace and prevent miscommunication when there are so many obstacles around.  Stern should sit in the stable position (oars perpendicular to the boat).

Straight Course

Bow seat is responsible for checking for hazards on the water.  They are also making sure that they are still heading for the right location.  Stern Seat is responsible for keeping in a straight line, making small adjustments to starboard or port to keep the boat moving straight.  If it is a more dramatic change the stern seat can request help from bow seat.  Stern seat is also responsible for keeping a constant stroke rate for bow seat to follow.

Communication Tip #1

This is key!  Both rowers must feel confident to say when something isn't quite right and when they want to make adjustments.  When adjustments need to be made (or focus areas are declared) the rower talking has to give enough time for the other rower to get prepared.  For example, you can't say "Picking up the rate now" because you are going to crash into the other rower.  Usually start the new command with "In 2 strokes, picking up the rate ....1 ..... 2", counting out the strokes, so that both of you come into the command together.

Communication Tip #2

The Bow seat usually talks about where they are going, straightening the course, moving around an object.  So, s/he would say "In 2 strokes, hard on starboard.... 1 ... 2" and then when the course is straight again, say "Even" so that both rowers are back to the normal even rowing in both oars.  The Stern Seat will talk about the blade work and the stroke rate.  Also the stern might mention that they are making slight changes to starboard and port to keep on course, just to let the bow know.

Unsteady Rowing

If is really ugly, stop rowing and start again.  Sometimes it works well to have the stern seat start by his/herself with the bow seat in the stable position.  After about 10 strokes have the bow seat join in following the stroke rate established by the stern.  Keep in mind that it will always be unstable when you both start together from a standstill.  If you are going to start together (instead of a staggered start as mentioned before), you should both start with a couple 1/2 slides (short slides) before extending to the full slide.  Again, remember that the stern should be communicating this and give lots of heads up to bow seat.

Windy Conditions

In windy conditions it is hard for bow to hear stern because they are talking away from the bow person.  Then most of the talking should be done by the bow person so that communication is easier.

Wavy Conditions

Bow seat will be looking around and communicate when there are large rollers coming in.  They also can make a call to shorten the slide to row with more stability.

Rowing with Pair Rigging

Keep your stroke nice and short at first.  You want to find the balance as a pair partnership before you start stretching your stroke out at the catch and making your stroke more unstable.  (Unless you want to go for a swim.)


Most importantly, have tons of fun with the double or the pair!  You get going so much faster and it's an interesting experience to work with someone else.  Enjoy!

Things that we have already learned about Rowing Pairs a.k.a. Sweeping

There is relatively little information available to support the budding pair.  There are a few things that are (or will become ) fairly obvious however:
  • No one has a way to steer the boat!  You need to steer jointly, by rowing with exactly the same pressure and stroke to go straight, and varying the pressure to turn one way or another, and as a result you will be more successful sweeping with someone of similar size, skill, strength and flexibility. 
  • Good communication is possibly even more important than the preceding four characteristics.
  • Bow will inadvertently turn the boat by pulling too hard right at the catch; stroke will turn the boat by pulling too hard at the finish. 
  • The best way to turn is for one to pull a bit harder in the middle of the stroke, so as to keep your balance.
  • Bow can spear Stroke with their handle right in the middle of their back, if they are late enough at the catch (Vlad, you had no idea how close you came to being a kabab!)
  • Crabbing can be very exciting, due to the leverage of the long oar and the momentum of the boat.
  • It is good to swap sides part way through the row (yes, go to shore to do this) but not easy to adapt.

Site Map   l   Newsletter   l   Contact Us   l   ©2017 Club Locarno

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software