row2k Features
Coach Tricks
The Double Button
August 8, 2012
row2k hackers

Seeing Double: look closely at strokeman ATH's oar

contributed by John FX Flynn, row2k

This week's Rowing Hack also comes with an Olympic endorsement, captured as it was by your intrepid row2k photog on what one journalist coined the "playing ponds of Eton" at the 2012 Games: the Double Button.

When row2k first spotted this trick at Eton-Dorney, we wondered--tongue firmly in cheek--if it might be a way to change the gearing mid-race (this would be quite a scene, btw: pairs dropping out to open their gates and move the oars "in a button" to lighten things up after a heavily loaded start…we hope we are not giving boat/oar manufacturers any ideas here!)

It was no such thing, of course, as a few eagle-eyed row2k readers noted: it was "just" a really clever way to hack past that tricky tendency that some rowers have, at the finish, to pull the oar through the oarlock.

One bloke who spotted this trick in action--no doubt himself a closet hacker of the highest order--wrote in to say that he'd first picked up the "twin collar trick" from an Australian coach, and he uses it on occasion to give rowers a better feel for the finish: with the collar held more securely against the lock, the rower can't pull away from the lock at the finish, and also gets a feel for how the handle should follow through while staying connected.

This trick has its limitations, of course--a double-buttoned oar is not going to be too kind to the backstay in the event of a crab--but as an occasional teaching tool, it works great, and might even give you a good excuse to use all those extra collars that the boatman is hoarding in the spare parts box. 

Like our "pitch-tape" hack from Sir Matt Pinsent, we know this one is good because of who hacked it: the double buton we spotted was on the oar of GB strokeman Andy Triggs-Hodge. If it is good enough for the stroke oar of the Team GB flagship, who even raced with it in the final (as you can see in this victory shot), than it could probably help out a novice or two who likes to pull hard in your neck of the woods. 

Will we see this hack aplenty all over the place this fall? Will there be full sets of oars rigged this way for the novices walking on to your team in the next month or so? If so, you'll hear about in the Rowing Hack column, for sure.

Got a neat oar-modification trick you use? Share your tips--and hacks--in the comments below.

Have a great rowing hack for future inclusion here? Send it to us!

During these unprecendented times, row2k is working hard to keep rowing coming to you; please help us keeping it coming by supporting our work!


Log in to comment
08/13/2012  8:52:31 AM
What happens if the rower crabs?

08/08/2012  8:19:57 PM
Already used this for rowers with Learning Disabilities ,,,,,,,,,,, plenty to learn, and I saw that this was one that did not need to spoil their first days on the water. Success ,,,, comes easier with the double button. Alliance Rowing Club, Illinois

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