row2k Features
A Note on YIELD!!! -ing
November 3, 2022
Ed Hewitt,

If you come through the bridge on the left on the outside of the crew ahead of you, it's best to own it - there is nothing they can do to let you by

This weekend, and nearly every other weekend of the fall season for the past couple decades, we saw from our photo perch a case where an 'overtaking' crew put an 'overtaken' crew in an untenable position, began screaming 'YIELD! YIELD! YIELD! YIELD! YIELD!' repeatedly, then crashed into the overtaken crew.

The scenario:
-Faster crew begins to overtake slower crew, but fails to point their bowball to the inside of an upcoming turn
-Faster crew catches slower crew and their hulls overlap, *still* with their bow on the outside of the turn
-Faster crew begins to yell YIELD! at slower crew
-Slower crew, however, is still inside of the faster crew for the upcoming turn
-Slower crew, which is likely rowing as close to or over the buoy line, now has ZERO options to yield, save for rowing off the course (which is against the rules and often unsafe given traffic patterns) or stopping and just letting the faster crew row by
-Faster crew continues to try to cut turn close
-Faster crew rams slower crew

Simply, the overtaking crew put themselves on the outside of a turn, which left the other crew nowhere to yield save for going off the course or stopping, neither of which is allowed or required.

If you haven't set yourself up to command the inside of the turn, and especially if you have made it impossible for the other crew to concede the inside of the turn, you may just have to pass on the outside.

Of course, in many of these situations something happened earlier on the course that created the problem, and perhaps may have been the doing of the slower crew - for example, maybe they had been failing to yield for 2000 meters already - but at some point you have to realize they have nowhere to go and simply cannot yield.

This scenario can be even worse on a course with multiple turns in different directions; I once saw an overtaking crew take the inside of a turn to starboard, which was followed 1200 meters further down the course by a turn to port. The slower crew dug in to try not to let the passing crew get by them, which is absolutely the point of head racing - but the overtaking crew, now finding themselves on the outside of the next turn and unable to pass completely, simply yelled YIELD!! over and over. Again, there was nowhere to yield to; the slower crew was right along the port buoy line and really pretty close to crews rowing up to the start in the travel lane, and simply could not move further to port.

In this case, the overtaking crew rammed right up into the slower crew, blades over the stern, ,and slammed the coxswain with an oar, breaking the coxswain's shoulder blade.

The overtaking crew then went to officials and wanted the coxswain they had put in the hospital disqualified- although the entire altercation was due to the overtaking crew failing to account for the second turn to the other side of the course.

At regattas where there are umpires all along the course, instances like these often result in 'aggressive steering' penalties for the overtaking crew, and rightfully so.

All of this is why the favorite story of so many coxswains and coxless-boat steerspersons is when they told their crew to paddle in order to shift their bowball into the preferred position for an upcoming turn.

So to cut to the tldr - if you are an overtaking crew but don't show clearly that you want the inside of the turn, and especially if you appear to have committed to the outside of the turn, you are just going to have to pass on the outside.

(PS - related but different - if you are 4-5 lengths behind a crew, it's not time to start yelling YIELD! - per above you don't want to wait until you have overlap, but before you are inside about a length of open water, no one needs to steer themselves all over the river for you!)

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11/05/2022  6:52:21 AM
1 people like this
The Head of the Schuylkill rules carefully explain the subleties of yielding and overtaking; clearly stating that the boat being overtaken need not leave the course or steer into any fixed object. The Head of the Charles rules state the obligation to yield but do not expressly say the boat being overtaken need not leave the course. USRowing Rules of racing omit any discussion of proper steering during head race yielding/overtaking but permit each local organizing committee to promulgate steering rules specific to its course. USRowing should adopt the HOSR rules. It would save a lot of scraped paint and add to the fun. Kudos to Ed for this article. I could tell you stories: back in 1992, just after the 2 mile mark.....

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11/03/2022  8:01:45 PM
I was in this situation at Housatonic this fall in my 1x. During the turn the starboard, another boat was coming up on me and there wasn't time to move to port; I moved further to starboard and he kept coming in the same direction squeezing me further until I had to either impede him or do what I did, which was yield by navigating into the weeds on the starboard shore. I got weeds caught on my fin and had to come to a full stop to shake them off. I think the best solution is for me to just row faster next time.

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