row2k Features
Erg Tricks
Rowing Hack: The Erg Race Fan
March 9, 2023
John FX Flynn, row2k

The Erg Race Fan in action

Turns out this year's Erg Sprints was a bit of a Rowing Hack Paradise: in addition to Lauren Walker winning--twice--with her dodgeball hack (as we featured here a few weeks back), row2k spotted an athlete in the Half Marathon event carefully setting up a portable, battery-powered fan before settling in for his 21,097 meters of work.

Since that is not typically part of the race day scene, we just had to ask ask this Long Erg Hacker, one M. Gordon Joyce, for the whole story:

"When I train at home I always have a fan going to keep me cool," said Joyce. "It really helps me to have that breeze to keep a bit cooler."

Sure, who doesn't like a bit of extra airflow during a long erg, but bringing your own fan to an erg race? That is some good hacking.

Joyce told row2k that his Erg Race Fan Hack really worked well on the day, and that no one gave him any trouble about it: "I asked the umpire if I could set up a small fan, and he said as long as it wasn't in the way and didn't bother anyone he was fine."

We asked Joyce about his inspiration for this bring-your-own-breeze trick, and any other tips he could share for long erg races, because we noticed a few other mini-hacks in our photos of his set-up:

"I came across this article via Science of Rowing last year, and it made a lot of sense to me. Basically I row or perform much better if I'm cooled. I'm one of those people who like exercising when it's raining, as I have much more energy. So I've been using the fans at home a lot to maintain the lower temperature."

The rest of Joyce's set-up
The rest of Joyce's set-up

"Also on the day I used a hat which allowed me to add some ice packs, and ice to the hat. That was what the cooler was for, so when I was ready for the race, I had fresh ice and the cooled ice packs ready to go.

"I also set up my iPad to have some rowing with Eric Murray going, and then at the hour to switch to some motivational music.

"Most things worked well. The melting ice was phenomenal after about 30 minutes in, really refreshing."

Joyce's well-hacked race at Erg Sprints was his first competition since 1997, when a back injury in college knocked him out of the sport. Originally from Ireland, Joyce had a promising U18 career, winning an Irish championship in the 8+ and the Home International with Ireland in the 8+ in 1996, and he found his way back to the sport by starting to erg while working from home during the pandemic.

In fact, the iPad that Joyce brought along turns out to be another way he recreated his home digs on Race Day: having started his training with a lot of ZoomErgos sessions in 2021 and 2022, he now ergs regularly with Murray online, so he wanted to have his usual company along for the ride at Erg Sprints.

90 or so ergs, just one portable fan
90 or so ergs, just one portable fan

All in all, well-hacked, sir--and row2k will be keeping an eye out when erg race season rolls around again to see if this clever trick catches on.

Do you have a hack that helps you race well on the erg? 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.

If you enjoy and rely on row2k, we need your help to be able to keep doing all this. Though row2k sometimes looks like a big, outside-funded operation, it mainly runs on enthusiasm and grit. Help us keep it coming, thank you! Learn more.


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