Information for new rowers

To get involved with Rhwyfo MYC Rowing please contact Helen, Membership Secretary, at who will send you the relevant information and a copy of the New Rowers Questionnaire to complete.


Alternatively you may print out the New Rowers Questionnaire, a link to which is under the pages section of this website and return it to the membership secretary to the address detailed on the form.

Your First Rowing Experience
Your first two rows with us are free and will hopefully provide you with enough information to help you decide whether rowing is for you. After this you need to pay a £12 insurance premium (which lasts until the end of the current WSRA year) and £1 each row.
If, after six rows, you decide you like it, you now need to join the club – Madoc Yacht Club – of which we are a sub-section. All rowers must be members of the club for insurance purposes and to enable us to use the excellent facilities.

What to Wear
Rowing is a physical outdoor activity. Clothing is better in layers as it can be extremely cold at the beginning of a row but you warm up quickly. We normally stop to remove some layers in Borth Y Gest! A thin shower proof coat is a good idea in the winter but not essential. You will get your feet wet and even half way up your legs so wear shoes and trousers/shorts that are ok to get wet. Most people start rowing in trainers after that you will establish your favorite footwear (ranges from surfing boots, wellies to flip flops) Rowing produces blisters mainly on hands and bums. On your butt watch out for unwanted seams which rub and cause blisters. Some rowers wear gloves, sailing/cycling/rugby types but don’t invest until you know you like it. There are normally some spare pairs ‘in the box’.

Crew Organising
One member of the club is responsible for organising the crews each month. This responsibility is rotated through all club members (when experienced enough). The current organiser will contact you to arrange your first row. We will ensure that there are experienced rowers in the boat to provide coaching as required.

Weekly Rowing
We row every weekend, all year round and during the summer months we also row each week night at 6pm. Weekend times vary according to the tide.

It is very important to remember that the boat can only go on the water with the full crew of four rowers and cox so, if you can’t make it you must let the organiser know.
Otherwise the training session will have to be cancelled and you will have some angry rowers on your hands!  There is also a £5 fine and/or buy everyone a round of drinks!

Club Activities
We have very active racing teams and as part of the Welsh Sea Rowing Association we attend many league races and other endurance races throughout the season. The summer racing season comes to a head in September with the fantastic Great River Race on the Thames in London. This is a 22 mile marathon from Richmond to Greenwich where more than 250 traditional fixed seat boats take part.

We meet once a month, usually the first Friday, to hold a general meeting this then normally turns into a more social gathering.
We also have a very active social scene with plenty of partying throughout the year!

Club Members
Our members come from all walks of life including Students, Postmen, Shop assistants, Opticians, Doctors, Builders and Lawyers, our youngest rower is 9 or oldest is over 68. The one thing we have in common is the love of rowing.
Not everyone wants to race, some use rowing as a fitness regime, others to get away from it all out at sea. You do not have to be superbly fit or the best rower in the land to enjoy and be an active part of the rowing club. We do need to win races though and are always looking out for those keen athletic types to recruit to the club.

Madoc Yacht Club
As mentioned, after 6 rows you need to become a full member of the Madoc Yacht Club (MYC).
Club fees are currently £130 for individuals (over 18), £210 for families, £30 for students and overseas and £50 for under 25s. It’s half price if you join in June and you only have the rest of the season to enjoy.
This may sound like a lot of money but compared against the cost of a weekly swim or game of squash at the leisure center, or the cost of a pint of beer a week, it’s good value over the course of a year! Also you have the use of the showers, washing /drying  machines, internet/WiFi, comfortable lounge, the Thai Harbwr Restaurant and private members bar with a good selection of spirits and real ale. The club also has an active social program of functions, dances, dinners, quizzes, courses and lectures. Being a member of the MYC you also qualify for great discounts at Cotswold Outdoor shops (-15%) and also being members of The Outdoor Partnership, on sporting clothing, equipment and heavily subsidized outdoor activity courses such as VHF radio operator, power boat and safety boat handler, First Aider, and Rowing Coaching Courses. All certificated.

You will need to apply for membership and get a proposer and seconder to sign your application. Other rowing members will do this for you.

Membership fees provide you with essential insurance cover but you will also have to pay the annual £12 fee to the Welsh Sea Rowing Association to cover race insurance. You will be asked for these monies by the Treasurer when required.

New Rowers Questionnaire
Before your first row you must complete this questionnaire and return it to the membership secretary.

Information about rowing


Each rower has his back to the direction the boat is moving and power is generated using a blended sequence of the rower’s legs, back and arms. In other competitive forms of rowing the rower sits on a sliding seat with wheels on a track called the slide. However the longboats and skiffs used in the league are based on traditional designs and have fixed seats.

Basic terminology
Boat – the boat itself. Sometimes referred to as the shell.
Bow – the front end of the shell.
Stern – the back end of the shell, where the cox usually sits; also the end of the boat with the rudder.
Fin or Skeg – the fin under the stern of the boat which helps to keep the boat on course.
Rudder – a small, movable part that sits under the stern of the boat; allows the coxswain to steer the boat.
Tiller – an extension of the rudder to help steer the boat.
Bow Side -The person nearest the bow has their oar on this side.
Stroke Side – Celtic longboats are set up with a choice of sides – left or right. The person at the stern of the boat sets the stroke rate (for others to follow).
The boats are steered by the coxswain (Cox).  Coxes use a rudder to steer the boat, which they control using ropes that are connected to it. To help keep the boat on course, all boats have a small fin in the stern.
There are two types of rowing boats – rowing and sculling. Rowers have one oar each, while scullers have two oars each.

