Sunday, 19 February 2012

A mug announcement

Dear everyone,

I've decided to stick another mug order in as I'm people have been asking for them and I've had to say I've got none left, which is sad.

Thus, I am throwing the floodgates open and saying "I WILL MAKE YOU MUGS AND THEY WILL BE AWESOME".

Here's the deal.

Pretty sweet deal right? Stupid mug manufacturers have put their prices up so they will now be £8 each but you can have whatever you want. These are the sort of ones I've done before but I'm happy to dig out whatever drawings from the blog or draw new ones.

So email me! I'll put an order in on the

Monday 27th Feb

so get in contact before then if you're keen.

 Also, there has been some call for a "Rowing: The Rules" poster for le boathouses etc. Is there keenness for this before I embark on some serious sweary LaTeX hours?


But yes. MUGS. Email me! (anna.railton[at] If you're outside of Cambridge we'll have to talk postage too but will be of the order £2.50 and let's face it £10.50 isn't too bad for something so very bespoke :-)

Monday, 13 February 2012

Rowing: The Rules

This post is inspired by this most excellent list of rules of cycling (and Steve T). It should also prove to you just how much of a judgemental bastard I am, if you haven't already realised.

Onwards! Dear Something About Rowing Readership, I present to you


#1 Obey the rules.

#2 Lead by example.

Everyone loves a 30mph headwind, let's face it. FEEL THAT GODDAM CONNECTION :D
#3 Guide the uninitiated.

Novices should be guided in the ways of rowing. HOW ELSE WILL THEY LEARN IF YOU DON'T SHOUT AT THEM gently tell them of the error of their ways?

#4 You row because you like pain.

 The sooner you appreciate this fact, the happier you'll be.


 You should not need telling again.

#6 Tanlines should be cultivated and kept razor sharp.

The rolling down of unisuits and wearing different tops to prevent The One Piece Tanline is completely unacceptable. You should aim to have your one piece tan for the entire winter. 

This is me at HRR 2010 (when I still had non- negligible hair!), looking like an idiot.

(Erica Bodman)

#7 Calluses are to be cultivated and your hands kept completely badass.

Be proud of them. Don't let them ever go away!

Horrible liquid-y blisters should be popped by threading a (sterilised!) needle and thread through them (the thread absorbs some of the blister juice). Surgical spirit is also good for keeping them tough. It took me a couple of years to realise this, but keeping them moisturised is a really good idea. Let's be honest, cracks in the middle of your goddam palm are pretty fucking unpleasant.

#8 Embrace rowing in bad weather.

Rowing in bad weather is great - just think about all your competitors who have wussed out/have resigned themselves to bad outings. FUCK THOSE GUYS. 

Rowing in the rain does make the water flatter after all :-)
That said, rowing when there's ice out makes you a fucking idiot (see rule #16).

#9 It never gets easier, you just go faster.

Great quote pilfered from the Velominati:

 "Training is like fighting with a gorilla. You don't stop when you're tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired."  --Greg Henderson

#10 There is only one remedy for pain.

Make you opposition hurt more.

That extra 10 stroke burst might just break them. Third 500m? MAKE THEM KNOW WHAT HELL FEELS LIKE.

If someone starts making pain noises next to me while erging I up the pressure/rate if appropriate to try and crush their souls.

I genuinely do this. (I think there might be something not quite right with me.)

#11 Friends, family and social life does not come first. 

Rowing does.

*awkward look at mother*

*laughs awkwardly and changes the subject*

#12 The correct number of lycras to own is n+1.

where n is the number you currently own.

  I am currently epically losing the "Who has the most lycras in the house award" - the most is 16 :-(

#13 White lycra is a crime against humanity.

A white top half is acceptable, but shorts are a really bad idea.

Unless you're Alan Campbell. That's OK. Slightly overweight college rower? NOT OK AT ALL.

Photo credit - Peter Spurrier

To be honest, Italian National Team - still not OK. Have you got the mind bleach ready? Yes? Then scroll down:







Photo credit - Adam Pretty


#14 You should only wear *just* a rolled up one piece in a rowing context.

The number of people I see cycling to the boathouse when it's warm in just a one piece in Cambridge is just... offensive. Just roll the bloody thing down and put on a t-shirt.

#15 Cold weather gear is for cold weather.

Anyone wearing a splash jacket in a boat in the summer deserves to be thrown in my opinion.

#16 Look after the boat you row in.

You should never race in a dirty boat. That's really bad form - get some de-scaler and get cleaning!

I see general boat abuse a lot and it always pisses me the fuck off. People forcing riggers on/off, leaving boats unattended not tied onto trestles, smacking the fin putting the boat into the water, not tying them onto trailers properly (or not at all...).

At a regatta I once saw a single lying on the grass water side down, i.e. on the fin, and I almost threw up in my mouth. If the boat's owner had been there I would have directed many swears in their direction.

