Translating the Rowing Stroke from the Erg to the Water

The erg cannot totally replicate the feeling of rowing in a boat on the water. As you can see in the image below, of the University of Florida Men's Varsity Crew in 2008 at a regatta in Jacksonville, Fla., one of the biggest differences between erging and sweep-style rowing (a style of rowing in which each rower controls one oar) is the element of body twist.

Rowers from above

On the erg, a rowers body remains in the same plane of motion throughout the stroke. On the water, however, the rower must twist around their rigger (the structure that locks the oar in place on the boat).

This twisting forces the rower's inside arm (the arm closest to the rigger) to bend as the rower slides up the slide to the catch (when he or she places the oar in the water). While the inside arm bends, the outside remains straight, and takes control of guiding the oar along its path to the water. Once the rower places the oar in the water, most of the load of the oar (the pressure on the face of the blade from the water) is received by the outside arm. Consequently, the outside arm becomes dominant, and stronger than, the inside arm over time.

Back to the erg.