Here's a rower trick that we are hoping will one day just be a relic of 2020-21--and these odd Covid times that we'll eventually leave far behind--but with some clubs and even regattas still recommending masking outside of the boat, it is a hack that could just help you out: The Handle-Handled Mask.
If you've done any rowing at a place where you have had to mask in the boat bay or perhaps even until you were in the boat and off the dock, you've probably found yourself with the very 2020 dilemma of what to do with your mask next. Sure, you can drop it in the bottom of the boat and hope it doesn't get wet and splashed on, but we spotted some rowers this past year thinking creatively--and the best solution we saw out there was just wrapping your mask, or gaiter, around the oar handle.
All you have to do once you get in the boat is take your face covering, slide it over the end, wrap it once or twice to get it snug, and your "where should I put my mask" problem is, well, handled.
Like any good hack, this trick is as simple as it is effective: your face covering stays out of the way, and dry, throughout your row, and we bet it becomes pretty hard to forget to put it back on when it is right in front of you the whole time.
Now, this hack probably works better for sweep rowers, who have some inboard handle to spare after all, but it can be adapted for sculling, especially if you take care to wrap things up tightly enough that the mask or gaiter doesn't slide down to close to the oarlock.
It is true that this lacks the muscle-flexing panache of stowing your mask around your bicep--which may well be the Covid-times version of wearing a racing shirt one or two sizes too small, to, you know, "look swole"--but it keeps the mask in a drier spot, and it is clearly better than dangling it off your wrist, where it can get in the way, at best, if not actually get caught up as you come around the finish.
We even give this method the nod over the other common mask-stowing trick folks have developed: popping it on the top of your water bottle. That actually works really well for land training--especially if it happens to be windy when you are outdoor-erging--but in the boat, a water-bottled mask is just going to get wet in the bottom of the shell along with everything else if you hit rain, a wake, or the bad luck of sitting near the splashiest catch in the crew.
(Unless, of course, you have already equipped your shell with a sweet water bottle storage hack like this one or this one, in which case your water-bottled mask will stay dry and safe--as you double down on your hacks.)
Naturally, we are hoping this is a hack we may never have to use again someday soon, but if you are still covering up, we offer this up as good add for your stay-safe bag of tricks.
Have you hacked up a cool trick we could all use? If so, share your tips--and hacks--in the comments below.
If you have a great rowing hack to suggest for future inclusion, then please send it to us and we will feature your idea in a future column.