So much rage.

#17 Getting grit in your seat wheels is a crime.

The rowing gods will not be pleased.


FFS your hands probably in a horrible state as it is, don't make it worse by getting them infected because you just dragged your handles through rabbit droppings.

It also scratches them to shit so they don't last as long. See rule #16,

#19 Do all your chat before getting in the boat.

Appropriate technical discussion is fine but general chat is not (esp. from 6 and backwards in an VIII). Don't be this guy:

#19b If you have the breath for chat immediately after a race, YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING WRONG.

Do not be surprised if your 100m by 100m technical evaluation of the race you begin as you cross the finish line ends up with you being thrown in the lake.

#20 Pogies are acceptable.

If you think pogies make you a bit of a pussy, then you try training in Ely in -5 degrees in sleet. I think anything that means you can row for longer and harder is fair game.


That said, heated pogies are a step too far... (see rule #5)

#21 Racing in pogies/splash jackets makes you look like a tool.

You're basically advertising the fact that you're not pushing hard enough. Save them for the warm up only.

#22 Team kit is for members of the team.

This includes:
  • Fake/"acquired" Xchanging kit
  • Leander kit
  • GB kit you didn't earn
Kit swapping is fine of course, but for foreign/similar standard native club kit. A Polish all in one in the UK would be cool for example, whereas it's kind of not on flouncing around in GB team kit here if you've not been given it by the team.

#23 Sunglasses are to be worn in all weathers.

The correct way to wear your sunglasses when they're not shielding your eyes from the sun/snow/whatever is upside-down on your head/hat. If your sunglasses cannot achieve this, buy new sunglasses.

#24 When in a boat, one pieces should be rolled up. *ALWAYS*

I have alluded to this before. Again, the Cam in Easter term is a very bad place for this sort of thing.

 I also think this instructive flow chart should get another airing:

 This includes while wearing techtops too. I can never understand why you'd row with a one piece rolled down and have a gap. Weird.


Source: That Leander Calender (!!)
#25 One pieces should be rolled up *over* shortsleeves/longsleeves (but not gilets, obvs.)

I am a bit of a nazi when it comes to this, I think because I have spent quite a while sculling where you don't want to catch your hands in loose tech tops etc. Most people in CUW think I'm weird for doing this but LALALALALALALALAL I'M NOT LISTENING.

#26 Rowing-suitable splash jackets may be worn in the boat (when it's badgering cold of course), but never raced in.

A contentious issue I know, so before you flame me to death, remember that splash jackets are not created equal.

A massive Godfrey splash jacket? Stash only - don't you wear that in the boat. (I swear those things have a hidden fusion generator because they make you SO BLOODY HOT.

A thin thing that's basically a waterproof tech top? I reckon this is OK for in boat use (though pay attention to rule #25). When I saw some GB lightweights doing this, I figured it was allowed :D

#27 No hoody/fleece wearing in the boat (except coxes).

You don't want to look like a novice after all!

#28 If you're rowing, you should be wearing a one piece.

Rowing behind someone when it's really bloody cold and they're just wearing leggings and a tech top and therefore have a bloody great gap exposing their lower back.... RAGE.   

#29 Do not over match your kit.

The only exception to this is while racing as matching crews obviously go faster. OBVIOUSLY.

Ideally, you should not wear any of your current club's kit while training and aim to wear the most clashing, un-matching kit you can. Bad kit days = normal days.

This is my housemate demonstrating this (though he is breaking rule #30)

Yeah John! :D

#30 Never wear leggings under your unisuit.


I tried this once (and only once) to see why people did it. Apart from getting the piss ripped out of me by my coach it was the most uncomfortable thing in the world.

Avoid like the plague.

#31 Wearing wristbands with "WIN" or "HTFU" on makes you a massive douche.

1) We all like winning, you idiots.
2) If you need to wear something on your wrist to remind to HTFU, you need to HTFU. See rule #5.

In the course of blog research (i.e. googling "HTFU wristbands") I found that there is an entire douchy company that sells HTFU branded stuff. Here are the wristbands:

I think she needs to do something about those nails. You can't do cleans with nails like that.
 Also, these - the most inappropriate shorts for doing weights in ever devised.

Now I'm sorry, if you try and do squats in these, I'm pretty certain you would never see those pants again without surgery.

The mind boggles. It's rather NSFW due to it's slightly soft porn aspects, but here is the website for you to laugh at.

#32 The only part of the erg you should sit on is the seat.

Ergos should be treated with the respect they deserve. After all, they have the capacity of reducing a man to a blubbering wreck on the floor and you should respect that.

For example, standing on the sliders, sitting on the fan (?!) are all erg abuse of the wrong kind. Stick to trying to pull the badgering handle off every stroke!

#33 Erg sliders should be cleaned after use.

If you don't need to do this, you need to PUSH HARDER.

Extra man points are available for needing a mop to clean up post-ergo.