Oars are referred to as blades for rowing and sculls for sculling. They are made of carbon fibre although our older Pembrokeshire Longboats and the Skiffs are propelled by wooden blades. Wooden blades are heavier but can make the boat easier to balance for beginners.
Oars for the right (Starboard side) of the boat looking forward often have a green marking.
Oars on the left of the boat (Port side) often have a red marking
There are two basic types of oars:
Cleavers – the most commonly used type of oar, made out of fibreglass and carbon fibre. The shafts of the oars are hollow, making them as light as possible. Sometimes referred to as hatchets.
Macon – originally created in the 1960’s, was the blade of choice until cleavers came into existence. Macon blades are used for novices as they put less strain on your back if you have bad technique. The longboats retain their links with traditional sea-going pilot boats by using Macon-type Oars.
Blade or Spoon – the end of the oar that is placed in the water and used to propel the boat forward; also the oar itself is oftentimes referred to as a blade.
Shaft or Haft – the long, hollow length of the oar.
Collar or Button – a small plastic piece that is placed against the oarlock (or Gate) to keep the oar from slipping out.
The inboard of the blade can be adjusted by moving the collar along the sleeve to adjust the gearing of an oar. This is usually done in conjunction with the set up of riggers. _ cm can make a significant difference, therefore you should use oars set up for the boat you are using.

The Stroke
Catch – The point where the legs are compressed, the arms are stretched out, the body is angled forward and the blade is enters the water.
Drive – the part of the stroke where the legs are pressing down, then the back and arms swing backward, sending the body to the bow.
Finish – the point where the rower pushes down on the handle of the oar to pop the blade out of the water and begins to push the arms out of the bow.
Recovery – the time spent winding the body back up to the catch, it is like compressing a spring; first the arms extend, then the body angle is achieved, finally the legs are pulled up to the catch.
Square blades – keeping the blade perpendicular to the water on the recovery.
Feathered blades – keeping the blade parallel to the water on the recovery.
Crab – an unfortunate incident when the blade gets caught in the water and the handle of the oar hits the midsection of the rower; can result in getting tossed out of the boat. It is caused by the blade not entering into the water fully square (in the vertical position), when pressure is applied to the blade it will just go deeper and deeper in the water

Rowing Terminology
Hold it up – put the blades into the water at an angle, causing the boat to decelerate quickly.
Firm/Full Pressure – pull on the oar with 100% of your power.
Three Quarter Pressure – rowing with 75% of your power.
Half Pressure – rowing with 50% of your power.
Light Pressure – stop rowing with pressure and just lightly pull the blades through the water.
Back it down – push the oar backwards through the water to move the boat toward the stern.

Other Rowing Terms
Stroke – The rower sitting nearest the stern (and the coxswain, if there is one). The stroke is responsible for setting the stroke length and cadence (with the coxswain’s gentle advice).
Ratio or Contrast – The ratio of the recovery time to the drive time. In sliding seat boats the recovery time should always be longer than the drive time. Some say the recovery should be twice as long on the drive. In fixed seat boats such as the Celtic Longboats the recovery time is about equal to the drive time. This is because the shape of the longboat causes a faster deceleration time than the sleeker river based sliding-seat craft.
Rating – The number of strokes per minute. Also known as stroke rating.
Backsplash – This term is in reference to the water thrown back towards the bow direction (i.e. towards the direction of motion of the shell) by the blade as it enters the water at the catch. Many excellent coaches and rowers (please correct me if this has changed) would say that a small amount of backsplash is desired. This indicates that the blade has been properly planted in the water before the rower initiates the drive with the legs. Obviously (maybe it isn’t) the smaller the backsplash, the better it is. I suppose the ideal is, with a sufficiently quick catch, no splash at all.
Stern Check – Bad technique that slows the boat down. Essentially, the momentum of the rowers sends the boat in the opposite direction. Any abrupt deceleration of the shell caused by some uncontrolled motion within the shell causing an interruption in the forward motion of the shell. The coxswain is probably the most acutely aware of this abrupt deceleration.
Airstroke – The rower starts the drive before the catch has been completed (or even started in some cases). This is also referred to as rowing into the catch.
Skying – The fault of carrying the hands too low during the recovery especially when a rower dips his or her hands just prior to the catch (i.e. a sort of winding up). This usually results in the blade being too high off the water’s surface.
Puddles – A measure of your power (and of run). If your blade leaves behind little dinky ripples, then you’re not pulling hard enough. If you leave tidal waves after you pull your blade out of the water, then you’re pulling just right.
Pyramid – Strength/endurance building drill where the coxswain calls an increasing series of power strokes, then a decreasing series of power strokes. e.g. Power 10 – 10 normal strokes – Power 20 – 10 normal strokes – Power 10.
Ergometer (Erg) – An ergometer is a rowing machine that closely simulates rowing in a boat.

For more information see the Welsh Sea Rowing Association website