Faults in Rowing, Circa 1881

The list below was published in an 1881 general Home Cyclopedia (everything from how to cure catarrh -- a cold -- to how to care for canaries). Next time we're doing straight-arm drills, maybe we can take some comfort in knowing that people have been scolded about keeping straight arms on the river for centuries.... (And check out #19 -- they must have had some bird-watchers then, too!)

Faults in Rowing.

The above laws are sinned against when the rower

1. Does not straighten both arms before him.

2. Keeps two convex wrists instead of the outside wrist flat.

3. Contrives to put his hands forward by a subsequent motion after the shoulders have attained their reach, which is getting the body forward without the arms.

4. Extends the arms without a corresponding bend on the part of the shoulders, which is getting the arms forward without the body.

5. Catches the water with unstraightened arms or arm, and a slackened tension as its consequence; thus time may be kept, but not stroke; keeping stroke always implying uniformity of work.

6. Hangs before dipping downwards to begin the stroke.

7. Does not cover the blade up to the shoulder.

8. Rows round and deep in the middle, with hands high and blade still sunken after the first contact.

9. Curves his back forward or aft.

10. Keeps one shoulder higher than the other.

11. Jerks.

12. Doubles forward and bends over the oar at the feather, bringing the body up to the handle and not the handle up to the body.

13. Strikes the water at an obtuse angle, or rows the first part in the air.

14. Cuts short the end, prematurely slackening the arms.

15. Shivers out the feather, commencing it too soon and bringing the blade into a plane with the water while work may yet be done; thus the oar leaves the water in perfect time, but stroke is not kept. This and No. 5 are the most subtle faults in rowing, and involve the science of shirking.

16. Rolls backward, with an inclination towards the inside or outside of the boat.

17. Turns his elbows at the feather instead of bringing them sharp past the flanks.

18. Keeps the head depressed between the shoulders instead of erect.

19. Looks out of the boat instead of straight before him. (This almost inevitably rolls the boat.)

20. Throws up the water instead of turning it well aft off the lower angle of the blade. A wave thus created is extremely annoying to the oar further aft; there should be no wave travelling astern, but an eddy containing two small circling swirls.


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