#34 If you're not pushing hard on the erg, you're sure as fuck not pushing hard in the boat.


(See rule #5)

#35 Not completing a 2k will earn you eternal judgement.

The only time it's acceptable to stop in a 2k is if you've capsized.

#36 The purpose of competing is to win.

It's not about the kit or the blazer or the "taking part".

After losing my first boat race, my grandmother said something along the lines of "Well it's OK, you have a Blue and it's the taking part that counts."

I very nearly punched her in the face.

#37 Be self sufficient.

As a rower, you should know how to rig a boat, how it works and how to fix it (within reason - I certainly couldn't rebuild the bows of a boat out of carbon fibre).

You should know what your blades need to be geared on and whether you should change it if it's blowing a gale at Holme Pierrepont (although that never happens *rolls eyes*).

You should always carry a 10mm.

Biggest 10mm spanner EVER.
You should also know when it's broken! Is your rigger rattling? YOU BADGERING IDIOT.

#38 Things that make erging more comfortable are lame.

This includes the "C Breeze", which blows air onto you as you erg (and presumably alters the resistance...)

*EDIT* (via N. Acock) - Would you row behind someone with a C-breeze on their head? Here is a helpful flow chart:

 Also fluffy seatpad and handles?!?!?!?!? Strap on a pair!

#39 Training starts on time. No exceptions.

Your competitors will be starting on time.

#40 Don't make your excuses before you race.

STFU and refer to rule #5. Same holds for post race.

And no, don't blame your rigging (see rule #37 and change it).

#41 Erg chat is bad chat.

We honestly don't care what your 2k is, boat speed is the thing that counts.

You learn this the hard way when you're getting your ass handed to you in a 1x by someone with a 2k 20s slower than you. I have been there and it is humbling.

#42 Simply owning a copy of 'Rowing Faster' does not make you row faster.

Some training is involved.

#43 Don't be intimidated by other people's lycra/boat.

They could just have rich parents and own a copy of 'Rowing Faster'. Doesn't make them fast. Take them the fuck out in your beaten up 20 year old Janosek! (It'll feel great!)

#44 mp3 players are for the land. Under no circumstances should they be worn in the boat.

I have heard anecdotal evidence of people stopping during races to change the track on their iPod and of training on the Cam while listening to music.

Ridiculously unsafe. See rule #5.

I have also rowed in an VIII with someone who listened to her mp3 player so she didn't have to listen to the coach. Really bad form.

#45 No gloves. Ever.

Not even for the Boston Marathon. See rule #5

#46 Do not change your rigging while on the water.

Sounds a bit like common sense, but I have done this, to my shame (I dropped both washers and the spanner into the lake at Nottingham :D).

Also, you know those washers you sometimes get which are like little clips so you can take them out and change the rigging easily? Well yes, their unofficial name is "Ping Fuck washers" as they will ping out, fly across the field/river and you'll say FUCK really loudly.

Your boatman will hate you if you lose your ping fuck washers!

#47 When rigging an eight, don't put the shell on three trestles.

Your boatman will explain why.

#48 Don't try to help me carry by boat unless I ask.

There is nothing more horrible than you casually carrying your boat LIKE A BOSS when someone randomly grabs the bows and you think "SHIT FUCK SHIT I'VE JUST HIT MY BOWS AGAINST A TREE SHIT FUCK SHIT FUCK".

#49 Anyone who calls themselves a rower should be able to do a pull up.

Also, there is a difference between a chin up and a pull up. Here is are a couple of instructive diagrams:

Basically chin ups are easy and pull ups are not. Therefore, doing one chin up doesn't count I'm afraid. (Justification: pull ups with a wide grip are good for your lats and therefore good for rowers. Chin ups are basically just bicep curls and therefore only good for impressing girls in a "which way to the beach??!?!?" sort of context. I'm all about the rowing-centric muscle on this blog :D)

Also, here is a really cool video of an awesome guy doing awesome things which we should all aspire to do:


One of my aims for the season is to be able to do this, a 'muscle up'. 

It's like a pull up with a sort of tricep dip at the end! Woo!

#50 If you row in 1x you should be able to carry your own boat on your own.

OK, if you're sculling in a 50 year old wooden clinker that's different, but modern singles are only about 15kg. C.f. rules #5, 37.

Exception is in high winds. No one wants to see a single embedded in a tree (rule #15). Though, PRO TIP = if it's windy, carry your boat with the water-side into the wind so the wind doesn't catch the footwell and try and carry your boat into orbit. (I bet you didn't ever expect to learn anything useful on here :D)


OK, that's all I can think of for now (and it spookily came to 50 without me trying to make it a nice number (i.e. factor of 5, power of 2). OOooooooooo. PLEASING.

Some really obvious ones will have been missed out through stupidity, but stick any glaring omissions in the comments and I will add them on the bottom.


**EXCITING EDIT** Now in poster form! :D