Want to know if all those miles and drills have taken the stern check out of your boat? If you row a single or double, then you might want to try this simple hack that they've been using on the Charles, and likely all over, for years: the Check-Checking Tube.
This is another great little trick that--for years--did the job that some pricey electronics now try to tackle: telling you if your boat run is constant, or if you need to work on a smoother pick-up around the front end.
We checked in with a hacker who learned this one way back for a quick hacker how-to on this one:
We would attach a length of copper tubing to the stern of a single, double pair, or a straight four. It works best when the stroke seat can see easily see it, so it's not so great on a stern coxed boat.
Bend the tube so that it follows the line of the stern. As you row, water is forced through the tube, and creates a fountain off the stern. The idea is to keep the height of the water shooting out of the tube as constant as possible. As the boat slows down and checks at the catch, the height of the water will drop drastically.
The Check-Checking Tube is pretty easy to install--yet another boathouse-centric use for electrical tape-- and a great training tool. We hear that it creates some drag, so it's probably not a good idea to race with it (which might explain why we don't see it on every single at the Head of the Charles on race day--yet!).
The copper tubing bit definitely makes this an old-school hack, and we've seen more modern versions that get away with plastic tubing and a really robust straw might even do the trick on a single. The trick is to catch the water coming down past the hull, direct it upwards, and see if your speed is constant enough to keep the "fountain" steady.
Pretty slick, eh? Maybe the best part--aside from being another great use for a straw--is that it provides constant feedback, with no batteries and no coaching required.
Have another neat way to coach yourself on the water? Share your tips--and hacks--in the comments below.
This hack was 100% reader-submitted. If you have a great rowing hack for a future column, please send it to us!